Little Queen Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Ben Leary
Review Date: Monday, February 04, 2008
Release Date: Saturday, December 30, 2006



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yeon-Joo Kim
Translated by:Jennifer Hahm and Patrick Neighly
Adapted by:Jennifer Hahm and Patrick Neighly

What They Say
Class rivals June and Lucia vie for the honor of being named the Queen of Light. But will petty jealousies - and one cute boy - interfere with the Queen's duty of protecting the school from the evil King of Darkness?

The Review
What must be one of TokyoPop's most questionable acquisitions achieves the impossible: it dethrones Sugar Sugar Rune as my least favourite title to date.

Packaging:
I'm not really a fan of the cover art on this volume, but the design is otherwise good; especially the purple fading to black background. Inside the book I found the paper and print quality to be below the TokyoPop average. The large black areas frequently have flecks of white showing through, and some of the screentoning doesn't look as smooth as it should. There's also quite a lot of pulp in the paper. It's a lackluster effort - but the book doesn't deserve any better, so I can't complain too much.

Artwork:
The art manages to look decent a good bit of the time, but rarely manages anything better than decent. The most glaring problems are in layout. The artist has no real idea how to stage action, for example. Early on we see a swordfight. The critical moment of the battle is shown from a pretty wide angle, against a complicated backdrop, and with nothing to indicate movement, so it takes a very sharp pair of eyes to see that one of the fencers has broken her sword. It's only a few panels later that you realize the fight is over and look back to try and figure out why. But on the whole it isn't an entirely bad style, just one that needs a lot of work.

Text/SFX:
Nothing outstanding here, one way or the other. The story may be incomprehensible, but I don't see anything to make me suspect that the translation is to blame for this. A couple of balloons have badly centered text, but there are no other problems; not even any typos that I can remember. Sound effects are, as expected, left untouched and untranslated.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A highly trained reviewing professional will have to read a fair share of duds; that just comes with the territory. Duds can come in many forms. For instance, you might have a book that seems to have a decent idea for a story but is an adaptation and tries to cram too many events into too little space, like Gundam Seed Destiny. Books like this are hard to exactly hate: you can see the difficulty the author is working under and sympathize, even if you don't enjoy a page of it. Or you might find yourself reading a book where a real talent is at work, but at work on material it isn't suited for. Sugar Sugar Rune is an example of this - to me if no one else. But every now and again you run across a book that's almost ideally bad - where nothing works, where no reasons or excuses can be found for it. That's the kind of dud Little Queenis .

This book made so little impression on me that it will probably be impossible to describe; but here goes. The first idea that occurs to me is to call it a Sugar Sugar Rune ripoff. That in itself would drive me away, but the worst of it is that it rips off everything I dislike about Sugar Sugar Rune and none of the things that I wish that series had more of. There's the competition to determine the next queen, for instance, but if this competition has any rules or criteria for choosing one candidate over another, I have no idea what they are. In consequence, the story has no observable objective.

Little Queen has an almost dreamlike quality; but it's the kind of dream you have when you're half asleep: incoherent, strange, vague, and difficult to remember once you wake up. It's almost like the artist is half asleep as well. The scenes don't seem to have any idea where they're supposed to go half the time, and when they do, they get distracted or lost after a couple of pages. Dialogue frequently has little or nothing to do with its respective scene. None of the characters has a consistent personality, not even the lead. The characters aren't even ciphers: at least a cipher is definite. At times there's a gleam of quality among all the rubbish, but it occurs so infrequently that I have to assume it's accidental.

Comments
Little Queen is the worst title I have reviewed to date. It's part school comedy, only without school scenes or laughs; part fantasy adventure - minus anything magical or exciting; and part romance, with the romantic stuff missing. I can't even see clearly enough what it's trying to accomplish to call it a failure. So I'll have to call it a nothing. It is a book without taste, without ability, and without a point.



Mania Grade: D
Art Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: C+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 184
ISBN: 1-5981-6639-5
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Little Queen