Monday, September 14, 2009

Manga Monday: Cute Little Creatures

This week for Manga Monday, I'm pairing together two manga that feature little furry creatures, be it alien or...other. And oddly enough, they're for completely different audiences. One is for kids: Domo: The Manga, while the other is for mature audiences only (despite appearances): Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu.
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Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu (Volume 1)
Junko Mizuno
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Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu is an adults only manga that features a cute little puffball from planet Princess Kotobuki. He travels to earth via a Space Hippo's magic mirror to try to find a bride, because more than anything, Pelu wants to have a baby (because it's what all of the humanoid women that populate his planet want to do). This is one strange manga, as Pelu himself was pulled from the corpse of a half-eaten women and is part of that woman's reproductive system? Okay. It really speaks to Mizuno's imagination that she can come up with such odd stories, but I'm not a fan of something being weird for the sake of being weird. I'm giving Mizuno a pass though because I think the big draw for her audience is her art, and if these offbeat stories featuring a horny puffball from a uterus allows her to draw the types of stories in the type of weird, surreal environments she wishes to maneuver her characters through, then so be it. This premise also allows Mizuno to cut loose with drawing naked women en mass, and come up with crazy cool looks for different towns and people. Ultimately, the success of this book comes down to Junko Mizuno's amazing design aesthetic. Nobody else's art looks like Mizuno's. She has cutesy, well-designed houses, food, characters, animals, trees...anything and everything she decides to put to paper is thought out for maximum effect to become uber-cute, such as a hippo covered in stars or a house with lovely, swirling vines and flowers growing all around it. Amid this bounty of beauty, she also has a mind to explore the female body, the premise of this book lending itself to showcasing many nude characters, and throwing in some violence and blood for good measure. This adult approach through her kid-friendly art style is a little unnerving at times, but it's really something to behold and it works. It's utterly unique, proving that Mizuno really has a creative vision and she's really showcasing that she can put that wild, inappropriate imagination on paper.
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Domo: The Manga
Clint Bickham, Rem, Sonia Leong, Lindsay Cibos & Jared Hodges
Created by Tsuneo Goda
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Domo is the mascot for a Japanese television network, and his popularity has led to his being plastered all over t-shirts, mugs, toys and now, his own manga series for kids. Basically, Domu is portrayed in this book as a lovable oaf. He doesn't understand things and gets so excited that he's constantly breaking things, making people angry, and being a general nuisance. Ultimately, he's pretty annoying. I'm not sure if I should be rooting for him when he's causing so much havoc, and he doesn't seem to learn from any of his mistakes whatsoever. I was more sympathetic with the supporting cast, who I wouldn't have minded seeing kick his brown furry butt, special needs or not. I like how many of the stories revolved around the television, either video games or television programs, as Domu got his start on TV, and the art was surprisingly pretty consistent with so many creators working on the manga together, alternating art chores with chapters. Since this is a kids' comics, it was appropriate to release this in color, and the cartoony style worked well, as each of the creators was able to graft their style with the character designs and environment pretty seemlessly. But aside from the obnoxious protagonist, the stories are all pretty dopey. Really silly. I didn't care for the humor myself, but I can see children really enjoying this sort of book, and as this is for them really, I would say it's a success in that regard. Unfortunately, the vibe I got from this book overall, with the talking forest creatures living in what's basically a human world, made me feel like the creators grafted the figure of Domo to a generic Saturday morning cartoon, like Arthur or Franklin, and didn't really have anything else to say. And as Domo isn't a forest animal, I'm not sure it was the right fit either. Overall, there's nothing really original to the concept behind this manga. It's executed competently, kids will probably enjoy it, but their time is better spent with something more substantial and original.

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