Platinum Garden Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-59816-361-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Platinum Garden

Platinum Garden Vol. #01

By Michelle Ramonetti     January 28, 2008
Release Date: June 13, 2006


Platinum Garden Vol.#01
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Maki Fujita
Translated by:Egan Loo
Adapted by:Sarah Dyer

What They Say
When Kazura is sent to live in Mizuki's house, she learns that she's really there to become his wife! Furious, Kazura tries to leave, but discovers that she was given as payment for her deceased grandfather's debts. But things aren't what they seem to be in this household. Mizuki can call back people's souls, and Kazura wants him to bring back her grandfather!

The Review
Packaging:
The front cover image is of Kazura glancing sidelong with a card in her mouth, dressed in camouflage print, while the hand of an unseen person tilts her hat. Though this cover has an edgy feel, the original Japanese release, in which Kazura wears a frilly costume and clutches stuffed animals before a background of orange-yellow plaid, looks livelier. Tokyopop’s revision also loses a joke within a panel below the title page, where Nanase--a man--dresses in the same, frilly maid costume. The title font matches the purple and green color scheme but doesn’t particularly stand out. In short, the cover works, but it’s boring.

The back cover provides a volume summary. Extras include a preview of Volume 2’s cover art and ads for Otogi Zoshi, Strawberry Marshmallow, Trash, Riding Shotgun, Gravitation: Voice of Temptation, Elemental Gelade, Fool’s Gold, The Tokyopop Shop, and Dramacon (whew!).

Art:
Platinum Garden’s art style is typical shoujo with elongated limbs, floral patterns, and a big-eyed heroine; Fujita draws all this in a fresh way that’s pleasing enough to look at without being overly attractive or pretty. Kazura, with her cropped, light hair and large eyes, is a lot of fun to watch in action. Her character design isn’t very distinctive, but it works well for a girl with her fiery attitude. The other characters, especially the adults and males, all have tiny, sharp eyes that shrink in proportion to their mouths. Some might argue that drawing characters with small, slanted eyes is truer to life, but in the pages of this manga, it looks strange. Backgrounds are used sparingly, but well. And of course, the male leads are all drawn tall and handsome!

SFX/Text:
Honorifics are not kept, but given translations of Mr. or Miss for polite address. Other than that, late in this volume Kazura decides to give a classmate, Kagami, the nickname Kagaminsky. (I doubt this came from the original.) There’s also the same limitation here as in all Tokyopop releases: sound effects remain untranslated without any margin note or appendix, which means they look great but are meaningless to someone who can’t read Japanese. These issues aside, the text reads naturally.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Instead of tossing a few yen her way, Kazura Enomoto’s grandfather, in his last will and testament, tosses her onto the doorstep of Mizuki Magahara as debt payment. It would be bad enough if she was sent to play maidservant to the handsome, yet haughty Mizuki, but no. Kazura is there to be his fiancÚ.

A cycle of intimidation from Mizuki and defiance from Kazura ensues as Mizuki thrusts Kazura into lessons in flower arrangement and other ladylike skills, traps her inside the grounds, orders her to keep the fake engagement secret, and commands her to break a budding friendship with a male classmate. In the midst of this, Mizuki’s cousin-servant, Kaito, tries to hint at Mizuki’s gentler, more troubled nature.

For instance, it’s not long before Mizuki’s relatives hear of the “engagement” and start spying on him. His family has already planned for him for marry someone else, and they’re put out to find him take a common girl into his house. And then there is Mizuki’s ability to temporarily revive the dead (no joke), a lucrative power that his family has no scruples about exploiting.

While walking a tightrope of love and domestic abuse, Kazura and Mizuki begin to know and understand each other. One can only hope that Mizuki never makes good on his threats to Kazura’s life!

Comments
Platinum Garden’s title suits it. It reads like a case study in contradictions: poor and rich, independent and submissive, living and summoning the dead . . . .

What keeps it from being an excellent story, instead of a very good one, is the fine line it toes between romantic, schoolgirl comedy and utter drudgery. I can’t help but feel convinced that, if Kazura wasn’t so plucky and self-assured, this story would sink right to the bottom of the drudgery barrel. After all, a high school girl is being forced by her grandfather’s will to be a stranger’s property, which looks an awful lot like human trafficking. This can’t be legal! (Sure it’s a manga, but still!)

And yet, time and again the characters save the tale and keep it from sinking. When Mizuki’s meddling relatives call one day and scold Kazura, as a poor girl, for daring to marry their Mizuki, etc., she gets upset and runs away. But Kazura never throws herself a pity party. She knows that she has value as a person without meeting their expectations. Even Mizuki, the most insecure character in the series so far, carries on his hidden opposition to these relatives for the sake of determining his own future. Kaito is quiet, but supportive. Nanase is, well, kind of a freak, but he adds needed comic relief. Brief flashbacks of Kazura’s late grandfather also add warmth, since it’s clear once we read them that he really loved her.

On a side note, Mizuki’s ability to revive the dead for a last visit is, as one might expect from a shoujo manga, not drawn from an action standpoint. Instead, it’s a personal trial for Mizuki because it’s physically painful for the departed and it cements Mizuki as the family cash cow.

With the promise of more oppression and lighthearted antics in Volume 2, I’d say it’s a judgement call. For those sensitive to these kinds of situations, another manga might be more enjoyable. But for those, like me, who can deal with it and are intrigued by the plot and cast, Platinum Garden is certainly worth a shot.

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