Review: Polterguys Vol 1 by Laurianne Uy and Nathan Go

 

 

Title: Polterguys Vol 1

Author: Laurianne Uy & Nathan Go

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Bree is a smart but socially awkward college girl who ends up moving into a house that’s haunted by five ghost guys. She’s the only one who can see these ghosts so she has to help them resolve their unfinished business. 

Review:

I haven’t been reading many graphic novels lately, and I’m at a loss as to why.  I think I was getting tired of the episodic formula, and more specifically, I was getting burnt out on waiting for new installments of my favorite series.  Throw in the number that have been canceled over the last few years, and well, I kind of lost any enthusiasm I had for comics.  I have received a few that looked very promising, though, so I started picking them up again.  So far, I am glad that I did, because I did miss the storytelling style.  I love the marriage of art and words, so I am slowly wading back into the world of graphic novels.

Polterguys looked cute, so I decided to give it a read.  It is cute, and the whole time I was reading it, I wondered why I never get to experience the life of a shoujo heroine.  I want a bunch of cute guys to clean my house and make me breakfast. Why hasn’t this happened yet?  I’m so jealous! Why doesn’t stuff like this ever happen in real life??  It’s commonplace in manga, but finding a guy in real life who can cook and clean – it’s about as rare as finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Bree is your typical nerd.  She is studious and dedicated to becoming a doctor.  She is awkward with others, and has no close friends.  In fact, she had to bribe some girls to pretend to be her friends so her mom could take pix of Bree and her BFFs at her high school graduation.  I was feeling a little down for Bree, because everyone deserves someone to confide in, but other than her poster of Sanjay Gupta, she has nobody.  She has also irritated the floor advisor at the college dorms because she can’t get along with her roommates.  Oh, poor Bree, just wait to see what Fate has in store for you!

When the opportunity comes to rent a room off campus, Bree jumps at the chance.  Finally, she will have peace, quiet, and the solitude that she has longed for.  Only the house is a little decrepit, and better yet, she discovers that it’s haunted!  With five hottie ghosts!  Bree quickly learns that none of them can remember much about their past, and until they can resolve the issues keeping them from  moving on, they are trapped on this plane.  Worse, they are in danger, because there is an evil ghost bounty hunter after them!  Mustering up every last bit of courage, Bree promises to help all of them find peace.

I enjoyed Polterguys because of the light tone.  While there are some dark and dangerous elements to the story, most of it is fun and humorous.  Bree’s social awkwardness is a humorous contrast to the ghosts’ charming approachability.  Only gruff Alex shows any reservation about getting involved with Bree.  As the unofficial leader of the ghosts, he feels a lot of pressure to keep everyone together and safe.  He isn’t pleased to think about the dangers and complications that Bree represents.  It turns out he was right; having Bree around is going to have terrible repercussions as the ghosts let their guard down and get a little careless.

There is some inconsistency to the art, but the style works well with the overall tone of the story.  While there isn’t really anything new here, I enjoyed the presentation, and found the cliffhanger ending more than enough to get me excited about reading the next volume of Polterguys.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by author

See Polterguys on Goodreads  Polterguys, Vol. 1

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Interview with Laurianne Uy, Creator of Polterguys

Laurianne Uy is the creator of Polterguys, a new graphic novel series with one shy girl and a bunch of hot ghosts.  Laurianne dropped by the virtual offices to chat about Polterguys, and about her road to getting her project published.  Check out what she has to say!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Laurianne Uy] Someone who enjoys writing and creating fun, compelling stories Likes visual art analysis and bubble milk tea. Internet junkie. XD

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Polterguys?

[Laurianne Uy] Sure, it’s the story of Bree — a smart but socially awkward college girl who moves into a house that’s haunted by five cute guys. She’s the only one who can see these ghosts so she has to help them resolve their unfinished business. From someone who’s uncomfortable hanging around boys, Bree suddenly has to live with a bunch of dead ones!

