Manga with rocker Lavigne a decent read
BEING THE anime and manga columnist at a daily newspaper can be a rather quiet existence. Sure, there are the occasional e-mails from people in the industry, but by and large I hardly get any feedback.
And then there's the Avril Lavigne column I did back in February, where I talked about the singer getting involved with publisher Del Rey's first OEL (original English language) manga project and how it's coming out close to the release date of her new CD. "Oh-so-conveniently" was the phrase I used.
I got an e-mail soon afterward from a Lavigne fan who took exception to that comment. "You may not like this idea for manga. ... That's fine," the fan concluded after a rather lengthy e-mail. "But, I plead with you to get all of your facts straight before you write an article that many will see."
Fair enough. And so, with an open mind, I took up an advance copy, courtesy of Del Rey, of the manga in question, "Avril Lavigne's Make 5 Wishes."
Once one gets past all the Avril-branding -- her note to readers on the cover, the ad for her new CD and Internet endeavors -- the story is actually quite readable.
The cover might say "Starring Avril Lavigne," but the true star of the story is Hana, a girl who leads, from her perspective, a miserable life. At school no one notices her. At home her parents are constantly fighting. Her only joy comes from adopting various online personas ... and listening to Avril Lavigne music, of course.
While poking around the Internet one night, Hana comes upon a Web site with a picture of a package and an invitation to order it. She does, and a few days later said package arrives containing a small demon who says he has the ability to grant her five wishes. (And a cool-looking demon, too, judging by the comments I've heard from co-workers.)
Those of you who have read tales about entities who grant wishes are probably thinking right now, "Uh-oh ... this is going to be another cautionary tale about being careful about what you wish for, because you may very well get it." And you would be correct.
As for Lavigne, she portrays Hana's imaginary muse and Jiminy Cricket-like conscience. I admittedly don't know Lavigne's real-life personality all that well, but I'd argue that the role could be filled just as easily by any celebrity or imagined character who is the main character's idol.
Production values, as with all Del Rey manga, are impeccable, with full-color glossy pages throughout.
Will it sway manga purists who have been shaking their heads ever since the project was announced? Probably not. For its target audience -- teen girls and Avril Lavigne fans -- though, it's worth checking out ...
Meeting roll call
» Oahu Anime Explorer:
6 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at HMC Academy, 555 N. King St. Visit www.oahuanimeexplorer.com
for more details and this month's trivia question ...
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao