Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Little Manga Love

Steve loaned me a weird little semi-manga called Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, by Brian Lee O'Malley, and I promised a review of it almost a month ago. Lazy much?

So here we go:

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life starts out as a teen-rocker comic full of music and angst and lots of hanging around talking. And then suddenly, halfway through the book, a character says, "No, no, it's...its just, like, this really convenient subspace highway happens to go through your head."

And then it slowly heads into truly weird territory. Don't want to spoil the story, so no plot-wrecking details. Despite this slow slide into weirdness, I still didn't see the final "concert" section of the book coming at all and sat there thinking "did I pick up some other comic and not notice?" But in a good way.

Who wouldn't love a comic where a cute slacker rock 'n' roll boy has to figure out what to do about his seventeen-year-old pseudo-girlfriend ("we haven't even held hands") so he can pursue a space-warping Amazon.ca delivery girl on rollerblades? Um, the delivery girl is on rollerblades, not the pursuit. Although that would be cool, and definitely in the spirit of this comic.

Or where finally defeating a villain lets you pick up coins, although not enough for bus fare?

And I have to love this exchange:

Scott: "You dated seven evil dudes?"
Ramona: "Not all at once!"

The artwork fits the story well, although I found the manga style took some getting used to, since I don't read a lot of manga. I don't know all the conventions, but it seems like classic manga-style to me, only with easier-to-follow storytelling. Or maybe I'm just getting better at following a fight sequence.

But the writing is the reason I enjoyed this book so much. Brian Lee O'Malley can and does suddenly switch from high-manga all-out psi-fight to goofy and sardonic and back. At one point, the characters poke fun at the conventions of a manga fight without breaking the fourth wall or acknowledging that they're in a comic book. Throughout, it manages to be tongue-in-cheek in a way that's not at all self-conscious or pretentious.

By the way, I called Scott Pilgrim a "semi-manga" because it didn't seem to follow the conventions of manga as I understand them. But then I realize that this is like calling Gunpowder Girl and the Outlaw Squaw a "semi-comic" because it doesn't have any caped superheros. And also that I might have written this so I can still say "Well, I don't really read manga." Deny everything! But read Scott Pilgrim.