Vision of the Other Side Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: DramaQueen L.L.C
  • MSRP: 10.35
  • Pages: 176
  • ISBN: 0-9766045-1-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Vision of the Other Side Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     September 12, 2006
Release Date: April 01, 2006

Vision of the Other Side Vol.#01
© DramaQueen L.L.C

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Lin Yu-Chin
Translated by:Christine Ni
Adapted by:

What They Say
In a land where chivalry exists and heroes are living legends, an extraordinary adventure awaits a young Princess. Nan-Fan, Princess of Tang: young, naïve, and strong willed. Once a mighty Empire, the Tang Kingdom is now plagued by civil unrest and enemies raiding its borders. In order to protect the Kingdom, Princess Nan-Fan is forced into a political marriage with the Li Kingdom, a powerful rival to Tang.

Her chosen bridegroom is none other than Li's Second Prince and fearsome general, the "Battle Demon." However, Nan-Fan will not easily succumb to her fate. On the anticipated wedding day, Nan-Fan makes a spectacular entrance that captures the Battle Demon's gaze and an even grander escape!

The Review
This is my second experience with DramaQueen and I have to say that both are done with some of the best production values I have seen in manga. First this is a Taiwanese title that is presented in right to left format. Most manhua titles I have seen are left to right, so to see this right to left with a tankoubon size page count is a treat. I understand that Taiwanese titles are very similar in format to Japanese titles, so I was not really surprised. Nevertheless, I was glad to see how great this book looked like this. Add a dust jacket, cover art and color plates and this book is nearly perfect. The cover is simple but does a great job presenting the concept of this story. The image of two blonde beautiful people over Tang China gives the impression of an epic shojo romance adventure (which describes the title very well).

Inside, after the color plate, DQ shows off some great printing on slightly yellow paper. Oh, man the paper is not very thick or bright but it holds the ink perfectly presenting tones and lines equally well without bleed through. The alignment is generally good, though I did feel that the art went way to deep into the page at times. So I had to really bend the spine a bit to get all of Lin's art.

DQ provided some great extras. On the dust flaps they provide a mangaka profile. At the end of the book there is a two-page ato-gaki, a preview of volume two, translator notes and a history of Tang Dynasty.

Lin-sensei's art really got to me quickly. While I did not have too much familiarity with Taiwanese shojo, I am familiar with Japanese shojo through the years. This combined elements that I have seen through a few decades of art. I had the big big shojo eyes from the 70's-80's. These had a bit more emotion to them because they had more detail, than the ones from say Attack no. 1. At the same time, it also took advantage of the era this series is set in. So this is as much of a costume drama as a historical drama. Outfits might not really be accurate of the times, but the important part here is that there is a fantastic element here where readers can imagine wealth and beauty. Characters are on the long side. Even the guys are pretty sleak.

The translation is very good. I hardly had any problems with the title at all. I think I noticed only one typo throughout the book. And in full disclosure DQ even provided a card detailing their mistakes and corrected them. I have never seen this done before in manga and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see this here. Then, DramaQueen kept all of the honorifics in the book. Even some of the more obscure terms were left in. At the end of the manga DQ provided a glossary of terms that rely helped with the historical context. Another extra in their notes is a pronunciation key. All the names are broken down phonetically to help readers get a better handle of the language nuances.

SFX are all translated with overlays. The new FX look pretty good for the most part. But more importantly they do not compromise art. The retouch is very clean and DQ did a good job providing FX that were functional and looked good (though the fonts used made them look impersonal).

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
During the waning years of the Tang dynasty, the Imperial family's fear of expressing weakness lead them to purge the land of possible threats to their power. Wars exploded across the land as the ruling clan could only control the masses through fear and military power. This era in Chinese history became a warring era with clans battling each other for position. However, there were clans out there that were more than capable of taking down the weakened Tang Empire.

Literally caught in the middle of all this was a naive rambunctious girl named Nan-Fan. Her role in this has been set in stone for years now. When we first are introduced to the Princess, she is almost murdered while she visited the battlefields. Upon returning from a battle against the Tuman, General Li's Imperial Army finds young Nan-Fan welcoming the troops with all her heart. Her irresponsible act almost cost her life. No one ever dares step before an army coming home from battle. Anyone caught doing so is obliged as the enemy. Nan-Fan's life was spared, but her brother paid the price. And from that point on her life was connected to General Li and the battlefield.

As Nan-Fan matured her body developed but her heart and mind seemed to be left behind. Now a spoiled and beautiful princess, Nan-Fan does not understand wrong from right. As someone who has rarely associated with the common man Nan-Fan felt equity was based on social stature. Moreover, if she did not know someone else's position she felt she could exploit them. She is a thief, a liar and a sneak. She does not trust anyone outside of her beloved brother and to her the common folk are nothing but commodities to the castle. Ironically, she would soon end up finding that her own position in society was only relevant to those around her as well. She might have been a major lady in the castle, but given her father's wishes she would belong to General Li. Like an object she was dealt as part of a truce between the two clans. But not accepting her place Nan-Fan might end up becoming the cause of a war instead of bringing peace in this warring era. Thus begins Nan-Fan's adventure outside of the castle and at the same time so begins her troubled romance with the Barbarian General Li.

There is something about shojo period romances that I tend to gravitate to. I think superficially it is mainly the history that attracts me. More often than not, the history is irrelevant. It is really just a backdrop that does very little to the plot. That describes the situation in Vision of the Other Side well. While, there is no doubt that this title is set in the Tang Dynasty that does nothing for the plot at all. Outside of the costumes (well some of them), the architecture and the warring theme this could have been set any number of periods in China's long long history.

That said, the real story is the shojo romance and Lin does a fine job setting that up in this first volume. What's a romance without a troubled courtship right? Vision has that in spades. Not only are Nan-Fan and Li in an arranged marriage the two ultimately end up eloping with each other in the strangest of ways even when they hate each other. That's shojo love for you. Lin-sensei was able to create a chain reaction with so many romance angles this would make a Woody Allen film blush. Father lusts for daughter, sister adores brother, princess hates general but likes the hero (who happens to be the same person). The general does not care for princess but is infatuated with mysterious strong-willed dancer (once again these two are one and the same) and thief loves money more than hunk.... Who needs a love triangle! The dynamic is always very comical but that also gives readers a chance to see the lighter qualities of this regal cast.

Add a little adventure and some hijinks and you have fun cute shojo title. Already one volume in I have noticed a few positives. The biggest one is how the story is pacing itself. 13 volumes is relatively long, but when you take a whole volume to flesh out the temperaments of the leads I feel the length is justified. We have not had time to get to see these two together. Lin has worked hard to try to set up their backgrounds and their strange re-union that there really was no time. Seeing how this title is developing at this early point in the series is refreshing. It gives readers a chance to see this world and its complexities. We also get more time for the cast and their dynamic. The plot lines are forming well. We can also see the romance angles develop as these characters feel each other out. All of this and the art comes together nicely giving me hope for something fun in the future.


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