Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Collection Review: Until the Full Moon

Until the Full Moon and @ the Full Moon take me back to Sanami Matoh (Fake). I read them because of Fake. Matoh has also written a number of fantasy manga full of high jinks and ADHD characters. These latter manga are cute but rather too frantic for my tastes. Fake has its own moments of over-the-top antics and scenarios, but it is grounded in the "case" structure. There are also plenty of reflective moments in Fake, especially for the series' couple.

Until the Full Moon and its sequel @ the Full Moon fall between Fake and Matoh's more high energy manga. The premise is delightful (and common to Japanese manga): a character, Marlo, is male except during the full moon when he becomes female. His change makes it possible for his family to marry him to his childhood friend, David, who is totally fine with the whole wacky world of Marlo (and happens to love both male and female Marlo equally although the ostensibly shojo manga is quite coy about the sexual relationship between them and implies at the end that Marlo will now be female most of the time and only male during the full moon, which will make having a baby possible since Marlo can hide during the full moon to stay female).

The manga is fun, mostly due to Marlo's female persona; although entirely female and downright cute, she is still rather tomboyish. Taken together, she/he is absolutely darling. The first volume has a stronger set of stories and the first set (Until the Full Moon) is better plotted than the second (@ the Full Moon), but both are engaging.

My favorite part is the short story at the end of Volume 1: the fairy tale explanation for Marlo's condition that takes place in a Stephen Sondheim-like past. It's sweetly romantic with a decent pay-off.

@ the Full Moon is fascinating because Matoh's art changes; the top and bottom image are from Until the Full Moon while the middle images are from the later @ the Full Moon. In one of her afterwords, Matoh argues that her art didn't change that much--it was always developing in a single direction. And I think she has a point. But it is noticeably different. I didn't care for the difference at first, not because I didn't like the art itself but because I'm such a huge admirer of Fake, which resembles her older style more than her recent one.

However, Matoh still manages to capture motion, which is a powerful and admirable skill for a mangaka.