Q-Ko-Chan: The Earth Invader Girl Vol. 1 & 2 (Del Rey)

Manga madness with a girl from outer space from Ueda Hajime, the man behind the manga adaptation of FLCL.

 

Vol. 1: 208 pgs. B&W; paperback; $10.95

Vol. 2: 224 pgs. B&W; paperback; $10.95

(W/A: Ueda Hajime)

 

 

Ueda Hajime's printed take on the original video animation series FLCL catapulted him into the mind's of manga readers everywhere, and while his manic style may have turned off certain FLCL loyalists, more than a few were happy to have the additional material on the magnetic  youngster Haruko. Still, Ueda's source material was fairly strong, so with his latest release, the two-volume Q-Ko-Chan: The Earth Invader Girl, the weaknesses in his storytelling are more easily discerned.

 

Similarities are abundant between FLCL and Q-Ko-Chan, but the latter suffers for this. The "girl from outer space" is a much-treaded theme, and so reading it again is partially an exercise in attrition. Q-Ko-Chan is set against a world in the near-future that has been slowly reduced to continual war, an atmosphere that has left popular school-aged Kirio Muji with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, an attitude only escalated by his Special Operations Force mother and her near total absence from his life .

 

It's not long into the first book though, that Muji comes across an intriguing young girl in his home, and is quick to learn that her angel-face is merely casing for a robot and weapon in disrepair–not unusual considering the constant invasions and aliens which are part of the population's daily life. The initial scenes between the two have plenty of classically translated dialogue snippets that will inspire a snicker or two, like the instance when Muji is told by the girl, before removing her clothing: "I want you to board me!!"

 

Ueda's story is a mess. He tries to shoehorn abandonment issues and family woes into the plot, but like much of the invasion tale, it all falls apart. Other invader girls, military machinations, and a gaggle of other entities intersect and drive the tale forward. But, to what end? The conclusion of volume two even leaves the translator at a loss, as he writes a small postscript entitle: "So What Happened?"

 

Manga fans have a ceaseless stockpile of books to ply through, so Q-Ko-Chan should take a low position on any reading list. The art is serviceable, and Ueda rarely overloads any of the frames. It's still not enough to attach any sort of urgent recommendation to this set that is geared towards ages 13 and up. Teens would do well to lay off the likes of Q-Ko-Chan and pick up a novel by Murakami Haruki. It's a little more work, but the head-trip is so much more rewarding.

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