BCCB Reviews Mangaman!

The January 2012 edition of the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books contains a review of Mangaman. Here’s a sneak peek:

When the fabric between two worlds is ripped opened in this graphic novel, Ryoko Kiyami, a classic doe-eyed and beautiful manga boy, finds himself in a new reality, a strange place where the inhabitants all have proportional facial features, fail to leave lines behind them after a quick movement, and are actually quite vulnerable to injury in martial-arts showdowns. Ryoko’s disorientation only increases when the army major charged with his care instructs Ryoko to start classes at the local high school until the major can put the finishing touches on the machine designed to send Ryoko home. His exaggerated and literal expressions, which include a lovelorn look complete with floating hearts and a rain cloud that forces him to carry a mop around, make him an easy target for ridicule, and his affection for Marissa, the school’s queen bee, doesn’t help. Although the graphic novel starts out as a lovingly playful send-up of the tropes often found in manga and in more western-style comic books, it soon takes on a metafictive quality as Ryoko and Marissa recognize their roles as characters in a story and start to challenge the boundaries of their worlds. This heady premise, fortunately, does not negate any of the book’s wonderfully quirky and subversive humor; that humor, along with a nicely developed romance, gives Ryoko’s story an appeal that reach audiences beyond the mangamaniacs—though comic-book fans will nonetheless appreciate several of Lyga’s inside jokes. Ryoko is a fluid, stylized figure amidst the strong-jawed, heavily lined residents of Marissa’s world, completing the effect of an east-meets-west sensibility in the illustrations.

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