Comic Picks By The Glick

Velveteen & Mandala

September 2, 2011

I was looking forward to this (putting aside the fact that I look forward to all new Vertical titles these days) because the general description of it was along the lines of “schoolgirls vs. zombies.”  Think “Highschool of the Dead” for readers of a different kind of maturity, and the description on the back which name-checks “Evangelion,” Hayao Miyazaki, and scatology certainly made it sound interesting.  For all that buildup, the end result is pretty much a mess.

Velveteen is a runaway with a violent streak currently living in a broken-down tank and her... associate Mandala is a space case living by the rules in her head, regardless of what society thinks.  What passes for a plot has them keeping the recently dead in check as they shamble back to life in the Suginami Ward riverside.  From there, it seems that this series exists primarily for mangaka Jiro Matsumoto to do whatever the hell he wanted, regardless of narrative convention or sanity.

Matsumoto never gives the reader any reason to care about the story as the characters are unlikeable and unrealistic, the world feels completely insubstantial, and there’s not even a strong narrative to drive the loose connection of events which make up this volume.  Now, Usamaru Furuya’s “Lychee Light Club” had some of these same issues, but even if his world was just as crazy it had some real ideas underpinning it and the characters’ actions.  There’s none of that here and you’re left with the feeling that Matsumoto has indulged himself at his fans’ expense.

Ultimately, the only parts I remember liking about the volume were the parts where the characters get naked.  It doesn’t happen often enough to even make the book recommendable as spank material, but the scene where Velveteen pulls down her panties and offers herself up to the massing undead via megaphone was pretty funny.  That being said, I’ve read better porn and better stories where sex and nudity are some of their most prominent selling points.  The art may be nice, but this collection has nothing to recommend it otherwise.

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