Moon Child Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: CMX
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 176
  • ISBN: 1-4012-0825-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Moon Boy

Moon Child Vol. #01

By Michelle Ramonetti     August 13, 2007
Release Date: December 21, 2005


Moon Child Vol.#01
© CMX


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Reiko Shimizu
Translated by:Jonathan Tarbox
Adapted by:Jonathan Tarbox

What They Say
A mysterious boy may hold the secret of Earth's fate. But if he has no memory, who will save the world?

According to prophecy, a half-mermaid, half-human girl will either bring an end to the feud between humanity and the mer-people "or bring about the destruction of all life on Earth. When the mer-man named Shona returns to Earth to find the girl, he meets a young boy suffering from amnesia. The boy, Jimmy, joins Shona in his search. Will they be able to avert the prophecy, or will finding the secret of Jimmy's identity delay them and set Earth on the path to destruction?

The Review
Packaging:
Moon Child's cover art is a lovely image of the main character, Jimmy, clutching roses; a set of mysterious towers decorates the back. CMX does well to leave this original artwork alone and only adds a beige border, but the title font looks a bit cheap. Also, the summary on the back cover is misleading. In Volume 1, as the Contents section will show, Shona returns to Earth for a different reason, Jimmy doesn't search for anyone with Shona, and Jimmy's identity causes no delays . . . it's actually the crux of the plot.

Extras include a bonus manga, "Thoughts of a Robot", and the preview for Moon Child, Volume 2.

Art:
Thin pen strokes, high foreheads, and willowy hair all lend this science fiction tale an element of romance without making it too girly. The wispy lines and spare backgrounds also work well for a story about dancers and space age mermaids. In fact, while at first the vintage style was distracting (the initial copyright was in 1988), I found it grew on me.

SFX/Text:
Sound effects are translated well. Though some erasure marks of the original Japanese characters are left over, the reader would have to peer hard to notice. Best of all, the English sound effects blend in with effective fonts and decent font sizes.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid", has inspired various retellings through the years, a famous example being the Disney animated film. Moon Child also retells "The Little Mermaid", or rather, how the story might have gone if merpeople were killed in the European witch hunts . . . so don't expect singing crabs or redheads with shell bras.

In modern day (or rather, 1980s) New York City, we meet a short-tempered dancer named Art Gile who, while down on his luck, accidentally crashes his car into a mysterious boy; though the boy remains otherwise unhurt, he now has amnesia, giving Art a new roommate. Unknown to them both, the boy, who Art names Jimmy, is actually from a race of merpeople that have ESP and cause ghosts and monsters to appear around them, making humans fearful. In the story of "The Little Mermaid" as the merpeople know it, a mermaid named Seira fell in love with a human and betrayed her kinsmen to human nobles who stole their land and persecuted them in witch trials. On top of it all, the merpeople have a prophecy that Seira's child will return to earth and cause their total destruction. Now, hundreds of years later, the few remaining children have come to age and are swimming back from the far reaches of space to spawn "including a young merman named Shona, who's father was the merman that Seira once rejected for her human lover.

If all this sounds complicated, it sort of is, and this volume ends with a host of questions. Who is Jimmy really? How does this, and will this, relate to Art, Shona, and the destruction caused by Seira's child? Will the merpeople's history repeat itself? The author even admits the first volume is a prologue.

Comments
Moon Child is a science fiction manga through and through, involving strange worlds, alien races, an alternate history of fantasy creatures, oracles, and other supernatural phenomena. They sometimes jump out of nowhere, like the stream of ants that crawl onto a clock or an invisible monster that gnaws on the feverish Art's head.

There's also a constant sexual undercurrent in the animallike, yet humanlike breeding of the merpeople; it's not about marriage or love for them, just mating, but it seems to be about love at the same time, er, somehow. This rather muddled factor makes it hard for Shona, who dreams about Seira of old . . . and sees a reflection of her in Jimmy, who has developed an attachment to the human Art. Does this scenario look familiar?

Though the plot and futuristic fairy tale atmosphere can be off-putting, Moon Child's characters add an endearing element. Art, for instance, is an oblivious guy who turns violent at the drop of a hat; he's also presented, however, as a warm, sincere human being in the classic role of a big fish struggling in the giant pond of New York City. Shona is just trying to fulfill his duties as a merman and forget his dreams of Seira and her child. Jimmy is a good kid trying to figure out who "or what "he really is. Even the more manipulative characters like Art's ex-lover, Holly, add spice to the mix.

Just to mention, Ms. Shimizu does a decent job portraying New York City, though I find it a little strange that at one point Jimmy manages to run from Times Square and, without stopping for breath, winds up in the South Bronx. Far worse discrepancies than this have come from manga, so it's a minor setback.

The bonus manga, "Thoughts of a Robot", is more confusing than Moon Child even though it's about an ordinary night of watching TV movies. It seems that we are supposed to know who Jack, Elena, and Lyse are already; if they are part of an ongoing series, CMX fails to mention it in any margin note.

Overall, Moon Child shows promise of being an interesting read, but it presents a style and worldview specific to vintage manga and science fiction. With so many choices for manga today, another series might be more worthwhile for the general manga fan.

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