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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/06/2007 Archived Entry: "Manga reviews: Ikebukuro West Gate Park, Vol. 3 & 4"

Ikebukuro West Gate Park, Vol. 3 and Vol. 4
By Ira Ishida and Sena Aritou
Digital Manga Publishing

Review by Tom Good

Ikebukuro West Gate Park continues its detective-story tour through the seedier side of Tokyo culture. In volume 3, the hero Makoto must protect Asumi, a "cam girl" for an adult web site called the Fairy's Garden, who is being stalked by one of her fans. When Makoto appears on camera in her room, he too may be in danger from her jealous admirers. The art and writing did a good job of creating a suitably creepy villain and a real sense of tension.

Though volume 3 was a fun read in many ways, it had a strange structure that didn't quite work for me. The first 20 pages represent the conclusion of a drug dealer plot line that started in volume 2. This section was both too short and far too anticlimactic to feel like a good start to the book. I can understand the need to achieve a certain page count and create a "cliffhanger ending" to keep readers coming back for the next installment, but I felt that in this case cutting it up this way detracted from the story.

The very end of volume 3 begins a new story that continues for most of volume 4. Takashi, leader of the G Boys gang, calls in a favor from Makoto to get him to search for a missing 16-year-old girl known as "Princess," who is the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Makoto gets some help from an odd-looking guy named Fujio Saito, who used to be the girl's "attendant." He says he got hired because Princess said he looked like a monkey, and apparently not being attractive to her was an important qualification. Saito is drawn with huge ears and a long sloping forehead, which makes him a fun character to look at.

Once the serious Princess story line ends, volume 4 completely changes gears into a weird sex comedy about dreams and zombies. According to this story, the latest fashion craze among young girls in Tokyo is "zombie makeup." This may not be true, but it ought to be. Then the book concludes with a short story called "Love is S&M," about a young couple whose struggling relationship is sort of rescued by their discovery of S&M. This is a strange story that is mostly played as comedy. These last two segments seemed unconnected to the main IWGP story, but did offer a change of pace.

Over all, books 3 and 4 held my interest, but were not quite as good as 1 and 2. I found that I wanted to see more of Takashi and the G Boys, and more of the vibrant street culture.

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