Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Red String, Volume One

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of Red String, Volume One (Dark Horse, 2006).

At this year's Anime Weekend Atlanta, I resolved to purchase something completely new to me, and directly from its creator, if possible. Purely on a "best value" case, this proved to be Red String by Gina Briggs, a well-written romance story, told in that not-always-agreeable style where the influence of Japanese cartoons overwhelms every other artistic trope.

It is not unpleasant to look at, and Ms. Briggs' linework and penmanship is often lovely, but I did not see much in this first volume that really stood out as the artist's own identity shining through the hodgepodge of influences. While her inking, clothes design and use of effects are all first-rate, I was often confused and bewildered as to who the characters were. There is too great a reliance on basic body types among her cast; Miharu's fiance, father and uncle all appear to be the same age.

The story is a simple and engaging romance about a teenage schoolgirl who is informed by her mother that she'd arranged a marriage for her many years previously. As it turns out, Fujiwara is an attractive enough catch, and such a hunk that he immediately catches the eye of Miharu's scheming cousin, the ostensible villain of the piece. There are sidebar subplots about Miharu's school friends and a popular volleyball player, and our heroine's musings on destiny and love, and if you can stomach the sort of girly-girl daydreams of slow dances and nice boys without wondering why the heck you didn't pick up that collected edition of Frontline Combat the other week instead, then you'll probably enjoy this for what it is. I'm by no means the target audience, but I've read far worse in the genre, and would happily recommend this to middle school-aged girls.

The first three volumes were published by Dark Horse; a fourth was self-published by the artist, who continues the story as a webcomic. All are available from her website.

No comments: