Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Luuna, vol. 1

Created by Didier Crisse and Nicolas Keramidas
Published in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Why is the best portrayal of Native Americans I've read in a while is done by the French?

Luuna is of a tribe of Native Americans who are especially close to the spirits. As part of the rituals of becoming an adult, Luuna goes into the forest at night to find her totem spirit, but she has gone into the forest on the worst possible night. During a lunar ecilpse, the evil spirit Unkui walks the land and forces Luuna to accept two totem wolf spirits, one that reflects her good nature the other her evil nature. One night of the month, her evil totem and thus nature will take over during the darkness of the moon and cause havoc. Realizing that it would be too dangerous for her to return to her tribe, Luuna seeks out the advice of the spirit of the forest, then heads south to find a cure for her condition. Along the way she has to deal with cursed braves that are in service to Unkui and a storyteller bearing a heavy burden of despair.

This volume manages to avoid most of the storytelling traps surrounding Native Americans, though the historical accuracy of teepees in forests is doubtful, and the art depiction of Native Americans seems almost, well stereotypical. I want to say I have seen it before with a less than flattering connotation, but I can not pin it down. I guess that is a good thing, that I cannot be sure if it a negative stereotype or not. Nothing in the actual story is that way, with it working, being entertaining, and not telegraphing itself too far. It has the road movie structure, with the original 48 page volumes now serving as individual chapters of the travel south as Luuna looks for a cure for her condition. Sure, sometimes the spirit animals bit is pushed a little bit too far or are a little too cutesy, but overall this is a solid story without any major flaws. Which is a welcome change after the last few weeks.

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


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