Demon Ororon Complete Collection Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Pages: 848
  • ISBN: 1-4278-0732-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Demon Ororon Complete Collection

Demon Ororon Complete Collection Vol. #01

By Greg Hackmann     January 24, 2008
Release Date: December 30, 2007


Demon Ororon Complete Collection Vol.#01
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hakase Mizuki
Translated by:Tomoko Kamimoto
Adapted by:Joshua Dysart

What They Say
Relive the ill-fated romance between a devil with a bounty on his head and the Archangel Michael's orphaned daughter--collected here in one complete volume. Chiaki is the orphaned daughter of a human woman and the Archangel Michael. Ororon is a demon with a bounty on his head. Sworn enemies, their lives change forever when their hatred is transformed into love--for one another. Bound together by passion but torn apart by the world around them, their love becomes a struggle for survival as the battle between demons and the angelic order rages around them.

The Review
The Demon Ororon is far from the best-written story or best-produced release; but its saving grace is Mizuki's slick art style.

Packaging:

At almost 850 pages, Tokyopop's Complete Collection of The Demon Ororon is a massive book. Made by collecting Tokyopop's previous individual paperback releases, this hardcover collection is literally the size and weight of four standard mass-market manga books placed cover-to-cover. In keeping with the minimalist artwork inside, the cover art poses Ororon's main cast against a stark white backdrop. This artwork is printed on a flimsy hardback cover that looks OK on the shelf but feels disappointingly cheap when I hold it and probably won't stand up well to much shelf wear. To make matters worse, the cover is improperly glued on my review copy: two pages are stuck together close to the spine, and the back cover doesn't stay shut when the book is rested on its side. Your own mileage may vary; but you should consider picking this up at a B&M store so that you can inspect the cover's and binding's condition before you buy.

Unlike some of Tokyopop's other hardbound re-releases, Ororon uses the exact size and quality of printing as the original paperback versions. Oronon's heavy use of dark shading brings out some of the inconsistencies inherent in this kind of inexpensive printing process: black backdrops will come out pitch-dark on one page, then a muddy dark grey on the next. The readability in this collection takes a little extra dip since the three-inch-thick spine makes it more difficult to read text printed close to the inner edge of the page. Thankfully, the text is laid out so that this isn't a frequent problem; but I did have to bend the book's spine a handful of times while reading.

With that in mind, let's be realistic here: when you're talking about an 800-plus-page hardbound manga collection, a $19.99 MSRP doesn't exactly leave a lot of room for high-quality packaging. But looking at that three-inch-thick tome sitting on my bookshelf, I have to think that a simple repackaging of the paperback releases might have been a little more practical.

Artwork:

Mizuki's distinctive art style is a mixed bag here. When they work, Mizuki's sparse and lanky character designs give the artwork a nice stylistic edge that makes Ororon stand out from other titles on the market. It's not really fair to talk about characters being on- or off-model here, since Mizuki routinely stretches limbs and hands to several times their natural size in order to give their owners a surreal, almost Dalí-like quality. This is a tough effect to pull off believably, but Mizuki makes it look effortless.

However, minimalist art styles require a light touch, and Mizuki doesn't always show the necessary discipline to pull it off here. Characters are simply way too similar in appearance, with accessories and clothing often being the only way to tell them apart. When you figure in her economical use of detailing in backdrops, this similarity makes many of her complex action sequences much more confusing than they really need to be.

Text/SFX:

Ororon is a textbook example of many things that can go wrong while lettering and translating manga. For starters, Tokyopop has gone overboard with the number of decorative fonts used throughout the book. There are often as many as four different typefaces at different places on the same page, and not all of them are good choices (or even reasonable ones). At least two of the typefaces have no business being on the printed page, and so I found myself skipping text bubbles simply because I couldn't make out what they said.

The English script has a number of grammatical errors here and there, ranging from pluralizing words with apostrophe's [sic] to using "your" instead of "you're". While these kinds of errors are more annoying than distracting, it's sloppy for a professional publication to include so many of them -- and even sloppier to preserve them for a re-release. There are also some clichéd lines in the English adaptation ("King of Devils in the house, yeah!") that were already outdated when Ororon was first released in 2004 and just sound downright stupid four years later.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

As an orphaned high-school dropout, Chiaki doesn't interact a whole lot with the outside world. This shut-in lifestyle comes to an end when discovers an injured young man huddled on the street, who introduces himself as the demon Ororon and offers to grant one wish for her kindnesses. She sees an opportunity to escape from her loneliness and sheepishly asks him to keep her company for the rest of her life as repayment for the favor. Surprisingly enough, Ororon accepts her offer. But Ororon's interest in Chiaki has a selfish angle, too: he reveals to her that the parents who abandoned her as a child were the archangel Michael and his human wife. As the forbidden offspring of angel and man, Chiaki has the power to see lost souls wandering the earth -- and possibly other powers as well.

