Digital Manga Publishing
Created nearly 35 years after Astro Boy, Atomcat tells the tale of a lovable feline turned superhero after a horrible accident and a hilarious mix up! Gifted with the powers and abilities of Astro Boy, the adorable Atomcat protects his friend Tsugio from threats both big and small!
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The lastest book from DMP’s Kickstart projects is the adorable, all ages tale, Unico! Created by Osamu Tezuka. Unico tells the tale of an adorable little unicorn who incurs the ire of Venus, the Greek goddess of love. The jealous goddess banishes him, and has the North Wind carry him from time to time, and place to place.
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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.
Yuri Narushima’s Planet Ladder tells the tale of young, amnesiac girl Kaguya Haruyama. Years ago she was found naked, covered in blood by the side of a highway. Since then she’s been living with her adopted family with no memory of her past. Little does Kaguya know, that her past is about to catch up with her.
Planet Ladder seems to be following the shojo formula of taking a school girl and dropping her into another world. Unfortunately, that’s about all you’ll get from this first volume of the series, because not a whole lot happens. Kaguya putters around her house, musing about how she knows nothing of her past but does her best to fit in with her adoptive family. Kaguya gets sent to another world and.. wanders around, musing about how she knows nothing of her past or where she is. That about sums it really. There are other characters, such as the villainous Seeu, but he doesn’t do a whole lot other than send Kaguya to another world. Seeu’s apparently opposed in his plans by a small group of people who seem to know him, but they don’t do much aside from talk about how they have to get to Kaguya before Seeu does. There are hints and portents that Kaguya may be some kind of reincarnation of another character, or possibly that other character herself, simply with no memory, but in the first volume it’s all very cryptic with hints at larger things and greater meanings but with nothing solid being said. Talk of other worlds, organic gold and tarot readings all try to lend the story an air of weight and importance, but it’s not very affective.
If the story was a bit vague and confusing then, sadly, Yuri Narushima’s artwork matches it perfectly. Unlike the story though, I’m having a hard time imagining the artwork becoming clearer as the series progresses. The character designs are generic and bland, and the characters often look stiff and awkward. There’s virtually no panel to panel flow, and at times it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s going on, particularly in a rather key action scene partway through the volume. To make matters worse everything is covered with toning, making the artwork not only bland and unmemorable, but incredibly dark and murky as well. On more than one occasion the pages are so dark from toning that only the white, untouched faces of the characters are visible.
Sadly, the first volume of Planet Ladder isn’t terribly impressive and the series doesn’t get off to a terribly strong start. The story’s confusing and muddled, though that may be cleared up in subsequent volumes obviously, but given the poor artwork and the unmemorable and uninteresting characters, it’s hard to see why you’d return to find out what’s going on.
Planet Ladder, Vol. 1 is available now from Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.
People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it any more.
I’ve finished my war book now. The next one I write is going to be fun.
This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt. (Kurt Vonnegut, from Slaughterhouse-5)