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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Tower of the Future Vol. 1 by Hiwatari Saki 
28th-Mar-2008 11:59 pm
Hiwatari, Saki. Tower of the Future. Vol. 1. Trans. Glenn Rich and Jonathan Tarbox. La Jolla, CA: CMX, 2006.
          Summary: Originally titled Mirai no Utena. When Takeru's mother dies unexpectedly, he's in for a startling discovery--he has a half-sister in England! The last thing he wants to cope with now is that particular revelation, so instead Takeru throws himself into the high school admissions process in the hopes that he will end up with the girl of his dreams.
          Comments: I was never a fan of Please Save My Earth. As far as I'm concerned, a good author doesn't need a bizarre premise from which to develop an epic tale about human relationships (and this is why I do not like Fruits Basket all that much, either). So I have been ever-reluctant to try any of Hiwatari Saki's other works, which people had long assured me are stylistically similar...at least under any other circumstances besides bargain bin prices. Which how I ended up with the first volume of Tower of the Future. And suffice it to say that I am duly humbled by how, well, good it is. The multi-ethnic family scenario is unusual but not unbelievable, and the subtle touch of magic embodied in the odd little boy is elegantly rendered. Though the artwork seems slightly cruder to me, it comes across as decades more mature in its narrative execution. I don't know whether the story will maintain its momentum, but now I'm definitely interested in reading more.
          Notes: paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Hakusensha in 1994
          Rating: 7/10 - A promising shoujo tale with intriguing potential. Highly recommended thus far.
1st-Apr-2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
Tower of the Future #1 is one of the best first volumes of manga I've ever read. Unfortunately, the series gets weaker as it goes on.

It's the series Hiwatari did AFTER Please Save My Earth, by the way. The art in Tower is miles beyond most of the artwork in PSME, and her subsequent series, Global Garden, has artwork miles ahead of Tower. Her art seriously leaps forward in quality over the years.
1st-Apr-2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
*kicks self* I need to stop blogging during hangovers from school-related work. Why did I think Hiwatari talks about Tower of the Future in Please Save My Earth? I'm shooting from the hip by relying on my memory, and my memory is untrustworthy. T_T I've seen the artwork for Global Garden (but never attempted to read because of, yeah, what I said above), and, yeah, I agree that it's pretty. But for whatever reason my memories of the artwork in the first volume of Please Save My Earth are fonder than how I felt about the first volume of Tower of the Future. Of course, I don't have a copy around right now to confirm or deny that impression. >_< *kicks self again*

Sorry to hear that it doesn't live up to its potential, though. But at least I won't now be rushing out to spend money I don't have to read the rest. Getting Vol. 1 for $1.99 was not an ordinary occurrence I can repeat at will...

Edited at 2008-04-01 03:27 pm (UTC)
1st-Apr-2008 04:56 pm (UTC) - And you know what's REALLY sad?
At NYU last week, I even mentioned Please Save My Earth in my manga lecture, about that "I'm scared of AIDS" aside that VIZ silently removed...but how that was written in the context of the late 80s, in a less "enlightened" time, and I doubt a Japanese editor would let that sort of comment through today. And here I am a week later, writing a review that says Mirai no Utena was published in 1994, totally oblivious. I think I need a brain transplant. Keep me honest, Lianne! T_T
1st-Apr-2008 07:32 pm (UTC) - Re: And you know what's REALLY sad?
Don't be so hard on yourself--with the amount of manga knowledge you keep in your brain, I'm surprised it doesn't come spilling out your ears. To err is human.

The AIDS comment! Man, I forgot about that. Since I never read Viz's version of the first volume, I didn't realize they'd cut it out. But I can see why they did--it was a product of the time, but it could easily offend now. Although I guess they could've left it in along with a footnote ABOUT it being a product of the time? All the racism in Twain's books still make them a toss-up for schools, even though his racism was VERY obviously a product of the time. I guess I prefer to err on the side of preserving historical accuracy but adding modern commentary myself...but again, I can see why Viz did what they did.
1st-Apr-2008 07:49 pm (UTC) - Re: And you know what's REALLY sad?
I actually think they were right to take it out. Given the power that editors have in Japan, I'm not too obsessed with authorial integrity of manga in the Japanese context...and let's face it, manifest homophobia was probably not anyone's intent.

Could you imagine the length of the footnote that would be required for VIZ to effectively explain it all away? For a book that's supposed to be a bit of cheap entertainment (which is why I'm all about the good English adaptations!), it doesn't seem worth the trouble or the risk. Actually, I'd love to see if it was taken out of the Japanese bunko reprint edition. I wouldn't put it past them.
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