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volume 3 issue 8

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INFO FILE
Title:
Marionette Generation Vol.3 - Manipulations
Format:
Right-Left Manga
157 pages
Production:
Haruhiko Mikimoto
VIZ
Comments:
Lovely artwork combined with endearing characters, the latest volume of Haruhiko Mikimoto's Marionette Generation offers up an entertaining blend of drama and comedy all in one attractive package.
Overall Rating:
89%

Animefringe Reviews:
Marionette Generation Vol.3 - Manipulations
By Patrick King

The last time I read Marionette Generation, I found myself wondering if the story was going to pick up a bit in the next volume, if a major conflict was going to be brought to light, or a new character introduced. Well, despite the fact that neither of those earth-shattering events occur in this, the third volume in Haruhiko Mikimoto's series, I found myself falling deeper under the spell of this charming work of fantasy.

Like Kilgore Trout for Kurt Vonnegut, or Ben Holiday for Terry Brooks, or Mokona for...well...Mokona (of CLAMP fame), this graphic novel features Izumi Morino, an illustrated incarnation of the prolific character designer and writer/artist for this manga. Izumi is a budding manga artist trying to get a job in a tough market who is searching for a nice girl to date while trying to deflate his younger stepsister Kinoko's crush on him. As she is his self-appointed assistant (and rather cute, to boot), he's having a bit of a rough time. Things get far more surreal, however, when he wakes one day next to a small doll as a bedmate. A small, sentient doll, that is, that happens to possess a large array of supernatural powers that belie her diminutive stature.

In the last volume, we learned of Lunch (the doll's) origins and nature, and in this one, she discovers even more abilities under her command. More specifically, she discovers that as a multi-dimensional being, she has the power to enter other vessels (humans included) and possess them for a brief period of time. After being stuck in the body of a stuffed doll for so long, she eagerly exercises her newfound skill by taking command of one of Izumi's comely neighbors. After realizing that it's not very nice to possess people, Kinoko volunteers her own body for Lunch to share, and the two spend more time together.

While it's hard to not think of possession as something evil (and I'm not speaking from a religious stance, but from a philosophical one), this volume still comes across as very touching. Seeing the territorial Kinoko bond closer to her perceived rival, Lunch, is very entertaining. This manga is drawn and written in such a way that it seems very dreamlike. The author frequently breaks the fourth wall (or rather, the 2-D barrier) and speaks to the readers, the artwork is soft and somewhat blurry, and the plot is a realistic one with a thread of fantasy deftly woven between the rest of the story. Yet, also like a dream, it's incredibly interesting just to see where these meanderings are going to lead.

I love the style of artwork used in this manga - it's not harsh and is very easy on the eyes. The characters are very distinctive and simply filled to the brim with personality. There aren't any overly egotistical characters, nor are there any perfect people in this series. Rather, every character has his or her problems and conflicts and deals with them in the best way they are able to handle them. Overall, it's easy to feel for these characters, for despite the fantastic plot elements, they encounter situations I can feel sympathy for. Well, perhaps not the supernatural possessions...but you know what I mean. ^_^

Overall, if you're looking for a relaxing fantasy with characters you can care about and artwork that reminds us why we read graphic novels, Marionette Generation is just the series you've been searching for. The worst aspect of this work is the fact that it's been flipped for Westerners, reading from left to right with mirrored images throughout, but hopefully, publishers will get the hint and start presenting manga the way it was written. The translation flows nicely, and the flipped nature doesn't get in the way too much - it's more a matter of principle than anything. In general, this is good stuff, and I'll be sure to grab the newest volume whenever it surfaces.

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