Mai The Psychic Girl

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Oh, and 200TH REVIEW! YEAH, IT’S “REVIEW” NOW, WHATEVS! Finally, “Mai The Psychic Girl,” the first manga translated for American audiences!

…Okay, not exactly “first.” It was released in conjunction with two other series, “The Legend of Kamui” and “Area 88.” Not familiar with either of those, so yeah. Still, Mai does have an interesting tidbit or two. Did you know Tim Burton wanted to adapt this? Yeah, the band “Sparks” wanted this manga to become a musical with help from Burton. Then “The Nightmare Before Christmas” happened and Mai didn’t. But in 2010, Burton expressed renewed interest. This manga… it doesn’t lend itself to a musical. Although I do see parallels between Mai and a certain Chocolate Factory.

Mai is a 14-year-old girl who uses her psychic powers for dumb things, then dangerous things, then cheating, then more danger, misguided savioring, throwing books, then flying. Lots of flying. Mai, along with four other children, has been examined by the Wisdom Alliance for PK powers, and they wish to harness her for their own goals. Mai’s father takes his daughter, running off to prevent her from becoming used. And the plot zig-zags from there.

I will say off the bat, this is not technically a “good” manga. If you want good writing, this isn’t unfitting, but you could find better. Like, way better. The biggest issue with the manga is lack of direction. So in the beginning, Mai is chased by a Senzo Kaieda

this guy, and his monster

this guy, to capture Mai. He’s the main antagonist for a while, but then in volume 2 of the perfect collection, he’s like, “DOH HO HO, I NEVER MEANT TO SCARE YOU, MAI, OR HURT YOUR FATHER! HE MUST HAVE BEEN PARANOID AND MISUNDERSTOOD MY INTENTIONS!”

So he’s BSing, yeah? No, he gains everyone’s trust. Even Mai’s father. Are… are we supposed to ignore the fact that Kaieda vowed to “Defeat Mai’s father with his own hands?” I’d trust him.

Not to mention the gratuitous nudity. Lotta nudie scenes with Mai. 14. Mai is 14. Hmm. Also, typical motif of the 80’s, but there’s Western characters in the manga. Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, I think I saw Garfield at one point. But if you want gratuitous Western characters, Osamu Tezuka is the reigning king, gone but undefeated.

It’s weird, I expected way more angst. Like, her father falls down a cliff, but she gets over it after she helps her new college buddy Intetsu cheat at Pachinko. She cause a huge car pileup, mopes and glums about, but Intetsu’s dorm makes her scrub their laundry and she brightens. I mean, I would do, like, something else, but whatever.

I mentioned four other children, yes? There’s a “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” parallel for me. Mai is Charlie, pure and the lead. Turm (yes, that’s her name) is Veruca. Unlike Veruca, she’s not spoiled… sort of. She is a normal child around her family, and refuses to use her powers in their presence (other than to light children’s hair on fire). She has a healthy relationship with her folks, and it’s nice to see the “spoiled rich girl” genre take a different route.

The relationship with everyone else could use some work, however. She destroys a plane with 300 passengers just to kill her musical rival aboard. Class act, and a subtle taste of acid. To me, Turm is the biggest threat in the manga, despite not being the last. She’s powerful, controlled, and cognizant of her potential. It’s just that she falls into the incinerator, leaving Mai to face Augustus, Violet, and Mike.

Our “Augustus” is Baion, a fat giant boy who’s totes grody.

Ugmuh. I must address the mood shifting. Yes, again. Not only does Mai fade in and out of her drama, but the manga has tonal dissonance to an insulting degree. I appreciate that older works tried to instill drama without being too heavy-handed, but the villain isn’t much of a threat. 
Look at him! Bald, eyepatch, goatee, and shoulder pads? It’s so cliched that it’s comical. Plus, Mai’s puppy, Ron, is a source of tear-inducing drama, but too much comic relief.

“Mai the Psychic Girl” has no life of its own, going through the motions and compromising whatever the previous plot may be for a new one. Direction: It needs one.

