I love nearly everything about this story. I do wish Nina played more of a role, but I also love Tenma as a main character and his ability to inspireI love nearly everything about this story. I do wish Nina played more of a role, but I also love Tenma as a main character and his ability to inspire and uplift the people around him. What really strikes me about the story, though, is how masterfully Urasawa weaves together the horrifying and the mundane. Monster alternates between the intense thriller-mystery narrative of Tenma's quest for Johan and small slice-of-life narratives about ordinary, usually relatively decent, people. The complexity of the characters, the depth of storytelling, the philosophical force--this is one manga I would feel comfortable recommending to literally anyone....more
The volume starts slow, but by the last section I was absolutely enraptured. I do think the 2-volume repackage was a good choice, not just for marketiThe volume starts slow, but by the last section I was absolutely enraptured. I do think the 2-volume repackage was a good choice, not just for marketing (though the heavier, bigger shape makes these books feel More Serious) but narratively as well--the story is fast-paced and absorbing, and I think it works better with more content in less packaging....more
This was cute, and I definitely think it'd be a good read for someone in the middle grade range. As an adult it fell more into the "not for me" range,This was cute, and I definitely think it'd be a good read for someone in the middle grade range. As an adult it fell more into the "not for me" range, but that's fine, and I didn't really expect it to.
I think the characters have potential--they could be strong. Unfortunately there's really too much noise for any one character to feel very well-drawn. Everyone is, at the very least, distinct and interesting.
The writing is fun and campy, though the dialogue itself sometimes felt a little strained. The story positively races, and not always in a good way. Any time the Lumberjanes came up against a quandary it was resolved within the next few panels, making victories that should feel hard-won come a little cheaply. The problem is exacerbated by busy panels--there were points reading where I just had to close the book and breathe.
The said, the art is dynamic and nice to look at, and the story is intriguing--it isn't even slightly resolved at the end of the volume, and each development asks even more questions. I'm excited that there's a book like this in the world, even if it wasn't my personal cup....more
This is worth reading solely for the visual language -- the paneling and pacing is excellent, and Asano uses black space to striking effect. The art iThis is worth reading solely for the visual language -- the paneling and pacing is excellent, and Asano uses black space to striking effect. The art itself is striking and effective, but the actual layout of the pages is what stood out the most.
It's hard to comment much in terms of content; I feel incredibly unqualified to really dissect the story. It's one that invites multiple re-readings. Nijigahara Holograph is a patchwork story, and Asano slots it together well--not neatly, but masterfully. What starts out as a confused jumble of striking images falls into a cohesive, albeit still confusing, narrative. The ending worked for me; I think other people might find it a little twee, but it felt good to read, and it didn't come cheap.
I do want to say something about the feel of the piece, because I so rarely find words that resonate just right with me. There was something in the bleakness of the story that felt really, frighteningly familiar, a kind of tiredness. I think that's the thread that made the manga really work for me--without that familiarity I'd probably find it veered too much toward pseudo-philosophical torture porn. As it is I'm not quite sure how I feel about the way the narrative dealt with rape. It's one of those things I don't feel qualified to talk about as I feel like Nijigahara Holograph speaks very specifically within Japanese culture.
It's worth reading and it's worth rereading. I liked it very much, insomuch as you can like a book like this one. Maybe someday I'll collect my thoughts enough to actually meaningfully interpret the story. Until then this will have to suffice....more
I love Cassandra Jean's art, and I enjoyed the novel version of Miss Peregrine's Home but I don't think they worked well together. Miss Peregrine's HoI love Cassandra Jean's art, and I enjoyed the novel version of Miss Peregrine's Home but I don't think they worked well together. Miss Peregrine's Home's strength was always in its sense of atmosphere, and while Jean is a very talented artist, her skills are more with the human figure and less with backgrounds the paneling and atmosphere. This might sound a bit strange, but I feel like an artist with more solid lines would've been a better choice with this particular novel. Also, I think the story lost a lot of its charm when abbreviated for the graphic novel format. Oh well. I did like the use of color, and I did enjoy looking at the beautiful art. I still don't think the pictures work well in context though....more
There's nothing precisely wrong with The Last Dragon, there's just not anything astonishing about it either.
