Nov 10 2007

The Calling, by Okano Reiko

Aka, the manga version of Patricia McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, the first volume of which I NOW OWN.

And it is awesome. Seriously.

Okano Reiko’s art is insanely pretty. Her linework is all kind of crooked and uneven and organic. At the beginning, she draws Sybel and the crystal dome with one style of shading, and everyone/everywhere else with another, so that when Tam comes into the dome he doesn’t look like he’s part of the same picture, and doesn’t seem to be touching her even when he technically is. And the beasts (particularly Gules and Cyrin) look like they came off some medieval coat of arms containing woodwoses and suchlike, but they’re not flat-looking, just awesome – and it’s great.

I need to find a scanner for this thing immediately so I can show the entire internet how amazing it is. This is seriously an optimal book-to-comic translation.

The book’s production values are really good, too – there are some really nice color pages, and lots of those little frippy decorative manga things, like both the slipcover and the inner cover being slightly pearlescent (not actually obnoxious in this case!), and one of those deals with a translucent sheet of patterned paper over a really dark picture, which I do not know the technical term for.

I’ve been very slowly reading it (and wishing I’d brought the actual book with me) for the past couple hours. In the first seventeen pages, Sybel calls for the Liralen, loses her concentration when Coren starts yelling at the gate, and gives Ter Falcon some extremely specific instructions regarding what should be done to Coren. Ter, having apparently been put in charge of exposition, explains to her, with many honorifics, why killing everyone who annoys her is a bad idea, while she glowers at him with great poise. Coren also uses honorifics, even when he’s yelling. I think that Sybel has thus far managed one sentence with a polite-style verb in it. Yes! This is correct!

There is also some very McKillip-y wordplay in there, of which I completely approve – the dialog for the first few pages consists of Sybel, written in English with katakana transliteration, “Liralen… Come on… Liralen… Come on… Come on…” Then Coren breaks in: “Kaimon!” “Open the gate!” See, “Kaimon!” sounds like “Come on!” Coren broke into her Call!

(Okay, so maybe it’s a little off to have Sybel saying “Come on” to the Liralen. But it’s not like it’s going to throw the average Japanese reader out of the story, and that’s the important thing here.)

None of the bookstores nearby had this, so I ended up having to go on Amazon.co.jp. I’m now going to have to do this again for the next two volumes. I didn’t go ahead and order them before because, for some reason, I didn’t actually expect it to be completely great – but it is.