The series is informed by my love of ghost stories, reverse-harem manga and TV shows with awesome girls as lead characters. Some of my favorite movies from the ‘90s were Ghost, Heart & Souls and The Frighteners and I was always drawn to them for the dramatic storylines. But I always wanted to see one with a young girl in the spotlight (Why should guys have all the ghostly fun? XD)

Fruits Basket and Ouran are among my favorite anime/manga because they are incredibly entertaining with just the right amount of bittersweet-ness to them. Both series don’t have the “save-the-world” kind of arcs but their conflicts always felt so personal and intimate. The characters’ struggles were much more relatable that way and for Polterguys, I wanted familiar kinds of problems, too.

And finally, I can’t say enough how empowering shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars are for me as a viewer. Watching these tough girls take on bad guys, saving their friends and just kick ass inspires me to do the same (er…narratively, of course.) I like the idea that stories could inspire young women to be their own heroes in their daily lives. My favorite writers do that for me and this is me trying to pay it forward.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Laurianne Uy] Out of nowhere, I was having breakfast one morning and an idea just came to me- "Ghost harem." Somehow, my mind connected ghosts from shonen manga like Bleach and Yu Yu Hakusho to the reverse-harem shojo trope in Fruits Basket and Ouran. I usually didn’t have strong conceptual ideas like this so I knew this was special. But I did struggle to flesh out the world. My first drafts were pretty depressing and the main character was not very relatable or sympathetic. 

Then, I moved the setting from high school to the university and suddenly, the drafts were getting stronger. It was about this girl and figuring out who she was on her own. Full disclosure, I was pulling from my experiences studying at Berkeley for college after growing up in the Philippines most of my life. I felt like a blank slate coming here and that was fueling my writing much more so than if I had a younger protagonist.

Bree is the survivor out of all the protagonists we tried placing in this unique situation and I’m relieved people have liked her (so far, haha!) As for the ghosts, I retrieved all my mental files on reverse-harem stories I’ve enjoyed and devoured in the past. The boys had to somehow clue you into that reverse-harem trope but also function as believable characters in this world. So I had a football jock as the gentle giant, the kid who’s smarter than a whip and goes to a private school, identical twins with different tastes in fashion, and a cute kid in pajamas. 

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Bree?

[Laurianne Uy] Driven. Nerdy. Lonely.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Bree would never have in her bedroom?

[Laurianne Uy] Frilly skirts, sports gear and green lipstick.  

[Manga Maniac Café] Why did you decide to use Kickstarter to fund this project?

[Laurianne Uy] I’ve seen Womanthology do pretty well on Kickstarter and have heard of other webcomic artists get their projects funded the same way. But to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure I could successfully raise enough money for the project. It wasn’t a question of whether the project itself was good because we had all the confidence in it. Nathan and I talked it over and we decided we didn’t have much to lose by trying. Kickstarter does streamline the rewards and pre-ordering process and there seems to be a great community of backers already comfortable with being a patron of the arts.   

[Manga Maniac Café] What’s the first word that came to your mind when you reached your campaign goal?

[Laurianne Uy] "MA~~!" (In my head, that sounded exactly like Fran Drescher.) I think my mom and my sister backed us that night when we were this close to getting funded. Haha, it would have been cool if strangers did it for us but they must have wanted the honor (and gotten a bit impatient).

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Laurianne Uy] Oh, that’s a good one. Let’s see. The Disney golden years (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin), Friday night cartoons (Spider-Man, X-men and Batman the Animated Series) because I was banned from watching TV on weekdays , CLAMP manga, Joss Whedon’s writing. It’s kind of all over the place, isn’t it? 

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Laurianne Uy] A comfy booth (because Nathan and I usually solve story problems in coffee shops so we’re not tempted to get up and check e-mail), paper for recording those sessions, and of course, Microsoft Word.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Laurianne Uy]  The Fault in our Stars. It’s not a comic but the writing and the characters are just so brutally honest. It destroyed me but I loved it so much for doing that. I have this weakness for stories about mortality and dying. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie, TV show or comic, I will cry my eyes out if I care about a character, they know they don’t have much time left and they’re struggling with that burden. Nathan makes fun of me for it because I’m so predictable now. He eyes me from the side and prepares the tissue box. 

