Banya the Explosive Delivery Man by Kim Young-Oh (amazon.com)
Banya is a deliveryman in a historical fantasy world filled with warring tribes and strange monsters. His dedication to deliver packages at any cost finds him picking his way through a battlefield and polevaulting over castle walls. At every possible moment he likes to recite his delivery philosophy, “Fast. Precise. Secure”. This manhwa is very episodic, presenting sketches showing Banya and his two colleagues performing their jobs. Mei is occasionally violent in her protection of cute animals and Kong fills the role of scrappy younger boy sidekick. There isn’t a hint of an ongoing storyline or any theme except enthusiastic mail service and fight scenes. The art is very pretty, but it isn’t pretty enough to make up for the lack of plot and character development. I can see how this title does fit in very well with the type of manga that Dark Horse tends to publish. Banya has a sense of humor, and the fight scenes are violent and well-drawn. This volume starts with a couple full-color pages.
Hayate the Combat Butler by Kenjiro Hata (amazon.com)
Hayate is having the worst Christmas ever – his unscrupulous and poor parents have stolen money from him, got him fired from his job as a bike messanger, and sold him to the yakuza for organ harvesting. He turns to Santa for help and gets nothing in return. Fed up with his previous philosophy of working hard to get ahead, Hayate decides to kidnap someone rich and hold them for ransom. He finds a rich-looking little girl named Nagi alone in the park, but she confuses his demands with a declaration of love. Hayate ends up becoming her personal butler, in a house with an attractive older maid named Maria and a strict head butler. Hayate faces his troubles with a lot of slapstick action – for some reason the butler initiation in Nagi ‘s house involves fighting a robot, tiger, and giant snake. Although it is amusing, it wasn’t laugh-out loud funny. My favorite moments involved Hayate invoking books like the A Dog of Flanders and A Little Princess when trying to come up with analogies to describe his life.
Both of these titles are ok, but I can’t see myself spending money buying future volumes.