Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bite Sized Manga Reviews #3 - Peach-Pit Edition

Titles Reviewed: Shugo Chara #1, Rozen Maiden #1, and DearS #1

Looking at my plate of anime conventions, my stomach will be full of convention goodness this year and the next (save for a certain con in Anaheim I am banned from because of my position in Anime Expo). Ready for the new edition of Bite Sized Manga Reviews? This time we have a Peach Pit edition that focuses on the saccharine sweet goodness of Shugo Chara, the boobalicous bombshells of DearS, and the misantrhopic adventures of a elementary school student in Rozen Maiden. The unique mix of genres and storylines in these manga are a shining example of the talents of manga duo Banri Sendo and Shibuko Ebara that make up Peach Pit. Without further ado, here are short reviews of the first volume of their three iconic franchises.

Shugo Chara #1
Published by: Del Rey Manga
Cost: $10.99

Each child has a guardian egg that hold innocent personifications of desires and dreams, as they grow older the egg disappears once a person "grows up" and stops dreaming. Amu Hinamori a very unique person, she has a shy personality and can't talk to people that well, so she comes off as distant and aloof. This distant and aloof personality creates an image of her being a cool girl. Unfortunately, her appearance and her true personality are very different. Her desire to change herself to talk to the boy she loves creates three guardian eggs. After her eggs were spotted by the student council, they ask her to join them. The most persistent is the beauty of the student council Nadeshiko. In the first volume the reader is also introduced to Ikuto, a mysterious boy who likes to flirt with Amu and Utau Hoshino, Amu's beautiful, charismatic, and strong older rival.

Of the three manga here, Shugo Chara was the newsest one, so it represents the result of many years of hard work and development in the art of manga, it shows. Shugo Chara has nice clean lines and it moves from panel to panel effectively. The character designs are distinctive, with the prepubescent Amu and her teenage rival Utau displaying a gorgeous gothic sense of style. Their fashion sense, similar personalities, and the age difference make them a very interesting set of characters. What makes Shugo Chara interesting is the main theme of being true to ourselves. Peach-pit presents the conundrum through Amu, as she deals with public perception of her versus how she wants to be. The pace of the manga is nice, it moves fast from chapter to chapter. At first it seemed that Shugo Chara would not go down the path of magical girl series since the eggs pushed Amu and her friends to be more true to themselves, but by the end of the first volume they went down that path. The simple theme of being true to ourselves and hammering it down by showing how the people around Amu deal with this dynamic simple, yet effective. For a first volume, Shugo Chara is a great piece of manga and it is one of my favorites.

Positives

  • Amu Hinamori and Utau
  • Great simple theme
  • Likable cast of characters
  • Clean drawings
Negatives
  • Would've been better without magical girl theme
  • Main rival a little too obvious, she is a prettier and older Amu


Rozen Maiden #1
Published by: Tokyopop
Cost: $9.99

Jun Sakurada has become a total misanthrope, locking himself away from the outside world due to an even in school. He closes his heart away from everyone out there, including his older sister and his childhood friends. To deal with being locked in, her goes online and orders products and returns them before he had to pay for them. One night he orders from a website and gets a suitcase with an elaborate doll. He winds up the doll and she wakes up and hits him. They go to a terrifying world where he is forced to make a contract with her. His journey with Shinku will turn his world upside down and challenge his status quo. The other characters in the story are Nori, the lead character's older sister. She is a high school student who deeply cares for her brother, but she is not good at dealing with her brother. One of the main villains was also introduced, Sugintou. She is one of the most iconic villains in the world of anime and manga, so it is quite fun reading this manga to see why she is so popular.

Rozen Maiden is a unique manga, it is a seinen manga that is bereft of many of the market's fanservice and nudity, but it is a mature manga. The main focus is Jun, whose hobby was found out by his classmates. Due to his hobby not being part of what is considered acceptable in culture, he locked himself from the outside world. This story could be an allegorical statement on how people deal with rejection from society, using the anonymity of the internet to escape being a social outlier. As Rozen Maiden shows, it can take a life-changing event that can make people reevaluate the world around them. In the case of Rozen Maiden, Jun is forced into a game through Shinku, but this game forces him to interact his sister that he had shunned in the past. The events around him forces him to change himself. While the cast of characters are not fully introduced, the cast of characters in the first volume of Rozen Maiden are great. They are introduced slowly so that each character can be developed well and so that they can fit naturally in the world around them. The character designs for the Rozen Maidens are iconic, each of them having a unique spin on the gothic lolita style. Great care have been made by the Peach-pit duo to create a sense of style that is easy to find in the sea of anime and manga characters. As expected by a seinen manga, the pacing is much slower than a typical shonen manga, but the slower pacing allows for great character development. The manga isn't perfect, it throws too much information to the reader in a very short period of time and the characters onscreen may have very simplistic drawings. It comes with the territory considering that the manga is drawn by only two people.

Positives
  • Iconic character designs
  • Easy to relate to lead character
  • Important main theme
  • Sugintou
Negatives
  • Can sometimes give too much information for a short period of time
  • Manga art can get too simplfied


DearS #1
Published by: Tokyopop
Cost: $9.99

DearS are aliens who have crashed landed on earth and are now trying to assimilate into human society. They are aliens who are prettier, faster, and more intelligent than humans. Enter Takeya, a typical high school boy who has bad luck with women and hasn't had a girlfriend for a day in his life. One night he meets a beautiful girl who follows him home. After finding out that this beautiful girl is one of the DearS, she makes a contract to serve him until the end of time. With a beautiful alien girl under his roof, he has to keep his desires in check and teach her how to assimilate into this world. He find that it is much harder to assimilate and to keep his new roommate a secret.

DearS was popularly known by people in the anime and manga world as Chobits without the deep storyline and the big boobs. While it isn't too far off the mark, there is enough to separate both stories that they are very different. Chobits is an allegorical story about how humans have become too dependent on technology, and how this technology has broken human relationships and challenged accepted norms about technology. On the other hand DearS is a story about assimilating into a culture and society that doesn't accept the social norms that is alien (no pun intended) to humans. DearS is essentially a male fantasy story where a young man meets with a beautiful girl who falls from the sky, so it doesn't exactly have the deepest storyline. Takeya is the (un)lucky main character who has the beautiful girl, but he is shy and reserved around her since he has no experience. DearS has a lot of characters who are well-endowed, Ren is the female lead character and she has huge boobs. It doesn't help that she doesn't known the human concepts of modesty and that her DearS outfit has her showing much of her cleavage. With that said, Ren is a very likable character and her innocence and her unique way of viewing the world make her fascinating and quite interesting. DearS is not strong on story, but it moves fast and it never gets confusing. DearS is a manga that many men may like, but I could imagine it would be harder to swallow if you are a female manga fan.

Positives
  • Great dynamic between Takeya and Ren
  • Nice Art
  • Simple but effective storyline
  • Hints at a much bigger storyline
Negatives
  • Characters are stacked, like really stacked
  • Not the kind of manga you want your sister reading
  • Themes are pretty shallow

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Utau is awesome, she should have been the lead for Shugo Chara