Luuna Book 1

Luuna uses Native American trappings in a never-ending quest with a sexpot princess.

Luuna Book 1 cover
Luuna Book 1
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The title character runs around in low-cut tank tops and high-split loincloths, accompanied by three forest spirits who are there for comic relief. You’ll be reminded of Disney’s Pocahontas, but the large breasts, plump lips, and almond-shaped eyes come from a more adult tradition.

Luuna’s sent into the woods at night on a totem quest, but they picked the wrong time. As a result, an evil spirit holds sway, and the girl winds up with two totems, a good white wolf and a bad black wolf. During times of the full moon, the black wolf holds sway over Luuna, and she becomes evil. That’s very unsubtle symbolism, both the black/white coloring and the full moon implications, and the rest of the book doesn’t improve on it. She’s labeled as cursed, but we never see anything bad happen to her or most of the people she cares about. It’s plot development by authorial fiat.

More disappointingly, Luuna rarely makes or takes responsibility for her own decisions. Chief Dad sends her into the forest. Once weird things happen, various talking animals send her on a quest to find out how to fix things. Later, a storyteller guides her. She’s a pawn, there to become wild (and wear only mud) and bathe naked and not really think about anything that’s happening to her.

Luuna has several adventures in this volume, but her quest doesn’t end, so if you’re interested in finding out what happens to her, you’ll need the next book as well. Overall, the cartooning is well done, but the content has less substance and more unpleasant implications than I expected.

This is one of three color, larger-sized graphic novels translated from the French that Tokyopop is publishing. It’s not really accurate to call it manga for that reason: it’s not the right size, style, or heritage. But since that’s the audience who reads Tokyopop, that’s where I’ve put it.

8 Comments

  1. I went to the Tokyopop website to look at the preview. Even at full screen, the page is so small I literally had my face an inch from the monitor and still couldn’t read the text easily. Second, Luuna’s character design looks like the porn version of Pocahontas. I think this one needed to sit in development awhile longer.

  2. “Luuna rarely makes or takes responsibility for her own decisions” [...] “we never see anything bad happen to her or most of the people she cares about”

    To play devil’s advocate: That’s because she makes the conscious decision to stay away from her people after having savagely killed two of her enemies against her will and nature while under the influence of her bad totem. She fears she’s liable to hurt her people as well once her dark side takes over. And where you call the symbolism “unsubtle” and “heavy-handed” it could also be called consistent and straight-forward.

    I guess I can see where you are coming from with the negative points you mention. I just don’t perceive them as strongly. What you call “sex-pot” and “adult” and Ed calls a “porn version of Pocahontas” actually seems quite tame to me, not only compared to other european comics, but to other american comics as well.

    Luuna is IMHO a fairly typical example for a modern fantasy Bande Dessinée of the Soleil variety (I call it that since especially publisher Soleil has made that genre popular in the past decade), and it is exactly what it wants to be: a fairly straight-forward quest-story with pretty art. Nothing deep, but entertaining and good to read. It has enjoyed quite some success in several european markets.

    As to format: the series was originally published in the typical French 48-page 12.6 x 9.5 hardcover format. It was shrunk down a little and the first two original volumes were combined for the first TP volume.

  3. But is the ability to kill your enemies (who are trying to kill you) really a curse? That was the part I found misleading. For a “curse”, nothing bad happens.

    And yeah, there are plenty of other comics where Luuna’s look would fit in… but I don’t read those either. :)

    I did like that Tokyopop provided the two volumes’ worth at this size.

  4. Hmm… I read that scene to mean that she killed them against her will and would have preferred to deal with them in a less violent manner, since she is appalled once the spell wears off (“What have I done? It’s horrible!”).

    A hightened ability to defend herself is no bad thing, of course, but she wouldn’t have given in to her thirst for revenge so readily and so completely if she hadn’t been cursed. The curse is enhancing her own “dark side”, fueling and feeding on negative emotions, eroding her sense of what is an appropriate response and when to stop. She understands that she is (so far) unable to control herself once the curse activates and she doesn’t want that to happen again, especially not around people she cares about.

  5. It’s a lot like the Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde situation, actually. Her evil twin comes out at night.

  6. Sebastian Says:

    “Luuna is IMHO a fairly typical example for a modern fantasy Bande Dessinée of the Soleil variety (I call it that since especially publisher Soleil has made that genre popular in the past decade)”

    That reminds me of http://www.mangablog.net/?p=1481

    Brigid Says:

    “…With Fanfare, Tokyopop, and First Second all publishing French graphic novels, it’s as if France is the new Japan…”

    someone at Tokyopop Says:

    “…LUUNA (March 2009)

    “By: Didier Crisse, Nicolas Keramidas

    “Licensed from Soleil (France).

    “$12.99; 3 volumes, 112 pp; 7.228″ x 10…”

  7. Well, it would be good to see more French comics in the US. It’s a pretty untapped source market, so far. Many of the classics were never really translated, most of the new stuff comes only from certain authors (Trondheim, Sfar) or their vicinity.

    Incidentally: In Germany it was the other way around, 10 years ago: Japan was the new France. We went from 75+% French imports to 75+% Japanese imports. Now, it’s slowly swinging back a bit ;)

    It’s also interesting to see that TP are apparently planning 3 volumes, since the 6th original volume is the first of a second cycle and it’s not quite clear ATM when the creators will even start working on it… ^^;

    Edit: And there’s the answer. TP vol.3 will be fleshed out with material from an artbook, not with volume 6. http://nicokeramidas.blogspot.com/2009/02/luuna-aux-usa.html

  8. I’d go get the Soleil edition.

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