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A 40-ish publisher (editor, project manager, etc.), husband, and father of an even number of offspring, I grew up, or failed to, reading fantasy and sci-fi. I still enjoy reading, and now am trying to write. My favorite books include YA fantasy, manga, biography, and advice to authors. I'm also a former history major/grad student/high school teacher and assessment writer. Now I work for a school supplement publisher, specializing in high-low chapter books. I spend a lot of my time controlling reading levels. At night, I cut loose and use long words. W00t!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Jump: Asada Hiroyuki’s TEGAMI BACHI, vols. 3-5

Tegami Bachi, aseries combining elements of off-kilter fantasy and science fiction inlushly-illustrated manga format, took awhile to get off the ground for me. I loved Asada’s heavily-lined, high-contrast, gloomy and angular art, and I was curious about the parceled-out world of Amberground and mystery of the disappearance of a character from the first volume.

The world-building, the suspense and mystery, the art—all of these grabbed me from the beginning, and I didn’t regret buying the volumes, except after the second volume, when I found the narrative wanting.

The focus of the series had apparently changed from one character to another, and the reasons why were not clear. However, after a few months, I missed the art, and picked up the third volume. I’m happy I’ve since bought through volume six (and just today ordered the next three).

The story is coming together better. More clues are revealed. The supporting characters are earning their spots in the narrative. We have liftoff.

For a while, the series felt weighed down also by the silly-sounding names. I realized a bit late that there is a pattern, of sorts, and though the names still sound ridiculous (I’ve written about Jiggy Pepper, a minor character, before, but one of the principal characters is named Gauche Suede, and there are more like that), the development of the protagonist and the hints about the disappeared character outweigh that for me now.

This is definite shonen manga material, with a child protagonist, missing parents, speed lines, obscure catch phrases, and very tame “fanservice” shots of a semi-human character who frequently disrobes. Tegami Bachi is published first in Shonen Jump magazine in Japan and the US, and brought out in volumes in Japanese, English, French, and Italian, at least.

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