Snow Drop

So right about now, baby Jesus is probably thinking, “Man! If only I could read a manga… no, a MANWHA! Yeah, a manwha. ‘Cause Korean is all the rage right now. OPPA BABY JESUS STYLE!” He’s probably thinking that.

So baby Jesus goes to the local manwha store, since that was what they had in Bethlehem. “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, guys! So what kind of manwha would satisfy that urge! Say! This one’s called ‘Snow Drop’! What could possibly go wrong?”

He was later found crying and asking his mother for xxxHolic.

When Mary asked what was wrong with his manwha, baby Jesus opened up.

“Here’s the problem. The plot, my dear mother, is where it begins. A girl and her… boyfriend? I dunno. Anyway, they reenter into school after ditching for a long time. The not-so boyfriend and the girl make it fine, but a HOT GUY! is against the girl for some reason.”

Mary takes this in for a moment. “That doesn’t sound to bad.”

Baby Jesus laughs. Well, giggles, since he’s still a baby. “Oh, it gets worse.”

“See, the girl and the HOT GUY! are named after characters from the girl’s mother’s novel, so the HOT GUY!, having a feminine name, is against it. Then they go to a party that involves them stupidly trading their prized possessions temporarily to get in. The girl trades her key to her beloved flower garden for the HOT GUY!’s marble. She loses the marble. Then she finds out that the marble represents the HOT GUY!’s dead brother.”

Mary thinks for a moment. “Joseph? Can you come in here?”

Joseph walks in. “What’s wrong? I was just practicing up on my juggling, dear.”

“Baby Jesus,” says Mary, “tell your father the plot of your manga.”

Baby Jesus rolled his eyes. “It’s a manwha. It’s from Korea.”

“Wow,” says Joseph. “I didn’t think that North Korea did anything but listen to Kim Jong Il!”

Baby Jesus ignored that. He told over the plot to Joseph.

“Jeepers,” he said. “Well, what happens next?”

“Well, the girl becomes indebted to the HOT GUY! and vows to retrieve his marble. Once she pays off the debt, she ignores him. Then she finds out that he’s poor, his mother is in a coma, and he’s dropping school to pay her medical bills.”

Mary and Joseph begin to weep. “So what happens? Does she pay attention to him again?”

Baby Jesus sighed. “No. She scoffs his sob story life.”

“That’s the problem with the manwha, really. The unlikable protagonist. She’s far too selfish for the world. The HOT GUY! suffers, and she just goes ahead and burns a puppy orphanage.”

“Gosh,” said Joseph. “What about that boyfriend-like guy? What’s his deal?”

“Oh, yeah. He has a sort of on and off relationship with the girl, and he’s somewhat of a comic relief. The thing is, however, he;s kind of refreshing.”

Mary was puzzled. “Refreshing? How so?”

“Well, he invites everyone to a club that he claims to own. You think, ‘Oh, he’s lying just to impress his classmates.’ Actually, no! He really DOES own the club! It’s kind of awesome that it turns out to be true.”

Baby Jesus paused for a moment. “Oh, and then he falls in love with the HOT GUY!’s feminine brother.”

“UGH,” the family said together.

Then a beam of light descended from the heavens. Mokona, in all of His glory, visited His son. A studio audience applauded. “Hello, son. Did you read Snow Drop?”

Baby Jesus sighed. “I did, Father. I did. Forgive me, for I have sinned.”

Mokona chuckled. “Nah, it’s okay. We all makes mistakes. I once tried to destroy the Earth for some reason.”

“What, the flood?”

“No, this involved three girls and giant robots. Whatever, though. Don’t feel bad about this manwha. I know that it has nothing much to do with snow, and it’s technically not very good, but at least you’re not reading Bomber Girl.”

Baby Jesus smiled. “Yeah, and I’m sure some fool will probably be dumb enough to read it some day.”

“Do not falter, My son. Just remember: There are good manwha and there are bad manwha. It’s all in the cheek. Do you think you can turn the other cheek and forgive this manwha for its sins?”

Baby Jesus thought for a moment. “Mmmmmmmmm… okay. All is forgiven.”

And then they had leg of lamb.

As for me, I didn’t care for this manwha so much, but it was okay at best. There is some decent drama in here, even if the protagonist makes me want to scream. She’s just so selfish! For her, there is no cheek-turning.

Overall Opinion: If baby Jesus can forgive it, maybe you can too.

Rating: One Wise Man out of Three. I’m probably going to Hell for this review.

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Uzumaki

Well, it’s still December, so it’s still Christmas month! And nothing says “Christmas” quite like horror manga!

So you may have noticed that I don’t typically review straight-up horror manga. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of horror. The creative ways in which a person can create fears amazes me.

The only problem? I’m a wimp. I can’t take it. Well, for once I went for it. “Uzumaki” is a horror manga with an intriguing thought process behind it. Some would say “stupid”, but not me. I like to think of it as “Creativity ahoy!” Let’s dive in, shall we?

Plot: Kristen Stewart (let’s face it, she’s Kristen Stewart) and her boyfriend live in a quiet little town. The boyfriend hates it. Why? Because his father is going mad. Some may say that he’s spiraling into madness. Oh, that pun doesn’t make sense yet. See, the boyfriend’s dad has a strange obsession: Spirals. Just… spirals. This passion for spirals drives him to insanity and body horror. He can spin his eyeballs round and round and twirl his tongue into a spiral. One night he goes too far and turns his body into a spiral and suffocates himself.

And it’s all insanity from then on.

The only part of the manga that had me uncomfortable was when the boyfriend’s mother removed the spirals from her fingers. Even typing it makes me queasy. Aside from that, it’s not all too scary. It’s an easy read.

The town eventually starts developing spirals into their lives. One girl’s scar turns into a spiral on her face which swallows everything. Stewart’s dad makes spiraled pottery out of the ghosts of the people who died from spirals. Stewart herself has her hair grow into spirals, mesmerizing everyone.

“Ohhhhh, that’s just a silly idea for a manga!” Yeah, but did YOU think of it? I thought not. It’s interesting in its peculiarity, not to mention some aspects are a bit scary.

My favorite chapter is when two families have a fight and their children fall in love, kind of like a lower-class Romeo and Juliet. When they try to run away together, the families catch them in the act. So what to they do? COIL THEIR BODIES TOGETHER LIKE A PAIR OF SNAKES. And they go out into the sea, never to be seen again. Just like Shakespeare intended it.

Each chapter the boyfriend is like, “Let’s run away together!” Stewart says “Nope, you’re just nuts!” or something, but by chapter three, you wonder why she doesn’t do it. The first two chapters focus on the boyfriend’s parents, so she could chalk it up to madness in his family. When she actually sees her friend spiral herself to death, that’s the point that they should run away.

Note: The Manga Connoisseur does not advocate running away from home. This measure should be handled only in extreme situations. Joining the circus doesn’t count.

Kristen Stewart is very unresponsive. This is why I constantly compare her to the real person. The boyfriend kind of goes nuts, but he’s always right. Everyone else is kind of a dipwad, but they work for what they are.

I found this to be a pretty good read. Give it a go if you’re like me and can’t handle horror well but want to try it.

Overall Opinion: Spirals are scaaaaaaary! Also rhombuses.

Rating: Two out of Two Spirals.

Shutterbox

TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY! FALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA! …Yeah, I’m not a Christian. You can tell, since I put down too many LAs. Still, I do approve of togetherness and all that fun stuff, so here’s the buzz, chums! I’m doing reviews this month! Guess what about? Why, manga, of course!

Yeah, I don’t have any Christmas-themed manga. Or Hanukkah. Or Kwanzaa. Or Festivus. Or Anti-Christmas. I do have manga, though. So here’s “Shutterbox”, which I guess isn’t technically a manga.

“BUT YOU DON’T HAVE PREJUDICE AGAINST AMERICAN MANGA ANYMORE!” Oh, grow up. Of course I do. Wait, that sounds like I should grow up. Hmm. Look, I don’t go out of my way to hate the American manga market. But when they crank out something like this or Sokora Refugees, I stop and think, “Well, isn’t THIS why people have a bias against American manga?”

Anyway, let’s try and see what this is about.

Plot: Megan Amano… okay, hold the phone. Here’s one thing I hate about some American manga. I mentioned this in Sokora Refugees, but it bear repeating: When you give a character an English first name and a Japanese surname, you have already failed.

You think I’m wrong? Let’s look at the facts. Dramacon: Doesn’t use this method. Amazing. Vampire Cheerleaders: Doesn’t use this method. Actually pretty enjoyable. Sokora Refugees: Uses this method. Awful. This manga: Uses this method. Horrendous.

