St. Lunatic Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 184
  • ISBN: 1-5981-6944-0
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: St. Lunatic

St. Lunatic Vol. #01

By Ben Leary     September 28, 2007
Release Date: August 30, 2007

St. Lunatic Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Translated by:Alethea & Athena Nibley
Adapted by:Alethea & Athena Nibley

What They Say
It's the adventures of the cute and energetic Niko Kanzaki in the semi-demonic prestigious school, St. Lunatic School! First having entered due to her brother getting a job there, Niko discovers the haunting secret of the school in her night-classes, which are overrun with demons! But the handsome and mysterious Ren shows her that their two races may share some things in common...

The Review
The cover is a good example of the feel of the book with the two lead characters in characteristic poses and the background characteristically almost not there. It does a perfectly good job of letting you know what you're in for. But what I really like is the back cover. In an unusual but welcome move, we get a four-panel comic presenting the setup of the story. This is a much more effective communication of the premise than the typical inaccurate marketing copy beneath it. (The school is "filled with cute boys" only if your idea of cute boys is a walking pumpkin with an eye-patch, a skeleton, an obese penguin, and an erect gecko wearing a suit.) To further confuse matters the book is labeled "Horror." Not comedy horror, or anything like that, just horror. I defy anybody to look at the cutsified character art on the back and pick this up for scares. The only people who could conceivably be frightened by anything in the book are those with a phobia for obese penguins. I sometimes wonder if marketing people read the books they do these things to. But enough negativity. The graphics people have come through with a fine job on the outside. (Nicely done, working the barcode into the overall design!) On the inside, the paper and printing are purely the TokyoPop norm, except that the colour pages reproduced in black and white look a fair bit worse than usual. One even had a faint white line across a mostly black area from imperfect printing.

Slim extras consist of a short postscript by the author and a good gag-strip on the inside back cover.

There's a very cartoony style used throughout--plenty of exaggerated action and expressions, including SD effects; so if you're the kind of reader who gets turned off by these, be warned. I don't get much sense of place from the backgrounds, which are frequently sparse in the extreme, though there's nothing particularly wrong with them either. It just seems like any given scene could take place anywhere else in the school or on the school grounds without changing the feel of the situation. Only the chapter by the pond made me feel like the characters were actually in an environment and not just moving in a vacuum. But then, the story focuses on the characters and the comedy and the artwork does just fine by those. (My favourite touch is an ominous sound effect with Frankenstein stiches drawn on it.) Characters mainly come in the round, cute style and are all easily recognizable, even in SD mode. In all, this is a series easy to look at in a cute, fun way, and has spunk to burn. Not a half-bad debut performance.

Sound effects are unaltered and untranslated. The text itself looks fine and the translation reads well. I can't think of any jokes that didn't come off, or any issues at all really. Dialogue suits the characters just fine. Even the text fills the word balloons without too much room left over. Nothing in the text made me start thinking like a reviewer, and that's a very good thing.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
St Lunatic begins with a brother and sister who are struggling to keep the wolf from the door--or at any rate, keep the landlord from the door. But a new teaching job for the brother promises to change all that. Free room and board, an apartment on school grounds, free schooling for the sister,and an influx of spending money--too good to be true?

Even in a stylized light-comedy world, of course it is. (With a name like St Lunatic High School, you knew there had to be a catch.) You'll get to the catch at about the fifth page, so I'm not going to go into it. But it's nothing that'll knock you for a loop. This isn't the kind of series that depends heavily on surprise or mysterious revelations. So far it's just trying to make you laugh. And it does what it sets out to do.

As I was reading, I couldn't help noticing the similarites to Hollow Fields. You've got the school where every day is Halloween, and you've got the lost cute girl trying to make sense of it all. Each is the debut work of its respective artist. Hollow Fields is the better of the two; but the comparison is not entirely fair. The two stories may have similar situations and content, but the aims are drastically different. St Lunatic is, as I said, just going for laughs. Hollow Fields casts the net wider: it deals with a more complex plot, one with humour and pathos, and moderate but genuine chills, all in a setting carefully chosen and exploited to enhance the story.

But St Lunatic is eager to please, and that counts for a lot; especially since it succeeds nearly at every turn. It will do very well as a source of good clean fun. Especially if you need something to help pass the time until the next volume of Hollow Fields comes out. And speaking of good clean fun, this is perfectly clean: there's nothing at all that warrants a Teen rating. In fact, I think it might read a bit better with children.

The conclusion: moderately recommended for general readers; more enthusiatically recommended for fans of spunky, stylized comedy; not recommended for readers afraid of obese penguins.


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