Mangaman Reviews

These are the reviews that have come in so far…

  Kirkus (October 1, 2011) – Starred Review!

A daring piece of graphic-novel meta-fiction explores the tropes of manga versus Western comics.

Marissa is a stereotypical popular high-school girl: pretty, well-liked and girlfriend of Chaz, the hottest guy in school. But when she first lays eyes on Ryoko, a manga character who travels through “the Rip” into her world, she abandons the formulaic constraints that defined her. Ryoko helps Marissa see that her world, though very different than his, is still boxed in by panels, and that, like him, she is a character in another universe. Even as he plays with literary inventiveness, Lyga keeps the story accessible with the doomed and forbidden love between Marissa and Ryoko. Those familiar with both Western and Japanese comics will delight at the little nods to the respective conceits in those formats. For example, when Ryoko slams a volleyball in gym class, a fellow classmate exclaims, “Watch your speed lines!” In complement to Lyga’s clever meta tone is Doran’s highly stylized black-and-white art, seamlessly melding both the Western and Japanese comics aesthetics. While the innovation runs high in this tale, the story itself and the nuances of the character’s relationships is less agile, though the energetic creativity behind it easily keeps the lesser aspects afloat.

An inventive offering, sure to please fans of both American and Japanese comics. (Graphic fiction. 13 & up)


  School Library Journal (November 2011) – Starred Review!

Gr 9 Up–Graphic-novel tropes are turned on their heads in this fish-out-of-water story. Beautiful yet misunderstood Marissa Montaigne finds herself attracted to the new boy in town–who, in this case, happens to be from another dimension where life resembles a Japanese comic book. Ryoko is straight out of a 1970s shoujo manga, complete with wavy hair and enormous shimmering eyes rimmed with luxurious lashes, and inexplicably has a name commonly used for girls. Visual gags such as speed lines and Dragonball hair may go over the heads of readers not into graphic novels, but dedicated fans of the format will revel in Lyga’s self-referential humor. A subtle exploration of racism adds depth to the action-packed plot, as Western-style characters react with fear and distrust to Ryoko’s foreignness. Esteemed artist Doran juggles manga and Western illustration styles effortlessly, capturing their defining characteristics with pitch-perfect accuracy. Even the page layouts are marked by appropriate stylistic differences; the Western-style pages follow a boxy, linear progression, while the manga-style layouts flow freely. A brief sexual situation–quickly turned humorous by poking fun at Japanese censorship–may make this title most appropriate for high school audiences. Although manga fans might need convincing to pick up a graphic novel that is drawn mostly in a gritty Western style, they will be rewarded with a story full of clever humor and human emotions.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA


Booklist (October 15, 2011)

East meets West when Ryoko, a manga character, falls through a mysterious hole in the space-time continuum to enter the real world of high-schooler Marissa Montaigne. Ryoko—literally a manga haracter come to life, with the requisite tropes like androgynous looks, huge eyes, and features that distort wildly when he emotes—freaks out all the “normal” inhabitants of Castleton, U.S.A., except for the former teen-queen Marissa. As they get to know each other better, Ryoko starts to reveal more and more of his reality to her, including life beyond the edges of a panel. The Western aspects of Doran’s art seem a little dated, but this graphic meta-novel is still a fun, inventive story with steady dialogue and pacing. It also has great potential for discussion in terms of format, genre, and style for teen graphic-novel book clubs. This title will appeal to readers who are fans of both manga and Western comics or crossover titles such as Wolverine: Prodigal Son (2009) and X-Men: Misfits (2009).


Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (January 2012)

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.


Online Reviews

“I expected to be delighted by Mangaman; I did not expect to be moved by it….a funny, sweet story, told in beautiful, genre blending illustrations, and I hope it will touch and delight you as it did me.” – Read the entire review at Literary Treats

“…a quirky look at the differences between manga and “realistic” comics, and plays around with comics conventions brilliantly.” – Read the entire review on Wired.com’s GeekDad column

“…an altogether exhilarating experience. This is a graphic novel unlike any other, and it is hugely enjoyable from the first page to the last.” – Read the entire review at InfoDad.com

“This will entertain teens whether they prefer comics or manga, and make converts of the rest.  More, please!” –Read the entire review at Shelf Awareness

“As an exploration into the many different forms of comics available, it’s both an excellent story and resource.” –Read the entire review at GraphicNovelReporter.com

“Both Manga insiders and those unfamiliar with its tropes will enjoy it tremendously.” – Read the entire review on GregLSBlog

“…laugh-out-loud funny in places and a great read.” – Read the entire review at ComicBookResources.com

“I would recommend Mangaman to manga enthusiasts, comic book lovers, as well as those who don’t usually like either but are aware of the styles and can appreciate the brilliant work that went into combining the two into a fun, funny and at times serious and heartwarming adventure.” – Read the entire review at the Virgina Beach Public Library recommendation page

Mangaman is able to transcend the visual gags and mixed metaphors and explores a deeper understanding of the concept of perception, life, and a person’s destiny…. Mangaman was a title I was looking forward to reading, and it did not disappoint. It was fresh, different, and full of the kind of visuals that cannot be replicated in any other medium. Mangman is a true winner!” – Read the entire review at Stumptown Trade Review

“It’s a love story within a comic book within a graphic novel, and Mangaman’s heart is as big as its hyperbolic hero’s eyes—a Valentine’s Day gift for the romantic who’s well-versed in any form of the comic medium.” – Read the entire review at Omnivoracious

“I don’t know if it is possible to praise this book too much. I’ll certainly recommend it to any reader. Get it. Read it. And enjoy.” – Read the entire review at ScribblerWorks