Alice on Deadlines v.2 by Shiro Ihara

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Alice on Deadlines v.2 by Shiro Ihara

Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The odd collection of skeleton and teenage girl-obsessed hormones are back, in this manga that really does as much as it can to defy a sober review that to the uninitiated won't sound like the genre's worst-ever flaws writ large.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 192 Date: April 2008
Publisher: Yen Press
ISBN: 978-0759528451

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Ah, this book brought back memories. The way the reaver from the spirit world had crash-landed on Earth into the form of a teenage schoolgirl, and began instantly lusting after more of the same, alongside the sheerest, frilliest, sexiest undies, and the way the girl's soul ended up in a skeleton, walking around and sometimes helping out destroy other nasties…

Not all memories, however, were good ones. I think I had a sort of grudging admiration for the first volume, but this second, as I expected, began to grate from very early on. The first adventure, then – a knicker-thief of a most unusual kind. Then, well, sort of a flash-back (or flash-away) with another exorcism, before at least a more Japanese-themed chapter, featuring cherry trees in blossom, as so much literature from that corner of the world does.

But the flaws of the prior volume now include the way the chapters run into one another, with no stop sign in between – just a typically odd conclusion to one, and what is actually the prologue to the next before its title page turns up to reassure us we have actually moved on. And to save your clicking finger, those previously disappointing features have included the way the action scenes are pure blur, and give nothing to the reader; the proliferation of small asides and lesser dialogue that, when added to the translated FX and signs and newspapers kept in their original Japanese, only help create an awkward reading experience; and the casually perverse way the gender and sexuality norms are just thrust aside and throttled in a corner by the bizarre plotting and characters.

To recap my original review of part one again, I started with a thought it was worth two stars, but was determined not to put off the fan of the odd-ball, who might pick up on some extreme and adult manga with glee, so we at the Bookbag gave it four stars. This time round, both ratings must diminish. My own taste was not satisfied, even with the more Prince of Darkness-type hunk that turns up near the end (his adventure is again a case of 'who's thumping whom?!').

And when it comes to Bookbag recommendation, which we will admit is not what Shiro Ihara had first and foremost in mind when creating this manga, it is more reserved than the first one. The book certainly doesn't look like the comic a young reader should pick up (cover image – sexy lass wearing not much, toting two scythes linked together martial arts-style), and he or she most certainly should not be allowed to stumble on this by accident.

For the mature reader, there too is the feeling that this book will be unwelcome – too clumsy, too interested in the titillating subversion of fantasy and horror for the sake of going to a quite cheesy extreme, and not quite satisfactory enough to make it a good investment. For the rest, those lucky few I haven't succeeded in putting off, this book might just deserve the three and a half stars I give it.

I would still like to thank Yen Press for sending a copy to review.

Buy Alice on Deadlines v.2 by Shiro Ihara at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Alice on Deadlines v.2 by Shiro Ihara at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Alice on Deadlines v.2 by Shiro Ihara at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Alice on Deadlines v.2 by Shiro Ihara at Amazon.com.


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