Yolen's writing is fairytale-esque, whichThere's nothing precisely wrong with The Last Dragon, there's just not anything astonishing about it either.
Yolen's writing is fairytale-esque, which works well with the tone and narrative structure of the book. However, said style of writing tends towards dryness, and I think the story would've been better served as a storybook with illustrations rather than a graphic novel (on a similar note, Guay's art tends to be static, and the paneling was clunky and awkward in places). The story itself was derivative, which is not a bad thing in and of itself, but the bland characters lacked the strength to move a story already plodding from static art and stuffy writing.
While Guay's art is stunningly intricate and very beautiful, her art style is very clearly time-consuming, and not all panels merited the temporal investment that would make them look good. As a result, The Last Dragon is a book with mostly very beautiful art and a few careless, overly-sketchy panels that jar the reader out of the visual narrative....more
I've read other works by Brian K. Vaughan, and while he can get away with some tremendously awful dialogue writing about idiot teenagers, it's somethiI've read other works by Brian K. Vaughan, and while he can get away with some tremendously awful dialogue writing about idiot teenagers, it's something else entirely when I'm supposed to buy lines like, "I was stupid to think we could ever outrun this retarded fucking war," from adults, albeit young adults. Commence lots of gratuitous violence that serves very little point, disoriented worldbuilding, and narrative tone that can't decide whether it wants to be zany absurdism or gritty war-time darkness and this book is a veritable hodgepodge of ideas that might be cool in theory, but are an awful mess in practice.
There are too many plotlines. The book oscillates too wildly between too many different points of view to maintain any sense of emotional consistency. There isn't enough time spent with Marko and Alana to really care about either of them, and while there's a pretty gross storyline that illustrates to the audience that The Will is a murderer with a heart of gold (or something like that) there's nothing that makes any of these characters terribly likable.
Perhaps this could be forgiven if this world made any sense whatsoever, but it doesn't. It's like Vaughan and Staples were like "Oh, this will be cool! And this! And this too!" without any regard for how these elements might fit together. Awesome robots with TVs for heads and giant sex palaces and magic and rocket ships made out of trees (the last is really the only element I found kind of cool so yeah, okay). Why are the TV-robots in charge? How is there this super-opulent sex palace in this war-torn universe (like, brothels I understand but something this prosperous seemed really strange), how does magic work and why do only Marko's people seem to have it? (this one could reasonably be explained later but the other stuff could probably due with an explanation now). There's no sense of culture or world to the thing.
Also swearing in books is perfectly acceptable, as is sex, but man I like for it to serve some kind of purpose. The swearing was irritating because could the author really find a way to communicate his characters beings crass or disliking each other without all the gendered insults? Alana made sense because she's a crude person and that's an understandable part of her character, but everyone calling her a slut or a whore? I'm sure he gets a pass for that being "realistic" in this made-up nonsensical alien society but it got a little old. Also the sex wasn't even ... I honestly felt like Vaughan and Staples were trying to gross out readers? Which is a cheap narrative tactic. I wasn't shocked, I was just bored with the whole writing-bodies-in-the-background shit.
I guess the book did some things well. I think I would actually like Alana if she were in a better narrative (though Marko astoundingly derivative as far as characters go; I was actually impressed). I liked Hazel's narration, and the writing there at least proved that Vaughan is capable of writing well, even if he chooses not to exercise that ability. The character designs were appealing, though the interior art was sloppy and looked rushed rather than intentionally sketchy most of the time. The story obviously has a lot of appeal for readers, as evidenced by the glowing reviews, but I was personally both disgusting and unimpressed with Saga....more