The other two Wonkalings, right. Our Violet is some American kid. He’s cute, and he’s not Baion, but I feel that he had the wrong backstory attributed. David is remorseful for killing the monster man, Kaieda’s lackey. *****SPOILERS***** Okay, not lackey, son. There was a government experiment that the monster was in that turned him brain-damaged, bulky and tall, and somehow gave him fangs. It was pretty obvious that they were father and son a bit earlier on, but it came off well.

What didn’t was David’s excuse drama. “Oh, I’m psychic, so they treated me like a freak! Monster, we could have been friends!” Doubtful. Just… why not conceal your powers? And really, Americans would be less accepting of magic than Germany or three Asian countries? Oh, David’s our “Violet” because he’s rude and rough around the edges.

Finally, Hong, because he’s short and energetic. He has feelings for Mai, which makes it difficult for him to destroy Mai. Oh, and the fact that his boss chose the short kid to shadow Mai. Seriously, why do the psychic kids follow him? He never shows off any powers, nor does he state having any. Of course, that never comes to a head.

Here are some classic sins committed by “Mai the Psychic Girl”:
-Intetsu is the only dorm member not to receive injuries on his face from the Kaieda thugs
-The dog almost dies three times or so
-Since this is one of the trinity of the first American manga, it’s flipped
-9/11
-Back cover BS: “Mai is silly, giggly, and flirtatious–just like any other cute fourteen-year-old girl!” In fact, Mai is the only one of her friends not interested in boys. The first two are true, though.
-9/11

Okay, so there’s a recurring reference to the apocalypse in manga prior to 1999, as it was akin to their Y2K. The prophecy states that on September 9, 1999, world boom. Off by two days and two years, but it’s way too close to home for me.

The art is… okay, I’ll be real. Faces are chilling when up close, specifically Mai and Turm.

Less so with everyone else in any other angle, especially Mai’s friends.

Scenery also looks good, but it’s nothing outstanding. And every suited baddie looks the same. Oh, but a female baddie wears a suit! So, uh, feminism?

I think the manga of today ruined shmoopy drama like this for me. It’s meaningless since no one dies until the end, and no one dies who didn’t deserve to. Except… TEZUKA! Yeah, he was all about real drama, like a robot giving her life for her brother’s motorcycle, or anything in Lost World. We need to review Lost World. So “Mai the Psychic Girl” is toothless. Not unenjoyable, just weak. I’m not sure why Burton would adapt this, especially how he is now, all Helena-less. Poor lad.

I initially loved this manga, but I see flaws. And it’s not like they ruin the manga; honestly the different approach is appreciated. It’s better than a constant barrage of misery. But even I can’t handle how unharmed most of the cast turns out, and there’s too many good vibes that clash with dark settings. If you manage to find this at a good price, I wouldn’t pass it up. But if you want something structured, this isn’t your manga.

Well, that’s 200, I’m 23, here’s to more manga on the horizon.

Twilight: The Graphic Novel

I AM STILL HAUNTED FROM THE SEVEN KRISTEN STEWARTS. My parents always said, “Son,” (they didn’t believe in calling me by my name; said it would help differentiate me from my brother, Mango Cantaloupe) they said, “Son, taking care of Kristen Stewart is a big responsibility. Maybe we’ll get you one where you’re older.”

WELL I HAVE SEVEN, AND THEY WERE RIGHT. I am not equipped for this lifestyle! I mean, they don’t buy that much stuff; I’m grateful that they recently went on an acting hiatus to be artistic or whatever.

Anyway, I got a manga about reversing spells. Okay, I don’t really, but I know a guy who has a “book” about it. After he condemned me for accidentally making a subconscious reference to Snow White and the Huntsman… ‘Cause Dwarves. Anyway, after that he told me to review a manga based on one of the actresses’ films.

AND WE ARE ON, TWILIGHT. YOU COME INTO MY FAVORITE GENRE OF STORYTELLING LIKE YOU OWN THE PLACE? OH, I CAN’T WAIT TO RIP YOU TO SHREDS!

(One reading of the two volumes of the graphic novel adaptation of Twilight later)

Oh.

Anyway, next review, the 200th post, will be Mai the Psychic Girl! I’m looking forward, and I bet you are too!

What’s wrong? OH! The review! Uh, yeah. I think I might have to be honest with you guys. It’s time for unpopular opinion time.

