Orange Vol. #01 - Mania.com



Manga Review

Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translation Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 12.99
  • Pages: 144
  • ISBN: 978-1427814630
  • Size: 8 x 10
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Orange Vol. #01

Orange Vol. #01 Review

By Sakura Eries     April 20, 2010
Release Date: February 10, 2009


Orange Vol. #01
© TOKYOPOP

A despondent teen in a Chinese metropolis contemplates suicide. 

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Benjamin
Translation: Edward Gauvin
Adaptation: Edward Gauvin

What They Say
Orange has become so nihilistic about her life - callous parents, shallow friends, meaningless relationships - that she decides the only way out is to kill herself. But as she is about to jump, a mysterious man stops her, convincing her there might be something to live for after all. When, several weeks later, he commits suicide himself, how will she make sense of her brutal, heartbreaking world?

The Review!

Technical:
Don't let the front cover fool you. It features Orange, the heroine, posing with her bag and a cute smile. The bright (and orangey) light that surrounds her might lead you to think that this is an uplifting story, but what lies within the cover is far from that.
 
While the artist uses the same media for the cover and story artwork (colored markers is my guess), for the most part, the style he uses to tell Orange’s story is quite different from what you see on front. Images have a blurred or unfocused look to them, leaving the impression of shaky video footage. Orange often complains that all people are fake and no one understands her, and with few exceptions, the details of people's facial features are left out as if to convey that sentiment.
 
The main portion of the softcover book is the Orange graphic novel, a single chapter stand-alone story, but it also includes other artwork by Benjamin, including movie and videogame poster artwork and select illustrations from his graphic novel Remember. Postscript ramblings from the author are also included. The entire book is printed in color on heavy glossy pages.
 
All sound effects have been changed to English. Dialogue translation is awkward in spots, and there is one critical scene where it is unclear from the placement of the dialogue bubbles who is speaking.
 
Content:
This title is rife with urban, adolescent angst. Orange, the high school aged heroine, is sick of her life in an unnamed Chinese concrete jungle. She finds nothing -- not her parents, not her boyfriends or friends, not her school, not the future -- worth living for. Nothing makes an impact on her until one day, when she's standing at the edge ready to jump, a strange man crashes into her life to pull her from the brink.
 
The cover synopsis describes Orange as "a profoundly moving story of loss and redemption." It could be considered a story of loss perhaps, but there's not much redemption. The main tension comes in the relationship between Orange and the hard drinking artist Dashu, but their relationship has more of a stalker feel to it than anything minutely noble. At one point, Orange says she loves him, but she just as quickly rejects and mocks him. Their interactions end with a dramatic conclusion, but Dashu's final gesture to Orange doesn't actually do anything to change her circumstances.
 
In regard to plot, there isn't much going on. It's more of a snapshot into the life of a person who experiments with all sorts of vices to feel alive and doesn't care about anyone or anything. You don't get a sense of how she got to being that way, and she ultimately remains stuck in her hopelessness with no indication that she'll do anything to change.
 
Overall, it's depressing and boring in the sense that there is no progression. However, from what my traveler friends have told me, Orange's bleak outlook does reflect that of many among Asia's urban young, who feel extremely isolated despite the insanely crowded conditions they live in. If that’s what you’re looking for, give Orange a try; otherwise, you’ll probably wind up disappointed (and depressed, too).
 
In summary:
There's nothing pretty about Orange. The story and the artwork are gritty and dark, and even when the heroine gets "saved" at the end, you get the sense that she's still not really saved. There's not much plot to go with all the teen angst, but this graphic novel does provide a snapshot into the lives of those dwelling within China's overgrown concrete cities.
 
There is no age rating listed on the cover, but I would rate it a 16+ for dark themes, profanity, sexual situations, and a graphic suicide scene.

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