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Laurianne Uy] I can’t remember if I picked this up myself or if it was given to me but the first book I remember owning was Nancy Drew: The Quest of the Missing Map. I must’ve not cared about continuity (Vol. 19? It’s okay!) or the garishly pink cover because there was a map involved! Buried treasure! I loved mysteries and Nancy was a pretty awesome gal. Looking back, she was my proto-Buffy. I was a super shy kid and felt pretty helpless all the time. She could do all these things I couldn’t. My parents forked over a lot of money to the Carolyn Keene estate. 

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Laurianne Uy] I draw! I guess I should hand in my artist card if I don’t say that first. Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to draw more complex illustrations and using more copics. It’s hard to experiment with more expensive tools but I do want to get better at them. I also watch a lot of TV drama and try to soak in good writing through osmosis. When I read for fun it’s either the latest Terry Pratchett novel, a graphic novel I picked up from the library or a non-fiction bestseller. 

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Laurianne Uy] I blog every week on my website at Laurbits.com. If you’re not into RSS or bookmarking the site, I also have a monthly newsletter you can sign up for so my updates and posts arrive in your inbox. I’m all over your social networks as Laurbits on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Deviantart so you can always hang out and catch up with me on there. 

Thank you so much for having me, Julie. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Purchase links coming soon!

Review: The Flowers of Evil Vol 1 by Shuzo Oshimi

 

 

Title: The Flowers of Evil Vol 1

Author:  Shuzo Oshimi

Publisher:  Vertical

May Contain Spoilers

 

Review:

ZOMG!  I feel a bit guilty for enjoying this tale of blackmail as much as I did.  In a moment of complete stupidity, shy, timid Takao steals the gym clothes of the girl he is crushing on.  Little does he know that this one lapse in judgment will bring about his downfall.  Witnessed by Nakamura, the weirdest girl in his class, she threatens to rat him out to their classmates if he doesn’t do everything she demands.  As he spirals deeper in to misery, Takao is at his wit’s end.  How does he get Nakamura to leave him alone, without being outted as a perv in the process?

I haven’t laughed this much in a long time.  I couldn’t help myself.  Poor Takao is such a wimp.  And an idiot to boot.  I hope those clandestine sniffs of Saeki’s t-shirt and shorts were worth the pain and embarrassment that this  hapless middle-schooler is destined to suffer.   Nakamura is one tough cookie, too!  She is relentless, and she won’t let Takao get away with anything now that he’s under her power.  I felt so bad for him!  He’s like a little puppy that keeps getting whacked with a newspaper.  And darn me, but I kept laughing at all of his discomfort. 

Even as his relationship with Saeki, she of the enticing gym clothes,  blooms, his dealings with Nakamura keep bringing him nothing but trouble.  His friends are rapidly ditching him because he’s too busy dancing to Nakamura’s tune to hang out with them, and his mother is fit to be tied because of his strange behavior.  I fear that Takao will need serious therapy sessions if this continues much longer.  I am eager to read more of this series, because I’m curious to see where it goes.  

Grade:  B+, leaning towards an A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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[PR] VIZ Media Debuts New Shojo Manga Series JIU JIU

{ED. Wolf shapeshifters? Count me in!}

PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LEAP INTO THE FANTASY AND ROMANTIC INTRIGUE OF A TEENAGE GIRL’S DEEPENING BOND WITH TWO WOLF SHAPESHIFTERS, IN JIU JIU

High School Gets Complicated For A Girl From A Family of Demon Hunters In A New Shojo Series From VIZ Media

San Francisco, CA, June 19, 2012 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, unleashes the demon-hunting romantic fantasy of Touya Tobina’s shojo manga series, JIU JIU, on July 3rd. The new series will be published under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

Born into a family of “Hunters,” Takamichi’s destiny is to pursue and slay demons. When her twin brother is killed, she is saved from despair by a pair of Jiu Jiu – shape-shifting familiars – in the form of two wolf pups named Snow and Night. Now Takamichi is in high school and an active Hunter. Snow and Night can’t wait to attend school in their human form to "protect" her. But are they ready to go off leash…?