I don’t get it.

Well, “it,” being either side. Yeah, I wasn’t in love with this manga. I only bought it for five dollars and the second half for $3.97 of my mom’s (she insisted that I complete it). And I wouldn’t have read it if Kristen Stewart and a vocal hatred weren’t attached to it.

I mean, it’s not innovative. Vampire romance? Hogwash! Way overdone! But that never stopped anyone else from using unoriginal ideas.

And if I’m going to be honest, some of the jokes hit. Or one. This, this one.

I’m Baman! I’m Piderman! Over here is Belswa! We’re best fweinds!
As for the deriders… Why this? For those who say, “VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE!” that’s true. But vampires don’t usually walk through walls (Carmilla, predated Dracula). The vampires in Twilight can drink animal blood, as does the low-level vampire in Dracula, Renfield. Oh, and the sparkling? How the vampires of Twilight sparkle in sunlight instead of burning up? No, Dracula never sparkled. But he didn’t burn up in the sun; it just reduced his powers.
I know the “not real vampires” is just a knee-jerk response for those who see one deviation and latch on, and their concern is pretty non-existent. But I feel those with more knowledge on the novel have those problems. The thing is, as described in the above paragraph, vampires have no solid guidelines. Even in the past, no one could pinpoint one standard. Carmilla was published before Dracula, but the titular vampire lacked detail, leaving the world rushed and forgettable. There’s a sense that Carmilla has no limits because she isn’t focused on as a vampire for most of the novella.
In contrast, DRACULA IS DUMB. Yes, it’s a classic and a guideline and countless adaptations were born from it. It’s dumb. Dracula has about as much screen-time as our lizard monster buddy from Godzilla 2014. It’s long, it’s confusing, and I think the adaptations get worse and worse. Its merit, however, is a solid outline of what a vampire is from Professor Van Helsing.
Bottom line, I cannot morally condemn Twilight for daring to be different.
The other stuff in the sequels, I am blissfully unaware.
Let’s talk about the manga, though. Gorgeous art. Stunning. Probably the best adaptation of Twilight, I’d guess. I could look at some of this art for a few half hours at a time. Lavish. Praiseworthy. Is there anything else worth mentioning in this manga?
Um… the author is Korean? So we have a Korean artist and a script by an American with a style based on the Japanese manga. Manga, Manwha, Comic! Yes folks, it looks like we have a trinity! We have our first trinity! And it’s Twilight.
Angk.
What do I say about Twilight: The Graphic Novel? There’s nothing. Nothing. All the bratty Bella moments? Justified or part of her character. Edward is creepy, but so what? You could give Edward a metaphorical comparison with NOPE, I HAVE NOTHING. He stares at her when he first sees her, freaks, storms off, then they’re in love or something. I really have nothing; However horrible Edward must be, he’s toned down in here. He must be really horrible, then.
There’s balloons. Speech bubbles. Translucent with skinny tails. All that art, man. Don’t let words block anything.
I DON’T KNOW ANY OF BELLA’S FRIENDS. They’re all so boring and pointless! That goes for Edward’s family. Blah.
Look, I don’t know what to tell you. You think I wanted a blandly decent version? I can’t really rip it apart. Especially considering my previous reviews. This is pretty tame by my standards, so I’m just gonna let it slip past the radar. Sorry.
Hey, the Kristen Stewarts are gone! The thing spell whatever worked! Looks like next time we’ll be looking at the 200th postview, “Mai the Psychic Girl”! Can’t wait!

Seven of Seven

Merry December! Wow, just two more reviews until my 200th rev–let’s not kid ourselves. 200th post. So the 198th is… “Seven of Seven”! Sure, why not? It’s sensible! There’s eight days of Christmas, minus one is seven! Seven of seven! Wait, no, there’s eight days of Hanukkah. Even better!

Nana is such a loser! She doesn’t even have a personality! Yeah, we’re back to that joke. Her father brings her a crystal that, when reflected by the light of the full moon, splits her into seven totally interesting and diverse versions of herself! Will she return to normal? Can she hide her other selves from the world? Oh, right “Now she is too many girlfriends!” It’s not the same.

