The Tokyo 5 – Vol. 1

TT5_Part1_Cover

Rating: 3.5/5 – Not All Manga is From Japan…
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow

If I’ve learned one thing after more than a decade of reviewing manga, it’s that manga fans can be very snobbish. Don’t deny it. Don’t say “Hey, that’s not me!” I’m right there with you. If it didn’t come out of Japan, my knee-jerk is the same as yours. Who cares, right? Someone obviously read those books at Michaels on how to draw Japanese-style and now they’re making funnybooks with it. And then we roll our eyes and move on to the next thing.

(Al’s Note: If I’m not describing you at all, congratulations. Seriously, the world needs more readers like you.)

Thing is, when we do that…when we focus more on the source than the content, we deny ourselves some great reading. I recently helped crowdfund (and loved) a manga by a creator originally from the exotic land of Tulsa, Oklahoma called Fallen. Spinnerette, another popular book regularly appearing in my Kickstarter feed, has definite Japanese stylings to it, despite the fact that the artists who work on it don’t necessarily come from Japan. Heck, Adam Warren has taken this concept and made his style synonymous with it.  More and more, creators around the globe are letting this genre that influenced them shine through in their own work.

Now we have The Tokyo 5, from Australian writer Andrew Archer and Filipino artist NICE, helping to blur the lines between manga and manga-influenced even further. At first, I thought the duo might be treading familiar ground: a five-female group of super-powered teens brought up in a school with corrupt ulterior motives (nothing less than world domination). It falls too easily into the “been there, read that” camp. Well…been there, read that if you’ve read manga for any decent length of time. But Archer did a really nice job of taking the expected and pushing it just far enough to keep me engaged. We don’t know everything there is to know about these five women, and I have a feeling we’re not going to for some time. That’s refreshing, in a genre that tries to get readers’ buy-in early by throwing at least a few nuggets of an origin story up early. After the four chapters in Volume 1, I don’t know everything…I honestly don’t know much of anything…about these girls. But I want to know more, and that’s the real trick.

The artwork does exactly what I expect a manga to do. NICE has a good command of line and tone that gives these pages a dynamic look most manga readers will appreciate and enjoy.  The action sequences are particularly nice, but around chapter four things begin to get a bit disjointed, whether on purpose or through poor plotting or poor interpretation. I won’t lay the blame at the feel of NICE or Archer here, but it did provide a bit of a hiccup in an otherwise smoothly flowing read.

The Tokyo 5 has a bit of an uphill battle ahead of it. It’s got to win over manga snobs who don’t care about it if it didn’t come from Japan, and it’s got to be at least as good as what *is* coming out of Japan already. Fortunately, it seems to be doing well on both counts. Here’s to seeing where the story leads them…and us…in future chapters.  You can find it on Comixology and IndyPlanet (where you can also get a print copy).  Or check out the Tokyo5 web-site, which also has the links.

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow (al@comicspectrum.com)
https://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics for Fans who Love

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