FAMILY COMPLEX (ADVANCE REVIEW)

Posted On January - 27 - 2008
  RELEASED BY:   DIGITAL MANGA PUBLISHING
  AUTHOR / ART:  

MIKIYO TSUDA

  FORMAT:   JAPANESE / BW
  PAGES:   192
  RATING:   T
  RELEASE DATE:   12/29/2008
  REVIEW DATE:   01/27/2008
  REVIEWED BY:   HOLLY ELLINGWOOD

A spin-off of Princess Princess, find out all about the strange, beautiful and utterly eccentric Sakamoto family. Fresh from their brief but unforgettable appearance in the hit manga Princess Princess, Akira and his family are given a closer and comedic inspection in a series of short, funny, and often touching stories about their lives. Each tale uncovers a core truth about their personalities and relationships to make for a fascinating read on such unusual yet charismatic characters. Their tales are done in the charming off-beat way only Mikiyo Tsuda triumphs at time and time again with a style predominant in her other series such as Princess Princess, and Day of Revolution.

The manga begins with Akira as he struggles with being the only “normal” one in a family of completely beautiful people. But soon he learns how his family sees him. The truth of how much they adore him is shown throughout the various stories. While each highlights the various members of the Sakamoto household, Akira always plays a pivotal role, displaying just how truly crucial he is to each of his siblings and their happiness.

After Akira, we get a closer looks as his eldest brother, Harumi, who suffers from a sense of distance between him and all those around him except his family. His beauty keeps others at bay, friendless, he feels his isolation keenly. But when Akira gets big sister Natsuru to help, comedic results lead to both a funny and touching resolution. In fact, each of the stories has that delightful blend of off-beat humor and poignancy subtly woven in. Natsuru’s tale shows her own difficulties fitting in and her relationship with her one true friend Shouko serves as a wonderful blend of comedy and human drama that tugs at the heart. Both Harumi and Natsuru’s stories also do a sublime bit of fan service giving some mild yaoi and yuri subtext into their tales to tease readers with.

The youngest daughter Fuyuki has the most dramatic story, the most serious, and yet still has that winning comedy so expertly worked within her tale. Introverted due to being so pampered by her family, most of her conversations occur in her head as she considers things. Unable to convey her feelings out loud, it often causes misunderstandings and makes it hard for her to communicate and form solid relationships with others. Despite the drama, it is relentlessly hilarious to read not only the series of thoughts marshalling through her head, but also to see the reactions of those around her while she so vigorously considers every single thing that happens or is said to her.

Last but hardly least, find out how Akira’s parents first met. The story is then followed by quirky little epilogues that will likely make readers want to read more about this unique, funny, and ultimately endearing family.

The art work is another tour-de-force of Mikiyo Tsuda’s lush and beautifully expressive art style. Uniquely stylized and utterly captivating, the images are eye-catching at every turn.

Manga extras include a bonus comic panel found on the cover of the book, just remove the dusk jacket to view it. There is also an in depth look into the life of the talented author and her traumatic health experience discussed in the afterword by way of comic panels.

IN SUMMARY:
Family Complex is another tour-de-force of comedy form the author of Princess Princess, with poignancy cleverly woven into off-the-wall situations and eccentric characters.

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