Kon Kon Kokon Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Broccoli Books
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 978-1-5974-1065-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Kon Kon Kokon

Kon Kon Kokon Vol. #01

By Ariadne Roberts     September 21, 2007
Release Date: June 13, 2007

Kon Kon Kokon Vol.#01
© Broccoli Books

Creative Talent
Translated by:Satsuki Yamashita
Adapted by:Jason R. Grissom

What They Say
Ren just wants to be one of the cool kids, but secretly he's just a nerdy monster fanatic. That is, until a young girl named Kokon shows up. She claims to be a fox that he had helped years ago and now she wants to return the favor. With the fox-girl Kokon by his side, will Ren be able to become the most popular kid in school?

The Review
Most manga releases have such flimsy packaging that it barely holds up to one read, so it's a delight to see something treated with such loving care. It makes me embarrassed to describe it in such layman's terms, but the cover is delicately textured and soft to the touch, and the whole book is noticeably heavier than any other normal manga I've ever picked up. Two color pages are included, and printed on very nice paper. But the black & white pages are the real showstopper here, reprinted with exquisite clarity. Even the splash pages that were formerly in color are reproduced with amazing quality that puts every other publisher to shame. Sadly, it's an everyday thing to see color pages reproduced in horribly muddy B&W, but here they are sharp and clear. Consider me a (spoiled) new fan of Broccoli.

As for extras, there is a much-needed yokai encyclopedia, author afterword, and translation notes. An optional survey at the back can be filled in and sent to receive free Kon Kon Kokon stickers while supplies last " a nice giveaway!

To be honest, I've never been a fan of Koge-Donbo's artwork due to the shiny, balloon-sized eyes. The shininess seemed to be toned down a bit, but they aren't any smaller. No matter. I'm a fan of cute, and the artwork here is almost sickeningly so. The entire cast has that same sexless, "not a day over eight" look that can make some scenes a little creepy. (See Umibozu's, ahem, reveal.) The cast gets into the super-deformed/chibi style mode often, and the ultra-exaggerated expressions on Ren's face when yokai are mentioned is extremely funny.

What do you do when the audience could range from savvy to completely green? That is a common problem in manga these days when it comes to using jargon. The childish story and artwork make this series a perfect fit for a young manga reader, but the use of yokai, obake, otaku, and such seems a bit unnecessary when "demon", "ghost", and "fanatic" are perfectly good options. The translation guide at the back can clear up confusion, but it comes a bit too late. The Yokai Encyclopedia is even more useful, because simple translations of the yokai names aren't enough to explain their history and significance.

Sound effects are always translated, and in many cases the English equivalent is placed over the Japanese, but occasionally replaced entirely. Aside from the problem with clunky Japanese words, the translation was a smooth read.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ren Hinonishi recently transferred to a new school, where he made friends with the popular boy, Kazune, and his cousin Himeka. She is a beautiful, sweet girl that Ren wishes to date someday. Ever since he moved and got a new start, he has become very preoccupied with appearing 'cool', so much so that he hides what his true passion is: yokai (demons)! Even the mere mention of a 'hairy' ghost in the school sends his heart pounding.

When a girl in traditional shrine maiden garb appears in his classroom announcing, "I'm here to repay you, Hinonishi-sama!" he thinks his life as the Cool Guy is over. She knows all about his humble beginnings as a dorky yokai fanatic from Boonies Village, and so Ren orders her to leave him alone. Not until he scours the school at night with Himeka to find the rumored ghost does he realize Kokon herself is a yokai, and a fox one at that! Nearly frothing at the mouth with excitement, he takes the poor homeless girl to his house to live. Things only get weirder when she goes to sleep in his frog-shaped trashcan.

But Kokon isn't the only yokai that wants to talk to Ren. Soon, a brazen blonde by the name of Kitsuneko busts into his life demanding that he send Kokon back. You see, the innocent-seeming girl is actually due to be the new god of the mountain, and Kitsuneko is furious that she ran away from her duties just to be with some dumb mortal boy. Despite her initial anger, Kitsuneko has a little crush on Ren, and after losing a fight to him, she decides to stay too. Things only get worse after a school trip to the beach nets him yet another addition to his yokai harem, but this one has a bit of a secret.

I know perfectly well this is a comedy. But an unlikeable main character just made the whole thing a little less fun. Ren doesn't have any redeeming qualities, hates who he really is, and is obsessed with impressing others. I can't really figure out why he has such devoted fangirls coming out of the woodwork, but then again, where there is a harem there is a totally unlikeable protagonist.

Thankfully, it does manage to be funny. Ren's paranoia and psychotic glee over yokai keeps things amusing, but it only has so much mileage. On the flipside, the girls feel like they're around just to be cute and create dumb scenarios such as a completely wrong breakfast featuring black paper and warm water. By the end of the volume, Kokon still doesn't have much more of a personality than The Cute Screw Up, and Himeka is nothing more than the Nice Popular Pretty Girl. Then there's Kitsuneko. Her personality seems to change by the panel, jumping from Tough and Sassy to Smitten and Loveydovey without reason.

It's got its good moments, but in the end it just feels like a harem-comedy-by-the-numbers with a lousy main character and uninspired cast. I'll be crossing my fingers that it can improve in future volumes.


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