Friday, November 06, 2009

Mikansei, vol. 1

By Majikoi
Published in the US by TokyoPop

Sluglines: Singers who don't pretend to be able to sing.

In the 23rd century, the 21st century is seen as a crude and immodest era. That is also the reason why Neo likes it, especially because of the singing, dancing and short skirts. She is accidentally hurled back in time and immediately finds a reluctant singing partner in Sayaya. Despite early disastrous performances, Neo so loves singing she manages to keep Sayaya involved as they work together as they move towards a seemingly impossible goal of impressing a talent manager. There are additional complications ranging from Neo's inability to contact her future, the resemblance of a 21st century singer to her missing 23rd century childhood friend and who is secretly supporting her in the 21st century.

One of the problems of idol manga is how to represent singing in that format. Since it is nearly impossible to get a tune or melody from reading the lyrics, I tend to just scan over them because if they become important they will be repeated. When the manga tries to have characters hailed as talented musician with only the lyrics to go by it is hard to take it seriously. Mikansei gets around this problem by having the first audiences boo the characters offstage. Considering how often lead characters of manga just have to sing once to become stars, when that didn't happen here it was a pleasant surprise. The characters are putting in the time and effort means that when they finally 'really' perform their applause will have been earned. Neo is facing many challenges not just in her musical profession or romantically, but on different levels as well but none are such thatNeo's sunny attitude appears to be denying reality. Mikansei succeeds because it subverts and deals with the cliches of idol manga rather than ignoring them.

Mikansei, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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