18 June 2014

Manga Review: "The Vision of Escaflowne": Volumes One and Two

Rated: Older Teen (Age 16+)
Author(s): Katsu Aki, et. al.
Published: 2000s by Tokyopop
For years, Hitomi has had dreams of another world...but that's all they've been.  People think she is just plain strange, and she thinks so as well...until she ends up whisked to the planet that she dreamed of, and finds that she plays an important rule in saving it.  Unfortunately, her sole companion is a grouchy, cantankerous young man, and her new-found powers are completely alien to her.  Will she be able to save the foreign world and fulfill her destiny?

The Good
This was pretty much my first experience with manga; despite my love for all sorts of entertainment, I'd pretty much avoided Japanese comics until I read this.  I was actually blown away by the art style; even though the manga was only in black in white, its graphics pack more of a punch than the ones in the American newspaper comics--i.e., Garfield--that I usually read.  Also, the action sequences and core story were great and really enjoyable.  People may criticize this series for not being as good as the anime that inspired it, but I, for one, thought it was rather well-done.

The Bad
You know if a book says on the cover that it's intended for ages sixteen and up, it's going to have some content issues, right? Well, they fall into two areas: language and nudity.  In the former area, it feels like a "TV-14"-rated show; pretty much every profanity you can think of is used, except for that one word you still can't say on network television.  It's mostly one character that uses it, but, other than the title character, he gets the most time.  As for the nudity: Hitomi is seen topless two or three times, and nearly naked once.  The nudity isn't exactly sexual--there are no "love scenes", and Hitomi's companion definitely isn't her love interest, or vice versa--but it still feels like she is only supposed to be eye candy for male readers, especially in those scenes.  Those content issues ruined what could have been a great action/adventure fantasy yarn.

Like much entertainment these days, The Vision of Escaflowne has a great story, and is well-made...but has serious content problems.  I understand the violence--after all, what's a good fantasy story without one--and I could forgive a profanity here and there...but the content of the two volumes I read are what I use books to escape from.  I had planned on read the entire series, but, after these two, I don't know if I will continue.  I still plan on checking out other manga, though; maybe next time, I'll get it from the "juvenile" section of the library, instead of the "young adult" area.

Score: 2.25/5

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