This manga really falters with the possible personality choices. They try to give nicknames to the Nanas by adding a suffix to their names, representing the respective trait, but they’re all too similar to keep track, not that you’ll usually need to. The characters barely look different, with the artist admitting the biggest difference is with the bangs. You’d never notice. Just use this chart.

You might be saying, “Benjy, that’s a fairly decent match-up between Nanas and Dwarfs. But why did you make Sneezy ‘Original’? Shouldn’t Dopey be ‘Original’?” No. People love Dopey. Dopey is marketable, so much so that he was supposed to be Mickey Mouse; the face of the Disney corporation would have been Dopey. He’s obviously “Sexy” if he’s that important. I didn’t even remember Happy or Sleepy, but those are obvious categories. No one really retains Sneezy’s existence; he’s not even sneezing here, so he looks generic. Which is what “Original” Nana is like.

That being said, the different Nanas are baffling. List time!

1. They all share memories, yet they react the same way around their crush. Why would Mean or Sexy be bashful around Snow White? “Snow White” being a dude named Yuichi. If they grew up to be mean or sexual, why would they revert to a shy mentality? It goes against nature and nurture.

2. They are split by personalities, but it’s described as “versions”. That makes more sense, since Sexy Nana is busty, Smart Nana is intelligent, and neither of those are based solely on outlook.

3. The Suzukis can afford to support six more mouths. Bulloney.

4. Why retain the original? Since she has no outstanding persona, she a) gets the most focus and b) keeps the other Nanas locked up for a few chapters. Fortunately, this is one of those manga where, while it isn’t particularly smart with the delivery of plot, doesn’t drag things on long. Points for getting to the point.

5. The anime, which I’ve never seen, is entirely flipped turned upside down. There’s no Sexy,with a Weird Nana instead, Veronica Taylor is the voice actress for all of them, they can fly, yes, fly. And it’s more family-friendly. The names are retained despite different personalities, so I guess I don’t know what the suffixes mean. Oh, THAT Veronica Taylor. “Pikachu! Over here!” “No, Pikachu! I’m your trainer, bawwwww!” “Ooooh, li’l Pikky Wikky!” Weird.

6. Nana means “seven” in Japanese. That’s just asking for trouble. Then again, better than naming her “Soda”.

7. WHY AREN’T THE OTHER SIX NANAS HAVING EXISTENTIAL CRISES?

Anyway, the manga is surprisingly good. I’ll be generous and say “good.” By other standards I could hate this, but it’s Hanukkah and I’m happy. It’s pretty funny, with the jokes hitting the mark quite often. Most of the plot consist of the Nanas pulling pranks, but it doesn’t get too repetitive.

Also, this was pretty surprising: The other Nanas do get individual moments and plots. Not all of them, not in my volume at least. Easygoing has to cook to win Yuichi’s heart, Crybaby stands up to a ghost, stuff like that. Honestly, considering the last shot of volume one has a bloody-nosed Yuichi staring at the seven naked Nanas and the naked ghost at a hot spring, many of the moments throughout the manga are heartfelt and rich with emotion.

Oh, as an addendum, and since I have nowhere else to place this, the ghost makes a point to note that she has no feet. Fine, but in that final nudie shot, she clearly does. “I Have No Feet and I Must Walk” was the less successful sequel to the mouth-screaming classic.

Yuichi’s bland, but it’s “perfect bland,” so it hits well with the Nanas. The other characters are forgettable, most notably a trio of girls who like Yuichi and bully the Nanas. I contradicted myself just now, didn’t I? I did enjoy the Counselor character. Delightfully weird whenever he’s around. His clothes get destroyed by the Nanas and he rolls with it, putting on the bunny suit they offer him.

Ah, I mentioned the sluggish-plot prevention earlier. It helps that most people react with dull surprise. Best of all is Yuichi, who, at the end of chapter two, states, “Coooool! There are 1, 2, 3… 7 Nanas!!”  “Don’t you think it’s weird?” “Why would I? It’s awesome!” Good lad.

I say this one could be worth a shot. It’s lewd at times and there are glaring plotholes, but I guess it’s better than having only one Nana.

But you know what would be even better? Seven Kristen Stewarts. Yeah… in fact… I wish I had seven Kristen Stewarts!

Oh God.