Rebound (Harlem Beat vol. 12+) Vol. #03 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Sunday, June 19, 2005
Release Date: Friday, August 01, 2003



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuriko Nishiyama
Translated by:Shirley Kubo
Adapted by:

What They Say
Johnan High got through the first round, but now they're up against their archrivals, Tsukuba High. But before plunging into the second round, there are some unresolved emotional conflicts that have to be addressed. The chief reason for the rivalry with Tsukuba dates back to last season when Tsukuba drove Imagawa of Johnan out of the game for good with an injury. He now serves somewhat bitterly as the team's manager. Personal demons also threaten the cohesion of Johnan. When Nate recognizes Sawamura's long lost father working as a doorman in Sapporo, the cool-as-ice pretty boy may not be able to handle the pressure.

The Review
Packaging:
The cover artwork is an original by Tokyopop, which features a collage of actual scenes from the volume. It definitely advertises the sport, but it looks really cheap and uninspired, which is too bad since the original Harlem Beat release carried over the original Japanese covers. The English logo is across the top in blue letters and a highly stylized font that looks like graffiti artwork. The Tokyopop stripe is long the right side. The stripe and the spine are textured to feel like a basketball, which is a nice touch.

The chapter headers are present with Nishiyama’s artwork and funny commentary, but the Harlem Beat logo has been replaced by the new Rebound version. The print job looks okay considering the source material, which is about 10 years old now.


Art:
When Nishiyama is at her best, the realistic character designs feature some very clean line work and use of tones. The boys are very good looking, sometimes bishounen, and the girls are curvaceous and cute. However, I am not a big fan of her designs when she gets more into the comedy bits of the story. They become ultra-deformed and almost look like little marshmallow men, ultimately feeling a bit distracting. The last half of the volume features some more serious material, and the artwork looks much better, fitting the more dramatic storyline.

The panels came sometimes feel a bit chaotic, with too many deformed designs and an overuse of SFX. The background art is sparse, but seems to increase as the story progress.


Text/SFX:
The same name changes here have been carried over from Harlem Beat: Naruse is Nate, Kohsuke is Kyle, Sakurai is Shurman, etc. It’s unfortunate, but Tokyopop had to keep it consistent. All new characters that are introduced retain their Japanese names.

Some of the dialog does suffer from a bit of Americanization, phrases like “Turn this motha out”, but it never really becomes a distraction, more of a minor annoyance. SFX are untouched and are not translated. There were even a couple instances of panel text or subs that were not translated. The dialogue has an okay flow to it, although at times I felt it was a bit choppy. There are two very important dramatic, emotional scenes where the translation was very clear and properly conveyed the emotions of the characters.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
One of the most important elements of a sports manga is flushing out the members of the team, adding depth and motivation, which makes the dramatic sports moments later in the story carry much more weight. After wrapping up the game with Kyan High, where new bonds and friendships are created, the story follows the Johnan squad off the court and Nishiyama brings some depth and personality to her characters during some both humorous and emotional scenes.

Sensing some tension with the team after a run in with Tsukuba High, Shurman decides the team needs to take a break and relax before their game tomorrow with a night out on the town filled with food and fun. It is during dinner that we learn about Johnan’s manager and ex-player, Imagawa. During the game with Tsukuba in last year’s interhigh, Imagawa blew out his knee, never able to play basketball again. He re-joined the team as a manager because he loved the game his and teammates. This scene is very touching and flushes out Imagawa’s personality, while also providing a bonding experience for him and the rest of his teammates. Imagawa makes sure that the team doesn’t carry any hate into their upcoming game, since he holds no ill will towards Tsukaba. Will Johnan be able to put away their hatred and play the game to the best of their abilities? There is a lot of drama set up for the next match, which won’t occur until at least the next volume.

Another nice story going on is the budding relationship between Nate and Tomomi, Nate’s personal cheerleader during their last match. After a hilarious evening of pool, Kim calls up Tomomi at her hotel and sets them up on a date. Despite Nate’s nervousness, they end up having a very nice time together and their interactions and talks about basketball are really sweet. Their awkward innocence is enjoyable to watch unfold into something with possibilities, which I hope is expanded upon later as a little romantic subplot would fit in nicely.

After such a happy, uplifting sequence, the story takes a darker turn as Nate runs into a man whom he recognizes at Sawamura’s long lost father. Nate runs to find his friend, who then runs after the accused man as he makes his way back to an apartment building. Sawamura’s father is now living with another woman and her child! As expected, Sawamura explodes and is unable to handle all the suddenness of the situation and ends up running away. Nate tries his best to mend the situation, but Sawamura ends up taking out his anger on Nate. The volume ends on quite a dramatic note. Having not read Harlem Beat, I was unaware of Sawamura’s past, so this bit of info was out of left field for me. However, the scene does pack quite an emotional punch, and it is interesting to see Nate and his street ball gang all lean on each other’s shoulders to help Sawamura out. The volume ends on a cliffhanger that really has me wanting to read the next installment.

Comments
After a couple volumes packed with basketball action, Nishiyama changes the pace and provides some time to flush out the members of Johnan with some dramatic and emotional scenes along with some humorous and uplifting ones as well. It is definitely a welcomed change as every good sports manga needs time to flush out its characters and their different personalities, which is why I read these types of stories. It is the character drama and relationships that drive the sports action.

This volume really covers a lot of emotions: hilarious pool hall battles, awkwardly innocent romances with Nate and Tomomi, sad and angry moments with Sawamura. It is a whirlwind of character drama and comedy. I finally feel like I am beginning to connect with these characters. Even with the translation issues, and sometimes chaotic and simplistic artwork, this volume provides some great moments of reading and I’m looking forward to more.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: C+
Text/Translatin Rating: C
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-59182-221-1
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left