Unearthly (Unearthly (Graphic Novel)) Paperback – 26 Oct 2005
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About the Author
Ted Naifeh is the Eisner award winning writer and artists behind such hit comics as "Gloomcookie, Polly and the Pirates, " and "Courtney Crumrin."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Ann is a quiet bookworm. Unlike most shoujo heroines, she's not an especially pretty or kind hearted. At the start of the book she seems to be content to go through life in an apathetic state, not taking much notice of the people around her (including her only and best friend Nikki). But then she notices Jem, a sweet guy who's a bit of a loner. Unfortunately, the most popular girl in school, Rae, also notices Jem around the same time as Ann, setting up an odd love triangle.
Most of the book is spent building up the characters and their relationships. A difference between this book and many other high school set shoujo is that this is an OEL manga written by an American. Well it retains many of the sensibilities found in shoujo romances (especially in the art, which I'll get to in a moment) instead of Japanese teenage love it reflects the trials and tribulations of American high school. The characters talk and act in ways normal for American teens, giving a slight twist on the usual high school manga.
And then there's the other twist on the genre, which is the sci-fi aspect thrown in 1/3 into the book. The sci-fi really throws everything for a loop (in a good way), and by the end of the book it's become impossible to figure out where the story will take us next (though it certainly isn't Earth).
The art is one of the best I've ever seen for an OEL book. Elmer Damaso has what I think of as a great sense of balance. He knows when to use chibis, splash pages, or shoujo tricks like twirling flower petals in the background. He also does a good job of moving the story along at a pace that reflects the slice of life aspect of the first part of the book, and then speeding things up once the focus shifts to sci-fi.
All in all, I think Unearthly is not only a great book, but an important OEL manga with its successful melding of genres. I have a few nit picks, like some over use of slang ('Twee'? Maybe I've been out of high school too long), but otherwise I think this is a great book for anyone who likes shoujo, sci-fi, or both.
But of what I have read... this is a great story! The artwork is beutiful, and the story line draws you in, so that you want to kick a certain character, or hug another... I HIGHLY recomend this book!
Basically, this is an Americanized version of shoujo manga with a science fiction back-drop. The characters start at a US high school, but setting gets strange quickly enough. Art style is high quality, story-boarding humorous, and characters feel distinct in their own identities. Characters are a quiet bookish girl, her snarky friend, the captain of the girl's volleyball team (popular), and mysterious yet sensitive guy both girls like.
I can't recommend the buy, because remember, no Volume Two. I'm breaking my 'no-manga reviews' rule to warn you. The cliffhangery disappointment of never knowing what happens in the 'Unearthly' universe hit me hard.
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