Some manga like Bad Kitty and Steady Beat also don’t use this method, and I don’t despise either one. So the moral? YOUR CHARACTER IS EITHER AMERICAN OR JAPANESE. NOT BOTH. Yeah, her father could be from Japan, but there’s nothing to go on with that.

Oh, yeah, Plot: Megan is such a loser! She doesn’t even have father! And she absolutely hates her mother. In fact, she says, “I wished she died instead of Dad!”

Nnnnnope, not letting that slide either. I don’t want to go into this much since someone more talented already said what I would say here, but… that is a horrible thing to say.

We see the mom for like, two pages. We never get enough of the mother’s character to feel anything that Megan feels. So it just comes off as childish and selfish. And that’s what Megan is. She’s just someone who doesn’t know how good she has it. Her mother does show concern, but Megan’s too thick to realize affection. Say what you want about Kana from Sokora Refugees, because she’s still worse than Megan.

Okay, here’s what this manga is about. Megan has dreams of another world. When she wakes up, she finds proof that her dreams were real. She eventually has a dream of her being interviewed to be a student at a university for muses. So they want her to be a living muse, where she can influence people and lead them on the right path.

But it takes the entire volume to go anywhere. Most manga don’t take this long to get to the point. Like Omukae Desu. They’re like, “We need help! Help ghosts out!” So he does. Or Butterfly. “I want to scam people. Pretend to kill ghosts.” So he does. Or even Gamerz Heaven! “I want to play a video game. Let’s go play it!” SO THEY DO.

There is no motivation here. It’s all a lot of buildup with none of the payoff. Perhaps volume two is better, but then again, who knows?

The first chapter is just Megan and her not-exactly-friends hanging out drinking at the beach. Then she sees a man go under water. Okay.

The second chapter has her talking to her therapist. They seem to have nice banter, but it just shows me that I’d rather see a manga about a therapist. Great.

The third chapter has her come to the magical world. Do you see a problem yet?

IT MOVES SLOWLY. There’s five chapters in the first volume, but only the last two go anywhere. Where is that, exactly? I have no idea.

A demonstration of what a muse is to do aside from “whisper whisper” all the time would be nice. But let’s focus on the problem with this as an American manga.

The artwork and the setting. The artwork is amazing. It’s like they knew exactly how to do it. Yes, this manga seems just like a genuine American manga that thinks they know what Japanese artists draw like. It’s uncanny!

The artwork is sketchy. Yeah, yeah, it IS beautiful. But SKETCHY. It’s especially off-putting in the first chapter. The art is wonderfully bad, but the scenes are pretty. The main problem? The dialogue over the scenes. Megan dips her toes in the water, it’s all very serene, and then…

“Sure, whatever! God, just leave me alone already!”

Aaaaaaand that’s how we meet Megan. Great.

The other problem is the setting. Namely, the dream world. See, the dream world is made up of… I HAVE NO IDEA. Flying bunnies, crows, satyrs, muses (or ghosts, since that’s what a muse is in this manga), and some extra-scary zombie thing that’s been nailed to a cross. Well, a “Y”, but still. Oh, did I mention the zombie thing explodes?

See, there’s no method here. It’s simply a weird world, not a world that has a reason behind it. In Japanese manga, it’s weird sometimes, but it’s also a world like Oz, such as MAR. This is more like Alice In Wonderland. Do you get it? No?

Okay, Oz is just the way it is. Is it unusual? To you, yes. But it’s not center on anything but the rules of their world. Animals talk, magic exists, and so on.

Alice In Wonderland is based on madness. There’s no rhyme or reason, it’s just governed by insanity. There’s the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, so there’s your hint. This manga is as clear as Jabberwocky.

So lemme explain what’s wrong with it being Alice In Wonderland: It’s confusing for the reader. Alice was great, but this has the wrong feel to it. They have food and ghosts even though they’re dead. Why? “Because.” Oh, thank you!

I better get onto the last bit: Characters. You’ve probably figured out that I don’t like Megan. There’s two other noteworthy characters, though. Damien is the one who guides and taunts Megan. The scene where they drink at a cafe is reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s tea party, so it gets confusing.

The other is Adrien, Damien’s brother. So Adrien killed himself over and over. I have no idea what that means. He’s okay, but not worth it.

All in all, a bad experience for all in all. Don’t pick it up.

Overall Opinion: Nope. Nope. Don’t do it. Don’t get it.

Rating: Zero unbirthdays out of a whole unyear.