Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Orange Graphic Novel Impression

Orange, from Toykopop, is a story of a teenage girl that transcends culture and time. Orange, a high school girl, young, depressive and about a dime a dozen. As she is ready to take the final step off the ledge, her suicidal letter in hand explaining her reason for ending a life not yet begun a young man steps in. His name Dashu, and it’s not that he cares what happens, but rather it’s his lack of any type of emotion that grabs Orange and brings her back from the edge. Dashu is no knight in shining armor, and Orange is no saint, just another girl with obnoxious friends who dream of boys and other inconsequential things. Through Dashu, Orange begins to see a different side of life, one that is darker than hers and she begins to connect with this foul smelling, drunk smoking vagrant. As one steps over the edge it’s the one left alive who realizes things may not be so bleak.
Wow, what an interesting story. I won’t ruin it by pointing out on the first few pages Dashu is the one that takes the leap. The story works its way backwards from this point to when it was Orange on the ledge. The story is interesting because it’s not a typical Tokyopop title. First it’s in a more Western comic format and in full color. No, the story of Orange is that of a young depressive girl who never really reveals why she is unhappy other than just that, she’s unhappy. Dashu also seems to have much more of a story to tell but he is left in a veil of secrecy. The story never really resolves anything, but it is a nice work in the psyche of a young depressive girl.
The true star of Orange is Benjamin. His art is just that, art. Each page is masterfully created with colors that meet the mood. The characters are real, not big eyed or super powered, they are real people in the real world with real, relatable problems. Benjamin’s art brings this story to life and is the reason to buy Orange. In addition to the surprisingly short story (for the book size) there is a lot of extra content that will please Benjamin fans as well as inform noobs to his work. He provides note on his current and past work with samples of said work and there is also a nice preview of REMEMBER, a new graphic novel coming soon from Benjamin. Orange is an interesting diversion from the usually manga fair. It provides a full color, background filled, and beautifully created depressive tale of a young girl that some readers may relate to. The extras and low commitment (one book) warrant a look from those readers looking for manga and comics as art or just something different.

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