Saturday, May 19, 2018

Merry Month of Manga Review: OVER THE RAINBOW

Remember when Central Park Media released manga?

Yeah, I don't either.  While they were the first English publisher to put out BL manga, most of their manga output was no-name nonsense like this.

OVER THE RAINBOW (Ame ni Nurete mo), by Keiko Honda.  First published in 1997 and first published in North America in 2005.


A day at the amusement parks leads a pair of two young lawyers, Arou and Keita, to an amnesiac woman nicknamed Key.  They are charmed by her looks and sunny outlook, and to help her find her identity they start their own law firm.  Together they work on everything from divorce to plagiarism cases while searching for Key's true identity, hoping to bring happiness to each and every client.


Over the Rainbow wants to be sweet and life-affirming, but it's hamstrung by its weirdly loose sense of time, its bizarre vendetta against mothers, and its own attempts to tie everything up tidily in the end.

The book is meant to cover two years of time, but each chapter tends to skip forward multiple months at at a time.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does cause some of the plot threads to lurch forward awkwardly.  This is most obvious with the romance between Arou and Key, but most of the stories here feel awkwardly paced in general.  That's not even getting into the ethical quagmire of a lawyer getting together with his mentally incapacitated client!

Over the Rainbow was marketed as shoujo, but it's actually a josei manga.  That would explain why most of Arou and Keita's clients are parents, particularly a lot of single or divorced ones.  What's strange is that while this is made for adult women, Honda tends to come down especially hard on the many mothers within this story.  The few fathers we see are kindly but mostly absent from their family's lives, and the children are universally saintly (and doubly so for the one autistically-coded kid).  Meanwhile, the mothers we see here are either complete bitches that are humbled by circumstance or victims of a world that scorns them for the terrible crime of raising children on their own.  Regardless of whatever problem they start out with, the solution always seems to be a lot of long conversations and a buttload of deus-ex-machina to force a happy ending.  That includes Key's amnesia, even if it throws in a fake fiancee and a lot of guilt in there in the process.  None of these endings were particularly good, but by the end I was just glad they were over.


Over the Rainbow's art is mediocre 90s manga art personified.  The character designs are pleasant enough, but they are also lifeless and generic.  Honda doesn't bother with backgrounds most of the time, and when she does she tends to drown them in screentone.  The only thing that visually distinguishes this book is Honda's utterly terrible page composition.  She tends to pack the panels on the page in uncomfortable wedges or tumble them across the page as if they were dropped at random. 


Over the Rainbow is nowhere as pretty nor as hopeful as its title might suggest.  It's just a half-baked collection of mid-tier josei that appealed to no one save for the poor dumb schmuck who picked out Central Park Media's manga licenses.

This book was licensed by Central Park Media.  It is currently out of print.

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