Monday, February 16, 2009

Manga Monday: Orange

Benjamin
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Orange is among the first wave of full-color manga to be released from Tokyopop. It's published in a larger format than most manga (9.9 x 7.2) to better showcase the beautiful painted panels, and clocks in at 144 pages, which takes easily less than an hour to read through. If this book weren't painted, I guess I wouldn't really see the need to publish it in color, which is kind of the point of this new line: to publish manga in color where color plays a vital role in the story. There's a little orange in the title, I guess (but much less than you'd think), the majority of the pages featuring blue tones, making for kind of a dull color comic, especially to kick off a new line with. But there were a few pages that were very vibrant that made the color worthwhile in the end. The story focuses on a character named Orange who's sick of life. She feels it's pointless and the people around her are shallow and cold, so suicide seems to her the only viable option out of her situation. Luckily, when she's about to attempt stepping off the roof of her apartment complex, a strange man stops her. Over the next few weeks, she's captivated by the man, meanwhile frustrated and angry with him, until he chooses to commit suicide in the same fashion she was going to, making her realize the ugliness of the act. To be honest, I felt a real disconnect with this story. It seemed really pretentious to me. Romanticizing suicide is nothing new or clever, and Benjamin does not paint a full enough picture to convey that Orange is cornered to the extent that suicide is necessary to escape. In fact, I feel like I hardly know Orange at all, let alone care about what she wants to do with her life. She's a stock character in a generic story. But even if a reader doesn't like the story, the painting in the book is nice. I'll give it that. A little hazy and expressive, for a very pretty effect. But...that story. I think Tokyopop could have found a better color manga to kick this line off with, or if this is the best shining example of the artform, they should have done their readership a favor and left them untranslated.

1 comment:

hcduvall said...

I took a look at the preview of the book and figured it wasn't for me. Your review sort of shores up that decision. That said, it sounds more commercially viable than I expected. The story may read derivative (or just plain not be that good), but for a Tokyopop audience, it may just work if it isn't too bad.