Love as a Foreign Language Book 6

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.

Love as a Foreign Language Book 6 cover
Love as a Foreign Language
Book 6
Buy this book

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.

J. Torres and Eric Kim have websites.

8 Responses to “Love as a Foreign Language Book 6”

  1. Justin Says:

    I have Volume 1. And the first Omnibus. I have to agree that (and at least for now this based solely on your review) an opportunity was passed by. There are points where the book presents a very realistic viewpoint. That you don’t know anything beyond the person you see from afar and have an absurdly strong crush on.

    But this ending does no one any good, really. It doesn’t help the characters, it doesn’t show the creator’s skill beyond sort of surface storytelling, and I think as you said, the readers are strung along.

    It doesn’t turn me off from Oni Press, or the work of J. Torres or Eric Kim, but it might make it harder to get invested in the next series that comes along.

  2. Johanna Says:

    That’s a good point to emphasize. Oni is one of my favorite publishers, and I like the work of both creators — I just think that this particular series was a misfire, and the format chosen for it is full of limitations.

  3. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Jan. 22, 2007: Little Sister don’t you Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson looks at the sixth volume of J. Torres and Eric Kim’s Love as a Foreign Language. […]

  4. one diverse comic book nation » THE SHORT STACK: Diversity On The ‘Net - January 22, 2007 Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson from Comics Worth Reading reviews Love as a Foreign Language Book 6 – “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.” […]

  5. jo Says:

    I just read the first 5 issues in the last couple of days, so I was cruising the ‘net to see if there were more issues coming out. I wasn’t sure I liked the story at first, but it grew on me. Now I find that the last issue sounds like a disappointment, so I’m considering just letting the story rest where 5 ended. It was inconclusive, but open-ended, and I felt that it worked (I thought maybe 5 was the last issue, in fact). So thanks for the review.

  6. Family Dynamic » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] miniseries coming from DC Comics in August, written by J. Torres (Teen Titans Go!, Wonder Girl, Love as a Foreign Language, Degrassi Extra Credit) and illustrated by Tim Levins (Batman: Gotham Adventures, Justice League […]

  7. Interview with Alex de Campi: Kat & Mouse » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] appear at first glance to be a better value to justify the price. (It’s similar to the Oni format that didn’t work for me […]

  8. Tonoharu Part One » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] at the publisher’s website or read an interview with the artist. For comparison, check out Love as a Foreign Language. […]




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