The nine-volume "Here Is Greenwood" is more than simple adolescent melodrama. It also "breaks the fourth wall," meaning characters acknowledge that they are personalities inked on a comic book page.
To the clunkers!
Some manga imports fail to sell because we just don't "get" them
EVERY YEAR, anime and manga companies release dozens, if not hundreds, of volumes of series to a fan base eager to see what's new.
Some series, like "Fullmetal Alchemist" and "Naruto," immediately rise to the top of sales charts, and deservedly so. Others settle in toward the middle of the scale, with decent sales that could be better if more people knew about them.
And then there are the clunkers. Every industry has them -- the properties that we just can't figure out why they were ever brought over to the United States in the first place, or why people ever gushed about them.
This is our tribute to the clunkers. Granted, some of them have rabid fan bases of their own, and they might have a few redeeming points here and there. But all of them have one thing in common: We just don't get them.
Technology and magic mix in Dark City, which is rumored to hide a great treasure called "Dream Gold." To find it, the Treasure Investigation Department was created, with membership limited to those who find one of 250 treasure keys scattered around the world.
Kurorat Jio Clocks, famous for his smarts, and his childhood friend Katana Shirabano are on the trail of the final key. With most of the city eager to find Dream Gold, and therefore eager to join the Investigation Department's Knights, Kurorat's search does not go unnoticed. Some of the more powerful shady figures are prepared to kill Kurorat for the key, but he manages to escape and become a Knight.
Aside from Dream Gold, Knights are pointed to other "treasures" in the city, with Night Points awarded to the finders.
It's a good story until the third chapter, when the chaos factor multiplies. And artist Tatsurou Nakanishi squeezes action into tiny boxes, so it's easy to miss the sequence of events, and before you know it Kurora is suddenly on the ground when we last saw him on a midair train.
Many questions hover that, in the midst of all the fierce competition for treasure, have yet to be asked: Who controls the TID? Who is responsible for the orders given to the Knights? Why does the TID foster rivalry between the Knights rather than rallying them toward Dream Gold? And what exactly is Dream Gold?
But seeing as "Dream Gold" was canceled by ADV, we can only reflect upon the many loose plot threads that will never be tied up.
'Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children'
Ahh, "Final Fantasy VII." Back when this video game came out on the original PlayStation in 1997, it was the biggest-selling game in the "Final Fantasy" franchise to date, mostly because of its pretty CGI graphics, lush orchestral soundtrack and the size the character designers made Tifa's chest.
Yet for all of the good will engendered by that game, one question remained in the minds of gamers everywhere at the end: "That's IT?" Most of the gang fled on Cid's airship, the Lifestream swallowed up the city of Midgard, and Red XIII and his posse of ... um ... Red XIII-esque creatures was left to roam the planet.
And so, after nine years of wondering, we now have the feature-length film "Advent Children," which tells us that CGI animation has become much prettier. After that, things get a bit dicey.
There's some Geostigma thingy that's infecting children, a bunch of silver-haired guys who keep screaming something about wanting mama Jenova back, and all the heroes of "Final Fantasy VII" bouncing around like Silly Putty as they engage in obligatory fight scene after obligatory fight scene.
If you never played the game, this film won't make much sense to you. If you played the game, this film still might not make much sense to you. And once it all ends, one question will likely remain in the minds of viewers: "That's IT?"
'Here Is Greenwood'
Meet 15-year-old Kazuya Hasukawa, who is starting his freshman year at prestigious Ryokuto Academy for boys. Aside from the honor of being accepted at such an exclusive school, Kazuya seems to have hit bad luck: Not only did he get into an accident and so miss the first month of school, but his brother recently married the woman who is Kazuya's first love.
Unable to face the loss of his unrequited love, the boy decides to live in Ryokuto's dorm. But he finds no peace here, either: His classmates are quick to take advantage of his month-long absence and make his first three days a little more memorable than Kazuya would have liked them to be.
"Greenwood" seems like a run-of-the-mill comedic drama about the angst of adolescence. It's not. From the beginning, writer/artist Yukie Nasu is in the habit of breaking the fourth wall -- a literary device in which a comic's characters freely acknowledge that they are simply ink on a page. It's funny, but out of place in a manga like this.
And dorm life is hectic but believable until the second volume, when the dorm's head resident, Mitsuru Ikeda, reveals a ridiculous inhuman power that panders to all the fangirls (and any fanboys) out there and throws any remaining semblance of reality out the window. More silly things happen from there on, including medieval fantasy stories and a "round robin" retelling of "Cinderella" that have nothing to do with school.
This nine-volume series published stateside by Viz was made into a six-episode anime and has a huge following in Japan. Considering all the pretty boys in it, it's not hard to see why. If it's as popular here as it is in its native country, it's probably for the same reason. Still, it's a lively story and is worth a read at least once.
Many tales have been shared over the years about dancers who are passionate about dancing. "Para Para," based on that dance where people wave their arms around in tightly choreographed routines to music that sounds like it's sped up several bazillion times, aspires to be one of them.
This single-volume graphic novel, originally published in Hong Kong and released stateside by ComicsOne, follows Dennis Lingmu, a man who has a passion for Para Para because he lost someone dear to him, and Yuki Chang, the daughter of a company president who lost a sister dear to her. Since this is a story that makes even the most mundane events excessively melodramatic, you can probably figure out where Dennis and Yuki are linked in this tale.
And oh, what melodrama! Characters often speak in flowery monologues -- for instance, "I hate the rain. ... The rain only brings back unhappy memories and foreshadows an unpleasantness to come."
If they're not waxing poetic, they're usually striking dramatic poses in full-page spreads, with leaves blowing through, disco lights flashing, droplets of sweat and blood in full flight, rain pouring down and the setting sun at its most brilliant position.
Every time it seems as if things couldn't get any worse, they do. The relationship between Yuki and her father -- an overbearing man, of course -- breaks down. Terminal illnesses are introduced. And Para Para becomes so much more than a dance ... it become a way to express passionate emotions.