Edumanga (aka: Atom Pocket Jinbutsukan) Vol. #03 - Ludwig van Beethoven - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: C-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 152
  • ISBN: 1-56970-973-4
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Edumanga (aka: Atom Pocket Jinbutsukan) Vol. #03 - Ludwig van Beethoven

By Sakura Eries     October 25, 2006
Release Date: September 06, 2006


Edumanga (aka: Atom Pocket Jinbutsukan) Vol.#03 - Ludwig van Beethoven
© Digital Manga Publishing


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takayuki Kanda/Naoko Takase
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
Adapted by:

What They Say
true genius for the ages, Beethoven has left an indelible mark on the music world with such famous works as Symphony No. 5 ('Fate,') Symphony No. 9's 'Ode to Joy' and 'Fur Elise.' The onset of deafness was only one of the many hardships that he had to endure, but his resolve to battle against his turbulent life ultimately rewarded us all with the musical masterpieces we know today.

Join Astro Boy and his friends once again as they learn what a true musical masterpiece really is.

The Review
:Packaging:
This volume of DMP's educational series Edu-Manga highlights the life of the legendary musician and composer Ludwig Van Beethoven. He is depicted on the front cover against a plain white background with Astro Boy and Uran in period costume on either side of him. Beethoven, featured in a green coat and vest with a white ruffled shirt and light-colored pants, is shown conducting with a baton in his hand. Above is the Edu-Manga logo in brown, which consists of "Edu-Manga" in prominent capitals, and Astro Boy with a smaller bubble of text "GOOD FOR THE BRAIN" above it. Below is a brown purple bar with the publisher's and series logo. The title is in block capitals to the left, and author / artist credits are in black capitals to the right.

The back cover features the Edu-Manga brown logo on top. Below the logo is "Ludwig Van Beethoven," which is straddling the brown background of the top and white background below so it looks somewhat awkward. Underneath the title is an illustration of one of Astro Boy's friends wearing a wig and period clothes and performing music for Uran and Astro Boy. Below the picture is the story summary in very large, bold font. The inside front and back covers contain information about the Edu-Manga series.

The cover material seems somewhat thin, and the glue binding the cover to the spine does not feel secure. The printing is occasionally muddy, and some of the pages are cut too close. In addition, some of the background tonework on page 21 somehow ended up on Lorchen's face. The table of contents and credits are all squeezed onto a single sheet, resulting in a very crowded opening page. Extras consist of a reference timeline table and DMP ads.

Artwork:
Unlike the artists used for Volumes 1 and 2 of the Edu-Manga series, Takase does not hesitate to use chibi characters and exaggerated expressions in this pictorial biography of Beethoven. There are several places where characters, including Beethoven, are depicted with a bug eyed look to indicate heightened emotion or embarrassment. Chibis aside, the character design is predominately standard shoujo artwork with expressive eyes. However, the drawings of Beethoven in his advanced years as well as the cameos of famous contemporaries are drawn in a more realistic style.

The character designs and backgrounds are about average in quality, but Takase does an effective job conveying the emotional impact of Beethoven's music as well as the turmoil of Beethoven's life using a variety of visual effects including concentration lines, tones, musical notes, and drawn images.

Text/Translation:
While the dialogue flowed well enough, I caught one run-on sentence and numerous misspellings in the translation. One of the misspellings was of Beethoven's first teacher's name (misspelled "Hristian Neefe" instead of "Christian Neefe"), which is quite unfortunate considering this is meant to be an educational book.

Sound effects are mainly translated with block letters that are placed next to the original Japanese. Except for a few exclamations, there's no variation in dialogue font. The format of the reference table is better than those used in the previous two Edu-manga; however, the table contains an error, referencing Beethoven as being age 33 in both 1804 and 1808.

Content:
This manga is a biography of Ludwig Van Beethoven that is "hosted" by Astro Boy. The story unfolds when Astro Boy's friend Uran becomes discouraged about learning to play the piano. Hoping to inspire her, Dr. Elefun tells her about Beethoven and the great difficulties he faced and overcame in pursuing music.

Five chapters follow, detailing the life of Ludwig Van Beethoven. The first chapter describes his background, his troubled family life, his introduction to music, and the first stages of his loss of hearing. Chapter 2 depicts his struggle to launch his musical career in Vienna while trying to keep his growing loss of hearing a secret. Chapter 3 describes the tumultuous backstory of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Pastorale Symphony. Chapter 4 tells of how his Symphony Number 9, "Ode to Joy," came to be created out of a time of personal suffering. Chapter 5 relates the final years of his life. Like the previous Edu-manga, this volume contains question-and-answer "sessions" between Astro Boy and Dr. Elefun regarding our featured historical figure and his works; however, instead of interspersing these Q&A between chapters, all of the Q&A are located at the end of the book. At the very end of the manga is a timeline of Beethoven's's life.

Comments
This title is the third in DMP's Edu-Manga series. I do applaud DMP for its foray into nonfiction manga with its educational and documentary styled titles. In the United States, manga often has a reputation for being adult (violent and/or overtly sexual) fare, and the Edu-manga and Project X Challengers series demonstrate that the manga medium can be so much more than that. However, given that Edu-manga is to be used as an educational tool, DMP had better tighten up on the quality control of its production. An educational text sets an example for students, and it is absolutely imperative to set a good one. As such, it was extremely disappointing to find so many errors in the text, particularly the misspelling of Neefe's name and the error in the timeline. I hope that DMP will improve its standards for its next release.

As for Kanda's material, I think he does a pretty good job with interweaving Beethoven's home and romantic life with his musical career and the works that we revere today. He provides context by giving us glimpses of the other musical greats of the time as well as the responses of Beethoven's original audiences to his music. However, there are few gaps in the story that I wish that he had expanded upon. Giulietta Guicciardi only appears on the scene long enough to cause Beethoven's childhood sweetheart Lorchen Breuning to decide to marry another man. Afterwards, we hear nothing of Giulietta or the implied romance between her and Beethoven. Also, Kanda never really explains why Beethoven was so set on separating his nephew Karl from his mother. Beethoven keeps referring to her as "that worthless woman," but the manga never gets into any specifics of why she is "worthless."

This title is rated for all ages. Personally, I would rate it "age 8 and up" or "age 10 and up" as certain aspects of Ludwig Van Beethoven's life are not very pretty. Specifically, I am thinking of Beethoven's nephew's attempted suicide and the physical abuse Beethoven suffered from his alcoholic father.

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