Ikebukuro West Gate Park Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 214
  • ISBN: 1-56970-985-8
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Ikebukuro West Gate Park Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     December 29, 2004
Release Date: November 01, 2004

Ikebukuro West Gate Park Vol.#02
© Digital Manga Publishing

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

What They Say
The streets of IKEBUKURO WEST GATE PARK are notoriously crazy, but when the drug underworld brings Makoto face-to-face with a girl from his past, things get downright insane. She's in the skin trade now and up to her "rear" in seedy med deals, and Makoto's the only one can pull her out of the darkness and back into the arms of her one true love. With the help of high-tech gadgets, spy warfare and a little bit of cross-dressing, Makoto has one shot to help the girl and save the day... or lose everything.

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 being friendly with Hikariko with a pink Ikebukuro West Gate Park in the background. The image, which is as a pulled back version of the Japanese cover (that features a close-up of Hikariko), 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. DMP also includes ads for their How to Draw Manga series and their Yaoi line. 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 sub par 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 comical there is almost a surreal quality to it. Aritou's art pretty versatile as well. At times characters are drawn with thick 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 detailed violence and some detailed nudity as well as some sex, so as the cover says it is 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 rather 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 fan service 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 super text 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.

Just when I thought Rika's story was over and Makoto had moved on to another case to solve, we are brought back to where we started.

Love, family, friendship and community were all major parts of Makoto's life. In a way, the entire community of Ikebukuro was like his extended family. It was apparent with all of the support he got how many friends he had and how they loved him. But as was a problem before, Ikebukuro was starting to change before his eyes. Those he could trust were now playing tricks on him and even his enemies were possibly not as bad as he thought they were (after all, they come from 'Bukuro as well). The strangler proved that life in this part of town is not what it seems. Rika's murder was not what it seemed to be, and now his friends might not be who they appear to be either. The only thing Makoto can do now is be true to himself, as painful as that may end up being.

One major part of Makoto's nature is willingness to help his extended family. You can usually see Makoto helping at his family's fruit stand when he is not at IWGP. If the local cops need the skinny on something that might be going down, they know to turn to Makoto for the word from the street. If anyone needs help from the network of local community organizations (gangs), Makoto knows them all. Therefore, it is not uncommon for him to occasionally be wrapped up other people's problems. Usually he tries not to get himself in trouble as well, but this time trouble is calling and he cannot say no. With illegal immigrants, yakuza, drug dealers and high school classmates in the mix he sure wishes he could have, though.

A mistake will not only end in failure but it could end in death. With so many high risk factors, involved Makoto will have to do the extraordinary. In Ikebukuro Makoto has access to quite a few extraordinary friends. Friends that will do whatever they can for a friend in need. A little know how with some extraordinary ideas and they might be able to pull it off. They just have to make sure they do not over-step their boundaries. Last thing Makoto needs is to have more of his friends in trouble.

When I started reading this series, I immediately felt a connection to the youth and the liveliness of this series. It just felt so honest, as new friends began on their personal journeys together before tragedy struck. When one would expect the cast to panic and be caught in their emotions they were able to work together for a cause they all believed in - even if their actions were also quite brutal as well. Ishida completely turned everything around in this volume. There were some hints along the way, but unless readers were looking for them, none would clearly lead to what he finally presented to his readers. This is the skill of a good mystery writer. To be able to conceal what in the end should be apparent. Like Makoto, I felt slightly manipulated by what transpired. However, I truly enjoyed the ride as an omnipresent observer. Luckily, for me the ride did not stop there. Ishida uses adult humor to set up Makoto's next case and if the first was a wild ride, this next one is a dozy. International incident

with yakuza and dealers with an old middle school friend... the fun does not stop in Ikebukuro my friends.

When I pick up IWGP I expect to be placed right in front of the Theater Arts Museum hanging out with people my age as we drink sake one-cups and smoke Hopes. We see all the beautiful people around and wonder what their lives are about. Then one of the guys starts to spin a tale about something that has been going down recently. The story is so vivid and easy to relate to, that everyone present is stuck on every word. We feel pain, disgust, envy, joy and anger over the comrade we may have never met. In our minds, we know nothing like that could ever happen to us, but in our hearts, we wish we were. It is a story that can only be told in Ikebukuro, even if it happened somewhere else. When it ends, we come away wishing we knew how it would end. This is why I love seinen manga!

Reading IWGP is a unique experience for me. In a way, it is a little unsettling in how I almost consider it to fit practically every need I have in a manga. An adult cast, action, drama, sex, comedy, good writing and great pacing is wrapped tightly together over some great fun looking art. Kudos to DMP for great packaging to make the presentation match the quality of the manga inside. I cannot say enough about Ishida's Ikebukuro.

Highly recommended


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