[Manga] Q-Ko-Chan

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[Manga] Q-Ko-Chan

Postby doomed1 » Sat Apr 21, 2007 2:13 am

Title: Q-Ko-Chan
Story: Hajime Ueda
Art: Hajime Ueda
Publisher (US): Del Rey
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction, Shounen
Age Rating: Teen (13+)
Series Length: 2 volumes

Alright, new book, new review. this one i actually got recently, and its to go with my FLCL manga review. its by the same artist, and an original story as well. i have heard some mixed stuff about this work as well, but i really like this guy's work, i cant wait to see more in the future.

Story
In the near future, the earth is in chaos. War, mecha, and aliens are an everyday occurance. In the 13th ward however, there remains at least an element of peace. Kirio is a boy who lives there, but when an adorable girl drops on his doorstep, the apathetic boy's life is about to get a hell of a lot more interesting.

The set up for this manga is perfect: war-torn world, aliens, giant fighting robots, young preteens caught in the middle, it's the way you'd expect an anime or manga that involves mech to start.

WRONG

This manga almost goes to extreme opposites to the age old Gundam cliches. Kirio is a complete apathetic prick. A large part of the time he's only interested in his own amusement or pleasure, and he hardly flinches when shells are whizzing by. What's more is that some scenes can get very uncomfortable, and I mean shifting in your seat uncomfortable. Some panels, if taken out of context, or even in context are VERY suggestive, even downright dirty, and it's somewhat disturbing due to their age. But thats part of what makes these two volumes excellent. This is a story about relationships, and the naivete of human nature in them. It goes to such extremes to desplay it that its unsettling. The subtext is very blatant and sexual, but then the sub-subtext is more subtle, but truer to form. I find far more meaning in books than face value, and Hajime is able to subtly, but obviously weave his message into the text. His wit was dodgey at times, and required the reader pay attention to pick it up, such as small ironies or clever asides. It almost made light of the situation, so it kept things perky and entertaining.

However, there is one prevailing fact, like Hajime's last major work, Q-Ko-Chan is not for everybody. The story at face value is never explained outright. You have to gleen it from passing comments and refferences to other times. If you expect an explaination to bring you up to speed on the state of the planet, you may just end up with a convolluted mess. However, this is a part I actually liked. It was like actually being dropped into this situation, I mean, who really has these long monologues about what happened 20 years ago. They already know that, it's only you that doesn't know. Another thing was the ending, there wasn't one. It was almost like that TV show you were following and then it gets cancelled in the middle of the most climactic part. It definately created a few cries of frustration on my part (I mean COME ON, i love this story, at least give me the decency of an ending :cry: ).

Overall, despite a few shortcomings, the story is very engaging and fulfilling, sans ending. I would suggest it to anyone that likes to find out about the story themselves.

Art
As with FLCL, Q-Ko-Chan's art is simply amazing. Hajime's simplistic art direction creates a distinctive cute (but definately not overly cute) feel to the panels that contrasts starkly with the dark subtext and the grim reality about the world for a very unsettling effect. Again, as in FLCL, character design was excellent, but as I've heard, an aquired taste. I actually think it was better in this simply because Hajime had full reign of the characters. Not so much in FLCL. The chaotic panel design makes a return, but less frequently. The action is far smoother and exciting and is still just as charming and fun to look at, and remains my favorite art in a manga ever.

Translation
Nothing negative to report here. The Japanese honorifics were kept intact and there were translation notes at the end. All your base are not belong to Del Ray.

Msc.
Unlike with FLCL, there was only one image in the book that was clearly scupted by Hajime, a really cool looking model of the robot Q-ko. Instead, there were the standard fare character art to devide the chapters, but there was also 4 full color pages in the front of each book with images that were sort of an aside to the actual story. I did like that little addition.

Also unlike FLCL, this one included the aforementioned, and very welcome translators notes. It allowed for a better knowlege of what he's trying to say and are a valuable resource for getting a hand of what exactly is going on. There's even a little artist bio. Hajime doesn't appear to like monkeys...

Final Word
I find myself at a crossroads. On one hand i know this book is a load of fun and a really enjoyable read for your $22 ($11 a volume) and I can say nothing out of spite for it, simply because I enjoyed it so much. However, on the other hand, I know that this is not for everyone. The art style can be called an aquired taste and the story can be very confusing if you don't know what your looking for. The "In Medias Res" plot device has some downsides. But I would not hesitate to reccomend this to even the most jaded of comic fans, to at least give it a look before turning it down. So I will say this caveat: look through it first if you are unfamiliar with Hajime's work.

Even with my knowlege I'm still gonna score it as high as I can. A 5....out of 5
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