Comic Party Vol. 1
What? Comic Party again? Didn't we just review this manga in June?
Well, yes and no.
There are essentially three major works sharing the characters of Comic Party. There's the anime from The Right Stuf, which I believe currently has four discs available for purchase.
Next we have the manga from CPM. That particular release - now up to its second volume - is a collection of short doujinshi (independent comics that are often self-published) stories featuring the characters from this, the manga from TOKYOPOP.
While it was neat to see a doujinshi series based on people who make doujinshi, the shorts in CPM's Comic Party didn't really feature a continuing storyline, and so they work better after one is familiarized with the core plot.
And now, we have that part of the Comic Party world.
Kazuki Sendoh was living the life of an average college student when a friend of questionable morality (the strangely dashing, yet disturbing Taishi) plunges him into the dark underbelly of the manga industry. Suddenly, his spare time is eaten up by creating manga or attending comic parties, large conventions where hoards of comic-lovers gather to buy doujinshi.
Kazuki has a pure love of the art form that is manga, but can his relationship withstand the hectic lifestyle that an independent manga-ka must live?
Just like any book adapted into moving form, the manga version of Comic Party goes into greater detail than the animated incarnation. In the book, we have more opportunities to learn about Kazuki, Taishi, and Mizuki (Kazuki's energetic girlfriend) than we did in the anime.
There are two main reasons that I like Comic Party so much. First of all, it offers a surprisingly accurate look at how manga is produced on a small scale. You'll learn a lot about the industry by getting a glimpse of it at what some argue is its purest form.
After all, people who create comics for the pure love of creating comics for little to nothing in return could be considered to be the most passionate manga artists out there. They write and draw for themselves and their fans - not because a publisher tells them they need to write.
Naturally, many of the best professional manga artists are just as passionate, but doujinshi artists are especially in love with manga. Incidentally, that's the way CLAMP got their start - as doujinshi producers.
The other reason I find this series so much fun to read is the simple fact that it has interesting characters and a good deal of humor throughout. Characters in the story are goofy, but their eccentricities mirror personality quirks that most likely can be found at any comic book convention. Sure, everything is timed to be as funny as possible, but quite a bit of the scenarios encountered and events that transpire in Comic Party could easily happen in reality.
That's why it's so appealing - I can see myself and the people I know in many of the situations that the book depicts. I'm not sure if this bodes well or ill for me, but there it is.
However, I have to say that I have a few problems with TOKYOPOP's edition of Comic Party. First of all, the book is rated Teen (13+), but there's quite a bit of swearing. Hearing bad words doesn't offend me, but it is somewhat of a put-off. It just doesn't sound very realistic or appropriate within the scope of what is essentially a lighthearted comedic story. The happy, cheerful Mizuki depicted on the front sounds really out of character when she says things like, "What the hell is so important to get us up this freakin' early?"
What kind of cute manga character talks like that?
And while I'm nitpicking, I'm wondering why Ross Richie, the writer of the English adaptation of the story, decided to call the Dreamcast that Taishi is playing an X-Box. I don't think the system was even available in Japan when Comic Party was written. I love my X-Box, but that doesn't mean it needs to get tossed out of context into a book for some odd reason. I'm not sure if the editors thought we wouldn't know what a Dreamcast was, or if it's some sort of inside joke, but changes like that, while not horribly disruptive, leave me scratching my head.
Now why am I even bothering to bring up these complaints? Primarily, I'm warning fans out there who have seen TRSI's anime version of the series, or who already imported the manga, or downloaded fanscans with different translations.
It's true that one might argue that details like the ones I've mentioned only bother hardcore fans. Well, every ounce of greatness from Comic Party is derived from the fact that it is utterly devoted to hardcore fandom. This book is for people who are bothered by inconsistencies, by awkward translations, by anything less than perfection wrought from a borderline unhealthy appreciation for creative expression.
It is possible that the dialogue within is a direct translation of the original Japanese edition of the book. If that's the case, then I apologize for complaining about the local domestication staff.
No matter how many nitpicky details I notice in a given book, I have loads of respect for the teams of people bringing manga over here, in English, and at an affordable price.
However, either the anime version is much tamer than the book (which happens at times), or the Right Stuf did a better job localizing the story than TOKYOPOP. If that is the case, then it's something that can be easily fixed - just watch TRSI's edition of Comic Party.
Otherwise, this title is great. The artwork focuses more on characters than anything else, and they're all well-designed. A good variety of tones is used, which is something that I'd expect from a book that is based upon the manga industry.
Comic Party boasts comedy, inspiration, and insight into the creation of one of my favorite pastimes, and fans of any sort of manga should check it out to see how things work from the inside. Who knows? It might even convince you to get a set of pens and pencils and start drawing your own doujinshi.