Digital Manga Books: Antique Bakery, Bambi & Her Pink Gun, Café Kichijouji, IWGP

Sampling some more Digital Manga Publishing titles… quick thoughts, mostly.

IWGP: Ikebukuro West Gate Park Book 1 cover
IWGP: Ikebukuro
West Gate Park Book 1
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IWGP: Ikebukuro West Gate Park Book 1 — This series, it’s said, is based on a TV show, and I think it would make more sense to me in that format. There’s a lot of characters without much introduction, only small bits or lines that would work better for me with an actor’s personality to put them over in three dimensions.

The characters hang out in a park, get threatened, run away… it all seemed rather pointless. The fan service panty shots in an early scene didn’t do much for me, either, and then the nudity became more explicit, with naked women being raped and strangled. Not my kind of manga.

Café Kichijouji Book 1 cover
Café Kichijouji Book 1
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Café Kichijouji Book 1 — Five waiters yell at each other. The first few pages made me feel as though I was attending a reunion where I didn’t know anyone. Between the in-jokes and the personalities who clearly had their own patterns of interaction, I couldn’t keep anyone straight, so I gave up.

Bambi & Her Pink Gun Book 1 cover
Bambi & Her
Pink Gun Book 1
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Bambi & Her Pink Gun Book 1 — A Japanese Tank Girl, a young woman with weapon and attitude. She starts off by terrorizing a convenience store clerk, taking out her dislike of food additives and chemical pollution on him. She’s been hired to deliver a kid to some “old men”, but the kid’s father has put a 500-million-yen bounty on her head.

The pages are printed in maroon-toned ink which lightens to a rose when used for shading. The cartoony, non-typical-manga art style helps keep the violence from being overwhelming, since Bambi shoots first and doesn’t care who gets in her way. She announces her presence as “Me Bambi. Move.” or “Me Bambi. Gimme somethin’ to eat.” She’s pure instinct, inhabiting an adolescent book.

Antique Bakery Book 2 cover
Antique Bakery Book 2
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Antique Bakery Book 2 — The bakery owner and the pastry chef, Ono, went to school together, where Ono hit on the owner. He was rejected, but now they work together to make the shop successful.

The book opens with the story of the apprentice, a former boxer who’s searching for meaning, running into old girlfriends while looking for a place to live. Then it’s back to the other two, with the owner’s family history revealed, making Ono jealous, so he sets out to seduce the owner’s childhood friend. That’s the fun of this book, watching the handsome men flirt and pout in such a decadent setting.

The figures alternate between carefully drawn, barely sketched in, and exaggerated for humor’s sake, often on the same page, which left me feeling a little unbalanced as the faces shifted. The plot can be the same way, with an uneven focus. The best part of the book is when the waiter describes the desserts being served in luscious detail, especially during the Christmas chapters.

All of these titles are bigger than the usual manga digest and have slipcovers. All are priced at $12.95 each.

8 Comments

  1. Apparently Cafe Kichijouji is based on a popular Japanese radio (?) serial, which may explain your reaction.

  2. Very possibly. Are there any really good manga that first appeared in another medium? I can think of some manga-to-something-else adaptations that worked for me, but not the other way around.

  3. Vagabond is an example of a critically-well-regarded book (though I’m lukewarm on it myself) that started out in another medium — it’s adapted from the 1971 novel “Musashi”.

  4. Oh, I tried that — only it was like book 15, which didn’t work very well for me, and it had too much fighting for my tastes. But good example, thank you. Being adapted from print probably helped avoid reliance on actors.

    Come to think of it, I tried Socrates in Love, too, but I didn’t care much for it. (Also adapted from a novel.) Too weepy.

  5. Hey, I was curious what you thought about the graphic rape/killing scene at the end of Bambi vol 1.

    – Chris

  6. Oh, geez, really? I quit before then, since it wasn’t going anywhere new. Yikes — that makes me wonder even more at the praise it got when it came out.

  7. […] Cantabile, about music students falling in love as they pursue their careers. Digital Manga put out Antique Bakery, which is sometimes mistaken for yaoi due to its gay characters. Musashi #9, starring a female […]

  8. […] tried one of the Antique Bakery volumes two years ago, when it came out. I don’t think I gave it a fair shake, because I recently read all four […]

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