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30 diciembre 2006

Manga On Demand

Excellent, since I went this holiday to Capital City, I've left in my house's PC all the Graphic Novel reviews I was supposed to post in this blog. Since I've got no motivation to redo them while they aren't really lost, I guess my only alternative to keep this little space alive is to start a series of new reviews from scratch. Why in English, nevertheless? The PC I'm currently in lacks a Spanish-based keyboard, and as a grammar Nazi it's impossible for me to be comfortable with a text lacking accentuation. As of now, I would like to stop this point-less rambling and start with the recommendations, which this time are mostly, best said absolutely though, manga-based.

Let's start in the chronological order but which I discovered them and talk Bokurano, the new series by the Moritoh Kitoh of Narutaru's fame. As his previous works, Bokurano starts fairly light-hearted, with a group of kids put in a traditional manga situation: as they camp during their summer vacation, some children go off to explore a cavern and while they are inside they seal a contract with a mysterious man that places the control of an enormous mech in their hands, which for those unfamiliar with the term I may say is a giant robot piloted by humans. But what would a group of manga heroes with this incredible artifacts without enemies to fight with? No issue here, since according to the mysterious character that gave them the ability to control the machine, it should be used by the children to fight away strange metallic invaders that suddenly appear from time to time in their earth. Sounds pretty standard "protect the world" fare so far, and I won't argue with that, but there's more than meets the eye to the plot even if I cannot say anything more for it would just spoil the shock of the revelations about the real nature of their fight, which in reality hides terrible truths behind it's fairly innocent concept. For anyone familiar with Kitoh's work it should come at ease to understand what I'm trying to communicate here: don't let the appearance the first episodes hinder your idea of what this story is about: it's a cruel, very bittersweet tale of sacrifice. It's narrative is like a kick to the teeth; with turns to the worse at every corner. The characters are, even if some come as somewhat unrealistic or forced, complex and multifaceted, with enough depth to symphatize and find reasonable and meaningful their desperate actions. Kitoh's simple but pleasant art is always welcome, and it doesn't absent itself from Bokurano: clean lines carefully delimit excellent designs, as each character is composed by distinctive traits which concord to their personality and, unlike a some ani-manga our there, are fairly different from each other. All round a great read Bokurano is; with a remarkable storytelling that is no less than worth of your time.

Second in the list is River's Edge, which is in a relative fashion the manga equivalent of Ghost World, not as in having a shared a setting but clear similarities in their atmosphere. As a shoujo, it's hard not to call it a far shot from the usual entries in the genre. Low-key and eventual, it's a nice and different slice-of-life tale about a girl who while not being antisocial finds herself alienated from the world of the human society which surrounds her. The manga's main storyline is about a secret the lead has in common with a gay boy her age who pretends to be heterosexual and a bulimic model: an abandoned human body hidden by the plants growing on the river side. I may be biased since I certainly love character driven storylines, but I greatly enjoyed this story from beginning to end. Specially surprising to me was that even while everyone with an important role for the plot is most certainly not completely sane, it can't be denied that they all feel like real people in their mannerism, personality and actions, quite an achievement in my eyes since I've been looking for this kind of realistic developments in fiction for a long time. All in all, River's Edge is a breath of fresh air in the realm of overly dramatic campy shoujos, which even if enjoyable from time to time in the end, specially when done with enough quality, prove to be tiring for those with a desire of a serious manga on human interaction.

Anyway, now I shall bring closure for this entry and mention my last recommendation for today: Japan Tengu Party Illustrated, an epic adventure by the brilliant mangaka Iou Kuroda. Difficult to bring myself to select descriptive words for this multifaceted graphic novel was, since there definitely exists the possibility of finding an infinity of layers to it's creation. It's plot is inspired by the classic legend of tengu in Japan's folklore... But what are these tengu-things? Tengu are, according to the always wise Wikipedia, minor demons who inhabit the mountains of Japan and, besides having the ability to teleport at will, are able to take the shape of an animal. Nevertheless, that little quotation is far from being really descriptive from the manga's storyline, which from the original source only takes certain elements and the setting itself is pretty much a work of Kuroda himself. The lead is Shinobu: an, at least for her kind, young tengu with human origins, and the main conflicts would be her inability to cut ties with her former life and the need of the tengu living in the modern world to turn noticeable for avoiding fading into oblivion. For me, one of the most remarkable, not that it's the only stand-out since it's impossible for an all-around unimpressive manga to have Kuroda as it's writter, is that even with a somewhat large scope, the plot remains largely focused on it's characters and their internal conflicts, with all the down-to-earth charming story telling you would expect from this marvelous author. The following may be a little un-objective, since I've been crazy for Kuroda art since Sexy Voice and Robo, but I can't avoid saying it: the visual style is amazing beyond words. Using human adjectives for it's praising is almost impossible, but I'll try my best for searching in the English language the needed elements for making realistic my hyperbolic statement: organic, best linguistic construction I can think of right now. A natural and comfortable, yet highly original, conjunction of lines that bring to the human brain effective representations of a fantastic reality. And that was me attempting to avoid hyperbole. Nevertheless, ignore my emotiveness and just consider this my most positive review for the day. A must read for everyone with good taste in fiction or narrative.

Esuchando Ahora: "Asprin Music" de Anoice

Septimo 12:22 p. m. 3 Comentarios