Hell is for children!

January 30, 2008

It’s a rather slim week in the comic shops, so I thought I’d cast an eye on one release in particular that seems to be racking up some fairly divergent reactions, as Katherine Dacey notes in the latest Weekly Recon. Here are a couple of other opinions on Miyuki Eto’s Hell Girl, in addition to the ones Dacey cited:

Blog@Newsarama’s Chris Mautner is unequivocal in his dislike:

“Here it is, not even the end of January, and what will surely be regarded as one of the worst manga series of the year (at least in my house) comes tromping through the gates.”

Johanna (Comics Worth Reading) Draper Carlson suspects the story might work better in a different medium:

“This was an anime series before it was a manga, and I think it probably works better that way. By the end of the book, I found the stories getting shorter and more repetitive, which would be less of a problem if they were stand-alone episodes.”

Julie at the Manga Maniac Café gave it a B:

“There were five chapters in this first volume, and they were different enough to hold my attention. Though the outcomes were predictable and the characters were two-dimensional, the cutesy, detailed art helped to keep events moving along.”

At ComicMix, Andrew Wheeler wonders if it’s being pitched to the right age group:

Hell Girl thus gets quite repetitive, and I have to admit that I was losing interest as I went along. The art style is full-blown shoujo, with immense eyes devouring entire faces with their dozens of points of light and welling tears. This is very much not for me, but – since it’s rated for teens 16 and up – it also seems aimed away from its natural audience, the overly dramatic young teen girl. There are still some of them at ages 16, 17, and 18, but they’re much more common at 13 and 14.”

I’m kind of indifferent to the charms of Hell Girl, so I will veer in an entirely different direction with a recommendation for the week: if you’re determined to spend money on manga but find the new releases uninspiring, go score yourself a copy of Osamu Tezuka’s totally insane, pansexual thriller MW (Vertical). It’s by no means perfect, but I can swear to you that you will not be bored for a single moment while reading it. How much more crazy-ass Tezuka gekiga is out there waiting to be licensed? I want more, because watching the God of Manga get his freak on is always worth every penny I pay. Both MW and Ode to Kirihito have been revelations, like finding out your kindly uncle was a cross-dressing jewel thief who dabbled in fomenting political unrest.