Beautiful People Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Translated by:Haruko Furukawa
What They Say
A collection of short stories that can be as twisted as they are thought-provoking. This volume from Mitsukazu Mihara (creator of DOLL) is the first of four stand-alone releases from the cult favorite Gothic Lolita manga-ka.
This manga sports a white matte wraparound cover featuring the mysterious girl from “beautiful people” who looks as if she is floating in space. Instead of regular ink, she is drawn in a golden metallic finish—a touch that I like a lot. Gold dots are arranged around her to give the impression that she is floating over water beneath open sky. Very simple, but very elegant. The short story titles are printed in the same metallic finish while the anthology title (which resembles calligraphy script) and a short description of the anthology and are printed in black.
Title art in black and white is included inside the manga.
The artwork is very stark; there is much more use of plain black and white throughout (instead of screentones to grey things out) than I am accustomed to from a mangaka. But it works well with the content. Backgrounds are minimal; she makes frequent use of blacked out panels with text. For her vampire story, she colors all of the “white space” between panels black, which is a subtle but effective way of setting the atmosphere for that story.
Her character designs are NOT cute. They are harsh or pathetic or desperate or trashy depending on the impact Mihara is trying to make. While there is beauty in her style, it almost has a haunted or eerie quality. She uses the gothic Lolita style on characters in half of the stories. The remainder of the stories use mainstream characters who wear school/work uniforms.
Honorifics are translated into English equivalents. Most sound effects are translated with overlays, which is a little unusual for Tokyopop, and all books, signs, and computer screen text are translated with overlays. There isn’t a whole lot of variation to their font styles though.
Translation is pretty good. Mimi’s country friends have a folksy feel to their speech, Tabasa words reflect her brattiness, and Yasu talks like the frustrated artist he is.
There are six stories to this anthology, the longest of which is about 30 pages (very short as far as manga goes). Unlike Mihara’s DOLL anthology, there isn’t an overt theme linking these six stories. However, all the stories deal with the impact that a single person has, for better or worse, on another person’s life.
Princess White Snow: A bitter young man is reminded of his life’s passion by the unlikeliest of individuals.
World’s End: A post apocalyptic story (do ALL mangaka have to do post apocalyptic stories?) about the last man and woman left on earth. They’re strangers and –oh, by the way, they’re homosexual.
Electric Angel: A bullied teenager learns the truth about a woman he knows only through the Internet.
The Lady Stalker: Malicious gossip, office politics, and sexual harassment with an unexpected twist.
beautiful people: A new spin on Frankenstein’s monster story.
Blue Sky: A vampire develops an unlikely attachment to another society outsider.
In general, I’m not a big fan of short stories. I prefer longer formats and really getting to know my characters, which short stories, by their very nature, cannot afford. However, I did enjoy these stories as Mihara does a good job of encapsulating her plot. Of the stories, I enjoyed Princess White Snow the best, probably because although the heroine’s fate is tragic, she has such a overwhelmingly positive impact on Yasu’s life in an incredibly short amount of time. The one I liked the least was Lady Stalker, primarily because of the stereotypes(unattractive, older spinster and pretty airhead secretary) that the characters fall into. Blue Skies also seemed somewhat contrived; the theme of the captive charming her captor is an old one, and Mihara didn’t breathe much newness to that story.
These stories are short, but not light fare. This anthology is rated older teen (as it should be), for strong language, some graphically disturbing scenes of bodies disintegrating, and an almost-rape scene. However, while I wouldn’t want little children thumbing through this, I would recommend it for high school readers, as Mihara presents a lot of ideas that force you to ponder.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left