Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Manga Review: Paradise Kiss (volume 1, reread)

Very sorry for not posting yesterday after all, it was a stressful day and I was really tired when I got back home after the author visit (which was lovely, the author in question was Maggie Stiefvater) and I just didn't feel up to writing a review when I got home. Obviously this means that I've got a book review going up on Thursday instead (which should be on time) an I'll probably post about the visit on my LJ on Friday if anyone is dying to hear about it/see the really strange bathroom the bookstore had.

Anyway, I've read some of Paradise Kiss before back in high school and then a few chapters that were scanned (not scanlated but someone literally scanned the TokyoPop pages) online but I never got around to finishing it since I felt so bad about those scanned pages. I was thinking about this series back in the winter because some people found out that many of Funimation's Genon license-rescue titles were going out of print and I really regretted that I didn't have the money at the time to buy up some of the titles including this one. And now that TokyoPop has gone under that makes the manga an out of print title as well, glad that I've got at least one volume of it so let's see how well it holds up since the last time I read it.

Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa

Summary: Yukari wants nothing more than to be done with high school and in college just so all the pressure about getting into college is gone, even thought she has no idea what she wants to do in her life. So she's in awe of the designers who make up Paradise Kiss, people who have a goal and want her to help them by being the model for their school's fashion show.

The Good: Paradise Kiss is actually a sequel of sorts to one of Yazawa's earlier works (Neighborhood Story or Gokinjo Monogatari) but no prior knowledge of that series is needed to enjoy this one (which is very good because that series has never been released in the US). Paradise Kiss itself is more of a character-driven story than a plot driven one and all of the cast members are interesting and many are relatable as well (such as Yukari's desire to get into college just so she doesn't have to worry about it anymore and Miwako's trouble that comes from being in love with two people at once, very normal high school problems). The other not quite as relatable characters are also interesting people and you want to learn more about them and see if they can all pull off the dress for the fashion show in time.

The Bad: Unfortunately not as much happened in this volume as I remembered, which is understandable, and, even though all the major characters were introduced and the setting was established, not much else was. It was an okay first volume but if you only have the first volume on hand to read it might be hard to see why you need to put in the effort to find and read more*. The side cast hints that the story might become something greater but Yukari's change over the volume, especially as she finds herself falling for George, seems rather average.

The Art: It's no secret that part of Yakawa's reason for making this manga was to draw as many fancy outfits as she could and they all look great. You can really imagine some of the outfits in the comic as real, haute coutre outfits (or at least real outfits made by talent yet amateur students) and being able to show not tell that the characters are good at this is a great thing. The characters are fairly distinctive (everyone has their own clothing style which helps) and everything is consistently drawn. 

So, yet another volume where I now need to track down the rest before they get really expensive, bit worried since volume 2 seems nigh impossible to find, anyone got any leads?







*especially since it seems that volume 2 is the hardest to find, which is strange since generally it's the later books that have a smaller print run which makes them more expensive in the end.

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