The Comic Queen

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Monday, March 07, 2005

Kerry Reads Manga! Worst Vol. 1

By Hiroshi Takahashi
Digital Manga Publishing; $12.95

My latest foray into the manga world, Worst, is again brought to us by Digital Manga Publishing. They are the same company that produced Only the Ring Finger Knows, which was reviewed here last week. From what I understand the company’s main goal is to bring the most popular titles in Japan to eager readers in the States. They want to provide manga fans with accurate translation while keeping with the writer’s original intentions. The translation is really a strong point in both DMP books I’ve read so far. The language used is clear and translates well. American slang is used correctly. When a word can’t be translated, a footnote defines it and the story moves along. This is a huge asset to Worst, as it does contain some culture differences that this uncultured American would have not understand without the invaluable footnotes.

In Worst, student Hana Tsukishima has just moved to the city for high-school. Raised in the country, Hana knows little of city life or the Suzaran High School that he is about to attend. The school is well-known for ruffians and gangs and its Freshman Challenge. This contest is an all out battle to find out who is the toughest boy in the new class. Hana and a few of his roommates are interested in the fight and Hana vows to become top dog at school.

The best thing about Worst is Hana himself. He is funny and charming in his naiveté. He is happy when he finally sees what a cell phone looks like and is excited to learn more about his new city and new school. So far his sense of humor has kept him out of trouble, but with the Freshman Challenge looming, that won’t last for long.

Hana and his roommates are drawn with great style and intensity. It is easy to tell the boys apart as each has his own look. Their personalities really shine through in their clothing and haircuts and Hiroshi makes it easy for the reader to know if one should be wary of or trust in each character. The expressions he draws are great and range from intense anger to pure goofiness.

Although the book was slow to get going, I think the next volume will run a lot faster. With all the set-up in volume one, volume two is bound for a flurry of plot advances. This book could have definitely benefited from a little more action and a little less character introduction. There is a ton of people to get to know here and saving a few for the next book would have made this volume a lot more fun.

Worst is, however, a fun and enjoyable read. It does go by quickly and ends with a cliff-hanger that will lead the reader to more adventure in volume 2.

Bottom Line: B

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