Kate Dacey has more of her always-terrific reviews up at Manga Recon, looking at some recent shôjo releases. She saves me the trouble of thinking too deeply about Arina Tanemura’s I.O.N. (Viz).
As Kate points out, it’s very much a debut work, but it helped me crystallize my thinking about Tanemura’s work. She’s undeniably talented (and very popular), but here’s the thing: whenever I read her work, I feel like I’m watching an audition for a musical-theatre repertory where someone has to prove that they can sing, act and dance without the requirement of making those qualities come together into something larger. I always feel like there’s some guiding principle missing from the mix in her manga.
I’m almost always fond of the freakish supporting characters that haunt the fringes of Tanemura’s stories. It’s just the leads and what happens to them that don’t hold my attention. (Of course, I haven’t sampled Full Moon yet.)