Arcana Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 214
  • ISBN: 1-59532-481-X
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Arcana Vol. #01

By Megan Lavey     May 27, 2005
Release Date: June 07, 2005

Arcana Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:So-Young Lee
Translated by:Youngju Ryu
Adapted by:

What They Say
The young orphan girl Inez has a special gift that allows her to communicate with all creatures. A great, unknown destiny awaits her - Inez is the chosen one! She travels to her country's capital, where Inez learns of her mission: She must bring back the guardian dragon that will protect her country's fragile peace from the demon-race, lurking within the shadows.

The Review
The layout of the cover reminds me a lot of the way TOKYOPOP handled Cardcaptor Sakura. It's the feel of an old-fashioned leather-bound book with Inez and a bird. The colors are so light that they blend into each other and there's no real contrast between Inez and the background. Because of this, the most prominent feature on here is the logo, which gives it the balance it needs and feels appropriate for the series. The back is pretty plain and is dedicated to the summary. The initial colored pages and a fold-out colored poster are included in the release - something that excites me. I'm hoping that if TOKYOPOP manages to get the rights to reissue Sailormoon that they will be able to include the original mini-posters that went with that series as well. It tucks away so it doesn't get abused during normal handling of the book.

Other extras include a revamp to the traditional ads. Now you get slightly more in-depth with a manga spotlight. a plug for TOKYOPOP Takuhai and editor's picks, like what Viz does occasionally. I laughed at Julie Taylor's description comparing Peach Girl to The O.C. And what I know about the latter series, I think that description is pretty accurate.

The artwork here is rather spooky and is fitting for a tale like Petshop of Horrors. Many of the characters have these very large, alien-like heads that make me feel really weird and uncomfortable looking at it for very long. There's one scene of Inez stretching her hand into the snow where her hand and arm look like it belongs to a corpse. I find that some of the men are drawn a bit more realistically. But what I don't care for in regarding characters, I find that So-Young Lee does a wonderful job in providing very detailed backgrounds. It's easy to be immersed in the other-worldly setting here.

TOKYOPOP appears to have done a good job with this translation. No honorfics, but I wasn't expecting any since it's a Korean title.

Content (may contain spoilers):
There's only two chapters of content in this volume, but they're pretty long chapters that are used to set up the story.

In "The Hundred-Year Snow," most of the plot elements are introduced. We meet Inez, an orphan traveling to the city with her grandfather. We discover that she has the ability to communicate with animals (think Eliza Thornberry from The Wild Thornberrys here), but notices a stranger among a flock of sheep. The strange sheep turns out to be a demon and Inez breathes in the poison. Once unconscious, she is rescued and whisked away to the palace to see the Emperor.

The Emperor puts Inez's talents to the test in a very visually disturbing scene involving sacrificing his pet bird and shows the type of character that she will be aiding. For the beginnings of a series, we get some nice fleshing out of the characters and after seeing the Emperor's actions, we get to see a softer side of Inez and understand why she has the shell that she does.

The second chapter gives a bit of history behind the eventual quest that Inez must go on. It's a classic tale of lack of tolerance leaving to one race wiping out the existence of another. Inez is given her mission, but it comes at a personal cost to her. But the sacrifice she had to make may not be as large as what she thinks it is - or what it will eventually become.

Arcana is a vaguely intriguing series that really hasn't distinguished itself from the majority of the magical girl genre yet. There's some hints as to what it may become, because while Inez is kind-hearted, she's no Sakura Kinomoto either. The story here is very dark overall and has some very disturbing scenes centered around death. It's not a title that I would recommend to young readers or one starting to be interested in the genre. But if you like darker tales, Arcana is a decent story. The characters are just intriguing enough to make me interested in the next volume, even though the plot is very typical and pretty predictable.


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