Friday, August 14, 2009

Mars, vol. 3

The story: Rei is off to race in the Suzuka 8-Endurance Spirit, but Kira cannot join him. Kira does as her mother says, and works on a painting of Rei for a local art contest while listening in on the eight-hour race. While he's ultimately disqualified, Rei impresses some important people in the racing industry. Once he returns to Tokyo, Rei and Kira go the art museum where Kira's portrait of Rei, titled "Mars," is displayed and Rei witnesses how Kira truly sees him.

Reaction: There's a lot of action in this volume, due to Rei's motorcycle race in Suzuka. It was also very Rei-centric, with more interaction with Rei's friends. While I liked that it wasn't non-stop action and had quieter moments between Kira and Rei interspersed throughout, it also broke up the fast-paced rhythm being built. Earlier in the volume, there's also a nice friendship developing between Kira and Hasumi, Kira's former rival for Rei. It was nice to see the two of them getting along, especially since it seems like Kira is in need of friends.

Deep thoughts: It was interesting witnessing the creative process that Kira went through, first starting with a sketch of Rei and then progressing towards the eventual painting. She first sketches Rei shirtless, sitting on a chair. But her final painting is more visceral, as noted by Rei who says that "it also looked like the inside of a human body with cells and veins jostling each other." At the same time in the book, Rei and Kira's relationship becomes more raw and real as they discover more about each other. It's an interesting visual metaphor that Fuyumi Soryo uses to interesting effect.

Artwork: Since there's more action here, there's fewer signs of the usual shojo style. But, Soryo still seems to use screentone in unneeded ways, from use in crowd scenes during Rei's race to some weird "cat-tone" pattern in a panel that includes a confused Kira. Meanwhile, the action scenes are well detailed and are done in such a way that you can feel the rush of the crowd and hear the announcer overhead. It's an almost peculiar juxtaposition.

The verdict: If only... It isn't that I disliked this volume, so much as I wish it was simply composed differently. The back and forth of scenes between Kira and Rei, mixed with Rei's racing, broke up the flow of the story in such a way that I found myself rushing through certain scenes when I should have been reflecting instead. Mars is available in the U.S. from Tokyopop.

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