by Didier Crisse & Nicolas Keramidas
published by Tokyopop; $12.99 US
Luuna uses Native American trappings in a never-ending quest with a sexpot princess.
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.