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The story of Princess Kaguya continues in the second volume of Yuri Narushima’s Planet Ladder. Sent to another world and pursued by numerous groups and individuals, Kaguya stumbles across a castle inhabited by a young woman known as Bambi. While there, secrets will be revealed and more questions will be raised.
I wasn’t terribly keen on the first volume, but figured I’d give it a second try to see if it improves and begins to make any sense. Good news, it does begin to make a little sense. Bad news, it’s still not that good. Most of this volume is dedicated to a massive info dump courtesy of Bambi, who explains the nature of reality, the various alternate worlds and the political situations on each. She also unveils the reason everyone in creation is hunting down Kaguya, and it’s not good. Burdened with the horrific revelation of her existence Kaguya continues to do what she did last volume… nothing. She angsts, whines, and continues to be utterly helpless, naive and lacks any agency whatsoever. Kaguya is simply swept up in the events of the plot and floats along, continuing to be a rather bland and boring character in the process. The series feels incredibly plot heavy, with events happening because they need to happen rather than feeling like they’re happening because of decisions and choices the individual characters make. Due to this the characters seem incredibly flat, lacking in any notable character traits or personalities.
Yuri Narushima’s artwork has improved slightly from the debut volume. The visuals are still lifeless and bland, but at leas they’re not as horribly obscured by toning as they were in the first volume. Still, there’s not much in the way of visual flow, and a few sequences and transitions are just downright weird. The placement and use of word bubbles makes things worse, since they’re often simply floating on top of panels with little indication to who was speaking at the time. The fact that nearly everyone sounds exactly alike, lacking any real personality or distinctive voice doesn’t help this matter at all. There’s also a few instances where the narration is obscured by it’s placement on top of certain splotches of toning and the like, making them difficult to read.
This is the first time I’ve tried reading something on the new Emanga site, and I have to say that I kind of miss the old set up. There’s a strange loading time issue, and it lacks the ability to skip ahead to specific pages. I also deeply miss the ability to enlarge the page size to fit my screen, which added to my issues with reading the obscured bits of of narration mentioned above. It’s true that you can click on pages and view them with a magnification option, but that feels very awkward due in part to the reversed controls (ie. up is down, left is right, etc).
Overall, Planet Ladder is shaping up to a rather forgettable read. It was originally licensed by TokyoPop and it feels like one of the B or C level series they flooded the market with in their heyday. With bland characters and murky, listless artwork, Planet Ladder is a disappointing read.
Planet Ladder, Vol. 2 is available now from Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.
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