By Christina Plaka
Distributed by TOKYOPOP
Genre: Manga – Drama/Romance
Rating: T For Teen
Reviewed by Jon Minners
It is not often that you feel bad disliking material you are asked to review, especially when you originally made a name for yourself tearing apart products you felt were unsatisfactory to be mass marketed to the public. After reading Yonen Buzz from TOKYOPOP and by Christina Plaka, I felt horrible. I expected something so much more and yet, I was so disappointed by what I read.
Yonen Buzz is a story of four young musicians who formed a band Plastic Chew that stands at a new threshold of their musical career. Formed in high school, the band is set on a path to rock-n-roll superstardom, but the demands of jobs, schoolwork, relationships and the battle between mainstream and underground music may get in the way and stop their quest before it truly begins. You get only one chance in this industry. Can Plastic Chew be true to their vision or will they have to sellout their beliefs to make it in an MTV world? This is the story of their struggle.
I expected something akin to Eddie and the Cruisers without the melodramatic mystery. I expected something like Instant Star, the hot show on The N that examines the life of a rock star in and out of the studio. I expected a real in-depth look at the lives of a band that has to struggle to make it in the music industry and possibly how they cope with superstardom when they realize their dream. Maybe that is what I will get with time, but right now, after reading the first volume of this manga, I was left slightly bored and confused.
I was confused at first, because I found it hard to tell some of the characters apart. I felt like some of the characters were drawn too similar in terms of their look and I was left confused by who was who, what sex they were and what their connections were to each other. Having to read sections over and over to get the full story left me feeling unsympathetic to the characters of the story. Add to the fact that I wasn’t really into the melodrama surrounding the characters and you can say I was left feeling underwhelmed by the story.
But I feel bad thinking this way. I like Plaka. Born in 1983 in Offenbach, Germany, the young artist began her career drawing at the age of four. In 1994, Plaka started getting involved in Japanese anime and manga, leading to the completion of her first two projects Hiro No Destiny and Sneakers. Discovered during a talent show at a book convention in Leipzig, Germany, Plaka was able to publish a project called Plastic Chew in a magazine called Daisuki. Later, Carlsen Comics published it as a book. Yonen Buzz is its sequel and released by TOKYOPOP.
From reading the manga, I like Plaka as a person through the narratives she has spaced out through the book. She seems energetic, perky and knowledgeable of the music in which she writes about. Nirvana seems to be her favorite group and she writes several passages about them in the book, even trying to describe Plastic Chew’s musical style, more specifically the intensity of the drums by comparing it to the style of Nirvana. That was a nice touch in a manga about musicians where you can’t really hear anything. I also like the way she draws the musicians as they rock out and I enjoyed the debate about mainstream and underground music. It was interesting and I must admit that the end of the tale showed signs that volume two may pick up steam.
That said, I can’t give this manga any positive buzz at the moment, but I will say that when TOKYOPOP releases the second volume of Yonen Buzz, I will be very much inclined to give the series a second chance.