Creators: Youzaburou Kanari, Kuroko Yabuguchi
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
Adaptation: Lance Caselman
Publisher: Viz
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action
RRP: $9.99
Gimmick! v1
Reviewed by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane

Trouble with the wrong side of the law? Paparazzi won't leave you alone? Found yourself in a tight spot and you don't know where to go? Then it's time to get in touch with Kohei Nagase and his friends at Studio Gimmick. A prodigy in the realm of makeup and special effects, Kohei has the skills to make sure that the people you don't want recognizing you won't.

The first volume of Gimmick! drops readers straight into the action without any preparation, and hits the ground running: there are three complete stories in this book, with the final two chapters leading into volume 2. The pace keeps us from getting to know Kohei or his stuntman friend Kannazuki very well, but we definitely see them doing their thing. Kohei's talent as a makeup/effects artist lies not only in his skill but his speed, and armed with his "sacred silver spatula" (a constant fixture around his neck) he transforms himself, a struggling film extra who want to be noticed on-screen, and a mistreated young model/actress who wants to dodge her manager--among others--all in the first chapter.

If I had to pick something this title reminds me of, I'd go with GetBackers--the plots are fairly different, but Gimmick! has a very similar energy and sense of humor, with a constant stream of action. There isn't much of a rest even between storylines, so the impression is that Kohei lives his life rushing from situation to situation (which may well be the case). Each of the short stories in here is well-developed for its length, though, and they collectively give Kohei the chance to show off a variety of skills.

From this one volume I can't form an impression of whether the rest of the series will be similarly episodic or if it's likely to settle down into longer arcs. I wasn't really pulled into the story, but I had fun while I was reading it. I also appreciated the real-world references (primarily to director Sam Raimi's work).

By the end I had a vague but positive sense of what Kohei is like: he's completely enthusiastic about his work, he's more than a little girl-crazy, and he seems to be a decent guy. It's not as much as I'd like to know about a protagonist after a full volume, but it's also not a bad collection of traits to build on. In terms of the visuals, the character designs aren't remarkable, but the art is detailed and up to the task of supporting the fast-paced story.

Volume 1 includes a color insert at the beginning of the book, a making-of essay by the writer, and additional four-panel comic extras including research trip anecdotes.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media.

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25 June 2008
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