Suppli Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 219
  • ISBN: 978-1-4278-0314-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Suppli

Suppli Vol. #01

By Gary Thompson     December 18, 2007
Release Date: November 13, 2007

Suppli Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Mari Okazaki
Translated by:Angela Liu
Adapted by:Liz Forbes

What They Say
The skies are always clearer after the storm... After her boyfriend of seven years dumps her, Minami realizes she's shut out everything else in her life. Now, at the age of twenty-seven years old, ambitious Minami throws herself into her advertising job and experiences life -and love- for the first time.

The Review
The cover art for this volume is beautiful; marred only by a wholly unnecessary and poorly placed Parental Advisory label. Honestly, there is absolutely no reason for this volume to have the 18+ rating; there is only one bad word and neither nudity nor sexuality. There are a few paintings that are used at the beginnings of chapters that are done in gray scale, which is expected, though unfortunate. Most everything about the packaging here is what you should be expecting by now: nice paper, good binding, little bits of the images cut off because of the zoom to fit the page, etc... One thing, though, actually stands out rather favorably here: the Language and Cultural notes. These are notable because they are edifying rather than rote, and fairly thorough. It's odd that there aren't any footnotes in the text that tell you to look at the notes, though. So if there is anything that you don't understand, you will just have to check to see if it's back there or not.

Suppli is a jyosei manga, meaning that is is largely for women in their twenties or thirties, and like all genre manga, there is an art style that typically goes along with it that Suppli firmly follows. Things are very parred down, but there is also a slight bit more realism in characters and locations, as well as a unique set of things that get exaggerated in ways atypical of other genres. I admit that I have always found this particular style a little odd, but it is folly to criticize something for simply following the conventional rules of its genre. There are numerous exceptions to this statement, of course, but that's a whole other thing. That being said, the art in this is well done, though the layout is quite hectic and sometimes distracting. There is a lot going on on each page, and half of it is used effectively as a representation of Minami's very hectic life, but the rest feels more cluttered and a little claustrophobic. But still, it's all competent and the times when the art really gets to flourish are quite nice. Also, I doubt that there are any other manga out there that have such loving depictions of peoples' hair; each character's hairdo is fairly representative of their personality and Minami's might as well be a character by itself.

There is lots of text here. Lots more than you would first expect, so it is nice to see that there aren't really any mess-ups. Honorifics are retained and sound effects are translated rather than replaced. The translation and adaptation work really well as the text of the story flows effortlessly, and even though there may be multiple streams of dialog on the page at once, they are all pretty easy to follow.

The story here is a fairly simple jyosei romance: it is about a woman named Minami who has been with her boyfriend for seven years and things have stopped being comfortable and started being apathetic. After a frustrated outburst, Minami's boyfriend breaks up with her and she is left alone with a vague vignette of a life. It turns out that all of these years with her boyfriend she has just been doing as little as possible to get by and she has barely been living at all. But now that she is no longer attached, she needs to construct a life that she can live on her own and catch up on all of the things that she has missed out on in the last seven years.

Earlier in this review I mentioned that though there were certainly exceptions to this rule, it's best not to judge something for following the conventional rules of its genre. However, you can judge a thing for how well/poorly it executes these conventions. Suppli, then, is something of a poster-child for this in that it does everything it's supposed to, according to its conventions, but it just doesn't come across all that well. My assertion isn't that the story itself is bad, it's just that the way the story is told falls short.

While the story hits all of its benchmarks, it's as if the art of storytelling is lost here. Some of the more important events aren't given as much time as you would expect to so that their implications can sink in, and conversely, some of the things that are fairly insignificant have a bigger impact than they probably should. This would actually serve as a good case for me misunderstanding or not sharing the priorities that the manga is trying to emphasize. But I think that the opposite is true: the manga itself is uncertain of what it wants to focus on the most. In one chapter it will be Minami's desperations, then her exhaustion, then it may be about her unfulfilled dreams at work, then about new budding and confusing relationships, and so on. Certainly all of these things are expected for a person in Minami's position, but they aren't really dealt with as a whole. The result is that Minami is often just as enigmatic as some of the characters that surround her. And while protagonists like that have their place, it's not something that works as well in a story that deals almost solely with this one woman and the new life that she is trying to build.

At first I was really excited for this title. Jyosei is something that I really enjoy and this looked like something that could be pretty good. But, try as I might, the book proved itself to be something that was really difficult to get in to. I still enjoyed it while reading it, but because of its slapdash construction and lack of unified emotional current, I found it difficult to care about this, or even remember parts of it, even moments after reading it. If there is anything that a story like this should concern itself with, it's emotion, but while this book has its moments, emotion seems to be more of an afterthought. I hope that this is just the result of a first volume that tries to accomplish too much, too fast, because I really want to enjoy this series. There aren't very many manga like this that make it stateside, so I don't want this one to end up being a disappointment, but for this volume in particular, it's missing that magical element that makes a narrative an investment rather than just a story.


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