December’s Final Denouement: Swan and the Godliness of Page Design

It has been said that sometimes great design is great because you don’t notice it. It brings you the information you need without you having to struggle but doesn’t impress itself upon your mind, unless of course you are looking for it. Design, when it is good, can be an unsung hero that enhances your experience but for the most part goes unrealized. This is no less true when it comes to manga page layout. There are a lot of approaches to page layout to be sure, but I’m choosing to focus on Swan because it accentuates manga design so well and is an amazing sight to behold. (I apologize for the crease in my scans; all images can be enlarged)

The most basic function is obviously to lead the reader’s eye through the story. But page design can do so much more. Using the above image you can see the calm of the right page contrast with the chaos of the left. This chaotic feeling is achieved through the angles of the boxes and the way they fit together. From this a momentum starts to build up. Then the way the dancer is swept into the air where her toe points into the negative space your eye follows through the action. You literally might find yourself taking a breath like the gasp the audience utters as the movement leads you to the next page. Moving on to another example, the following spreads come one after the other.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #080

hisuiconDespite all odds we have gotten Gosick: The Crime with No Name in the U.S. so we decided to give it a look after enjoying the first book. After Victorique solves the case of a stolen plate for Kazuya they both find an ad in the newspaper that summons them to the town where Victorique’s mother was born. They must solve several deaths in town as well as a famous death that occurred many years ago. But this is an odd and isolated town with many secrets. I was slightly disappointed in the mysteries in this book. The author did not tie them together like the mysteries in the first book. The town was very odd but I think I rolled with that fact much more than Narutaki. I enjoyed seeing Kazuya and Victorique again as they are lovely characters but I would have like to see them in a stronger story. Still I had a good time and the story answered some questions while stetting up future stories. I also have the distinct feeling that the odd nun at the beginning of the book is set to be a reoccurring character for better or for worse. After reading this I am really curious to see the Gosick anime that has just been announced. I fear that we will not be getting any other Gosick novels any time soon but until someone picks up the manga the anime will have to do for our mystery fix.

The fact that a second Gosick was released at all in English is in itself something to be grateful for. The story starts off very much like the first as Victorique solves a case in mere moments. Only this time around the thief ends up as a traveling companion for our two detectives. Three more travelers join their caravan as the larger mystery involving Victorique’s mother rears its head in the strange mountain town they are bound for. Some things about this story kept me from fully enjoying it. Not the least of which was that is was painfully obvious who the culprits were in each mystery. Considering that Victorique is supposed to be a Sherlock Holmes like detective, I should almost never be able to deduce who the culprit is. The friendship between Kazuya and Victorique which I found amusing in the first book is stilted and borders on cruel in this second installment. The dialogue is also really clunky, not sure if this is just a rushed translation or not. Gosick 2 didn’t capture me like the first even though it should have because learning anything more about the eccentric Victorique is welcome. I am glad Gosick got another volume released, but I wish I could give it a better review.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #073

On the advice of Sheentaku I decided to give  Baka to Test to Shokanju a chance since he said it seemed right up my alley.  I can’t say that the Internet has utterly figured me out just yet. The premise is that after students take the entrance exam for Fumizuki Academy the score get get places them in classes A though F. The lower the class your are in the worse the facilitates are with the A class having the newest fanciest of everything and the F class has everything that is about to collapse. The classes can use an RPG battle system to defeat other classes and switch rooms with them. So the F class declares war on the rest of the school with the two main characters being their trump cards. Akihisa Yoshii, the main guy is a punching bag for Minami Shimada the tomboy is is clearly in love with him. Mizuki Himeji, the main girl is just sort of a genius Hyatt but not any more interesting than that. The trap, the pervert, and the rest of the school seemed standard character types. Yuuji Sakamoto looks like me might be interesting but I am sure they will under use him. Also Minami was way too violent for no reason for me to get into her character. I never disliked any part of the show unlike say The Familiar of Zero but it also never drew me in or made me laugh.

This past weekend with some friends in toe I went to the Tatsunoko VS. Capcom event being held at Nintendo World in NYC. Usually at these little gatherings you can get a copy of the game early, but not so this time around. Though you could win a copy by beating out everyone else in the game tournament. Of which there were tons, or atleast I think there were, maybe they were all just in line for the autograph and poster as seen above. In any case, talk about packed! Luckily we caught glimpses of the game as we were waiting in line. I am happy to report many people playing as Joe the Condor (as they should be!) who is basically the reason I want to play this game myself. Actually I was happy to see everyone really playing an array of the hefty cast. I did get to play for a minute at the end where I doubled up with Joe the Condor and Viewtiful Joe and promptly got trounced by Gold Lightan! Looking forward to this release so I can try again.

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