Monday, April 13, 2009

Hold the mayo, please: A Mars Manga Review

It's that time again! Here's another subversive (hardy har har) review, posted yet again on Baka-Updates Manga, now of the classic manga Mars by Soryo Fuyumi. Though not quite as disdainful as Polecat's review of Hana Yori Dango/Boys Over Flowers, I think this review makes at least a few valid, and perhaps some uncommon, points. Perhaps it shall inspire discussion? Maybe it will compel someone to actually read our blog?

Probably not. But since you happen to be here, beautiful denizen of the glorious Internets, why not have a little looksee, hm?

The overall story in Mars is a pretty typical one in shoujo manga: Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl deal with some mega serious shit, and so on. I have to state clearly now, however, that I don’t know the ending of Mars, though I can guess that it doesn’t catch you totally off guard. I stopped reading Mars at book 10, because at that point, while the characters were not unbearable, I simply was not interested in reading about them any longer. Anyways, the story begins interestingly; the development of Rei and Kira’s, the protagonists, relationship is fairly original in shoujo manga. In some ways, despite the sometimes ridiculous surrounding events, the actual development is realistic and often sweet. The story also takes darker turns that do not feel unnatural and are executed fairly well. However, such promising starts cannot always make up for the grief characters may cause a reader.

Rei is your motorcycle riding tough boy while Kira is the sweet, sensitive artist. That’s pretty reductive, though not far from the truth. While initially their characters have endearing quirks that make us, the readers, care about them, such traits eventually become tiresome. The particular trait that began to bug me the most was Kira’s constant crying.

Yeah, yeah. Crying is good for you, we shouldn’t hate people for crying a lot, I know, I know. However, Kira’s crying becomes awkward and, to be honest, if I met someone who cried as much as she does in this series, I would feel extremely compelled to tell this person to grow up, and then I would probably slap said person. For every occasion there apparently needs to be some reason to have Kira cry: Rei loves me? BAWWW. Rei wants to take me on his motorcycle? BAWWW. They put mayo instead of mustard on my sandwich? BAWWW. Of course there are times when her crying is particularly appropriate (though I won’t give those times away), but her habitual crying really detracts from moments that could have been more meaningful.

There are, however, some great, dark characters that are deep and compelling; Rei himself has some interesting points to him (though his story also begins to feel a little repetitive after a while), and another character, Masao, adds a dark tone to the manga that few other manga-ka have been able to emulate.

Even though the story is pretty good, sometimes the characters themselves (okay, really just Kira) caused me to roll my eyes so many times that I needed corrective surgery.

Drawing Style
Fuyumi Soryo’s drawing style not only is often anatomically correct (which can be a hard find in shoujo manga), but her actual style is quite pretty. Her eye style is particularly interesting and fairly original. Overall her style and layout are well executed, although sometimes pages do look a little boring for lack of texture or great amounts of detail on the people beyond their facial details. Anyways, her actual facial style is pretty darn lovely.

This manga, overall, is an enjoyable read. The characters, for the most part, are interesting and deep, the story is developed well and still ridiculous enough to fit the typical shoujo manga model (no, that’s not a bad thing), and the art is original and sometimes even beautiful. However, for mangas of this length I expect something to keep me reading. Maybe I have a short attention span, but after about eight books or so the story began to feel somewhat stagnant action-wise and basically repetitive. Readers, should I get past book ten? Does something happen that will compel me like the first few books did? Because at moment I really feel no reason to go back to this manga and Kira’s crying ways.

While my review may not completely show it, I would probably recommend this manga. Seeing as it is, after all, a “classic,” I think this series would be a good intro to those just starting to read manga. However, as someone who is trying to read this manga critically, especially in comparison to other works that I’ve read, the only reason I can think of calling this manga “classic” is for its “classic” shoujo manga elements and, really, just its sheer popularity.



  1. I stopped reading at number two because Kira was already starting to annoy the hell outta me for some reason...

  2. Totally understandable; I tried to like her, but in the end she's pretty insufferable.

  3. A lot of psychological events happen but the interesting parts are basically how the characters resolve their problems, and also to think about someone other than themselves.