Ikebukuro West Gate Park Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-56970-986-6
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Ikebukuro West Gate Park Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     October 11, 2004
Release Date: September 01, 2004

Ikebukuro West Gate Park Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ishida Ira/Aritou Sena
Translated by:Duane Johnson
Adapted by:

What They Say
Welcome to IKEBUKURO WEST GATE PARK where the miniskirts are short and the trendy guys and girls mix it up all night long. Makoto knows he's gonna rule New Year - he's got the hottest girl by his side and a tough local gang protecting his back. But when a string of violent attacks on young girls shakes up the city and finally hits way too close to home, Makoto's perfect world is thrown into total chaos. With the help of his friends, Makoto must track down the serial strangler before IWGP becomes a complete hell-hole. Can Makoto catch the sick criminal before he strikes again?

Based on the phenomenally popular live action Japanese television series, IWGP - IKEBUKURO WEST GATE PARK, is one high-action hip urban street drama that'll get your adrenaline running and your toes tingling.

The Review
Like Digital Manga's other title, Worst, IWGP is already one of the better manga presentations in North America. This series is printed left-to-right in an A5 size GN wrapped in a dust jacket. Inside the printing is very good with sharp inking, void of tone issues, and because of the size it is free of alignment problems. On the dust jacket there is an image of main character Makoto giving his newest friend Rika a piggyback ride with an Ikebukuro building in the background. The image, which is as a pulled back version of the Japanese cover (that features a close-up of Rika), is also on the cover of the GN, but in black and white (this is done by a majority of Japanese publishers). The opposite cover features a group image of the main characters in this first volume hanging out in Ikebukuro above the volume description. Nice. At the end of the GN there is a two-page letter from the author/creator of IWGP Ishida Ira. Here the author describes the inspiration for the series as well as how easy it was too write. DMP also includes ads for their How to Draw Manga series. While some people might balk at the $12.95 price, in my opinion it is worth the excellent packaging, especially when considering some studios charge the same for subpar packaging.

The art for IWGP is wonderful. Character designs remind me of Matsuura (Yawara and Monster) works. Characters have realistic qualities in regards to proportion and form. However the detailing of faces and expressions is so cartoonish there is almost a surreal quality to it. Aritou's art pretty versatile as well. At times characters are drawn with thick but flowing lines giving characters depth. Other times the art almost looks like a street mural with almost brush strokes inking the scene. Costume designs are good; as there is plenty of variety and fashion sense. Action scenes are very nice and they are often presented in a way to shock the reader as they experience the cruelty of violence. There is plenty of harsh detailed violence and some detailed nudity as well as some sex, so as the cover says its for ages 18 and up. Background art is pretty good. Some scenes were straight out of Ikebukuro but a majority of the time the art was pretty ambiguous which was a little disappointing. The layout is really good; as it flows well with the action and really gives a sense of panic and rage at times. Active layout, nice background art, cool character designs and nice fanservice equals: good art!

The translation for IWGP sounds really good. First they have kept honorifics which really helps define the interesting relationship most of the cast has with lead character Makoto. They have also kept cultural phrases in the dialogue, and they define those phrases in gutters and supertext boxes. They have done a solid job with how personalities come through in the translation. With a large cast sometimes dialogue can be pretty flat but as DMP kept honorifics and did not abuse slang original context came through well. SFX might get some attention as DMP handled these in a unique way. They are all subbed using a small font as not to compromise Aritou's great art. However, the way they translated some of SFX might confuse some readers. Some of the translations are literal so in some situations the kana for "mogu" will be "mogu" instead of "chew." But the translation would be reversed in other situations. Readers familiar with raw FX might not have a problem, but having to translate a translation might annoy some.

It's New Year's Eve 2000 and Tokyo is light up getting ready to bring in the new century. One of the major gatherings is taking place in the Ikebukuro district, at the park in front of the train station's west gate. Locals call the spot IWGP - Ikebukuro West Gate Park - a place were trendy Bukuro gals hang out before and after hitting the mega-stores like Seibu and Toubu. Were aspiring musicians play there tones late into the night and mixing in with the sounds of pachinko machines and night club hosts in the night air. Tonight Makoto will be one of many conjugating at IWGP, braving the cold on this unique New Year's. He will be one of many there wishing for one thing... to start the new year with a bang (pun intended).

There were plenty of fireworks that night, literally and figuratively; Makoto and his new friends were just a few of the people that took advantage of the holiday to go crazy. So while Makoto, Masa, Shun, Rika and Hikaru had snacks and hung out at a bathhouse, there was someone out there preying on those who also did not want to be alone for New Year's. When the night finally came to an end for these friends, something would bring them even closer together and it will also end up changing their lives forever.

Makoto did not even step out of the men's changing room when trouble had tracked him down. When something goes down in Ikebukuro an IWGP regular would tend to turn to Majima Makoto, the local troubleshooter, for the word on the street. And the beat says someone out there took advantage of the celebration to start a series of stranglings in Ikebukuro. If anyone would have run into the victims, or could find out if anyone else did, Makoto was where to start. Unfortunately for Makoto and his friends, the case would eventually take one of them, leading the rest on to their own very personal investigation of the Ikebukuro strangler. Some people will take the opportunity to make a buck, others might try to take matters on their own, but as this happened to one of IWGP's own, the whole park will take care of it. Little happens in Ikebukuro without it being connected in one way or another to the park... all this all started there for Makoto, friendship, romance, tragedy, and it will all continue take flight from there.

When talking about Tokyo Ikebukuro can be forgotten at times. With hip places like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Ebisu, Daikanyama and Odaiba around to kill people's time a place like Ikebukuro is thought of for its mega-store shopping and theater arts. Having hung out in IWGP a few times myself I have found the area to have a few personalities. Quiet, calm and a little cold (even in the summer) in the morning. Busy, mature and business-like at midday. Young, loud and a little rough on the edges at night, Ikebukuro itself is a character in this story and main character Makoto will occasionally speak of his relationship with the district as if they were close friends. I was easily able to relate as I feel I understand my hometown as if it were a member of my family. I also enjoyed how life moves so fast for these young people. They make new friends quickly, they fall in love and they have lives together. Sometimes there is no time to really think about what's happening they just react but youth is like that and so is vengeance. So much had happened in that short period of time to these characters that some of them were not sure of what was wrong or right anymore. They wanted vengeance but they were not sure if they ever got it. Makoto was lost as he was judging his rationality, his motivations, his feelings, and his own personality. If he could be lost in the Ikebukuro he lived his whole life in, maybe something's are not as clear as they seem.

Based on the award winning mystery novel and the hit TV series Ikebukuro West Gate Park fills one of my seinen needs for adult mystery. Genres like horror and mystery prey on the emotions. Fear, confusion, anxiety, anger are powerful tools to use if done properly. When reading IWGP I was caught up into the emotions that the cast felt. Anger, frustration, confusion and so much disgust, that I actually felt the story was repulsive... That is exactly what I wanted to feel as the story progressed.

Recommended for mature audiences


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