Gacha Gacha Vol. #03 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 0-345-48623-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Gacha Gacha Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     February 24, 2006
Release Date: February 28, 2006


Gacha Gacha Vol.#03
© Del Rey


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Tamakoshi Hiroyuki
Translated by:David Ury
Adapted by:

What They Say
THE SECRET'S OUT

Kouhei's childhood friend Kurara returns from her vacation in Hawaii with more than just a tan. It turns out that something went terribly wrong during the time she spend testing the new Gacha Gacha virtual reality technology. As a result, Kurara absorbed the personalities of dozens of video game characters! She never knows what will kick off her next transformation - or which persona she’ll take on next.

Enter Reona Grace Tokiwa, a Japanese American exchange student who has just transferred into Kouhei and Kurara's class. Reona is a genius - bilingual, brainy and beautiful... and on top of that, she knows Kurara's secret. Who is the mysterious Reona Grace Tokiwa? Is she really just an exchange student... or does she harbor a secret of her own?

The Review
Packaging:
Once again, Gacha Gacha looks pretty good inside and out. First, Del Rey uses a slightly larger version of the original cover art for this volume. On the front are three personalities of main character Kurara (from left - Miss Meow, Kurara and Rin). This piece is cute, and it does a pretty good job distinguishing the characteristics of the personalities. The opposite cover has martial artist Rin punching out of a yellow gachapon ball that is sitting on a green background above the long volume description. While the logo uses some of the concepts of the one from Kodansha, it does not use the two sided gachapon element as much as I would have liked to see.

Inside, the printing looks fine. The screen tone looks good to me and the lines are clean. This manga has a very busy layout, so seeing it as clear as possible is important. Del Rey seems to have done that well this time. They also keep the original volume and chapter headers, just for good measure.

A little short on extras, this volume has some fan art, a brief word from the mangaka and a creator bio along with the usual untranslated preview and ads.

Artwork:
Shonen manga readers might recognize Tamakoshi’s character designs. In case you do not, he is the artist for all three Boy Be… series (the second series is currently being released by TOKYOPOP). If you are still not sure who he is, Tamakoshi’s art revolves around one thing – the female body. Tamakoshi’s designs are fantastic. Great proportion, his characters have a good sense of form where their bodylines accentuate curves at just the right places. Length and depth looks good from almost every perspective, which is something that tends to happen a bit especially when character designs are pretty fancy close up (mainly because his characters get distorted with distance and when not viewed from straight on). Faces are done with good concept of capturing expressions. This is critical when dealing with Kurara’s unique problem. Tamakoshi also has a good sense of style. So, unlike many shonen titles where characters tend to wear the same outfits chapter after chapter, specifically out of school, there is some variety here.

Just want to give the fan service fans a heads up - this volume does feature nudity. However, it is not detailed. Tamakoshi pushes his boundaries a bit by showing naked butts and two teenage girls bathing together, but he cunningly covers up certain parts with hair or arms/hands. In shonen comedy, sometimes it is about what you cannot see more than what you can.

Background art is decent. The designs can be pretty nice, especially when Tamakoshi takes into consideration the ability for one of the characters to do the unexpected in unexpected places. The layout is not too shabby, either. Tamakoshi loves to use close-ups, which carried over from Boys Be... as well. During these close-ups, he often focuses on the expressions on character's faces or the point of view from a specific person - often in times of shock or excitement.

Text/SFX:
As is Del Rey's policy, SFX are subbed. Their subs tend to be of a small font usually placed below the original SFX. Because of the font size, original art is not compromised, but with the lack of SFX in this series (kind of weird for an action title) one might not notice them at times. Still, I appreciate the effort and the more I see this done the more I find myself liking it (font size and placement can make a big difference).

The translation sounds good and everything should be satisfactory to fans of this series. I did not notice any typos, syntax errors or blatant translation mistakes. The personalities come out sounding very casual and that works for this volume.

Del Rey also provides translator notes and an honorifics decoder, giving readers an opportunity to get to pick up on some cultural notes and a bit of what was lost in translation.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Kouhei knowing Kurara's secret the young man is not sure if he benefited from the knowledge or not. First, he still does not understand what happened to Kurara. What happened to her could only come out of a crazy sci-fi manga and even then understanding the weird science was way over Kouhei's beef brain. Second, now that he is in the middle of this he has to deal with the ever-increasing number of personalities that are being manifested through Kurara's corrupted mind. Horny personalities, slutty personalities, and violent personalities they are all too much to handle on good terms. Consider how difficult containing a cat-girl or warrior in the middle of class or while amongst the public! Finally, Kouhei's crush on Kurara has made everything confusing. Kouhei might be in love with Kurara but the feelings are not mutual for Rin or Miss Meow. Everyday brings a new set of problems and in this case, knowledge might not be power.

Nevertheless, Kouhei took on this responsibility with the hope to help his first love. He is practically willing to do anything to accomplish this. Now he is no longer alone in his fight. A new transfer student has moved in with Kurara and she is going to work on the project from the inside - inside the buggy Gacha Gacha game.

Reona Grace Tokiwa comes in with an impact. She comes from the US so she immediately popular. She is a genius with an IQ of 200. In addition, if those two facts were not enough, she is a beauty who tugged on the heartstrings of even the most devoted Kurara fan. However, Reona's impact does not only encompass the superficial, she wants to make an impact in the lives of those around her. We know she wants to help Kurara, but researching is not enough. She wants to be solely responsible for everything Kurara. That means taking over from Kouhei. If Reona is going to make this plan work she must get to the root of the problem, she just has to figure out what that is.

Definitely looks like the more Kouhei knows about Project Gacha Gacha the more finds himself in trouble with women. Whether they are fighting over him or fighting with him, nothing is easy. Reona might end up taking Kurara away from him (or vice versa). Moreover, she feels the only way to cure Kurara is through the power of love. As a friend, Kouhei cannot stand in Reona's way, but if love is the answer, he thinks he has that covered. If love were only as simple as beef bowl. Now that he completely understands!

Comments
After finally disclosing out what exactly ails Kurara, Tamakoshi does the only logical thing possible - turn Kurara into a catgirl and introduce a new rival in love for both Kurara and Kouhei. Why move towards actually fixing the Gacha Gacha bugs when you can introduce a good-looking new character that can take Kurara from Kouhei and fall in love with him at the same time. Not only does this open the way for a few more random date chapters - Xmas party, New Year's prayer and day trip to a museum ala Boys Be... but it creates a love triangle that every romance comedy so desperately needs.

Tamakoshi attempts to camouflage the plot device by also making the new character the key to solving the sci-fi mystery. Tamakoshi does not really try to make much use of that until the last chapter to maximize the cliffhanger effect. All of this is completely lacking imagination. It is easy to see Tamakoshi is only moving this story along after using his standard date story ideas up, even down to the standard "oops, fell down accidentally pulled off panties" scene. However, as I noted in the review for volume two, at least he decided to go somewhere. Therefore, while a story like this would better be served without the filler, at least it does not drag on too much.

What readers get in this volume is a better look at Tamakoshi's unique style of etchi romance comedy. He is at his best creating short sweet scenes where his characters get to know each other's finer qualities through personal humorous (often self-deprecating) moments. Those often bittersweet vignettes are based around Tamakoshi's etchi art and as the series progresses he will be able to push the envelope there. All in all a fun title that tends to get distracted at times, but with Tamakoshi's art and etchi take on romance his readers tend to get just as distracted.

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