Kayt's Reviews > Mangaman

Mangaman by Barry Lyga
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's review
Aug 03, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: graphic-novels
Read on May 17, 2012

I wanted to like it, but Mangaman was as flat as its main character.

Cool premise, right? Manga character falls into the "real world" (AKA an American-style comic book), and hilarity ensues at all the differences between styles. What manga fan hasn't thought of that at some point?

And the storyline was kinda contrived, but we can live with that, right? You have some interdimensional alien/boy fall into your world and determine he's not a threat, so in case you can't send him back, let's introduce him to the local populace! Okay, fine. But he's really an alien to these people: he looks different. You can see his emotions and thoughts and speed lines and stuff. Why doesn't he have a handler or something ? To advance the plot. Whatever.

But the characters were just obnoxious. There are 3 designated good guys (Ryoko/"mangaman", love interest, and counting for half each are Ryoko's scientest and Love Interest's best friend, since they have very minor roles), and everyone else is evil, dumb, and annoying. (Actually, everyone is annoying, but at least the good guys are a bit more interesting.) Everyone dislikes Ryoko! Love Interest has an evil-yet-still-possessive ex-boyfriend! Love Interest's parents will team up with evil-ex-boyfriend to their daughter's detriment!

And then the art. The American-style stuff is mostly fine. Not my cup of tea, but well-done. The manga, though...I'll forgive all the heavy cliches, since that's kinda the point of the book, but Ryoko's just awkwardly drawn. There's no line variation whatsoever, making him extremely flat. I don't know why, since judging by the American inks, the illustrator is highly skilled, but for whatever reason Ryoko is drawn with all lines the same, be they outlines, features, or even clothing wrinkles.

He doesn't get any screen tones, either. In fact,the few tones that show up are always in the background, part of some Very Very Manga Cliche Moment. American-comic characters get inked shading and line variations, Ryoko is a mass of white space. The few scenes from the manga-world are hard on the eyes because it's all outlines (no line variation, of course!) and white space. Why? Tones would have been a perfect way to add to the stylistic differences!

It might be that the illustrator just wasn't familiar enough with manga, especially the shoujo manga that this draws on. Ryoko's awkwardness isn't just due to lack of line variation, it's subtle problems with perspective, and symmetry, and consistency. It's really more like Deviantart fan posts than something professional.

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