by Mahiro Maeda; story by Yura Ariwara; adapted by Gemma Collinge
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.95 US
I rarely recommend comics based on the art. Most often, I’m driven by the story, and I look at art first based on how well it supports the text. Unless they’re extraordinarily lovely or unusual, I frequently notice the pictures only when they’re not as good as they could be or otherwise get in the way.
For some unknown reason, none of that applied to this book. I don’t know why I even tried it. It’s based on an anime I’m unfamiliar with (out on DVD April 28), and I find adaptations spotty in quality in general. The anime is itself an adaptation, an updating of The Count of Monte Cristo set in the future (so the official book description starts “While vacationing on the moon…”).
But as soon as I opened the book, I was sucked into its look. This doesn’t have the colors or complicated patterning of the original; instead, the look is smooth, more so than traditional manga style. It’s streamlined and easy to read, but more like an independent or European comic. It’s also deeply toned with detailed settings and costumes (based on 19th century Europe, even given the science fiction premise) and a great sense of motion. Here are a couple of pages for an example:
I don’t care about the story of young Albert getting involved in the older Count’s plans for revenge. I could have read this untranslated, since all I did was look at the pictures, but I enjoyed it on that level all the same. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)