Fence #6 Review: Plays too Close to the Shonen and Sports Anime Playbook

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Seiji tries to cope with losing a fencing match. Nicholas begins his next match, and he discovers that his opponent is a very tall fencer named Jay. Nicholas' friends assume that this is going to be a quick loss for him, but Nicholas may just have an advantage they hadn't considered.

Fence #6 cover by Johanna the Mad
Fence #6 cover by Johanna the Mad

Fence #6 is a comic heavily inspired by Shonen and sports manga/anime. It hits almost all hallmarks that both genres can share, and it results in a comic that becomes disappointing in its predictability.

I'm not into sports in general, and this is a comic aiming for below my age demographic. That said, there was something appealing to me about a comic based around fencing. Plus, Dodge City #1 was alright, and Boom! Box titles tend to be smarter kid's comics.

Fence leans too heavily on the tropes of its inspirations though. Nicholas is a bullish, loud, and cocky protagonist. Seiji is the joyless and ultra-skilled fencer, and Nicholas wants to be his rival. Bobby is the girl who pines for Nicholas, but Nicholas is too wrapped up in fencing to notice. Their coach is a wise but unconventional mentor.

Fence #6 art by Johanna the Mad and Joana Lafuente
Fence #6 art by Johanna the Mad and Joana Lafuente

That brings us to the art, which is also heavily inspired by manga. This isn't inherently bad, but Fence uses that style as a crutch. It overuses the more simplistic and detail-light "chibi" style, and it comes off like a shortcut on many panels. It makes it harder to gauge the age of the characters too, as it bounces between the chibi and normal styles that often. Johanna the Mad's work is solid despite that shortcoming, and the color work of Joana Lafuente is bright and appealing throughout.

Fence #6 was a disappointingly predictable read. The idea of a young fencing team is a neat concept for a comic aimed at younger readers, but it hits so many of the Shonen beats that you feel like you've read it before. The art is solid despite some problems, but I can't quite recommend the overall comic. Give it a pass.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.