Also, I've got a new All the Comics in the World column up on Comixpedia. This one's on Lynda Barry, one of my faves.
What with one thing and another, I haven't done an Overlooked Manga Festival since mid-November. Sheesh. Time to get back on the horse!
It's flippin' cold out here in San Francisco, but there's never any snow. Today I'm going to talk about a comic with enough snow and ice and cuddling under quilts to get me in the right wintertime mood.
Chikyu Misaki is a terrifyingly cute manga about preteen girls and baby sea monsters, two of the cutest things ever. Fourteen-year-old Misaki inherits her grandfather's old house in Hohoro, a tiny northern village where it seems to be constantly snowing, and moves in with her widower dad. Hohoro Lake is the legendary home of the Hohopo, a Loch Ness Monster-like creature. Misaki hasn't been in town long before she and her new friend Sanae find a baby Hohopo who follows them home.
Misaki and Sanae name the creature Neo, after Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix" (no, really). In addition to being adorable, Neo has the power to turn into an even more adorable tousle-haired little boy when Misaki kisses him. Misaki and Sanae take him home, make up a very weak cover story to explain his presence, treat him like a pet, and snuggle and cuddle the hell out of him.
To keep the manga from getting completely unbearably cute, there's a complicated B plot involving kidnappers, double-crosses, and a suitcase full of stolen gold at the bottom of the lake. One of the kidnappers happens to be a hot woman with a more than passing resemblance to Fujiko from Lupin III (which I've really got to do one of these weeks), who gets tangled up with the girls and Neo.
And, just to provide some extra plot, there's also some mad science stuff. And, I swear, a guy who looks exactly like Wolverine.
More than anything, Chikyu Misaki resembles a kids' animated movie in manga form. Manga: The Complete Guide compares it to "The Iron Giant" and "Lilo and Stitch," which feels about right. It's got a lot of elements you see in American family movies, like character-building domestic conflicts (Misaki is upset that her dad has a new love interest) and action scenes where kids face off against gun-toting crooks. And, of course, life lessons.
Recently, serrana asked me to recommend some manga for kids, and Chikyu Misaki might be a good start, although you'll want to scan it first, since it does have some semi-nudity and mention of adults in sexual situations. (Or, alternately, check out Jason Thompson's exhaustive essay on manga for younger readers at Comics in the Classroom.)
Anyway, Chikyu Misaki is a sweet, light story with irresistible artwork. And it's only three volumes long, perfect for finishing off on a wintery afternoon.
Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Your and My Secret
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Anywhere But Here
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
The Walking Man
Sugar Sugar Rune
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators
Ricca 'tte Kanji!?
OMF Special Event: My Legacy
OMF Special Event: An All-Star Tribute to Carl Gustav Horn
Guest OMF by Jason Thompson: 888
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Flower of Life
OMF Special Event: Top Ten Lines from the Excel Saga manga
OMF Special Event: Jason Thompson Presents the Top Ten Best Worst Manga, Part One
OMF Special Event: Jason Thompson Presents the Top Ten Best Worst Manga, Part Two
Comics Underground Japan