“JIU JIU is an intriguing new series that offers a strong combination of romantic drama, supernatural action, and humor centering on the deepening bonds between a girl and two wolf shapeshifters,” says Annette Roman, Editor. “Growing up in a family of demon hunters isn’t easy. Things become more complicated when the pair of cute wolf pups grow up into her bodyguards, learn to shift into (hot!) human form, and decide to follow their mistress to school. Don’t miss this new rhapsody of swords, fangs and romance from Shojo Beat this summer!”

Manga creator Touya Tobina is originally from Tokyo. In 2005, her series, Clean Freak Fully Equipped, won the Grand Prize in the 30th Hakusensha Athena Newcomers Awards. Her series Jiu Jiu originally debuted in Japan as a one-shot manga in the shojo magazine, Hana to Yume.

For more information on JIU JIU, or other shojo manga titles from VIZ Media, please visit ShojoBeat.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan.  Owned by three of Japan’s largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular monthly manga anthology SHONEN JUMP magazine and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages.  VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products.  Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at www.VIZ.com.

[PR] VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES 6 NEW MANGA SERIES ON VIZMANGA.COM AND THE VIZ MANGA APP

 

VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES 6 NEW MANGA SERIES ON VIZMANGA.COM AND THE VIZ MANGA APP FOR iPAD, iPHONE AND iPOD TOUCH

BUSO RENKIN, THE EARL AND THE FAIRY, HIKARU NO GO, PSYREN, TEGAMI BACHI and YU-GI-OH! GX Join The

Extensive VIZ Manga Digital Library This Month!

VIZ Media delivers more digital manga (graphic novel) excitement to fans this month with the announcement of the launch of 7 new series are now available on VIZManga.com and for digital download on the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch. The new series include BUSO RENKIN, THE EARL AND THE FAIRY, HIKARU NO GO, PSYREN, TEGAMI BACHI, and YU GI OH! GX.

The VIZ MANGA APP is available for free through the iTunes Store and all manga volumes are generally available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the application for $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) per volume. More than 45 series and 500+ volumes are currently available for download.

BUSO RENKIN Vol. 1 · by Nobuhiro Watsuki · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens

BUSO RENKIN is the story of teenager Kazuki Muto, who dies trying to save a girl who was being attacked by an eerie monster. The next morning, however, Kazuki is left wondering whether it was all a dream. Lo and behold, the girl, the monster, and his death are all real! The girl, Tokiko Tsumura, was actually trying to slay the homunculus (a beast that can take the form of humans, and whose main source of food is people), but Kazuki got in her way. To revive Kazuki, Tokiko replaces his heart with a "kakugane," an alchemic device that allows him to summon a lance with which to fight the monsters. It turns out that Tokiko is a member of the Alchemist Warriors, an organization sworn to protect the world from the diabolical creatures. Soon, Kazuki joins Tokiko in her quest to terminate the sinister being that creates and controls the homunculus.

THE EARL AND THE FAIRY Vol. 1 · original concept by Tani Mizue, story & art by Ayuko · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens

Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, one of the few people with the ability to see the magical creatures who share our world. During one of her rare trips to London to visit her father, Lydia’s quiet life is suddenly transformed when she is rescued from kidnappers by a mysterious young man! Edgar Ashenbert claims to be descended from the human ruler of the fairy kingdom, and he urgently needs Lydia’s help to find and claim his birthright, the legendary sword of the Blue Knight Earl. Things will never be the same for Lydia as she is pulled into a dangerous quest against dark forces!

Read more

Interview with Ryan Inzana, Author of Ichiro

Ryan Inzana is an artist and author.  His latest release, the graphic novel Ichiro, hits stores next week.  Ryan stopped by the virtual offices to talk about his new book, so read on to see what he has to say about Ichiro.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Ryan Inzana] I am an illustrator, writer and comic artist.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Ichiro?

