Miscellanea and Ephemeron
05/21/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Jing: King of Bandits, 4"
Review by Tom Good
Jing: King of Bandits is a fantasy story. Not fantasy as in "Elf vs. Orc medieval smack-down," but fantasy as in Alice in Wonderland or even Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Its world contains buses shaped like crocodiles, trains pulled by giant dodo birds, an orb that can steal dreams, and a thief named Jing who wants that orb.
Jing, accompanied by a magical bird called Kir, is incarcerated in a prison called Seventh Heaven. He plans to steal the dream orb from another prisoner, but before he can finish the job, he discovers that he is actually in the "prison of dreams," where escape will be even more difficult, the geography resembles an Escher drawing, and most of the inhabitants are the stuff of nightmares.
The plot is fairly strange and unpredictable, but it held my interest. The text incorporates bits of song lyrics, a Biblical quote, and even rhymed verse, including a short parody of Poe's The Raven. All the language works so well throughout the story, it is easy to forget that this is a translation.
What I liked best about this book was Kir. The little bird fills the role of the goofball sidekick, and though that is not exactly a new concept in manga, here it is brilliantly done. Artistically, Kir reminds me of Dave Sim's Cerebus character. They both have very expressive faces, and are funniest when they are being intensely serious. Kir tends to steal the show, but if anyone can steal it back, the King of Bandits can.
The Wapshott Press
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