Comic Party Vol. #05 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 246
  • ISBN: 1598162721
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Comic Party Vol. #05

By Eduardo M. Chavez     January 25, 2006
Release Date: January 10, 2006

Comic Party Vol.#05

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

What They Say
When the editor-in-chief of a monthly manga magazine offers Kazuki a chance to become a professional manga artist, a fierce competition ensues between him and Eimi to see who is more fit for the job. Later, Mizuki wonders if there is room for her in Kazuki's busy life, while Kazuki is devastated after he sees Taishi embrace Mizuki. Is Kazuki in danger of losing Mizuki forever?

The Review
What a disappointing way to close out the series. TOKYOPOP starts off fine with decent exterior production values but takes a step back inside. On the cover, they have once again used the original cover art. This is a great action piece featuring the main characters of this property - Mizuki, Kazuki and Taishi getting ready for a ComiPa. TOKYOPOP shrunk the image and removed the background making it cleaner and helping the colors jump off the white background. 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.

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 takes a nosedive in this volume. Inui uses a variety of screen tone grades, some quite delicate, and they look bad in this volume. Generally, the print is too dark. We lose the subtle toning and the detailed line art at times as well. TOKYOPOP kept the original volume header (with Japanese logo), chapter headers, bumper art and an ato-gaki manga. TOKYOPOP also includes a letter from Inui describing his struggles getting this series finished.

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.

Typical of TOKYOPOP, SFX were 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 does not in the concentration as it did during the first two volumes.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The world of doujinshi is the world of fandom. One can look at the overwhelming numbers of parody manga and there is no denying that each one of those represents the appreciation the artist has for the original work and its fans. The parodies are as much inside joke as they are homage. And the most important aspect of the parody is the relationship between artist and reader - everyone is in on the party as the character, the stories, the relationships... are shared through their transactions and interactions. Everyone involved knows the original manga back to front.

Original manga is similar because the doujin artist makes their manga for the readers that show up at cons. The fans dictate the manga. The fans are in many ways the editors. They buy what works and if they care enough (or if they feel they know enough) they will mouth off on what does not. The relationship is vital to the culture and ultimately because the connection between artist and reader is directs (no publishers, no editors and no advertisers) maintaining a balance where an artist draws their story for a readership is critical.

That is the difference between an artist like Kazuki that draws passionately for his growing number of readers; and someone who only sees sales as the goal. Whether Kazuki decided to do a parody or an original story, the goal was to give as much of his own personality and his enthusiasm to readers that want exactly that. Readers want to be blown away. They want to be active in the read. They want to see the story and its creator grow. An artist that forgets that will lose the respect of his audience. Moreover, they will lose the motivation to innovate and fully express themselves through their work. Art turns to work at that point and work nowadays is rarely a fair and even proposition (often looking like a pyramid scheme).

It becomes clear to Kazuki that as he moves closer to making manga his career his honest passion to tell his own stories is what will get him there. He will need the support of everyone he has met along the way. Everyone he has touched with his art will be waiting for his new work when he makes it big. Therefore, whether it is his brother Taishi watching his back or Mizuki by his side, he wants to make manga that will express his creativity but art that can show appreciation for all that was done to get him to this point.

For Kazuki and the gang this year has been a wild ride, but definitely a party all the way.

People might not think of manga or doujinshi in this way, but at their core comics in general are a form of communication. Yeah manga is a form of media that is can be used for more than entertainment, as they have been used for education and as social commentary. So whether it is professionally done or by doujinshi artists, manga is a form of expression that crosses barriers because of its accessibility and its range of diversity. However, manga is nothing without its audience.

When you start looking at doujinshi though, the link between the author and the reader is much more direct. The communication is much more personal; often free flowing and uninhibited. There is a reason why anything and everything is possible in a doujin while professional manga has limits set by the industry (editors, publishers, retailers and government). The freedom is there not just for the artist but also for the reader. Readers can choose between dozens to hundreds of artists that parody say One Piece. They can choose between versions that explore the friendship of the characters or have the cast set in an unadulterated sex romp. As a form of media, doujinshi is wide open and that forces it to be very honest. Being able to meet your audience or meet the creators at conventions is something unique to this form of media. More often that not, a writer only meets his/her readers when on book tour, and the locations are limited. Only a percentage of the people buying will get a chance. Actors might meet their audience if they are performing in a small theater. If they are on a screen, film fests might be the only time (unless you are on set with them or are stalking them). Radio personalities get a chance to talk to their audience quite a bit, but the face-to-face interaction is rare in that industry.

Doujin artists do have places to sell their manga - Tora no Ana is an example of a store that sells doujins. But large numbers are sold in person. Feedback can be instantaneous and if you are lucky, you might even run into someone who is willing to give you some art done on the spot. When reading Comic Party the one-thing readers have to take with them is communication. The characters in this manga for the most part struggle with communication from start to finish. As they become more confident and as they learn to accept communication in its forms - criticism and complements - they begin to break down the barriers that they have put up around themselves. As the walls come down, their craft improves. They are able to develop and find inspiration by that style of communication. Throughout this series, Kazuki, Mizuki, Subaru, Eimi and the others go through stages where they have to overcome their difficulties communicating. When they realize that freedom of expression empowers them and improves their lives, they begin to see the future differently. Most importantly, they are able to create in a more personal way.

Regardless of the production and occasional translation issue, Comic Party is one of the better manga titles from TOKYOPOP over the last two years. Like many property titles, this one takes a slightly different take than the anime and video games giving readers an opportunity to experience another perspective on this loved franchise. Moreover, this manga very much parallels the story it tells. It comes from a former doujin artist breaking into the ranks with a parody manga. With every new character and new story, he gives his own personal style to this title making it his own while still respecting the original concept. Comic Party might not have had the best romance or the best action, but what it accomplished was something more tangible - it communicated the mangaka's feelings for the property, the medium and its fans. What else should a comic party do, right?


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