Graphic Novel Review: 750 Years in Paris / By Vincent Mahé

750 Years in Paris750 Years in Paris

by Vincent Mahé

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gorgeous bold contrasting colour palette, that reminds me of vintage Eastern European Children’s book illustration. Who doesn’t love teals and orange together?!

This title follows 1 piece of infrastructure in Paris over the period of 750 years – following a seemingly accurate depiction of architectural history. It is essentially wordless, with a very brief timeline summary on the final page.

I enjoyed the colour and illustration — but, being a plotless and textless novel, I suspect is not something I’d pick up very often. Maybe would be good as a coffee-table book to flip through and enjoy at random.

You’ll probably enjoy this title if you also like: “Tokyo Sanpo”/”Tokyo on Foot” by Florent Chavouet or, “Here” by Richard McGuire.


Manga Review: Oyayubihime Infinity / by Toru Fujieda

Oyayubihime Infinity: Volume 1Oyayubihime Infinity: Volume 1

by Toru Fujieda

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay. So, this series is obviously out of print considering that the publisher no longer exists. But, if you have the finances and inclination I would urge you to buy a copy of this series.

Oyayubihime Infinity is one of those romantic shoujo dramas about reincarnation, with memories of the past life, and a hint of fantasy. It’s a bit less dramatic or science fiction-y (yes, that’s a technical term) than titles like, “Please Save My Earth” but nevertheless, the premise is essentially the same. However similar, I find that the the story feels fresh, and isn’t as overwhelmingly heavy as other attempts.

Back Cover – Meet Kanoko, a high school student, and manager of the up-and-coming young actress Maya. Humble, modest Kanoko’s only dream is to see Maya hit the big-time. But the butterfly-shaped birthmark on her thumb might change her entire life.

Essentially the birthmark is one shared by a number of young people in the story. They are indicative of a past life where as lovers – tattooed themselves with a butterfly before committing suicide.

Why butterfly tattoos? This is due to the will of each couple to follow in the footsteps of the famous Agemaki and Sukeroku’s tragic past. Agemaki taking her name from the Japanese word for butterfly. The tragic story of Agemaki and Sukeroku is represented in one of Japan’s most famous kabuki plays “Sukeroku” – I’m sure you can find a synopsis online if you care to read about it!

Kanoko learns about the connection with her birthmark to the past life when one of the most popular boys in school starts pestering her about her being his past love. He too has one on his thumb, and is looking for his missing soul-mate.

There is plenty of drama and angst, and love triangles. Actually, it looks more like a love hexagon. But, what is great about this manga is that the characters grow up, mature, and give up some of their past insecurities. The meek become strong, the lonely find happiness, and the angry find peace. The past is given a proper burial, and everyone has a chance to move on.

Review: Alice in Wonderland / by Rod Espinosa

Alice in WonderlandAlice in Wonderland

by Rod Espinosa

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Recommended for younger readers, who might be unfamiliar with the story.

As a child, I loved Alice in Wonderland. I recalled enjoying Espinosa’s courageous princess years ago and thought I’d try this. It wasn’t my favorite. I know the Alice story too well, seeing as it was a favourite growing up. And also, I don’t see myself as the demographic for this title.

Personally, Espinosa took some of the famous scenes from the story and hurriedly smushed them together in a fast narrative. He forgot to add the “wonder” to his story. Alice barely has a chance to catch her breath before she’s already onto something new. Espinosa is relying too heavily on the reader knowing the story… And, on Alice being incredibly adaptable.

The art is 50/50. Scenes are well expressed. Some of the character design is interesting, if a little over-simplified. But, Alice is a poor attempt at a manga style. Ineffective, expressionless, and distinctly uninspired-“fan” work. It doesn’t look like Espinosa has bothered to meld his own style… It’s just a poor rehashing.

I might be overly harsh on this comic.
Espinosa is treading into too many territories where I have strong opinions on.
Maybe if this was a retelling of a story I didn’t know… in a style of comic that I didn’t read daily… I wouldn’t be so annoyed by it.

Manga Review: Sorako / by Takayuki Fujimura


by Takayuki Fujimura

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Short stories about Sorako: an aimless slacker, who is bored and dissatisfied with her current situation. Normally this would be the premise of a story where the character slowly comes into her own, finds ways to be satisfied with her situation… Or, you know… Do anything. She doesn’t (do anything, that is).

This comic could be construed as a character study, but I would argue that it just doesn’t go very deep. It’s not particularly moving, I don’t think it feels like a commentary on society. So, I have to judge this based on story and art.

Story-wise, it’s nothing special. Short vignettes, that don’t really go anywhere.

Art-wise this is a fair comic. I appreciate the heavy use of cross-hatching to create texture and shading over screen tones. There were still “screen tones”, but they were laid with computer rather than sheets. However, this is one of the few titles that a CG screen tone didn’t annoy the heck out of me. Each story seems to display slightly different art style as though several people were working on this — or possibly, the author is still trying to decide on their own unique style. It was interesting, but a little too obvious at times.

I originally read this title because of reading Anomal, also published by Gen. I was incredibly disappointed with the translation of the title. I really really wanted to like the publisher. I will admit that this translation is far far far superior to that other title… But, I’m still not overly impressed.

There is one more title by Gen that a friend highly recommends, which I’ll try before officially saying, “sayonara” to works by this publisher.