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Steamboy Ani-Manga: 1 (Steam Boy Ani-Manga) Steamboy Ani-Manga: 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've been complaining that a lot of graphic novels are confusing. Usually, that's because they're badly written and poorly illustrated; that is, the drawing themselves are pretty eye candy, but they don't always make a lot of sense.

But what made Steamboy confusing was that it's backwards. It starts with page 181-something, and ends with page 1. The cover is on the back. And you read it back-to-front, right-to-left from panel to panel. The words themselves are read left-to-right, but even within conjoined word ballons phrases are read right-to-left.

That's freaky. It took a while to get used to. And there were times throughout the book that I found myself getting a little confused about which panel came first on a page.

I'll admit that the thought also crossed my mind that this back-to-front reading might mess up my mind somehow. :D

There's a weird system of sound effects ("FX") too, but I am not going to spend all my time flipping from the last (i.e. first) page and back to translate the weird symbols that represent sound effects. Life's too short for that sort of crap.

That said, it's not at all a bad book. The illustrations are nicely done with a sort of old-fashioned steampunk feel (which you'd expect in a book titled Steamboy, of course). The writing is rather sparse but reasonably well-done. Given the size of the book (over 180 extremely thick pages), I was surprised at how relatively little plot there was in it. This is the first installment of a series, but even so it seemed very...well, in 180+ pages I'd expect more to be accomplished.

Will I read the other books in the series? Maybe. They're available free in the library, after all. But I'm not particularly looking forward to it. All in all this was a clever-ish idea, and it has been decently executed, but so far my socks have definitely not been knocked off.

The upcoming movie may work better than the graphic novel(s), I suspect. Unless they filmed that backwards, too.

View all my reviews.

Date: 2008-11-17 03:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The movie has been out for a long while (I bought it used if I remember correctly... a year or more after it came out), and is very beautiful animation, as in better than Disney creations over the past decade or so.

I'm kinda use to the large number of 'Original layout' mangas. Japanese is read this way. About half the mangas I have on the shelf are in original layout style.

Many of the 'Westernized format' ones suffer, like much Anime released for the US tv Market, from either bad translations (missing humor regularly or reducing it to child level) or editing out parts that don't fit in with Western Culture at all (sometimes destroying plot or continuity or even concept).

Date: 2008-11-18 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I gather that "localization" can get carried away; goodness, it's not as if the people reading it don't know its Japanese and thus a bit different.

I don't necessarily mind some of the adapting of the English dubs 'cause, uhh, I almost always watch in Japanese with subtitles although to be sure sometimes those aren't quite perfect.

Date: 2008-11-18 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, you just need to turn a little Japanese, I really think so. :) As is already pointed, it's in the original order which has something to be said. I was a bit annoyed with a "flipped" manga which ended up with people driving on the left side of the car and the right side of the road; maybe a bit silly, but still....

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