This fact suits Ororon perfectly fine, since (as Chiaki soon finds out) he's no ordinary demon. As the recently-crowned Demon King, Ororon has been the target of repeated assassination attempts ever since his ascension to the throne. Constant plots to poison his food have led to the death of countless royal tasters and caused Ororon's mother to go mad. The final straw came when a trusted member of Ororon's own cabinet tried to stab him to death; taking this as a sign that things were beyond hope in the underworld, Ororon fled his home and begun a self-imposed exile on earth. Though physically absent from his throne, Ororon still retains the title of Demon King and all the power that comes along with it, leading to a massive power vacuum that only serves to stir up more assassination attempts.

As these demonic hitmen follow Ororon to his hideout in Chiaki's home, she soon witnesses his brutal self-survival instinct. Whether they're seeking the price on Ororon's head or just after him for personal reasons, Ororon counters by magically dismembering all those who oppose him. Although Chiaki is beginning to have feelings for Ororon, she's also greatly repulsed that he's willing to spill rivers of blood in order to protect his own life. When Ororon's brother Othello arrives from the underworld to protect Ororon and the killings get stepped up to an even higher degree, Chiaki finally cracks; she unconsciously releases her latent powers, leveling the city and adding significantly to the body count. This tragedy finally drives home the point to Ororon, who finally starts seeking a way to save himself without hurting Chiaki.

Comments
A quick warning to sensitive readers: though Tokyopop rates The Demon Ororon as appropriate for ages 13 and up, it's considerably more graphic than most titles with the same age rating. The story contains a surprising amount of blood and gore for a 13+-rated title, plus some rough language and a few scenes of partial nudity. None of this will be anything new to readers who routinely buy manga rated for older teens; but parents concerned by the contents of 16+-rated manga may want to prescreen The Demon Ororon before getting it for their younger teens.

Besides the strong content, what sets The Demon Ororon apart from many of its fantasy manga peers is that it's a fairly experimental work, both in terms of narrative structure and visual style. Probably the best example of Mizuki's fractured storytelling approach comes on the manga's very first page: Ororon's entrance into Chiaki's life is compressed to a single panel, leaving his back story an open question until the narrative returns to it 100 pages later. Although these frequent cuts across time and plot threads can be difficult to follow at times, Mizuki's surreal art style gives the reader an incentive to unravel this spaghetti-like plot structure. At the very least, it's exciting to see an author trying to break so far from established genre and media conventions, and yet still keep the end result from degenerating into an unreadable mess.

Unfortunately, this stylistic veneer only partially covers up The Demon Ororon's most significant flaw: when the basic underlying story is unraveled and pieced back together, it's just not that interesting. A sizeable part of the story relates to the romance between Chiaki and Ororon, which I never really bought; Mizuki doesn't really develop the relationship between the two, so much as she makes it appear out of thin air when it's most convenient to the plot. Moreover, Mizuki's attempts to give the story an epic feel are undermined by her tendency to favor breadth too much over depth: characters are frequently introduced and unceremoniously killed within the span of one or two chapters, leaving a gaping hole in the manga where the story and character development ought to be. Even major characters like Othello sometimes behave with no apparent rationale, as if Mizuki planned to introduce more subplots but backed off partway through. This approach creates some significant pacing and coherence problems that could probably have been avoided had Mizuki chosen to focus more tightly on a restricted subset of these story elements.

Despite the major plot issues and Tokyopop's sub-par handling of this release, I'm still giving the Ororon collection a mild recommendation. The Demon Ororon basically lives and breathes on its stylistic points, and this is the one aspect of the manga where Mizuki succeeds the most. At its highest points, such as the extended silent sequence at the beginning of the closing chapter, The Demon Ororon's stylistic edge alone is enough to make it a compelling read; and even at its worst, it's a vapid but eye-pleasing work.

Since this is a simple repackaging of the existing paperback editions, there's really no reason for people who've picked up the paperback releases to splurge on the hardback collection. But for new readers, this Complete Collection edition is the way to go: having the entire convoluted narrative collected into one 850-page chunk does make it read a little bit more smoothly. (Plus, the lower MSRP helps take some of the sting away from the story's weak moments.)

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