[Ryan Inzana] It is a graphic novel about a boy’s adventure through a mythological world. Along the way, the protagonist, whose name is Ichiro, deals with issues of cultural identity, war, history and loss. And monsters, there is an abundance of monsters.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the book?

[Ryan Inzana] The first seeds of the book were planted on a trip I took to the Peace Park museum in Hiroshima, Japan. I was there with my wife and her family, who are originally from the area.  It is at once both disturbing and enlightening to visit the museum. Not only do you find out about the atom bomb and its effect, but you learn the history of World War II as told from the perspective of the Japanese.

When most Americans think of Japan and World War II, they immediately think of Pearl Harbor. The history most school children learn in the United States labels Japan as the aggressor and America as the victim that begrudgingly enters the fray only after being attacked. But in front of me in Hiroshima history told a very different story, the roles of aggressor and victim seemed to be vastly less defined. Most importantly, the museum gives you the stories of the average people that were killed in the blast, not some faceless enemy, but ordinary people. History in general and war in particular are a lot less black and white than some make it out to be.

I wondered, how would I explain this all to my son, that long ago the country where his father was born fought a war against the country where his mother was born. That scores of people died and that both sides had good intentions and bad intentions but most of them wished the war would simply just end. That now America and Japan are friends and the world is ok? There are still scars. I left the museum and looked up at all these modern buildings that stand in today’s Hiroshima City. For the first time, I gave some thought as to why Japan’s cities look so new and futuristic, it’s because the old buildings were bombed into rubble during World War II so they had to rebuild.

The experience made me feel conflicted, but it also made me curious. I started talking to people, reading books, doing research. This all led me to think more broadly about war and humanity. One aspect that really interested me in my research was the role that Shintoism and Japanese mythology played in World War II. There is a notion, not just in World War II Japan but probably in every country that has ever engaged in large scale combat, that God (or Gods, as the case maybe) not only supports war, but has a stake in it and has bet on the fill-in-the-blank country to win it all. I thought to myself, if the Gods are so pro-war, maybe they are fighting amongst themselves. And so I imagined an epic mythological battle going on in the heavens that mirrored the real world conflict that is going on today.

The character of Ichiro really came out of the "how would I tell my son about this" thought that I had. The mythological characters in the book are in part based on their descriptions in the Kojiki, which is Shinto scripture. Also ukiyo-e prints, Japanese handscrolls and screen paintings, stories of the yokai (monsters from Japanese folktales) helped inform my design sense and gave me some sort of base of the character’s personalities that I could embellish on.

Some of weirdest characters in the book came from random doodles in my sketch book.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of creating the story?

[Ryan Inzana] I’m dealing with a lot of themes and issues in this book. I didn’t want it to come off heavy-handed or have it seem forced. That and drawing, inking, painting and coloring 280 pages of comics.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things would Ichiro never have in his pockets?

[Ryan Inzana] I don’t know, Ichi is a little survivalist so you can never tell what he’s going to have in his pockets in case of an emergency. Can’t rule out anything.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Ryan Inzana] I like that quote from Faulkner where he says, "Read, read, read. Read everything–trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window."  That’s exactly how I feel about it and the same goes for art. My book shelves are buckling under the weight of a little bit of everything.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

The 3 s’s: Silence, Solitude and more Silence.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

[Ryan Inzana] I fish. I live on a river, so when the conditions are right, I’m out the door like a kid when the school bell rings.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!!


You can learn more about Ryan by visiting his website.

You can pre-order Ichiro from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:

 

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Review: Gantz Vol 15 by Hiroya Oku

 

Title: Gantz Vol 15

Author: Hiroya Oku

Publisher: Dark Horse

ISBN: 978-1595826626

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Gantz is getting absolutely intense! Our protagonist, the eternally awkward otaku boy named Kei, has hunted a bevy of odd and dangerous aliens living in Japan. The Onion Alien was strange enough, but then there were the dinosaur aliens and eventually some vampires who might not be aliens at all. Gantz moves along at a furious pace, drowning readers in blood and violence, but then holds back for a few tender (and sometimes excessively sexy) moments here and there. It’s a crazy ride so far, a guilty pleasure for many readers. See who Kei is told to hunt next! It will certainly be a surprise.

