Comic Party Vol. #04 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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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: 182
  • ISBN: 159952584-0
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Comic Party Vol. #04

By Eduardo M. Chavez     October 07, 2005
Release Date: December 14, 2004


Comic Party Vol.#04
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Inui Sekihiko
Translated by:Mike Kiefl
Adapted by:

What They Say
Asahi Sakurai returns to the comic scene and blows everyone away when she reveals that she is a famous voice actress and singer in disguise! Kazuki helps her escape a crowd full of rabid fans, and discovers that this starlet has a shy streak! Can he give her the confidence she needs to handle her fast-paced career?

The Review
Packaging:
TOKYOPOP continues to go a good job with the packaging for this series. On the cover they have a piece of original cover art (they keep the character art, shrunk it, and removed the background) featuring new character Sakurai Asahi. The image is on a white background beneath TP's original logo. To the right TP's border is made of panel art in yellow tone. I like the look. First, it is not as busy as the MediaWorks' version, but it also keeps the idea of comics and manga. The opposite cover has an image of the same character in one of her singing costumes.

Logo Check!!!.... I cannot say I like the logo much. With TOKYOPOP's, there are now three North American versions around. I just wish there was some consistency (especially since they use the original logo on the volume header). What is funny about this is that the original logo is already in English, so TP did not need to do much work with it.

The printing continues be very good. Inui uses a variety of screen tone grades but they all look clean, so moiré issues are not as prevalent as they were in the first volume. Best of all, the print is good enough to see all of Inui-sensei's detailed line art. TOKYOPOP kept the original volume header (with Japanese logo), chapter headers, bumper art and an ato-gaki manga. TOKYOPOP also included a nine-page preview of DearS.

Artwork:
Inui's art is great. He does a good job rendering these character designs and his unique sense of style gives this version of ComiPa some originality. Similar to the AQUAPLUS original concepts, these characters tend to be on the lean side - long legs and long thin bodies. Eyes tend to be super big and moderately detailed, which is not often seen in shonen manga. Inui's personal punk influenced style is obvious in the costume designs and the attitude. Characters tend to have a lot of variety in regards to what they wear and how they pose and it is refreshing to see an artist put so much detail to little things like that. I was also impressed by how Inui is able to use a variety of techniques in his work. Most of it has been straight up comedic, but he has also included art styles that are deeply rooted in horror and action. Take the crazy transformation on page 27. The intensity lines and the ghoulish expressions are a staple of horror manga but Inui makes them work well in his Comic Party.

Backgrounds are decent. They can easily be much better, but seeing that this is just a shonen comedy, I would not expect too much detail. The layout is not very active, though there is quite a bit of variety in regards to panel size and layout placement.

Much like the previous volume, this edition of Comic Party also features some nice action scenes. The movements are mainly taken from existing fighting video games. The combo's themselves are unique and would take a little time for any video game freak to master, but Inui draws them frame by frame to make every transition seem plausible.

Text/SFX:
Typical of TOKYOPOP, SFX are not translated. Given how this is a manga about manga this is ironic. Moreover, after a few years of doing this, I still question why TOKYOPOP still does this.

As I have not read this version of Comic Party in Japanese, I cannot say how accurate the translation is. TOKYOPOP has decided to increase the use of honorifics, which has improved the readability a bit. However, the slang is still there, but it is not in the concentration as before.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The comic world was pretty simple for Kazuki when this title started. All there was to this cool world was drawing, reading and enjoying manga. That alone was more than enough work to keep active in the hobby. Actually, that almost is too much really for this comic newbie.

So, when the world started to expand into cosplay, Kazuki could only gain even more appreciation for fandom. Doujinshi can take weeks to months of work. Time is often split around work, school and whatever else artists are doing. Think up a story, draw up the boards and then begin the art. Penciling, inking and setting down screen tone all done before sending the product off to the printers. Cosplayers go through a similar process from costume design to posing. Being able to show your appreciation for your favorite properties through the items you design, create and wear takes as much effort and dedication. The two art forms are very similar in many ways especially when you consider how doujinshi and cosplay often take existing ideas and artists create with their individual perspectives and tastes.

However, there is a bigger world out there for both. Up to now, Kazuki has limited himself by keeping to parodies of his favorite anime and video game titles. To some satire is like a crutch restricting true artistic freedom. Taking on someone else's concepts and making them your own can give an impression that these artists tend to be void of creativity and originality. Sure it takes a lot of respect and hard work, but it is difficult to compare how difficult creating something from start to finish. Yeah, these artists might do their own stories and infuse their own artistic stylings, but the original ideas were simply borrowed. Someone else did the initial work, sometimes the hardest part in the process, and all that many of these doujin artists have to do is add their own flavor.

That does not hold well for Kazuki. He feels he can do this. He thinks he can create as much as parody. But where does he start?

Comments
Once again, I continue to be impressed by Inui's ability to make his version of the Comic Party world. There is a bit of irony to that when his main character has to work on moving away from the world of parodies. Yet, Inui seems to understand how special this part of fandom is. He knows first hand how much dedication and effort comes from doujinshi and is able to translate that to appreciation for cosplay, songwriting, animation and game making he presents here. Through more friends and by experiencing more of the world of fandom Kazuki begins to see what it is like to be his own artist. By experiencing the work put in by singer/voice actresses and how much training and coordination there is in that industry, we get to see how similar the workload is across the board. Even within the doujin groups, there are those who occasionally show off their skills by going all-original. Kazuki might end up doubting himself once he makes that leap, but that is a natural fear that happens to everyone when one goes into the unknown.

Inui through Kazuki presents that uncertainty with honesty and curiosity. At first Kazuki is almost shell shocked by his fears. His confidence, which was building up so well, was brought back down to Earth. He began to create a wall of disillusion, whereas he doubted his limited abilities and his lack of inexperience. Instead of believing in the skills he has developed, Kazuki starts to freak. Inui could have easily gone another way with this. And while I almost wished he did initially, I enjoyed how he used the opportunity to introduce a new character and develop the idea of working on a co-production. Not only does this give readers a chance to see more of the cast at their best (/worst) but it also creates a transition period where Inui is able to present his perspective of the creation process through the cast.

Inui is really at his best in these moments. He knows how to present the right level of tension within Kazuki. Yet, he has made Kazuki such a free spirit who is able to adjust and get along with people so easily (typical punk-rocker type) that the only thing that can faze him is himself. Kazuki changes with others. He works off the temperaments and attitudes of others and he finds inspiration there. As a person, who has trouble sometimes with my own projects I can relate to the self-scrutiny and being able to find creativity when given the support of others.

At the same time, Inui is able to maintain the ComiPa world intact. The characters have not changed much. Actually, outside of the settings they are what fans of the anime or the game should expect. There is a lot of respect for the original work here, which should be appreciated by fans new and old.

Personally, I cannot wait to pick up the final volume (I keep on wondering why I consistently seem to push this title back).

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