Friday, January 31, 2014

Manga Review: Start With A Happy Ending

And this folks is the very very end of my emanga reviews, I haven't heard anything from them in a few months so I doubt I'm going to get any more review titles from them (which is fine, truly since Crunchyroll has now started offering manga and Viz still has a number of series I need to catch up on). I did actually try out a few on there which I didn't review since I didn't finish (anthropomorphized kitchen utensils???) but all in all this has been an interesting ride. there was nothing I absolutely adored but several titles I did really enjoy (The Legend of the Twilight Demon and Marin for sure) so this has been pretty fun for me, let's get on with this one last review then!

Start With A Happy Ending by Risa Motoyama

Sometimes when people die, if they're lucky, they get a second chance at life. In a way that is, they get seven days to be a cat and complete their lives so they have no regrets with them when they start their life again for real.

I suspect people fall into one of two categories when reading this, either getting very emotional over all of the stories or feeling rather jaded and mostly unsympathetic to them. I fell into the later category, I did sniffle once or twice while reading it but in a nutshell this story is dull. We have at least ten stories (the manga is a tad bit longer than usual at 194 pages instead of the more usual 180 or 120) and they all follow the exact same pattern: person dies, finds out that they did a good deed to a cat once/their pet liked them and the cat god is granting them seven days in the cat's body. For half the stories the people didn't do anything except sleep until the last day and for the other half they didn't do anything meaningful until the last day either. And then they manage to rally themselves, figure out why they were so unhappy with their life, and then pass onto the afterlife with no regrets. There are of course a few variations, some people choose to reincarnate as a cat right then and there instead of becoming a person later down the line and for some we see that they get to interact with the same people again after they reincarnate (remembering nothing of course) but where this story would have been charming if it had been done once or twice, by the fifth time it was just plain tedious. 

Motoyama says in the end that this is their first fully published work and in some ways I don't wonder about that, judging from this they do much better with short stories than long ones but even then it really feels like they don't have a lot of ideas. I remember that in some of my art and photography classes you would find a student who had set a theme for series of pieces but instead of exploring the theme they instead would more or less copy one idea over and over and that's really what this work reminded me of. Not only was their "theme" too narrow ("people reincarnate as cats for seven days!" instead of "emotional stories involving sad people, their relationships, and cats!") but combined with the art which felt more like it was limited by the manga-ka's own skills (instead of being stylistically simple on purpose) that this was just a rather dull read and I don't expect to remember it a few months down the line.

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