- Posted by Johanna on January 20, 2007 at 10:52 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by J. Torres; art by Eric Kim
- PUBLISHER: Oni Press; $5.95 US
My complaint since the beginning of this series has been how draggy it felt at times. This volume, the last, remedies that but goes much too far the other direction, creating an extremely rushed conclusion.
When we left Book 5, Joel and Hana were just finishing their first private conversation and contemplating their first date. As Book 6 opens, they’ve been dating for four months, a period summed up in two pages of pictures of them doing typical couple things together.
With this technique, the book removes the primary reason I had stuck with the series: watching two very different people come to know and love each other, complicated by the cultural differences. The contents of this volume, much further along in the relationship, should have been Book 12, but obviously, with release delays and Torres’ growing amount of mainstream work, that length wasn’t to be.
There’s a tourist section, followed by Joel returning home, at which point the book becomes the kind of romantic comedy scene you’ve seen several times before (mostly in Archie comics). This is a very disappointing ending to a series that could have been so much more. We never got a sense of Hana as a person instead of a crush object, which is surprising for a series inspired by a real-life romance. Perhaps privacy concerns (alluded to in the author’s afterword) prevented her development as a character.
I know “it’s not the way I would have done it” is looked at askance in terms of criticism. I do think it’s justified to criticize a series promoted as a love story for ignoring the romance in favor of a boy’s experiences growing up in another culture. That’s a perfectly valid type of story, but it’s not what we were sold. Even considered as a coming-of-age tale, it’s vague and shallow.
Moving further into commercial concerns, this set of six books was cover-priced at over $38, which is an awful lot for what we’ve gotten. Oni’s been the primary publisher of these series of short graphic novels, and I have to consider the format a failure. The individual entries are disappointing, which makes them seem overpriced. Since they’re being collected in larger, more typical format books at a more reasonable price, I have to advise skipping the short installments completely.