animefringe june 2003 / reviews

Hansel & Gretel
Format: left-right manga, 152 pages
Production: Viz, LLC / Junko Mizuno
Comments: Great art, thin paper.
Animefringe Reviews:
Hansel & Gretel

For those familiar with Junko Mizuno's rather original art style from the previous release of her book Cinderalla, Hansel & Gretel will offer up much of the same bizarre wackiness that made that title so much fun to both read and look at. If this your first introduction to Mizuno's work, then be prepared for one serious acid trip of a story. Bizarre characters, plenty of nudity, and vibrant colors make for an interesting read that is more than it first seems.

The only similarities this tale has with its Brothers Grimm counterpart is in the basic structure, the main cast, and the fact food is involved. In fact, food plays a big part in Hansel & Gretel, as the two teenager's parents are grocers who help to supply their whole village. When the food in the area disappears overnight, the townspeople quickly find that the surrounding areas are none too pleased about the idea of sharing food with 'cockroaches.'

As the food shortage hits an all time high, Hansel and Gretel's parents head for Mount Hibari where the luxurious Foodland is said to have recently opened. After they don't return, the two teens head out after them and ultimately discover the culprit behind the perplexing food shortage.

While the basic plot seems simple, the intricate way in which the world the characters inhabit is brought to life makes this story such an entertaining read. You know the characters are going to somehow come up against a witch, and someone is going to eat a house made of sweets. But seeing how Mizuno goes about working those concepts into this story is anything but dull.

Though the book's copyright pages include a note saying that the artist picked the paper stock "to match the color and tone schemes to create a nostalgic 'American comic book' effect," the end result makes for a rather flimsy book. The paper stock looks like a piece of recycled scratch paper a child would be given in grade school, and the artwork bleeds through to the other side. More to the point, on some pages the blacks on the adjacent page even left an imprint in my copy. One plus is the fact that the book is completely colorized, but the paper stock doesn't necessarily justify the $15.95 price tag.

Visually, this book is a must own for any person that enjoys art that is unmatched and in a word, alive. The book also has some unique paper dolls that beg to be put together, and there are some cute stickers featuring the cast of characters from the book. There is even a short five-page Mina story also included, but the print quality isn't nearly as high as the rest of the book.