Today, we look at Yuu Hijikata's Valkyrie Profile manga, published in 2001 by Gangan Comics, for those of you who hunt these things. While a lot of legitimate game-based manga titles are collections of short stories, Hijikata's work tries to span the game's entire storyline in two 175-page volumes. This is not well-advised, yet it's strangely entertaining to watch it all play out.
At first, it all goes well. The first book covers the initial stretch of Valkyrie Profile, introducing Lenneth Valkyrie, the Berserk-inspired warrior Arngrim, bratty Princess Jelanda, and Belenus, who was just sort of boring and got sent to Valhalla first whenever I played the game.
The comic is paced better than the typical tri-Ace story, and though much of it is a line-for-line recreation of the PlayStation game's script, some differences emerge. Lawfer, whose death wasn't shown in the game, buys it in the manga during a big dramatic face-off with Arngrim (there's gay fan fiction in there someplace), and Lezard, who's like Harry Potter grown up and gone bad, appears earlier. Hijikata's art is fairly good, and I really dig the covers, even if they can't match the illustrations that Kou and You Yoshinari did for the game.
Unfortunately, the whole thing pretty much stabs itself in the eye during the second volume. The project's editors apparently stormed into Hijikata's studio to demand that the story wrap up in five chapters, so that's what happens. After a brief scene about vampires and the introduction of Lenneth's past-life boyfriend Lucian, everything shifts into a fast-forwarded account of the PlayStation game's last act, with Lezard and Mystina and Hrist and Loki all running around as the world ends. Granted, the original Valkyrie Profile's big finale is a deus ex machina in truest fictional form, but it was never as rushed and incoherent as Hijikata's version.
The manga's a fun curiosity for Valkyrie Profile fans, although its slavish adherence to the game's plotline means that there's not much to see if you've already been through the story on the PlayStation. But hey, geek merchandise doesn't have to make sense.