By Andy Doan
May 12, 2008 - 22:00
Iron Wok Jan! Volume 26
The pacing of the narrative is painfully slow. The main reason for this is because of the way events are constantly retold and repeated throughout the book. I realize that this volume is a collection of shorter issues. There is a level of re-cap that I find acceptable. This book pushes way beyond that level. Early on the slow pace and constant re-cap forced me to read faster, looking for something new to happen. Near the half way point of the book I actually dreaded the thought of something new happening because I knew it would be constantly reiterated and rehashed at great length. There's actually a point in the book where one page is repeated panel for panel. I don't know if this was the artist bringing the concept ofrepetition to the surface or if it was an error at the publishing house. If it was a mistake I can't blame them for letting it slip. There were a few times where I had to put the book down for a couple minutes, I found it very hard to find where I had left off when I returned.
The story is told through wide open mouths. Almost all dialog it delivered at high volume. Reading this book can almost give you a head ache because of how loud you're forced to read it at. Reading this book was like being yelled at for 20 minutes straight. The author was even able to capture the din of the crowd in the background. I've never experienced this level of volume through written work before.
The story is almost annoying to get through and there's almost nothing worthwhile about the experience until right at the end. Suddenly within the last 10 pages it starts to seem interesting and I found myself actually interested it finding out what happens next. The whole experience left me wondering if this was a product of design or if my mind is playing tricks on me. Ninety percent of the story is slow and dull so that amoderately interesting ending might just seem better in comparison.
I don't have much experience with Manga titles so I don't feel that I can draw a meaningful comparison with the quality of art versus other books. To me it seemed typical to what you would expect to see in a Japanese import. Very two dimensional with ansurreal sense of depth and perception. Much like many of the Anime movies and cartoons I have watched. Through the narrative only requires character to show two facial expressions (yelling and surprise/shock) both are portrayed accurately.
My only main criticism of the art is because of character design. To me the main character (Jan) and his main adversary ( Ransei) look almost identical. This might be because of my lack of experience with Manga but I'm unable to detect the subtleties of the design.
I'm not sure if this particular book was the best entry point into the vast world of Manga books. I'll have to admit that I'm no closer to understanding the appeal of these imports. I am confident that there is something behind this piece that I'm not quite able to detect and I am looking forward to reading the next volume. Although I wouldn't be able to directlyrecommend this title to anyone on the basis of it's overall value to the reader. I'm sure there are more discerning fans out there with the ability to enjoy it's charm.
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