Review:

I haven’t picked up a volume of Gantz in a while, and since I had a free weekend with the New Year’s break from work, I eagerly dove into a few manga series that I have allowed myself to get behind on. I couldn’t think of a better time to catch up, so Gantz was one of the first ones I picked up.

I find this series enjoyable when the hapless characters are trapped in the room, about to be sent off on another mission.  It’s exciting, tense, and explosive once the hunt begins.  The rest of it, I can do without.  The story slips into the realm of ridiculousness whenever Kei is doing something other than blasting aliens to tiny, bloody bits.  I just don’t find him an interesting character, and I can’t relate to his teenage boy issues.  I don’t care if he gets his rocks off or not, and I find his preoccupation with ginormous breasts tedious.  So I remind myself, yet again, that the series isn’t really intended for me, and I flip pages as quickly as I can to get back to the stuff that I like – all of the mindless violence and gore.  Yeah, go figure.

In this volume, Kei is blundering through his personal relationships yet again.  He has gone off to see Reika behind Tae’s back, not thinking that a popular idol like Reika would be stalked by paparazzi.  When their picture appears in the paper, he is soon the talk of his school, and quiet, timid Tae discovers his indiscretion.  At least he had the decency to feel guilty for hurting her feelings.  When she is caught up in his next mission, Kei worries that she will get killed if she keeps hanging out with him, so he is even more determined to break up with her.  Too bad that stupid black ball isn’t going to let that happen.

I suffered through the first half of this volume, but the ending had me all caught up in the action again.  Argh!  It’s insidious!  I don’t want to like Gantz, but all of that over the top destruction keeps me coming back for more.  I have only one more volume in reserve, so hopefully Rightstuf will have a Dark Horse studio sale soon…

Grade: B- for the first half of the book

  B+ for the rest of the book

Review copy provided by publisher

Manga Review: La Quinta Camera–The Fifth Room by Natsume Ono

 

Title: La Quinat Camera – The Fifth Room

Author: Natsume Ono

Publisher: Viz

ISBN: 978-1421532196

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

An apartment in Italy. In four of the rooms live four single men with singular personalities. Into this peculiar ménage steps an exchange student, the new tenant of the fifth room. Brought together by chance, friends by choice, they pursue their dreams together as the days drift gently by.

Review:

Now, this is a treasure!  I don’t know why I let this book linger so long in the TBR pile, because it deserved to be read the second I received it.  Told through vignettes, La Quinta Camera follow the daily challenges and adventures of the tenants of an Italian apartment house.  Massimo, the owner, rents rooms to his best friends, and also hosts foreign exchange students for the local language school.  The story starts with Charlotte, who is having a Really Bad Day.  She has lost her bag, which had her money and the directions to the room she’ll be staying during her time in Italy.  Her first day in Italy isn’t going well!  As she meets friendly people willing to give her a hand, she begins to have a Really Good Day.  I loved this introduction to the characters, and I felt that I was getting to know them along with Charlotte.  By the end of the book, I was sad that our visit to Italy had drawn to a close.

The subsequent chapters build on the friendships and personality quirks of Massimo and his tenants.  This is an understated book.  There are no battles to the death, no political machinations, hardly any action of any kind.  And that is what sets La Quinta Camera apart.  This is a completely character-driven book, and it’s those characters that make it compelling.  As they go about their daily lives, facing the same challenges we all face, they become living, breathing beings.  Will Charlotte be able to make a life for herself in the country she has grown to love?  Will Luca get over his crush?  Will Cele make it to his own birthday party?  Will Massimo be able to find an inner peace as his life, and the lives of his tenants, continues to change and evolve? 

I had a hard time putting this book down, and when I reached to last page, what I really wanted were more!  Ono’s quirky, whimsical art was perfect for this book.  La Quinta Camera is an underrated gem, one that I am grateful I was finally able to enjoy.

Grade:  A

Review copy provided by publisher