Wandering Schoolgirl, the: Book 01

Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2005
By: Darren Schroeder

Creator(s): Gary L. Gallegos and Louis C. Gallegos
Publishers: Icecat Books (Self Published)
From: com
Price: $7.95(US)

Breanna is not that much of a fan of anime, but her sister and a friend are. They convince her that it is time to see what the fuss is about by accompanying them to a anime convention. Of course, this requires that they all dress up in cosplay outfits. Their Uncle Bruce accompanies them to watch over them, but while he is distracted Breanna finds herself transported by means of a magic camera to a strange anine world under the rule of an evil queen and her armies. Is Breanna the magical saviour who is destined to aid this strange world, or just a normal 16 year old girl?

The world of anime and cosplay fans is a peculiar subculture that has really boomed in the last five years. The local pop-culture expositions here in New Zealand have slowly become dominated by the cosplay contests, the anime voice talent signing, and a whole lot of other stuff that a grown man shouldn't really own up to knowing about. Manga comics are having a huge influence on young comic readers. It's amongst these trends that the creators have decided to set their book, partly as a guide and a parody of the conventions and social mores of the manga fans.

This book uses the introduction of Breanna to this social scene as a way to draw the readers into story, so that those who don't know much about the genre can associate with the heroine and lean along with her. The tone of the book is humorous. Even the evil doings of the villains are played for laughs, as they seem so cute while at the same time showing scant regard for the lives of others. The book is aimed at an all ages readership so there is nothing objectionably as such, but the story alludes to some of the more kinky aspects of anime fandom in a way that struck me as a little bit creepy. An example of this is when the voyeuristic old man wanting to be left alone with his telescope is given a humorous treatment.

Fans of manga will appreciate the artwork. It is a fairly cartoonish in style, avoiding any detailed speed lines or other effects, going instead for simple line drawings with flat grey-tone shading. The characters all have the big eyes and little upturned noses. All the females seem to be in their early teens, with a few of the males being more adult. There are lots of girls in really short skirts.

The light-hearted approach to the peculiarities of manga and anime is quite fun. The writing is simple but not not stupid. There is a lot of self-referential humour as characters muse on conventions of convention going; so two cosplay villains are kept busy by their inability to resist striking poses for the photographers who want to snap them in their costumes. The book manages to avoid becoming an outright parody by means of the naivety of the characters and the way their actions are confined by the genre. For one issue this works quite well, I not certain readers can amused by the same jokes for many more issues.

In a Word: Ironic?.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me