Thursday, December 23, 2010

Zyword of the Week episode 1: ZyWHA?!?!?

Sorry for not updating last week; to be honest, I'm super tired. During this super cool holiday season , I will post this, along with a best of oh-ten list, and *possibly* more. Our regularly scheduled Eva analysis and random reviews will return next year.

OK then, welcome to my newest feature!!! (BTW, MVs You Will Like is dead) Zyword of the Week is about things that you wish you didn't exist, that could potentially single-handedly make one leave the otaku life forever and not look back, and how y'know, terrible they are. Today we will be discussing Zyword, and it's (lack of) many nuances.
It was customer appreciation day at my local comic store, and they were giving away free stuff. Of course, everything they were giving away was crap. Love Hina the Novelization (?), FLCL the bad manga version, an absolutely horrible-looking OEL called Harvey and Etsuko, and... Zyword. Attracted to the flashy cover art, the mention of the author, Tamayo Akiyama, being a former member of the shojo super group CLAMP (it did not occur to me that there was probably a good reason for that "former" bit), and I dunno, it just felt like destiny. Anyway, I'm glad I got it, because in doing so, I have prevented someone else from ever needing to suffer though this turd.
 To begin, let's look at the dialogue. Here is some examples of the less contrived speech:

"And she has FOUR ranks of custom-color spells?"

"Luna, don't you ever listen? I've told you over and over--when breaking spells, always take your surroundings into consideration! The weather, the terrain... You produced a flame spell without checking how much power to use first and now you've lowered the air pressure of this area!"

"You're insane! I don't care care HOW powerful you are-- but it's IMPOSSIBLE to collect a shield spell!"

However, the art style is quite nice. Akiyama did the character designs for Magical Knight Rayearth, and the art effectively emulates the finer points of early CLAMP. However, I could hardly tell, because the art is so awash in screen tone it looks like someone sneezed on all the pages. I mean, the pages originally in color look LESS muddy than the rest of the goddamn book! As the author herself mentions in the back notes, "I've beenexperimenting with the computer more lately." No, REALLY?
Also, many designs are downright derivative. For example, let's look at The animal mascot, Ride. Ride looks exactly like Mokona from Rayearth, Tsubasa, and xxxHOLiC (none of which are porn, and all of which are CLAMP titles), except with a six-pointed star lazily slapped on to make it more "magic." Ugh.
 Now, you may notice that I have not discussed the plot of Zyword at all and that is because it is completely incomprehensible. The first line in the book is "The Chaotic Spell World." One would expect an explanation of what this "Chaotic Spell World" is, right? Nope! I think that it was the titular Zyword, but honestly, I'm not even totally sure about that. Eventually, I gave up on trying to follow the story (was there even one?), and just aimlessly flipped through the book in abject horror.
The sad thing about this book is that it could very easily be much, much better. This artist is very talented, and unlike me, has a good grasp on how to tell an involving story. But instead, we get a confusing, muddled mess. If you showed me this when I was getting into manga, I'd have stopped reading on the spot and never look back. I really wish this didn't exist.

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