Monday, July 07, 2008

Yonen Buzz: Plastic Chew

Created by Christina Plaka
Published in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: A German manga with a Japanese setting translated into English. Globalization is fun!

The band Plastic Chew has lost their lead singer, much to the disturbance of Jun, the supporting singer and guitarist for the band. He has issues about abandonment since his parents died, so he is cautious when the band gets a new singer. Part of the reason for his caution is that the new singer Sayuri is a girl, and that to order to help band cohesion, all four of them need to live together. Of course Sayuri and Jun get close, but the fact that Sayuri ran away from her parents in order to dedicate herself to her music (and an ill-timed smooch from the lead of the competing all female band Orchid) drives them apart. Jun knows how important parents can be, and manages to encourage a reconciliation between them just in time for all of the band members to be focused on the battle of the bands that offers them 'the' big break. But for a chance of pace, Plastic Chew does not win the battle of the bands, but Jun is overwhelmed to see Masanori, the band member that was replaced by Sayuri.

From what I understand, this is one of Christina Plaka's early works and serves as a prequel to the main Yonen Buzz series. As she herself describes it in the volume, this book introduces the characters of that series. And while the characterization works, I can easily believe that this is an early work of the creator, because it doesn't quite jell properly. Everything revolves around Jun and Sayuri, so we don't really get to understand the other two members of the band, though we do get some personality ticks. And Masanori's return is a little too much of a emotionally distant event. His eyes are not drawn in, hidden by his hair, so he doesn't feel like a real person, making one wonder why Jun is drawn to him. The emotional beats of the characters are all on the surface, everything feels like it being told to you rather than having something being shown under the surface. But these are very nit-picky details in comparison to the strong story.

This was one of the titles that originally came out of TokyoPop Germany, though it is hard to tell that since the title falls into most of the idol story conventions

You may have heard of this title (and the band) previously called Yonen Buzz: Prussian Blue but the names were changed to Plastic Chew due the lack of desire to be confused with the rise of real musical duo in the US called Prussian Blue, who are white separatists.

Yonen Buzz: Plastic Chew is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


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