Attention to those who read my LJ for the reviews:
I recently changed my tagging system to better-reflect genre interests, and a lot of reviews ended up getting posted backdated. So, if you're here for a specific type of review, say manga
, you might want to check my sidebar
for quick links to reviews you may have missed.Amano, Shiro. Kingdom Hearts: The Complete Series. Los Angeles: TOKYOPOP, 2006. Summary
: The young Sora and his friends Riku and Kairi plan to sail away from their island home in search of adventure, but they are suddenly separated under mysterious circumstances, and Sora is determined to reunite with them. Unfortunately, destiny gets in the way--our hero receives the magical Keyblade and is enjoined, accompanied by Donald and Goofy, who are searching for King Mickey, to save the various kingdoms of their universe from the destructive Heartless. He does just that, and along the way discovers that Kairi has lost her heart, Riku has gone over to the dark side, and that the creator of the Heartless Ansem has taken over Riku's body. Of course, Sora defeats Ansem and saves Kairi, but now he must continue his quest to locate the redeemed Riku and the still-missing King Mickey. Comments
: Okay, confession time. I haven't played videogames since I was a teenager, and I think I probably had my peak around the fourth grade. However, I've always loved video RPGs, particularly the Final Fantasy
franchise. So, even though game-spinoff manga don't generally merit a second glance as far as I'm concerned, I made an exception for Kingdom Hearts
...and I'll start by saying this: I would've LOVED it back in the fourth grade!
Now, some cultural purists MIGHT think perhaps that anything by Squaresoft crossed with anything by Disney is a sure recipe for disaster, but I was really amazed by how readily the two styles blend together...perhaps because this sort of animation-inspired artwork requires a fundamental suspension of disbelief, anyway. Amano Shiro deftly captures the stylistic elements of both as the heroes jump from world to world and relive most of the major Disney animated classics in recent memory while advancing an overarching plot that boasts themes universal to the Squaresoft FF franchise (the betrayal of a "brother," the super-special, magical heroine in distress, the ally who turns out to be an enemy, etc.). Believe it or not, it works. Really well. Never mind that the gimmick is waaaay more interesting than the story itself.
I don't know how true to the original game this is, but at times the subplots seemed a bit stiff, arbitrary, and lifeless. Still, I nevertheless enjoyed the reinterpretations of longtime favorites such as Aladdin
, The Little Mermaid
, Alice in Wonderland
, and Peter Pan
, almost in spite of myself. Thankfully, the translation (uncredited) is readable and believable and effectively captures the distinctive, Disney-fied voices of the company's most famous characters--the manga would've been unbearable otherwise.
But, lamentably, TOKYOPOP did not stay true to the high production values that graced the Enterbrain Japanese editions; the slipcase is a flimsy, card-stock joke, and Kingdom Hearts
is the only manga series I can think of off-hand whose US editions are cheaper than the originals...and I don't personally think it does anybody any favors. The paper quality is a tragedy, and the lovely wrap-around covers merely taunt me with what could have been. I would've have loved to see the color pages left intact, particularly for the fourth volume's Winnie the Pooh
side story, dammit! Notes
: four ~B6 paperbacks in cardboard slipcase, later printings; first published in Japan from 2003 to 2005 Rating
- Good, (relatively) clean fun for kids that adults, if they're so inclined, can enjoy, too. You know...just like Disney movies and some videogames.