Planet Ladder Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: C-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 216
  • ISBN: 1931514623
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Planet Ladder Vol. #01

By Mike Dungan     December 15, 2004
Release Date: March 01, 2002

Planet Ladder Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuri Narushima
Translated by:Gabi Blumberg
Adapted by:

What They Say
I see the tarot cards in my dreams. I turn them over in hopes of finding all the answers - Who am I? Where do I come from? Why are these people after me? But when I turn over the last card, it is always blank. My name is Kaguya. I thought I was an ordinary high-school girl. That is, until a crazy sorcerer appeared in my bedroom one night and transported me to another planet where people call me princess. Now, the questions in my dream are more urgent than ever. Will I ever get home again...or is this my home?

The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story opens with a desperate scene from what looks like a medieval battle. Before it moves on, though, we are brought to the present world and meet Kaguya. She's a pretty young high-school girl with long, dark, wavy hair tied up in pigtails, and stunning blue eyes. Kaguya loves to tell fortunes with tarot cards, but whenever she attempts to tell her own fortune, the last card she turns over is always blank, no matter how well she shuffles the deck. He wonders if it's because she has no memory of her past. She was simply found on the side of the road when she was about 4 years old, and she was adopted by her present family. Her father is a workaholic banker who is rarely home. Her mother treats Kaguya like a dress-up doll, and her older brother is tired of it all. A phone call from a reporter is the first they hear that their father has been arrested for embezzlement and a host of other white-collar crimes. Reporters surround the house and keep calling the family. In the midst of this chaos, two groups of people are keeping watch, looking for an opportunity to get to Kaguya. A woman suddenly appears in Kaguya's room and tells her she's needed elsewhere. Kaguya is an important person with a special power. As they talk, someone uses an enormous scythe to simply cut a corner of the house away, exposing Kaguya's room. As the two people confront each other, there is an explosion.

When Kaguya comes to, she's in her room. The problem is that her room in on the edge of a lake in a forest. It's like the room was simply carved out of the house and deposited somewhere else. With Kaguya is a young man, approximately her age. His face is blindfolded, and his left hand appears to be a prosthetic made of gold. Kaguya soon realizes that this isn't a person, but a highly sophisticated doll. He doesn't speak, but he understands her and follows her directions.

The people vying for Kaguya are Idou and Seeu. At some point, more than 300 years ago, they were friends who fought on the same side. But since the battle that was seen in the first pages of the book, they've been enemies and have fought many battles. Now they're looking for Kaguya, who, it appears, is originally from their world. There seems to be several worlds, and they've only just found Kaguya hiding on the "third world".

Kaguya has a recurring dream of a boy, bloody and beaten, missing a hand, who comforts her in the midst of a great fire. The doll who is accompanying her looks like the boy in the dream. Kaaguya decides to leave her room and look for a town to try to get some answers. She finds a horse-drawn carriage on a road, and goes in it's direction. She finds a group of less than friendly people in an encampment. After sitting with them for a few minutes, she gets an ominous feeling about them and excuses herself. She and the doll take off just in time, and the group has decided to capture her and sell her and her things. Running madly, she finds a mansion and heads for it.

Planet Ladder was one of the very first of the 100% Authentic Manga line that Tokyopop introduced at the beginning of 2002. As such, it came with a plastic band around the bottom of the book explaining it wasn't printed backwards. Yuri Narushima is giving us her own spin on the ancient Japanese tale of the woodsman who found a baby inside the trunk of a bamboo tree he cut down. He and his wife raised her as their own daughter whom they named Kaguya. When she grew up, they discovered she was the Moon Princess Kaguya, and the people of the moon have come to take her back. It's a difficult title to warm to, since it feels like we're in the middle of the story, rather than the beginning. Who are Idou and Seeu? Which one is the good guy, which one bad? Why are they after Kaguya and what makes her so special to them? These are all questions that get answered, but not in this volume. Narushima's art is pleasant, though not especially unique. She uses a lot of black and screentoning and has a good sense of composition. She also has a good sense of humor, though it doesn't raise it's head too often. I like the look of her characters. They're attractively designed and well-drawn, with expressive faces.

Tokyopop's art reproduction in the volume is pretty bad. The screentons are very poorly reproduced with heavy moiring and graining. Sound effects are handled in a variety of ways. Sometimes they're replaced with English, sometimes they have an English translation next to them, and sometimes they're simply ignored. The English adaptation is well done, with natural sounding dialogue. The adaptor isn't listed, but the editor is Jake Forbes, so a good adaptation isn't a surprise. There are five pages of extras by Narushima in the back of the book, talking a bit about what she was trying to do with the story and some of the early design concepts. The cover is a beautiful image of Kaguya with her hair down, wrapped in semi-translucent wisps of cloth, against an aqua blue/green stucco background accenting Kaguya's eyes. The colors and image combine to create a rather impressive cover.

Narushima's attempt to drop the reader into the middle of a story is a worthy effort. The reader learns things exactly as Kaguya learns them, making it easier to sympathize with her. But caring about the rest of the cast will take time. Right now, they're just names and faces with no idea what their goals or motivations are. I enjoyed it enough to stick with it, but it might be tough for some to find anything to sympathize with in this volume.


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