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Author: Ross Liversidge

Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.


Vertical Comics
Keiichi Arawi

Keiichi Arawi is back with a new slapstick comedy manga in the same vein as his previous work, Nichijou. For those unfamiliar, Nichijou was a bizarre manga that had a varied cast and not much in the way of a narrative - think Seinfeld in school with more absurd and random stuff happening, and you're about there.

City has a little more focus. It's the tale of Midori Nagimo, a penniless student constantly on the run from her debts. Chaos usually follows in her wake, and first impressions are more confusing than endearing. Nagumo is not a particularly likeable character - she constantly begs money from her best friend Niikura, steals random objects and, at the end of chapter one, ends up working part-time at a restaurant. So much happens in one chapter that it's actually quite hard to take in - it's like watching someone play chess at a move a second. Disorienting and hard to follow.

However, the domino effect is actually quite fun to follow, as one event bumps into another, setting off a narrative arc that is as anarchic as it is confusing. Honestly, you'll either fall for the comedy stylings in this book or you won't, it's a very marmite series. I was initially a bit put off by the randomness and occasionally irritating script, but by book's end I was more on board with the series, and so I'm actually intrigued by a further volume rather than staunchly against it. Generally speaking, I like my comedy to make sense, but there's a drop of the absurd in an IT Crowd/Father Ted kind of way here, and once you warm to the cast it's an enjoyable read, if not essential.

The artwork is unmistakably Arawi - weird looking animals, almost Chibi characters and sporadic moments of movement coupled with a sense of the surreal makes the book stand out - even the cover, with it's colourful, rough style is distinctive on the shelf. Refined it is not.

So if you're a fan of random humour, overacting and the ridiculous, this is for you. Raise a glass to Arawi-san and drink deeply from his bizarre brand of narrative. The rest of you can easily be forgiven for shaking your heads and walking on by.  

Hard to score, so +2 if you like the ridiculous, -2 if you don't. But the best way to know for sure is to try it for yourself first.

Anarchic, bizarre storytelling which starts with a pebble thrown into the pond with chaos rippling ever outward. An acquired taste for sure, but nectar to fans of the style.
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