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.)

7 Responses to Particles

  1. […] vol. 1 of Fairy Cube, vol. 1 of Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time, and I.O.N. David Welsh adds his two cents on I.O.N. Danielle Van Gorder reviews two BL titles, Say Please and A Love Song for the Miserable, […]

  2. Chloe says:

    It’s the polygonal screentone. Always, always with the polygonal screentone. Tanemura, I would love to review your works appropriately, except that I cannot see them through the dizzying mirage of sparkly, pologonal screentone.

  3. davidpwelsh says:

    Oh, man, I never thought I’d live to see the day that I had a least favorite screentone, but THAT’S THE ONE. I really hate it when manga-ka use it on eyes. Unless your manga is about insect people, lay off the polygonal screentone on eyes, I beg.

  4. Lilliandp says:

    I haven’t managed to make it through any of Tanemura’s other work, but I was really impressed with the way FullMoon ripped my heart out. There it was, chugging along as a cute, quirky little fantasy about a girl with cancer, and then volume 3 suddenly went waaaay dark, with some serious narrative tension. It made me take her much more seriously as a writer. Not that I’ve gone out of my way to pick up her other books, but whatever. 🙂

  5. Michelle says:

    I like airy artwork that can BREATHE, and Tanemura has so much going on, what with the screentones, that I feel my head spins. Her art also has gigantic eyes, and I always feel they’re generic shoujo. She’s so popular with the teenage crowd as well I feel she’s a little overused. Still, the technical stuff isn’t too bad, and I don’t stress much on the art, as long as they convey emotions and the story is good.

    I think that’s the problem with her..I did enjoy Full Moon somewhat. It’s quirky, but I think it takes on too much, especially when it gets darker. She can’t convey the theme well enough to get what it deserves. Tanemura has talent, but she needs a lot of refining, and more focus in her stories. Not much of her stuff strikes me as really original, and I can’t seem to really CARE about the characters. The themes don’t have to be out of the way, but the way they are presented and original insight isn’t there. And her story and art somehow lacks emotion to me.

    It feels like Tanemura writes for her audience, not for her. I guess you should be mindful of your audience, but you should feel fulfilled with your story when you are finished, but I don’t think she does. It’s like she writes what her readers want. She pushes the brink a little bit, but not enough. There are still so many cliches and they’re not handled in a refreshing way.

    Her characters are flat, somehow, as well. It’s odd. I think her characters should be sympathized with, but I can’t seem to sympathize. They put me to sleep, basically.

    I think it boils down to the fact that she can’t convey well through art and dialogue yet. There’s just not an “it” factor in her story, something that make me say, “I want to read it!”. It’s not even endearing. I’ve read cliche filled manga that is so endearing I can’t put it down. Does that make any sense?

  6. Thanks the link, David! I whole-heartedly agree with Michelle. Tanemura has obvious talent–otherwise she wouldn’t have so many enthusiastic fans–but her stories and layouts are so overstuffed I find them hard to read.

  7. […] vol. 1 of Fairy Cube, vol. 1 of Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time, and I.O.N. David Welsh adds his two cents on I.O.N. Danielle Van Gorder reviews two BL titles, Say Please and A Love Song for the Miserable, […]

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