Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Things No One Cares About:Gaba Kawa

I can be a bit cynical at times,but overall I try to be optimistic and go into everything I do with some semblance of an upbeat attitude. I'm also one for giving people second chances,and usually third and fourth chances because I tend to not learn. This usually extends to my reading as well, everyone has a bad day or in the case of Rie Takada, a few bad volumes. I've already talked about Punch! a few months back. Long story short: it's not very good but there was some potential hiding away. Then one day I stumbled upon a copy of another of her works,Gaba Kawa,and decided that I might as well give her a second shot.

Punch! and Gaba Kawa were published around the same time and as a result they do share some basic similarities in that both have girls giving up one dream in favor of guy related dreams. While Punch!'s Elle was giving up freedom for a cool guy, Gaba Kawa's Rara is giving up on the dreams of one guy for a cooler guy. This does make her seem goofy and flighty at first,she does become grow more and more as she loses her demonic powers,probably should back up for a moment and explain.

This is a supernatural romance story with the nice twist of having the girl be the other worldly entity. Rara is a demon who travels to earth to cause trouble and catch the eye of a supposedly hot demon guy. It does give her the impression of being shallow and vain,which is what we're supposed to be feeling. Once she starts losing powers due to helping a human,she starts to mature and goes through a rather simplistic character arc. She's not giving up independence or a promising career,rather she's changing for the better. Yeah, it's for a guy but the change is for the better and her final sacrifice is genuinely sweet and sad.

The guy she is growing and changing for is Retsu Aku, a jerk with a heart of gold. Yeah he has some similarities to Punch!'s lead guy but with the gold shining through the jerk more clearly. He's the kind of person who just wants to have fun and not be tied down to anything. It's akin to Jotaro Kujo, it's a bit hard to figure him out but he does genuinely care. He does bizarre punk like things but it's for good reasons. Once the love does get confessed,he drops the colder demeanor and is rather sweet. It makes the love all the cuter and his actions in the final pages more believable.

The rest of the characters are there but don't serve any purpose other than to be comic foils or plot exposition. The other demon girl,Bibi, does have a little development in that she changes after she sees Rara's sacrifice but the rest of the cast does not fare as well. Restu's best friend is just sort of there to be an idiot. The guy she's originally pursuing is turned into a one-off joke that Bibi is forced into dating...for some reason. The more minor characters do at least succeed at building the world,it's a bit of an average world but it establishes the rules to an extent. The world is believable and given more time it could have been more interesting.

The ending is sort of a mixed bag in terms of tone and actually trying to make sense. The whole work has a undercurrent of forbidden romance that seems to overtake the plot near the end as Rara is forced to choose between disappearing forever and killing Retsu to stay alive. The whole chapter elicits genuine emotions and I'll admit I was close to actually crying at her final act of sacrifice. Then the final few pages hints at her reincarnation that was never really set up. The page where she does disappear is reminiscent of a ghost going to heaven from earlier in the book. It seems like something that was thought up last minute and minimizes the previous self less act.

I'm happy I gave Rie Takada a second chance. The jokes more or less work,the characters feel a little more developed and likable. Funnily enough,it has more development in one volume than Punch!'s three. It's rather fun and worth a look.

Till Next Time:Stay Positive 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shojo A Go-Go: Kiss of the Rose Princess

While I was reading Kiss of The Rose Princess,the phrase “ Diamond in the rough” popped into my head again and again. Every time a cliché event occurred, I felt like the book knew that. The boys had basic personalities but felt they had hidden depths. There just seems to be something more going on just beneath the surface. I should step back for a moment and expand slightly on what I'm talking about instead of making vague allusions.

The story is a reverse harem with a supernatural bent,nothing new. Our main heroine,Anise, gains a foursome of hot guys for her to control and summon at will. They give her a vague goal of defeating a demon lord but she's more concerned with finding a choker that she lost right before she met them. The rest of the volume is more concerned with the latter goal as a means to introduce the boys. The main plot as it were is pushed to the side with only a vague hook for it near the end. The story told in the volume is rather silly but does serve to make the character introduction chapters flow better.

The boys that make up this lovely harem cover your stock personality types: the brooding loner,the sick boy,the class president and the blunt main love interest. The aforementioned introduction chapters are a both a blessing and a curse. On one hand they show off the boy' powers in a bit of a contrived way. On the other hand it also hints at everyone's relationships and gives us an idea of those lovely hidden depths. Yes they are cliché but they still get comedic set pieces that work and the ending whilst ridiculous is over the top enough to make it work. In part because these characters are just fun to watch. The student council president’s over blown mentality on love or the brooding loner's determination to be just that against the more wacky back drop makes them enjoyable.

The art does fall flat in that the eyes on certain characters do not look right. This can range from simply off putting to straight uncanny valley. Also two of the boys,Kaede and Kurama,are somewhat hard to differentiate. On the other hand the rest of the art has a very dream like quality that is drenched in a rose motif. Flower motifs in general are nothing new but the way it's used invokes Revolutionary Girl Utena rather than just a generic shojo story.

Stepping forward again, I really enjoyed this book and I'm excited to see what's to come . The whole volume feels rather silly but not in a “we're a silly gag manga” way. Rather it's setting up everything that it needs to while it's still has time to mess around. Everything seems to be playing at something bigger in an interesting way.

Till Next Time: Stay Positive