+Anima Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59816-347-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: +Anima

+Anima Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     April 27, 2006
Release Date: May 09, 2006


+Anima Vol.#01
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Natsumi Mukai
Translated by:Alethea Nibley
Adapted by:

What They Say
Beings who possess animal-like powers walk among humans in this alternate universe. These mysterious mutants--the +Anima--are shunned by society... Four outcasts in particular--Cooro, a boy with crow-like powers; Husky, a fish-boy; Senri, a bear +Anima; and a girl named Nana, who wields bat powers--search for others like themselves while trying to gain acceptance in a world cruel to anyone or anything that is different.

The Review
On the beer scale, +Anima is one of those no carb, light beers with a hint of fruity flavors. Those who prefer a porter or stout would probably be better off looking elsewhere.


Packaging:
The cover is stunning, featuring bright colors looking sharp on the matte finish with a horizontal layout and a logo that fits in quite nicely. The print reproduction is quite solid as well. No color plates were used, but I'm unsure if they were included in the original tanks as well. There are a couple of illustrations at the front of the book, with the only other extras being character bios with artwork in the back.

Art:
The artwork features some very sleek line work with a lot of nice detail in the character designs and backgrounds. The characters are extremely cute, and the artwork allows that to shine through quite nicely. There are some nice large panels and full page illustrations included as well.

Text/SFX:
SFX are not translated, so I'll just say "BOO!" and move on with it as this is an issue that I'm tired of beating the dead horse over. English script reads very well and keeps up with that youthful energy that the title carries.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
There is no denying how unbelievably cute the characters are in +Anima. For those who enjoy your cat-girls and/or cat-boys, +Anima contains more cute human animal hybrids such as a crow-boy, fish-boy (or a male mermaid), bear-boy, and bat-girl. Wait a minute. That last one sounds familiar. Anyway, their chibi-esque designs and innocent conversations and actions make for an undeniably cute experience. Unfortunately, there's not much else to go on once you get past that thick layer of cuteness.

Set in a fantasy world that could be ripped out of any fantasy manga or RPG video game, these +Anima (the human + animal beings) live their lives under the scrutinizing eye of human society. With this first volume, the stories follow a very generic pattern where a new +Anima joins the "team" with each new chapter. Most of the time the +Anima are in some sort of captivity by the humans, and it's up to the free +Anima to rescue them and convince them to go on their journey to nowhere. There are no strong parallels with society's prejudices, but rather the stories are sillier, adventurous romps that enable our characters to do what they do best--be cute!!

The end of the volume brings in some hints at some semblance of an ongoing story in future installments, but the introduction here is mostly a shallow one. The characters really don't develop much of a personality yet, instead relying on a lot of conventions we've seen many times before: the crow-boy likes to eat a lot, the bat-girl does things that contrast with her moe exterior, the fish-boy doesn't like girls, and so on. There are a few attempts to introduce some tragic pasts, but so far they are rushed over in order to keep the mood light and easy.

Comments
Undeniably cute, but ultimately shallow, +Anima is one of those titles that will probably score well with fans of run-of-the-mill fantasy manga or characters who are hybrids with animals. Do you like cat-girls? Well, how about a loli-sized bat-girl? You like tall, silent bishounen? Then give try the bear-boy on for size! They are cute, energetic, and spend most of their time doing silly and cute things.

For me, the cute appeal wore off relatively early and I was left grasping for some semblance of a story while everyone was off cavorting on their silly rescue adventures. Cute artwork, some fun and silly romps, but the lack of any real depth (in story or characters) left me in the end feeling a little cold.

That said, I do think this title has good potential for a wide audience, and so far TOKYOPOP has done a good job with its production. Will it be a title that earns them another Top 10 BookScan contender? That remains to be seen.

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