Sunday, July 10, 2005


IWGP: Ikebukoro West Gate Park vol. 2
Story by Ira Ishida
Art by Sena Aritou
Digital Manga Publishing
224 pp., $12.95
ISBN: 1569709858

This review is embarrasingly, even shamefully, late. I wish I could make up for my dereliction by saying good things about this volume, but unfortunately I can't. IWGP vol. 1 was formulaic but mildly enjoyable, but for the most part this volume isn't even that good.

The first seventy pages finish up the storyline that began in the first volume. There are a couple of big plot holes: we're never told how Makoto abruptly figures out who was responsible for Rika's death, and it's very strange that his reaction, once he's figured this out, is so subdued, given how angry he was at her death in the first volume. And the other big revelation in these pages is something that I feel is exploitative when used primarily as a plot device, as it is here. But despite these flaws, these pages, like the rest of this storyline, are mostly competent formula entertainment. It's with the second storyline, which takes up the rest of volume two (but continues into the next volume, which I haven't read), that things deteriorate.

Once again Makoto is involved with a gorgeous young hooker. This one asks him to protect her boyfriend, who is being hunted by the yakuza for setting on fire some drugs they were selling. Makoto sets out to entrap the pusher who was the buyer in the deal, and who also got the hooker addicted. He forms a surveillance team consisting of the pathetic nerd friend from volume one, a computer whiz, and the boyfriend himself, who is Iranian and has an annoying accent (at least in Duane Johnson's translation here). This leads to predictable hijinks: comedy is not Ishida's forte, as the early chapters of volume one also made clear. Hijinks aside, nothing much happens: if you want action, you'll have to buy the third volume. Nor are any of the characters of much interest. As with the first volume, the art and visual storytelling are competent but undistinguished.

To sum up, the first seventy pages of this volume are mildly entertaining, if this is the type of story you enjoy. The rest of the volume is a waste of space (and money).

In the teaser at the end of the volume, we're told that in volume three Makoto will "dig up the dark and dirty secrets behind online sex." I sense a pattern here.

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