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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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11/21/2004 Archived Entry: "Manga Review: Worst (No. 1)"

Worst (No. 1)
by Hiroshi Takahashi
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing

Review by Tom Good

Suzuran Boys' High School is the worst school in the city, and is famous for being full of thugs and troublemakers. Into this mix comes Hana Tsukishima, an unsophisticated country boy who has never seen a cell phone except on TV. He finds himself living in a boarding house with some tough classmates, and trying to get his bearings at Suzuran, a school which features an annual Freshman fighting contest. And far from being a secret, underground event, this competition is actually announced over the school's official PA system.

(click on images for larger image)

Worst is a classic "fish out of water" story, with Hana as the plucky outsider who has to negotiate the challenge of a new school and a different subculture. The story is amusing, though not especially original. But the artwork in Worst really shines. Rather than drawing the saucer-eyed, spiky-haired boys who inhabit a large portion of the manga universe, Takahashi created a quirky style that makes the variation in the characters' faces into the primary visual element. It may take the reader a chapter or so to get used to this style, but it is an investment well worth making.

Worst (No. 1) is like a symphony composed of facial expressions. The boys' cool, brooding stares transform into impish smirks and back again with a flair that makes me want to read the same pages over and over again. Perhaps to test whether readers are paying attention, Takahashi even sneaks in a two-page section where all the faces are completely missing. The clever art in this book puts it into the "must read" category. Manga fans will not want to miss this one.

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