Graphic Novel Review: Giant Days vol.1

Synopsis:

Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of handwringing boys, “personal experimentation,” influenza, mystery-mold, nu-chauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of “academia,” they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive. Going off to university is always a time of change and growth, but for Esther, Susan, and Daisy, things are about to get a little weird.

First Thought:

I found Giant Days in a hole in the wall comic book store near Asheville North Carolina. I enjoy supporting small businesses and this brightly colored book grabbed my attention. So I decided to pick it up because it was about normal girls going to college, no superheroes or monsters, just the normal stressors of life and school. Some say it sounds boring, but I wanted to give it a try!

Overall Opinions:

It took me a little while to figure out that this story isn’t set in the US. I had a sneaking suspicion that this story took place somewhere in Europe, my leading guess being England, until it was confirmed by the mention of currency (£). Once I realized that the story was set in England, then the humor started to make more sense.

This story tries to explore the friendship between unlikely friends their freshman year of college by using humor. To a portion of Americans the humor in this story might go completely over their heads or they might not think it so funny if they’re unfamiliar with British comedy. As for myself, I thought the humor was very light hearted, nothing to cynical. However, there were some jokes that revolved around references that I wasn’t aware of and therefore didn’t understand the joke or what was going on. For the most part though, the humor was very light and fun to read. Nothing that busted my gut due to uncontrollable laughter, but good humor that made my day better.

I enjoyed exploring the friendship between Susan, Esther, and Daisy. These girls were an unlikely trio (a sheltered girl, a goth, and a tomboy) of loyal friends and their relationship was shown very well within the story. I would have preferred to see how they became friends, I think that would have been wonderful character development and background, but I understand that the story had to start somewhere more exciting first. There is a little background of the girls, but it’s so brief for Daisy and Esther that you don’t get much of their story. Instead, you get more into the background of Susan, and specifically her relationship with McGraw, which is full of tension.

Romanced is also explored in this volume. Esther is oblivious to the guy that likes her, they’re great friends but she doesn’t know his true feelings for her. I wanted to see more between Esther and Ed, he’s a cute dork of a guy and it would’ve been interesting to see where their friendship went. However, Ed plays a bit of a background role in this volume and helps to move the plot forward, but not toward Esther. The relationship that is more explored is between Daisy and Nadia. Daisy is a bit new to love, she doesn’t know what her preferences are and she’s never tried to figure it out until she meets her more adventurous new friend Nadia. The new girl is into partying and taking drugs to have a good time, nothing too hardcore (yet), and she takes Daisy on some of her adventures. Susan and Esther are cautious about Nadia, but they give Daisy advice when asked and they try to watch out for her. The relationship between Nadia and Daisy isn’t heavily explored, but I’m sure there will be more to them in a later volume.

Last thing, I really enjoyed how Giant Days portrays college. College is such a cluster of different personalities and youths trying to explore who they are. It’s also full of nasty people and terrible obstacles that no one should have to jump over anymore. Giant Days explores the insensitivity of some guys who use the internet for their own gain at the expense of others. It also shows how archaic some of the higher-ups are when it comes to sexual harassment and the internet, while illustrating more creative ways at getting revenge without breaking the law or making things worse. I also enjoyed how feminism can suddenly become a rabid beast and hurt those who actually want to stand behind and empower women. I’m all for feminism, but current feminism makes me sick and I see it attack the men in my life who have been my biggest supports (some even bigger supporters than the women in my life). In Giant Days a joke is taken too far and a real gentleman is attacked and hated because young girls target him under the name of feminism; he wasn’t even aware of the joke played on him and the girl who played it didn’t think it would get that out of hand. Anyways, I saw that little bit of the story as a way of showing that feminism, while a good thing, can be turned against those who don’t actually oppose it and want to support it instead.

Ratings:

Art: 4

The art style reminds me of other stories by BOOM!, like Steven Universe and Lumberjanes. Overall, I really enjoyed the art but there were some things that just didn’t thrill me. For one, there were a lot of extra lines in various places. For whatever reason extra lines would appear below the characters’ eyes when they were surprised, embarrassed, angry, tired, sick, etc. I could understand the latter two, because it gave the characters a very badgered look that fit their mood. But what happened to showing a character blushing when they’re embarrassed? All the extra lines made the art look a little sloppy and rushed, drawing me out of the story at times. The background also wasn’t very consistent, sure the general idea stayed the same but the texturing changed from barely there to hyper detailed between single pictures. Other than that, I really enjoyed the character designs of main, secondary and background characters; it really reminded me of college and the wild people I see there. The colors were pretty good too, mostly bright but subdued colors that looked very natural.

