My rating: 3 of 5 stars
MangaMan is a homage to both American Graphic Novels and manga. Oddly enough I used to pen pal sporadically with the artist, Colleen Doran back in the 80’s (and wow, she had a bigger career than I knew, how cool). In many ways, this is cute, almost too twee for my tastes in some places.
Ryoko is from a manga world but a rip in interdimensional space has deposited him in the ‘real’ world. He’s being helped by Dr. Capeletti, scientist, Army major, manga fan. Capeletti encourages him to go to the homegoing party to meet kids his age while Capeletti works on a way of sending him home and sealing the rip because tentacle (naturally) monsters are also trying to get through.
Ryoko, long girly hair sweeping, goes to the dance and meets Marissa who also didn’t really want to be there, especially since she’s broken up with her jock (and often drunken and jealous) boyfriend. And here is where the too cutesy for me happens. Ryoko is accompanied in physical form by every manga convention, speed lines, sound effects, chibi crap (which I don’t even like IN the manga I read) so when his eyes turns to hearts upon seeing Marissa, everyone sees it (and trips over his speed lines or get hit by sound effects etc). I will give them this, they don’t miss a trick right down to and including the invisible penis (which about killed me.)
Naturally Ryoko falls for Marissa and vice versa and Chaz, the jock ex, and his jock dunderheads want to kill Ryoko. Beyond that romance trope, there really is some good underlying story. Finding your place in this world not the least among those story lines. Ryoko teaches Marissa to see her world in new ways but even as he does, it’s more and more obvious that he can’t fit in here. For one, his fighting prowess and the ability to take more hits than human and give them out (ala most shonen manga) make him dangerous and the army wants to send him home.
Overall, this was a lot of fun, twee aside. Colleen’s art is outstanding. Marissa’s world is beautifully detailed in black and white (with no need of color to make it gorgeous) and Ryoko, well he’s done in the shojo style that was popular back when I used to write to her. Honestly, I haven’t seen guys looking like this in manga in at least a decade if not more but it was definitely the style back then and it is well know (broad shoulders, no hips, pointy chin, huge eyes, you get the idea). Fans of comics and manga, if they have a sense of humor about their fandoms, will probably get a kick out of this.
View all my reviews