Bloom

By Kevin Panetta, Savanna Ganucheau (Illustrator)

Genre: YA, LGBT Romance

Avg. Rating: 4.18

Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band―if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is if Ari doesn’t ruin everything. (Goodreads)

Most of what I enjoyed about this book, was the beauty in the simplicity of it. Though there is dialogue (which is well-written and easy to understand) I found the thing that really makes this graphic novel stand out is its illustration. It’s simpler, very much unlike some of the uber-popular traditional comics of today, but no less beautiful. With entire spreads void of words, the story is conveyed visually, motion conveyed between the panels and no dreaded over-articulation of character. A smile, drawn with the perfect amount of detail is all that is needed to tell you how a character feels. 

Honestly, I hope this is part of a series. It doesn’t have to be a long one, maybe only one more volume, because I sadly found the ending unsatisfying. Of course, it’s a happy one, that concludes the events of the story well, but for whatever reason, I found myself unsatisfied and wanting more. I don’t want to consider this a full-on downside, because it’s not going to stop me from reading a sequel if there ever is one, but for these very personal reasons a gave the book a lower rating, I admit, than it probably deserves: 3.9. 

If you are interested in reading this book, like all books, it is available on Amazon.

My Hero Academia Vol. 1

Written by Kohei Horikoshi

Genre: Shonen Manga

Avg. Rating: 4.46

My favourite panel.

My Hero Academia (also known as Boku no Hero Academia or 僕のヒーローアカデミア) is a popular Japanese manga (and anime) series created by Kohei Horikoshi and follows the trials and tribulations of a young man named Izuku Midoriya. In a world where the majority of people are born with powers called “quirks” the job of pro-Hero is given to those who chose to use their quirks in the pursuit of justice. Midoriya, a quirkless middle schooler dreams of enrolling in the Hero course at the prestigious U.A. High, the alma mater of his idol All Might. We follow as he begins his journey towards becoming the world’s number one hero and the new symbol of peace.

Volume One, which includes chapters 1-7 both introduces us to the majority of the series key characters as well as introduces you to the world and its quirk system. Following the introductions, the series goes into what might as well be its first arc, which I will call the “Deku v. Kaachan Pt. 1;” which follows the first fight between the protagonist Izuku and his rival Katsuki. The end of the manga marks the beginning of this arc.

From what I’ve seen the main arguments against this book is that the plot and world design is considerably derivative, reviewers often citing its similarities to Marvel’s X-Men series. Though I agree with that at face value, I will argue that this is not sufficient when all things are considered. Borrowing concepts is common practice in comics and all storytelling mediums for that matter, and as a result, what really matters is how it’s executed. It’s well known that the author, Horikoshi, is a fan of American comics, so it is reasonable to conclude that it did, in fact, influence his work, but that isn’t a bad thing. Having only read the first volume it is easy to focus more on what is evidently derivative, but that is not enough of a sample size to call the series itself that. I will simply say, if you don’t like this volume because of its similarity to other works, at least read up until the third volume. Due to this volume’s focus on character and world-building, I would say that the true story doesn’t start until the following volume. (I’d like to add that I find this series to be a good introduction to America comics to Japanese readers, and vice verse with Japanese manga and American readers.)

When it comes down to it, this volume does a good job at what it set out to do, though I believe it is probably the worst of the beginning volumes. I wouldn’t find it fair to complain much though, considering this was a very formative and challenging time for the writer who was relatively new to the fame this series would gain. Additionally, many serial writers often need some time to truly fall into rhythm with their story.

With all things considered I eventually gave this volume a high rating of 4.5, mostly based on my understanding of where this introduction eventually leads and my own experience in serial writing.

For those interested in reading this series check it out on Amazon, or read it via Shonen Jump/Viz Media’s websites/apps.