Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Palette of 12 Secret Colors, vol. 5

The story: After her last encounter with Dr. Guell, Cello is doing her best to avoid him at all costs. While the professors are all impressed with Cello's renewed commitment to school, Guell's feeling the effects of her absence in his life. Eventually, Cello realizes she might be attracted to Dr. Guell and decides to accompany him to a wedding to see if she truly cares for him. When she nearly injures herself while helping out at the wedding, she knows exactly how she feels about him. While Yoyo and Olga, Dr. Guell's and Cello's birds, freak out over their partners increasing intimacy, Dr. Guell soon experiences a total personality makeover that's quickly resolved. There are also amusing side stories about Kechonpa and Yoyo, and Theo, Cello's father, as he tries to befriend Guell.

Reaction: This was a rather balanced volume, between the somewhat seriousness of the burgeoning romantic relationship between Guell and Cello, and quite a few humorous moments, including reactions to that relationship. I found myself more accepting of the relationship between Guell and Cello because it was finally addressed. But, the humor involving the birds is what really drew me in. There are some great moments where these colorful animals show some real emotional depth. It would be easy to leave them on the sidelines, as a decoration of sorts, but they are just as much a part of this story as the human characters involved.

Deep thoughts: While it's an all-too-convenient plot device, I did like the way Nari Kusakawa handled the improper relationship between Guell, a school employee, and Cello, a student. When it's finally addressed, Guell undergoes a transformation of sorts in response to a flower given to him by his research scientist friends, Gosti and Mage. When he changes, he becomes much more serious and avoids Cello at all costs. This rational side of Dr. Guell realizes that his relationship with Cello is inappropriate and he doesn't want to ruin her chances of academic success. I felt much more comfortable with the story after this, as it resolved what was my biggest issue—that a high school girl and a so-called responsible adult were getting into a relationship.

The artwork is the same as it's ever been—inoffensive, often cute and in a tropical setting. I especially liked the storyline of Kechonpa, Mosselyn's bird, as he took care of his younger siblings, who are smaller versions of the puffy-looking bird. There were other humorous moments well illustrated by Kusakawa, including the group of birds caught in the rain, Yoyo's escape from the island and Theo, Cello's father, hounding Guell. But, again, this manga suffers from living in a colorful world that cannot be shown to its full effect because of the black-and-white medium it's drawn in.

The verdict: If only... I really enjoyed this volume more than the others, but there was something still amiss. Unfortunately, I found myself enjoying the other scenes that didn't involve Guell and Cello moreso than the more romance-centric ones. And that's a shame since they're pretty much the focus of the manga. But, this is a short series and I am still interested in seeing how Kusakawa resolves everything in the sixth and final volume. The Palette of 12 Secret Colors is available in the U.S. from CMX.

Review copy provided by CMX.

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