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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/15/2007 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Enchanter, Vol. 4"

Enchanter, Vol. 4
By Izumi Kawachi
Digital Manga Publishing

Review by Tom Good

The class trip is a perfect plot device for a school-based romantic comedy. The way these stories usually go, the destination will be some place like a beach or a hot springs resort, where the girls get a chance to show off their bodies. Rare, tame variations of this will substitute cherry blossom viewing or some other fully clothed activity. Enchanter not only pulls the beach gambit, it chooses Hawaii and throws in love triangles, a hot-for-teacher story line, a demonic girl trying to seduce a boy into giving up his soul, and magical shape-shifting. It's almost like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue with demons. This is all pretty silly, over the top stuff, but it works. (But how come my high school never took us all on a trip to Hawaii? I feel cheated now.)

While the hero, Haruhiko, studies for his chemistry exam, the demon girl Eukanaria tries to distract him by posing in a bikini. He focuses his mind by chanting "Namu-amida-butsu carbon dioxide manganese potassium hydroxide yuka-yuka-yuka." Yuka is the name of the teacher he's in love with, and namu amida butsu is the beginning of a Buddhist chant. I like the weird creativity of the humor here.

Often when a manga features a female character drawn with improbably huge breasts, the other characters don't mention this at all, as if it is perfectly normal. Enchanter breaks with that tradition in a funny way. Mana, a normally-proportioned schoolgirl with a crush on Haruhiko, jealously obsesses over Yuka's bra size, and worries that she won't be able to compete for Haruhiko's attention. The other girls have to reassure her that she has a chance.

Mana was my favorite character in this volume, because she is determined and practical -- she even has great skill at repairing bicycles. She is one of the more down-to-earth characters in this story, though that is not saying much given the craziness that goes on. And Mana turns out to have a role in the magical part of the story too, even though at first she seems like an outsider.

Enchanter uses a technique I really like, and that is what I would call a "stage whisper" or "aside." I don't know whether there is a standard name for this, but it is a piece of dialogue written in smaller letters and outside the word balloons, and it adds on to what the character has just said inside the word balloon. Usually the lettering is sloppier and sometimes the text is at an angle, as if to give the impression that it was written in later by a different person.

For example, in one scene Mana sees Haruhiko talking to Yuka, and she says (in a word balloon), "Th . . . they seem really friendly with each other . . . ! Could it be they really are going out . . . ?!" Then in the stage whisper text, which is written off to the side, at an angle and in smaller, sloppier letters, she adds, "So, it is all about her rack! I knew it!!" Something about this style of presenting the text makes it funnier. Maybe it gives the impression that it is an "unofficial" part of the writing. Enchanter is certainly not the only manga to use this technique, but it works very well here.

Most of all I like Kawachi's drawing. She draws lots of sexy girls in Enchanter, but there is also something innocent and almost old fashioned about the art. It reminds me more of the pin-up art painted on WWII airplanes than the borderline creepy, "pervert's-eye-view" stuff in some other manga. And Kawachi has a knack for drawing silly scenes in a very elegant way, as if she's really given a lot of serious thought to things like how a demon girl learning to swim would look, or the exact flight path of a magical crow that has just collided with a bicycle. I would recommend Enchanter.

Also see the Izumi Kawachi interview from Anime Expo 2006.

And

Enchanter reviews for Volume 1 and Volume 3.

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