Creator: Felipe Smith
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: All Ages
Genres: Comedy, Crime
RRP: $12.95
PEEPO CHOO v2 Review
Reviewed by Charles Webb

Coming away from volume 2 of Peepo Choo I feel it has one strike for it and one strike against it when stacked next to the brash, obnoxious, and kind of wonderful first volume: first, there's a definite feeling of advancement in the story's multiple threads. The Miike-meets-Pokefan aspects of the story are showing signs of getting the hell on with it, as the blood-soaked gangster subplot appears primed to explode (along with the murderous, rapist, comic shop owner, Fate), while Milton learns a tough lesson about how garbage is sometimes sold to fans using the "authenticity" hook. As a bonus, we even learn the tragic-comedic tale of the creator of Milton's favorite character, the titular Peepo, a manga creator whose lofty ideas about art (and poor sense of taste) saw him shuffled out of the industry altogether.

On the other hand, the book doesn't feel as incisive as the first volume--which might actually be a plus in the final analysis. I think about one volume dealing with the culture clash elements head-on is enough for the kind of comedy Felipe is using here, and stretching it out across volumes could feel like simply returning to the well. So, while the first volume was explicitly about selling culture (in both the East and the West), this volume seems to be about disillusionment with the same, with not only Milton getting his heart smashed but West Coast-themed Yakuza, Rockstar coming face-to-face with an authentic American gangster.

This last bit is actually the real meat of the volume, with Smith making explicit how some elements of fandom co-opt foreign concepts simply based on their relative "coolnes" without wholly understanding them. After an unexpected death puts Rockstar in a position of power, he psychs himself up for a big revenge push against his gang's rivals by watching and rewatching the same sequence in one of those early to mid-90's West Coast gangster movies which--like gangster rap--purported to be from and about the streets, but which ofter played up the violence of their narratives like ghetto pornography.

And for Rockstar, it's precisely pornography, given how he's fetishized violence (and even his own appearance) to such a degree that he's a caricature of a caricature (same for Milton, but he's perhaps too young or too out of touch to get the sexual component of his obsession).

With one volume left, Smith has the opportunity to bring it all together into something great. Let's hope the last installment lives up to the promise of the first two.

If you'd like to read more of Charles's work, check out his blog, Monster In Your Veins.

Interested in writing for MangaLife? We're always looking for talented reviewers and columnists, so drop us a line! Charles Webb Editor-in-Chief, Share

5 November 2010

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