grazzt: (Default)
[personal profile] grazzt posting in [community profile] scans_daily
You have to feel sorry for Xiahou Dun. On the one hand, he was an incredible guy by all accounts. As a teenager, he killed a man who insulted his teacher, living as an outlaw after that for several years. As the Han Dynasty dissolved, Xiahou joined the coalition against Dong Zhuo under Cao Cao's command. He served loyally and well for years, his major accomplishment being an agricultural project that would involve damming a river and transforming a large swathe into land suitable for growing rice. And he was famous for being on the scene at all times, working alongside the people under his command, giving generously to his subordinates at the same time. He was also Cao Cao's favourite, being the only person allowed to accompany Cao in his personal chariot.

For all that, however, Xiahou is one of the Three Kingdom's prime whipping boys. Gao Shun runs circles around him. He's captured and held for ransom by rebels under Chen Gong and Zhang Miao. Guan Yu doesn't beat him in single combat, but that might only be because it was ended early, and besides he gets away with killing one of Xiahou's subordinates. Zhuge Liang massacres his troops, to the extent that Xiahou delivers himself in bonds before Cao Cao after the defeat. Think about it: a defeat so awful that you know you deserve to be thrown in jail at best and executed at worst. Xiahou seemed to serve as a high bar for other main characters: if you couldn't beat Xiahou, you should best go home. You aren't one of the big boys. Xiahou was a great personal warrior, and yet not so good that he could coast by on that like Lu Bu or (early) Zhang Fei.

And yet, he's usually ranked with the truly great generals of the Three Kingdoms. The Koei Romance Of The Three Kingdoms strategy games give him high marks militarily. The other Koei RoTK series, Dynasty Warriors, usually has him playable from the beginning on Cao Cao's side, and he's usually a solid choice. What did Xiahou Dun do that managed to make him so popular despite all his major failings?

Remember, reads right to left.

First off, let's introduce a character who will be important in the upcoming story:

And something else I like about Ravages of Time: despite the large cast of characters, they manage to make them all look different without making them too goofy or cartoony. The fact that a relatively minor character, a commander under Gao Shun, gets a fairly decent design is tribute to this. This is also Cao Xing's big moment, really.

Anyway, the battle lines are relatively simple: Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, and Dun's subordinate Han Hao are protecting the supplies for a large force that's attacking Lu Bu. Lu Bu wants to starve them out, so he sends Gao Shun, with Cao Xing as support, out to take the supplies. The fact that all of them are leading large and well trained armies goes without saying.

With the exception of the first scan above, this post will focus on two issues. The first is Chapter 223, "The Charging Ambush". Gao Shun is attacking Xiahou Dun's force with his elite cavalry, the Red Hares (a nice RoTK nod). It should be noted that Gao Shun has the nickname, "The Ambusher". Doesn't mean he can't lead a regular cavalry charge just as well:

Xiahou Dun tries to thin out their ranks with arrows, but Gao Shun's cavalry are too fast and he manages to take out Xiahou Dun's left flank. The two commanders meet up on the battlefield:

Xiahou Dun moves all the soldiers he can to the left, in an attempt to bolster the left side that had just fallen. Gao Shun withdraws fighting as Xiahou's cavalry charges. And now, let's be perfectly honest: no matter how much you're winning, no matter how certain the rout seems, never chase a man whose nickname is "The Ambusher". Sure enough, Gao Shun has led Xiahou into a trap, as a troop of his men under Cao Xing appear out of nowhere. What sort of soldiers are they?

Xiahou Dun turns to deal with this newest and more dangerous threat. He's cut off from his main force, and he's already spent most (if not all) of his arrows trying to stop Gao Shun's charge. And our issue ends, with a badass shot of Cao Xing about to do some damage:

The next chapter, "Paired Shots", is a bit tough to choose which bits to scan, so I'll summarize most of it: Xiahou Dun tries to chase down Cao Xing's troop, but is unable to close the distance between himself and the horse archers. It's well done, and you can really feel the desperation as Xiahou Dun tries to close with his forces, but can't catch the lighter cavalry of Cao Xing. Meanwhile, Cao Xing is busily filling Xiahou's troop with arrows, at a fairly horrifying level of accuracy (there's one point where Xiahou's entire left flank falls to a single barrage of arrows). It's like a more active version of the arrow barrages from 300. However, the whole cat and mouse thing doesn't lend itself well for choosing pieces to scan, so I'll stick with the ending, which is the important part.

Xiahou Dun tries a last ditch charge against Cao Xing:

Unfortunately for him, it does not work out too well for Xiahou:

And we'll end there for today. Tune in tomorrow, when we conclude Xiahou Dun's moment in the sun. Figuratively speaking, of course. Of course, after that happening, it can only get better for him from here. Right?

Date: 2011-06-20 08:38 pm (UTC)
jetwolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jetwolf
My husband is a nut for the Three Kingdoms stuff. I think he's read at least three different multi-volume translations, more times than I can count. I don't think he knows about this manga version though, and his birthday's next month so HMMM.

You said it was from Ravages of Time. Is that available in English or was this scanlation? How would you say this version compares to the novels? Pretty faithful?

Date: 2011-06-21 01:13 am (UTC)
cypherfdp: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cypherfdp
Love dose Koei games, a shame ROTK 12 seems to be nothing more than a dream these days.

Date: 2011-06-21 09:44 am (UTC)
eyz: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eyz
That's some pretty Manga art up there!
Much better than those regular super-popular mainstream ones.

Reminds me of Mushashi. Anyone read this? (is it even translated in English? I only read the French translated published ones)

Date: 2011-06-23 07:22 pm (UTC)
eyz: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eyz
...I knew that!
Heck, I even had 2 manhua series (didn't buy any new volume in YEAAAAARS)
- and another one..about Dragons..or something..don't remember. I can't put my hands on it so I can't even check it back...


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