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Irothtin avatar 6:08 PM on 05.29.2011  (server time)
The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer

If you're anything like me, then every so often when you've watched all the new anime for the week that you care to watch and don't have anything better to do, you poke through the lists to find some series you've never heard of, banking on the off chance you'll find a hidden gem under the piles of dirt and refuse.

Hoshi no Samidare (also known by the more memorable name, The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer) is that gem.

At first glance, Hoshi no Samidare seems like a typical shonen story: Amamiya Yuuhi wakes up to find a talking lizard on his bed, spewing some nonsense about a Princess, an evil Mage, and how it is Yuuhi's duty to fight alongside the other 11 Beast Knights to protect the very world from being destroyed. However, instead of jumping at the call like a normal hot-blooded protagonist might, his first action is to toss the creature out the window.


You see, Yuuhi wants nothing to do with any of it. As one might expect of a jaded, misanthropic, 18-year-old college student, he'd prefer to use his newfound psychic powers as the Lizard Knight to flip his teacher's skirt than battle for the fate of Earth. Saving the world? He'd rather watch it burn. On top of that, being suddenly attacked by one of the Mage's golems, saved by the super-strong Princess, and shown the gargantuan Biscuit Hammer floating in space waiting for the chance to crush the planet into pieces does little to encourage him to join the battle.

The Princess herself, however, does. She promises Yuuhi that she will never let the Biscuit Hammer fall and smash the earth, because if the planet is going to be destroyed by anything, it's going to be her own fists and nothing else. He immediately swears fealty to the devil of a girl, and so begins the battle to save the world only to destroy it.

The plot progression itself can be rather predictable, with about as many sharp turns as the first Star Wars movie. But what really makes the series memorable and entertaining are the characters and their interactions. Apart from Yuuhi and the Princess, there are 11 other Beast Knights, and that's not including other various side characters. It can get a bit overwhelming at first, when half the cast shows up within two or three chapters after the manga has spent time slowly introducing main characters, but each one is endearing in their own way and manages to make their mark upon the series.

Everyone has their favorite in the ensemble: my personal choice would be the Swordfish Knight, an older man sporting a trench coat, fedora, and kickin' moustache, while Gee-Man prefers the Dog Knight, a hot-blooded martial arts genius. They all have properly distinct personalities, and straightforward artwork helps carry that across - you can tell what characters are thinking and feel their emotion just by looking at their faces, and I don't mean that in a comedic-reaction-face way (though there's plenty of that as well).

Speaking of comedy, much of The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer's laughs come from the idea that the characters all seem to be somewhat aware of what kind of series they're in, which allows for some wink-wink-nudge-nudge jokes here and there. There's a bit of fanservice, mostly panty shots (seeing as the Princess does quite a bit of physical fighting), and the seemingly-required-for-every-anime-ever beach segment, but as a whole it's not really intrusive.

The series has finished its run at a total of 65 chapters, so you won't have to worry about intermittent updates or reading through a massive backlog like you might with other manga. All in all, it's a nicely subversive take on a fantastical saving-the-world story that avoids the pitfalls that you might expect from that sort of plot.

If you used to like shonen series but feel like you've outgrown them and are looking for something just a bit more mature, then you owe it to yourself to go and read The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer.

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