Monday, August 06, 2007

Manga Monday 41: Gon!

I'm getting pretty behind on my manga. I have an unwieldy pile waiting for me to sift through and I'm barely making small dents in it before more new stuff comes out. Sigh. With Wizard World Chicago coming up this next weekend and The Toronto Comic Arts Festival the next (both of which I'm attending), I may not get much reading in, but you can bet that reviews of Osama Tezuka's Apollo's Song and MPD Psycho are forthcoming, as well as plenty more of my favorites... Up this week, Gon and the newest Hana-Kimi!

Gon (Volume 1)
Masashi Tanaka

Gon is an adorable all-ages manga, one that's been printed before in the US, but not in its entirety. DC is providing American readers with a chance to experience the series from beginning to end in their relaunch of the title through their CMX line. The manga follows the last dinosaur as he strives to survive in the wilderness and make sense of his surroundings. Quite often, the little guy can be seen imitating animals around him, whether its appropriate or not. He builds a beaver dam, he tries to fly... He pretty much gets in a lot of mischief. But he's a tough little guy, so he can bully and throw tantrums as he pleases pretty much. When he wants to, he can be a great defender of harmless animals, but he's usually self-serving and disregards the lives of those around him. He's kind of a complex character when it comes down to it.

The art on the series is fantastic. It really doesn't get much better than this if you're looking for realistic art with all of the beauty and savagery available in the wild. And since Gon is told without any dialogue or words whatsoever, it's quite an achievement that the stories can be so cohesive. Even the critically-acclaimed Owly cheats with pictures in thought balloons to convey meaning. The skillful Tanaka merely conveys it through actions, and to spectacular effect. It really speaks to the mastery of his craft, especially since I can't follow what's going on in Chris Claremont comics that are overflowing with word balloons and dialogue that tell the reader what's going on.

This is a treat. It's nice and simple, and a really brisk read, but it's priced at a mere $5.99, so you're hardly putting yourself out for giving the title a try. It's a cute book that I'm looking forward to following. A-

Hana-Kimi (Volume 19)
Hisaya Nakajo

And just when I thought I had finally caught up with the series, another volume comes out... The latest volume of Hana-Kimi brings the series back to form, with a real tension building between the characters and a short climax to the storyarc that's been culminating for a few books. There are some great moments in this volume, some of the best of the series, and Nakajo's art has never looked better. I'm not sure how many volumes of Hana-Kimi there are, but I'm looking forward to when everything finally comes to a head. A

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