Archive for October, 2011
Pardon me while I rant for a moment.
I’m tired of people replying to negative feedback with the ”Well, everything is just my opinion” defense.
To illustrate my point, let’s look at three variations of opinion:
- “I don’t like element Z of show X, for the following reasons.”
- “Show X doesn’t work for me, for the following reasons.”
- “Show X doesn’t work, for the following reasons.”
The closer a writer’s comments veer towards #3, the shakier that writer’s argument, and the more evidence is needed to support it. Argument #3 states an opinion about the show’s ability to work for its audience. Now, that is a personal opinion, but it’s a very different opinion than a statement about how well the show works for the writer.
Does that make sense? I can state that Manos: The Hands of Fate doesn’t work as a movie, because there are dozens of reviews to back that up, and I could apply plenty of
Moreover, reality isn’t completely subjective. The name of a manga’s author is a fact. When a review states that a series is “hugely popular,” I should hope that’s based on some kind of evidence. Similarly, a description of the show’s premise (“a girl falls out of the sky into a boy’s arms”) is not opinion.
So, reviews contain quite a lot of
Artist/Writer: Nobuaki Tadano
Published in: 2008–2010 (Japan), 2010–2011 (America)
American Publisher: Vertical
Premise: A girl is inhabited by a sentient alien creature, which is itself seeking a xenocidal creature that can take any human’s form.
Show x Show: It’s Boogiepop meets Degrassi
What are the themes? The high school girl protagonist has blocked herself off from those around her–for very understandable reasons, it turns out. Because she now is forced to seek out this creature, she is forced to come out of her shell.
The result is a combination of
How’s the art? Modern and
Does the art vary from chapter to chapter? Not noticeably. Tadano’s got a strong sense of character design.
How complex are the characters? The protagonist is the most dimensional, and Tadano manages an impressive feat. This is a story about a character’s internal life, which is expressed visually and externally. While there is a fair amount of monologue inside her head, Tadano follows the ”show, don’t tell” maxim closely.
How’s the plot? Pretty evenly balanced between action and quiet drama. The second volume, particularly, is much more about the protagonist’s past.
Can I show it to my Mom? Yep, and this should appeal to adults. It’s about teenagers, but it’s about universal themes.
Can I show it to my kid brother? Sure. He’d probably get a kick out of the action, though the relatively slow,
Can I show it to a
Does it have any memorable moments? Yes.
Okay, so technically Usagi Yojimbo isn’t a manga; it’s an anthro comic drawn in English by a third-generation Japanese-American.
However, it’s extremely Japanese, and uses manga pacing and stories.
Usagi Yojimbo tells the story of a ronin (master-less samurai), Usagi, in a world of anthropomorphic animals, such as rabbits, boars, and pigs. The small animals of this world are reptiles, so scenes are enlivened with 2-foot-tall apatosauruses.
These two volumes are entirely episodic. Other than a few recurring characters and a story that involves Usagi returning to his hometown, each volume contains a few stand-alone stories of Usagi’s adventures.
Usagi is a stereotypical samurai protagonist: pleasant, cautious, extremely skilled with a sword, and quick to moral outrage, with a strong sense of honor. As a result, the stories are more interesting than Usagi himself.
Some stories are comedic, others are serious, and some contain elements of both. Most deal with moral conundrums in some way. They feel very much like traditional samurai stories: ruffians threatening a village, overbearing lords, etc.
I was struck by how many Japanese language elements that Sakai put into the dialogue. Remember, this isn’t translated from Japanese. But the book is full of -sans and -donos. It certainly gives the book a foreign air, though I found it often unnecessary. Sakai does a fine job of getting across respect or familiarity without adding dialectical affectations.
The black-and-white art is clean and cartoony, with lots of round shapes and negative space. It’s a refreshing switch from the intense lines of manga and the crowded panels of American comics.