by Yoshiki Nakamura; adaptation by Tomo Kimura
published by Viz; $8.99 US
An interesting premise is undermined by a thoroughly unlikeable lead character and what I saw as the creator’s superiority complex over the genre she’s working in.
Throughout the book appear author’s notes, which is normally a great feature, letting the reader know more about the creator behind the work (or at least, the image they want to project). In this case, though… it’s the first thing the reader sees, and the first note goes something like “if you liked my previous series, you might not like this so much.” Then the creator starts writing about how she doesn’t care for the usual shojo manga heroines, that they’re “ordinary” and how she wants to create someone “a little like a wild beast”.
If that’s what she wants to do, I fear she’s working in the wrong genre. I get the impression (and maybe I’m reading too much into it) that the author was making concessions she didn’t really believe in in order to get her work into a particular magazine. She talks about how what she really wants to do won’t appeal to the general public, showing how she’s thinking about becoming popular first. Starting off this way left a bad taste in my mouth.
Then I met Kyoko, the lead. First, she’s a doormat, dropping out of school to support a spoiled rich boy who wants to be famous. Then, when she finds out that he despises her (an opinion I was beginning to share), she turns into an idiot, determined to become a celebrity herself for revenge, even though she has no talent beyond whining and guilt-tripping people.
In the right hands, I’d be sympathetic for the girl, rooting for her to discover herself and win out over the jerk, but here, I just thought “eh, she deserves it if she’s going to act like that.” I suspect part of that is because the author goes on to say in her notes that she doesn’t have much interest in showbiz (choosing that setting only because she was told she couldn’t do the one she wanted first) and has never been the kind of passionate fan she’s writing about. That disinterest came through the story for me.
Kyoko’s reactions are cartooned as extreme, which I found pathetic instead of funny. The storytelling can be near-incoherent, with rapid changes in mood, setting, or action shoved together on the same page, sometimes in different styles that don’t mesh. I feel as though I’ve seen some of the key images before elsewhere in a more appropriate setting.
This material could be great if the psychological ramifications were explored, which would mean a different audience and approach, but it’s all used for more direct, slam-bang attempts at comedy. Come to think of it, Kyoko has some of the same problems that I see demonstrated in the author’s notes.
About halfway through the book, sleep became more interesting to me, so I quit. If there’s a radical improvement after chapter two, all the better for the readers who could continue. I did notice that the were cultural notes included in the back, a welcome addition that I hope Viz includes in more of their titles.