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TokyoPop Reviews!
11.12.2003 by Alice, every Thursday.


In the beginning, there was the Moon. It was Sailor Moon, and it was good. Kicking off the subgenre of the “Pretty Magical Girl”, Sailor Moon set the stage for a whole new generation of awkward, overeating, barely post-pubescent hotties to fight crime and look good, if not sometimes dumb, doing it. From the mainstream successes of Card Captor Sakura and Fushigi Yuugi to the bizarre and whimsical such as Fancy Laa Laa and Super Pig, Rie Takada’s Wild Act is among good company in a well established subset of the greater genre of Shoujo, or “girl’s” anime. While there are no nude ribbon transformation scenes (if you’ve ever seen Sailor Moon you know what I’m talking about), and there isn’t technically any magic, per se, Wild Act is definitely the story of yet another Pretty Magical Girl.

Yuniko is the girl in question, and instead of fighting crime or starting her solo singing career, she’s a crazed fan obsessed with a dead movie star and everything that once belonged to him. Her history is shady, with a missing mother and 12 years study of Kung Fu, which is pretty good for a 15 year old. She turns to crime to get her hands on every last item formerly possessed by the passed away pretty boy, and begins stalking the young actor who has replaced her deceased heartthrob. Oddly enough he seems to enjoy the attention (because everyone knows celebrities really like to be stalked) and ends up actually being attracted to our hapless heroine! Truthfully, that’s about as far as I got because the story is so unbelievable, convoluted, and basically pointless that I could barely force myself to read another word. The art is respectable enough, drawn in a very feminine style at home in a shoujo manga, though not particularly original and certainly nothing to write home about.

At first I thought this might be an interesting new twist on a genre that’s seen some stagnation in recent years. However, in the end it was more of the same old drivel, except even more ridiculous and boring. It’s rare that I should had such an underwhelming reaction to a “girl’s” series, especially considering how much I enjoyed the pretty magical lunacy of Saint Tail and even Super Pig. Wild Act just doesn’t cut it though, and should only be attempted by awkward, overeating, barely post-pubescent crime fighter wannabes themselves.

Drugs. Prostitution. Suicide. These are a few of the words that make up the cover and the subject matter of Reiko Momochi’s Confidential Confessions 1, a dark, melodramatic look at the lives and times of troubled teens. Rated OT for Older Teen 16+, this isn’t your little sister’s after school special.

The manga is comprised of two short stories with no connection, and one assumes that the rest in the series will follow as such. The first tale is of a depressed young junior high student having difficulties dealing with school, her parents’ divorce, and basically all the trials and tribulations of being 15. She falls in with another emotionally tormented classmate and they make a suicide pact, leading down a dark alley of depression and desperate measures. The development of the relationship is interesting and absorbing, though the motivations of the two characters are usually fairly obvious and wooden. The ending is not surprisingly not a happy one, but unfortunately the moral of the story comes off a little too Hallmark to be palatable. There are however, interesting points made, and though the characters are often annoyingly predictable and the story somewhat contrived, overall it is relatively readable, at least.

The second story is of a young prostitute, struggling to find her way in life. The pacing is much faster than the first story, and in general is a good deal shorter, though covers much more time. Young Satsuki finds love and redemption in a surprisingly trusting young street performer, and thinks she has found the path to a brighter future when her disastrous past rears its ugly head. Though this story does not have the perfect Hollywood ending, it does get a bit preachy at the close, leaving a somewhat saccharine aftertaste.

Over all the manga is decent. The art is nice, with a clean yet detailed line similar to that of some of Gainax’s recent works such as His and Her Circumstances, though the style is much calmer. It’s a basic bit of melodramatic fluff aimed at depressed teenagers and not much more. Though there is a lot of potential here for a dark and brooding series which could look at some very real issues, it seems to in the end be trying to hard to be daring and ends up just looking cheesy. This isn’t for your littlest sister, but it isn’t much more than an after school special after all.

-Alice




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