Narutaru by Mohiro Kitoh (1998-2003)
First impression: (technically I wrote this a month or two before my created my first blog post)
Just wow. Mind blown. I have flown through this manga in 4 days, and that is
saying something! Clearly this work merits a more thorough commentary,
but I have to simply write down my impressions or lose my mind instead!
is untiringly introducing new concepts in basically every chapter,
sketching them only slightly, and seemingly dropping them in favour of
new ideas. This is both a blessing and a curse in multiple ways.
for one would have (as usual) preferred the story to stay away from
shifting too much focus on the supernatural plot elements. The character
of Shiina, while lacking depth, is very likable. I would have preferred
to see the aftermath of the drama happening in the first part (and
especially the first third) of the manga played out a lot more visible.
Akira (who is unfortunately ignored for most of the second part of the
manga (Vol. 8-End)) falling apart mentally due to the bad things
happening to her was easily one of the best parts of the entire manga.
Likewise Shiina is never really shown to suffer too much (making her
character appear more and more unrealistic as the story progresses),
continuing to live in her flimsy, carefree and certainly also oblivous
way after things go to hell repeatedly - til part 2 when her character
is drained of any reflective thought and becomes a pure object
furthering the plot. In other words, the integrity of her character is
completely broken, Shiina becomes another person entirely (why not call
her Shiina 2). Surely the events of part 1 contribute to the creation of
Shiina 2, but the clean break in her depiction, unexplained by the
sketchy story of course, is something I consider a deep flaw in this
manga. Akira fares even worse, since we barely see her later on! Her
demotion from main character to extra is unexpected and baffling.
technical problems I had with this manga are the fact the insanely
large cast of characters who are more often than not extremely hard to
distinguish visibly. Mamiko Kuri and Akira, what a nightmare! Also the
endless armada of black-haired boys! To add insult to injury, the speech
bubbles lack the part designating who is saying what! I don't know
whether this problem was introduced by the translators (and continued by
the fansubbers), but it is an absolute no-go, especially in a manga
where new ideas are introduced by the minute and information on
characters' motivations and opinions are extremely meagre by design!
action (as in the airplane and gun porn heavily featured in this manga)
does never translate to static black-and-white drawings very well in my
opinion. I found myself skimming the battle scenes pretty quickly,
since I barely could tell what was going on.
was something else and saved the second part - well almost. I can't
forgive the inscrutable exclusion of Akira from the plot. I LIKED Akira
I can say I was emotionally afflicted quite a lot
by this manga! Reading Narutaru was certainly a unique encounter, a read
more like a dream or trip than a linear experience. While I wasn't
expecting a Second Coming of Eva (which I don't believe in anyway), my
fascination with the early events and the characters of Shiina 1 and
Akira HAS been marred by the story and characters developing in a way I
did not like in part 2. Certain late events are better ignored, but more
on that later when I do a more in-depth review.
All in all, a detailed and reasonably complex story every fan of sophisticated manga should read as soon as possible.
PS: By the way, the anime adaptation has been given only only 12 episodes to retell the first half of the manga, and twice the amount of runtime would not have been enough to reasonably explore HALF the featured content. Definitely read the manga first or you won't have any idea how good the story really is!