Monday, October 24, 2011

Manga Monday: Animal Land

Animal Land (Volume 1)
Makoto Raiku

A human baby finds himself in a world populated by only animals, and relies on the kindness of a tanuki (raccoon dog) to save him from certain death after his mother abandons him.  Monoko is the tanuki who raises him as her own, having lost her own family recently to this cruel world where "survival of the fittest" is everyday life.  It's a premise with a lot of promise, but it never lives up to that promise.  In fact, I can't say I remember the last time I was so disappointed by a book.  This manga is geared toward ages thirteen and up, but I can't imagine anyone that age finding anything to like about this title, which had to have been geared for a much younger audience in Japan.  Monoko is perhaps the most irritating character I've ever come across, boasting a deep desperation to love the human baby and care for it and be its "mommy."  She cries whenever anything goes awry, and is so suffocating and selfish in her need to "love" this child that she comes across as utterly pathetic.  The human baby, who can magically talk, although can only crawl, has the ability to talk to all animals, whereas the other animals of the world are only able to speak to their own species.  This helps out the tanuki in a few places, especially when it comes to a huge black cat that is protecting them, but is feared by the tanuki (who wears clothes for some reason, even though no other animals do).  Raiku shamelessly uses the baby to try to bring emotion to a book that, while characters show a lot of emotion, is pretty emotionless.  Just because a character cries, the audience is expected to feel upset, despite no feeling or genuine emotion behind the gesture, and this happens often.  Plot points are solved very conveniently as well.  The baby is sad that he doesn't have a name, and the paper that Monoko hid from him says his name on it (and that's all).  The end.  It's almost insulting how little thought seemed to go into the writing here.  I can't imagine anyone caring about the characters in this book, let alone remembering it the moment they set it down.

No comments: