Pretty Maniacs (aka: Pretty Maniizu) Vol. #03 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Friday, March 31, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2006



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Shinsuke Kurihashi
Translated by:Daniel Sullivan & Asaka Otomo
Adapted by:

What They Say
More crazy adventures and exciting new characters await in this final volume of Pretty Maniacs. Days before his professional debut, Suo injures his hand, and it's up to Shinano and Chihaya to save the day. Sara Verlinden, an otaku from America, shows up at Maniac Road to learn the Way of the Maniac. As the manga club gears up to produce a special volume of their fanzine, rumors spread about a romantic involvement between two members. Kanju, who for so long has lived in the shadow of his sister, displays his budding aptitude for writing manga. And a long-gone character finally comes home.

The Review
At the end of the day, Pretty Maniacs has its fair share of laughs but leaves me mostly frustrated at what could have been.

Packaging:
The cover features the same illustration from the original Japanese tankubon, featuring vibrant colors that look quite nice. The yellow background though feels quite cheap and the English logo leaves a bit to be desired, but does its best to mimic the Japanese text. The print reproduction continues to be sub-standard, but not as bad as some other releases we've seen recently from DrMaster. Chapter headers are present, and the only extra is a one page afterword from the creator.

Art:
Kurihashi's style is one that is not very unique, but it has a lot of youthful energy to it that is quite appropriate for the story. There are a lot of super-deformed designs and exaggerated facial expressions to add to the overall energy without becoming a bother. There is not a lot of background art, with the designs being very average looking when present.

Text/SFX:
SFX are translated, with either subs or overlays. The subs are a little bigger than I would like, due to the text trying to mimic the Japanese text. The translation is okay, grades are in the US system and there are a few weird choices of words for otaku specific items or phrases ("yaoi coterie 'zines"??). I also noticed a couple text bubbles that were empty, which looked to be nothing more than pauses or SFX rather than critical dialogue. Even still, this is something that should not happen.

Contents:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As I close the book of this final installment of Pretty Maniacs, the otaku inspired "sequel" to Maniac Road, I have mixed feelings about how this story ultimately played out. On the one hand the book is very charming with a very likable cast of characters. At the same time, the failed potential of the book is quite frustrating. With the introduction of a new character and a new dynamics, it's too little too late.

Our new maniac arrives in the form of a tall blonde from Takezou's American otaku store, named Sara. She's come to learn everything she can about the world of anime and manga from the source, Japan! Sara is dedicated, knowledgeable, gregarious, and a yaoi-loving maniac! Her personality is definitely comparable to Shinano's, the difference being Sara's bouncy chest which attracts all sorts of attention. Sara is quite the fun character to have around to antagonize Shinano and create all sorts of mischief. I also love the Japanese viewpoint about US otaku portrayed here, about the same as Japanese otaku only louder. But as soon as Sara is introduced she blends back into the background, where her potential is ultimately wasted.

The club's new fanzine is also in the process of being created, compiling material from each of the contributing members from the club. The most promising manuscript will come from Suo, the elder of the group who already is creating a manga professionally for a magazine. Tateishi is becoming much more confident as Club President and she looks up to Suo for advice on her own work. This leads to quite the cute and charming relationship developing, even if Tateishi believes it to be innocent. However, once again, I felt as though I was teased by this possibility as nothing is really developed any further.

Comments
With the final volume of Pretty Maniacs, I found this series overall to be a charming, sweet story of otaku hijinks, rather than a love story aimed at the otaku that delves into their personal relationships and themes. I had a couple laughs, but was left frustrated with a lot of failed potential. Many of the new characters and dynamics introduced in this volume came too late. I really would have liked to see this material introduced much sooner with ample time given to all the possibilities there that could have been explored.

Pretty Maniacs ultimately is a string of charming and clever otaku sketches, without any real substance and few memorable moments.



Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: C+
Text/Translatin Rating: C
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: DrMaster
MSRP: 7.55
Pages: 179
ISBN: 1-59796-017-9
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left