Q-ko-chan Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 0-345-49208-0
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Q-ko-chan Vol. #01

By Matthew Alexander     August 21, 2006
Release Date: July 25, 2006

Q-ko-chan Vol.#01
© Del Rey

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ueda Hajime
Translated by:William Flanagan
Adapted by:William Flanagan

What They Say
In the near-future on planet Earth, a world gone mad where never-ending war is a fact of life, Kirio is the coolest kid at school. Up in the sky, a giant robot is fighting a fleet of gunships, but the brilliant and distant Kirio is far from fazed "until the battling 'bot makes an unexpected landing in Kirio's front yard and rings the bell. But the worst threat for Kirio could be what stands on the other side of the door: an alien invader robot with the face of an adorable girl!

The Review
The front cover is very simplistic, yet appealing because of it. The color scheme is dominated by a white background and the robot girl, Q-Ko-chan's, white hair, otherwise her skin-colored face and blue-green eyes are the only colors. The book's title is red and blue, then the author/artists name and the volume number is in solid red. The back cover has a synopsis of the story and a small color picture of Q-Ko-chan in her mecha robot form and the books main character, Kirio.

Similar to the recent Basilisk release, the first few pages are printed in color in their original Japanese form, with black and white translated pages following. The tone work throughout the book is nice and strong with the exception of a couple pages with large areas of solid black, but certainly nothing terribly detrimental. As per Del Rey's M.O., there is a translator notes section and a description of honorifics.

Minimal. Minimal is the best word I can use to describe Hajime's artwork. Characters are drawn with the smallest amount of line work and are heavily angular. In addition they all suffer from 'blank eye' syndrome. With a few exceptions, there are virtually no backgrounds and when there are it can be difficult to decipher them. Because of the lack of detail for characters and action scenes, I often found it difficult to determine what was happening and to whom. Now some people may find Hajime's style a nice break from the more common style seen in manga these days, but personally the artwork made me feel like I was reading the Sunday comics in an American newspaper.

As far as the text is concerned, I'm almost at a lack for words. I have read other series translated by Flanagan and I thought they were good, but this book just read really rough and often times it was just plain confusing. I can't go back and read the original Japanese, so it's difficult for me to comment on this, but because this translator has done good work in the past I'm left wondering if the original text was just as poorly written. Maybe I'm not as smart as the average manga reader, but I read this story twice and it still doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Kirio is a school age kid living in a post apocalyptic Japan. There are apparently very few people living in small pockets around the country. Kirio lives in a similar cluster of humanity. He is not very popular in school, but he does have some guy friends and he gets good grades and excels at sports. He lives with his older sister, who doesn't have very good health, and his mother who works for a government agency known as 'Black Hare'. Because of this, Kirio's mother isn't around very much.

One day, while on the way home from school, Kirio and his friends witness a military force from the mainland engage a strange girl-like robot in his neighborhood. The robot manages to escape and Kirio eventually heads home were he finds a strange girl about his age waiting in front of his house. Kirio decides to keep her and hides her away in his closet like a lost puppy.

A few days later a few massive, yet ridiculously cute octopus-like aliens show up at Kirio's school. The aliens are battling with some mainland ships and pretty much tearing up the whole area. The strange girl Kirio's been keeping at his house turns to him and begs him to let her borrow her nerves. She claims to be a broken robot named Q-ko-chan and she needs his help. Then she transforms into the same robot he had seen battling the mainland force days earlier. Strangely, Kirio thinks nothing of crawling inside her and piloting her into battle against the octopus aliens. Together, Kirio and Q-ko-chan are able to defeat the alien using a power sword.

Kirio and Q-ko-chan end up having a few more run-ins with the octopus aliens until a ship carrying other robots like Q-ko-chan is attacked and jettisons its cargo. During the resulting battle with the aliens, a number of Kirio's school friends join with the other robots and begin to fly in to help Kirio and Q-ko-chan. Where did these robots come from? Why are the aliens her and what do they want from Kirio's neighborhood?

Fans of the FLCL manga will enjoy this art style for its' uniqueness, but it's not really my cup of tea. I feel it is just too sparse and the dead eyes of the characters kind of creeps me out. I also had a really difficult time with the story. The story itself is kind of cryptic and I don't really think it was done on purpose but more a result of poor writing. There were times when I felt like the author was trying to make a point with a character but it fell short and left me confused.

The main character Kirio is just plain weird. He has no personality, is a little mean spirited and only shows his emotions when he's piloting Q-ko-chan, which could be the whole point but I just felt Kirio was really unlikable. There have been other unlikable leads that I eventually find myself cheering for, but I don't know if that will happen for me with Kirio. However there is an interesting relationship between Kirio and his older sister Furiko. Furiko is rather sickly and has fainting spells, which causes her mother a lot of grief but Kirio seems to be pretty indifferent to his sisters' problems. Likewise, it appears Furiko hates Kirio and she believes their mother had him as a replacement for her because she's sick all the time.


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