Story: 4

The story was well written and the characters were interesting to follow. Allison did a good job of introducing the characters quickly. Within the first few pages you got a good feeling of who each of the girls were and their friendship. I would’ve liked to have had more background into each character and how the girls met and became friends, but this was a pretty good start as well! Some of the comedy either went over my head or just didn’t sound all that funny to me, but that’s something everyone will determine for themselves. Overall the story had a nice flow and made for a nice relaxing read after a rough day.

Overall: 4

I would highly recommend this story to anyone in college or entering college soon. There are some mature subjects mentioned in this story, but honestly it’s probably nothing an average American high school student wouldn’t know. But for those a little squeamish talking about sex and sexuality, this book might not be for you just yet. Honestly, I wish I was able to read this my first year of college!

Details:

Title: Giant Days

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-4

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Writer(s): John Allison

Illustrator: Lissa Treiman

Colors: Whiteny Cogar

Letters: Jim Campbell

Released Date: November 24th 2015

Pages: 128

Genre(s): Slice of Life, New Adult

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Comic Book Review: Steven Universe (2017-) #3

Synopsis:

When the local business owners in Beach City start to feel the economic pinch during the tourist off-season, Mayor Dewey and Buck come up with a solution: food trucks!

Ratings:

Art: 5/5

Story: 5/5

Overall: 5

This issue was centered more on Mayor Dewey and his son, Buck, rather than Steven and the Gems. I really liked that the story was more on the town itself; don’t get me wrong, I love Steven and the Gems, but I also like the towns folk and I want to see more of them too!

In this story the town is trying to solve a problem of many beach towns during the off-season, drawing in customers. Buck comes up with the idea of bringing in food trucks on the weekends to help bring in more people for the local businesses. Things go off without a hitch…except the local businesses suffer. However, together Mayor Dewey and Buck find a way to both draw in people and help their local businesses, also highlighting the importance of local shops and how just bringing in new people won’t always help.

The story was really simple and you see some sweet moments between Mayor Dewey and his son. While they’re not main or major characters, I thought it was still nice to see more of their relationship together. It was also nice to see that while yes, Dewey is a politician, but he also really cares about the city he watches over.

I think that the artwork has improved a lot since the first issue. The first issue of this run had great art, don’t get me wrong, but it still didn’t feel quite like Steven Universe. However, I feel like the artist has really captured that in this volume while still having their own style. I also loved some of the sight gags in this issue, one that I was not expecting but won’t ruin for anyone else!

Why do I have to wait so long between releases?!? Until next time!

Details:

Title: Steven Universe (2017- )

Issue: 3

Publisher: kaboom!

Creator: Rebecca Sugar

Writer: Melanie Gillman

Illustrator: Katy Farina

Colors: Whitney Cogar

Letters: Mike Fiorentino

Released Date: April 24, 2017

Pages: 26

Genre: Science Fiction, Slice of Life

Manga Review: Nichijou (vol.1)

Details:

Title: Nichijou: my ordinary life (Vol. 1)

Chapters: 1-18

Written by: Keiichi Arawi 

Artist:  Keiichi Arawi

Translation/Adaptation: Jenny McKeon

Publisher:  Vertical Comics

Published:  March 29th 2016

Pages: 178

Genre: Manga, Comedy, Slice of Life, Surreal humor

Synopsis:

(as read on my copy)

Define “ordinary”

In this just-surreal-enough take on the “school genre” of manga, a group of friends (which includes a robot built by a child professor) grapple with all sorts of unexpected situations in their daily lives as high schoolers.

The gags, jokes, puns, and haiku keep this series off-kilter even as the characters grow and change. Check out this new take on a storied genre and meet the new ordinary.

