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Vol 2 Issue 7
[MANGA REVIEWS]

Neon Genesis EVANGELION
Viz Manga - Special Collector's Edition
— by Charles McCarter

Like all other things EVANGELION, the manga reviewed way back in EX Issue 1.1 (Whoa! How retro!) has now made it to U.S. shores under the guiding hand of Viz. Viz is releasing this manga in two formats, the "regular" one and a "special collector’s edition," which seems to prove that fans of EVA will buy almost anything.
   However, the Special Edition is different from the normal one in one important way—it reads from right to left. Yes, all those people who have complained about the page-flipping that a manga undergoes in order to be read from left to right (instead of right to left as in the original Japanese) can now buy this special edition and not have to be bothered with things like everyone being left handed. Or the mole on someone’s face being on the wrong side. It’s a nice idea, and it shows that some thought is being given to the opinions of manga readers.
   The cover is the same as the cover of the Japanese manga, but with a different version of the logo. And the back cover is the exact same as the front cover. If you open it the "wrong" (e.g., standard American "left to right" way, you are greeted with a notice that says you are looking at the last page of the comic and not the first. This seemed to be belaboring the point, since those who would buy a Special Edition would probably already know that, but that’s not a big deal.
   The other aspect of this "original format" orientation that is addressed in the translation is the flow of the panels. A pair of glasses with arrows indicating which direction to read direct the reader’s eyes along the correct path. Again, one who is familiar with reading manga this way needs no such markers, but to Viz’s credit, they are relatively unobtrusive and easily ignored if not required.
   The story (thus far) retells the first part of the first episode. It ends with Shinji arriving at NERV. And that’s perhaps my biggest problem with this comic—the story has barely got underway when the issue ends. But that’s what happens when you chop up manga into 32 page chunks for the American market.
   Sadamoto Yoshiyuki’s art is interesting. As the original character designer for the show, he has of course an innate feel for the characters. And most of the time, the scenes flow nicely. The art is, for the most part, good, especially the characters. One noticeable thing was a liberal use of shading and sketchy lines to show things like backgrounds, vehicles, and of course, the mecha. I cannot say whether Sadamoto did this to give the manga a different feel from the anime (which is much more detailed), or if this is just a by-product of his drawing style.
   Translation, from what I have seen, is good and manages to preserve the integrity of the original without making it sound stilted or forced. However, Misato does seem to come off as more of a space cadet when her car gets trashed during the battle between the Eva and the Angel than she did in the anime. But she quickly recovers later on and becomes the authoritative woman so many fans know and love.
   The black and white medium, combined with Sadamoto’s liberal use of shadows and extensive shading, give the manga a gloomier edge that did not present itself quite so early in the television series. Still, since this is his version of the EVANGELION story, one cannot expect everything to be the same as the television show.
   Fans of EVANGELION will enjoy this manga, and many will undoubtedly rush to buy the Special Collectors Edition. If you haven’t had enough EVANGELION yet, this will augment your supply very nicely. Good packaging, good translation, and a good product from which to start with are all essential ingredients for success.

  NEON GENESIS EVANGELION - Special Collector’s Edition
© GAINAX 1995
Viz Select Comics
Monthly $3.25 US/$4.00 CAN
Black & White, 32 pages


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