What I First Thought:

            I picked up this manga because of the reaction a friend of mine had to seeing it on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. This friend of mine is an exchange student from Japan and is an absolute sweetheart! Anyways, she was so excited to see it that I decided to give it a read.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

This manga was nothing like I expected! My friend warned me that it was going to be bizarre, but I didn’t think to take her too seriously. I’ve never read a manga like this and I’m glad that I have. The comedy was a lot of dry humor and outlandish events. Something things didn’t really make sense to me, which I believe may be because of error in translation or the joke doesn’t translate as well into English.

Overall though the volume was great! Each chapter or couple of chapters contained individual stories, so at the moment there doesn’t appear to be any overarching plot line. The chapters are headed by different characters or sets of characters, so you never get too cozy before you’re following someone else. The main characters are cute and a little stereotypical, up to a point, and the drawing style really matches the cutesy but surreal feel of the manga. What I loved most about this volume was that every chapter is different, either the cast members were different or the overall writing style was different. One chapter none of the characters said a single word, but the artist really captured the mood and what they were trying to express in each panel. Another chapter one of the main characters just kept coming up with different haikus and played a bystander, and later she kept getting distracted by accidentally making up different poems. Each chapter kept me on my toes and where the humor didn’t quite hit the mark for me the story made up for it; I definitely can’t wait to read the next volume!

 

Manga Review: Kimi ni Todoke (from me to you) (vol.2)

kimi-ni-todoke-vol2Details:

Title: Kimi ni Todoke (From me to you) (vol.2)

Chapters: 4-7

Story by: Karuho Shiina

Artist: Karuho Shiina

Translation/Adaptation: JN Productions

Publisher: VIZ Media LLC

Published: October 6th 2009

Pages: 187

Genre: Manga, Shojo, Romance, Slice of Life, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Rumors start flying about Sadako’s new friends claiming that Yano’s been around the block and Yoshida’s a former gang member. And the source of all this tattle? Sadako herself! Will Sadako retreat to her former life as a loner because of a simple misunderstanding?!

Rating:

5/5

This volume is basically the continuation and the finish of the mini story started in the last volume (~chapter 3). It was beautiful; I loved reading every single page! There’s a lot of character growth for Sadako, who realizes that she can’t just go back to how she was, and that communication is key in all friendships. We get to see a lot more from Yoshida and Yano as they try to figure out what all of this means, stumbling to the realization Sadako meant more to them than they thought. They’re characters get even more fleshed out from chapter to chapter, allowing you to clearly see the difference between the two. There’s a lot of heart and crying in this volume, it’s so beautiful to read and reflect on, and the lessons learned here can be applied to your own relationships!

There’s no real cliffhanger at the end of this volume. There’s a possible peak into who might be the story’s new antagonist, but nothing for sure. This volume is a nice wrap up to the drama presented at the end of volume 1. Final note, I love reading the little blurbs from the author/creator! Her thoughts and stories are so interesting to read about, especially her explanation of one of the events in this volume.

Manga Review: Kimi ni Todoke (From me to you) vol.1

kimi-ni-todoke-vol1Details:

Title: Kimi ni Todoke (From me to you) (vol.1)

Story by: Karuho Shiina

Artist: Karuho Shiina

Translation/Adaptation: Tomo Kimura

Publisher: VIZ Media LLC

Published: August 4th 2009 by

Pages: 205

Genre: Manga, Romance, Slice of Life, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine…for a horror movie. With striking similarities to a haunting movie character–jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor–she’s mistakenly called Sadako by those around her. But behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Too shy to fit in, all she wants to do is make some friends. But when the most popular boy in class befriends her, she’s sure to make more than just that–she’s about to make some enemies too!

Rating:

4/5

I first read this manga back in high school, and I really enjoyed it but I was never able to get the volumes for myself. When I saw this in the bookstore a while back I got super excited and bought this volume, just to see if it was as good as I remembered, and it is! This manga is really cute and made me squeal hardcore; I’m surprised I didn’t wake my boyfriend up with how much I squealed and giggled, like I was back in middle school or high school.

This manga was a lot of fun to read. The characters are well thought out and easily discernable, and not just by how they’re drawn but their personalities as well. Readers meet a lot of the main characters in this volume, though not much development is seen with the lesser cast yet. Each chapter is like its own little story, but they all connect to a greater plot. This volume contains a lot of introductory material and set up for the story, which just seems to follow the main heroine, Sawako, as she opens up more to the people around her. Slice of life stories don’t always hold my attention, however, I’m desperately waiting to get my hands on the next volume!