October 24, 2008
I give up! I don’t really understand much of what’s going on in this series. It’s really messy. I mean, I like what I can tell is going on, that the humans are congregating and causing the faeries to gather and it will cause a gate to open and the main character is the key… but the nuts and bolts of the thing, that somehow this was engineered by a superbeing called Balgor, that he was assisted by a girl who hates people, and that she was assisted by Tokage, and both of them regret their decisions when it comes down to it… I just don’t understand! And Tokage and Ian’s mother reappears and… this is the catalyst, for some reason, and… Tokage gets… powers? Or not? Or something? Kaito has a few more rounds of both bad and good in him, I guess?
I’m sure it would make some sense if I sat down and read all three together. I’m told it’s not that hard to figure out, and I can understand that. I think my problem is that the story didn’t slow down enough to linger on the details, and the best thing it has going for it are the little details that put an Irish fantasy spin on everything. I love the story, and I love the setting… but somehow it just doesn’t seem right that the entire last volume of a series about faeries is a huge, epic action scene. Or, at least, it doesn’t seem right as the third and last volume. I don’t know.
It does have a cute last page, though. I liked the eventual outcome a lot.
There’s a short story/followup at the end that I liked much, much better than the content of the actual series. In it, two characters are sort of busting these evil spirits that tie into the plot of the main series. The two carryover characters only appear as cameos, sort of at the end of the story. The main plot involves a ghost that haunts a photo booth and grants wishes to girls who can see her. The wishes come true in the end, always, but the payoff is that the girls are killed so that they can spend forever being the ghost’s friend. For instance, the story is introduced when a girl is killed by a bus, which amputates her legs. That girl’s wish is to be shorter. Another girl makes a series of wishes against her backstabbing best friend, and things go from there. I would actually have loved to read this as a full series.
So yes, I like Fairy Cube in theory. I mostly wound up frustrated with what the story was and what it could have been, especially given the quality and scale of Angel Sanctuary. But I liked the short followup!
This was a review copy provided by Viz.
September 9, 2008
After being pleasantly surprised and sort of optimistic about this last time, I wound up being pretty disappointed with this volume.
I didn’t think I’d have any problems with Ian and Tokage. Tokage took over Ian’s body, so Ian now lives in the body of a little boy and is trying to get his old body back. It’s okay that the little boy and Ian look alike, because it’s always pretty clear when the character is supposed to be Ian or Tokage. Except when they jump around in a scene and/or are fighting, and I have to remember who’s who by the clothes they’re wearing, or by where Ainsel is. And when a scene jumps abruptly, I have to orient myself to Ian or Tokage. At least everyone stopped calling Tokage Ian. That helps, I think.
What doesn’t help is that the head (?) fairy (?) also looks like Ian/Tokage. I was very, very confused for a little bit in the middle of the book, and had to read a couple scenes several times through before I realized that a new character was introduced. Added to this is the fact that this new character has Kaori Yuki gender issues like nearly every single character in Angel Sanctuary. That’s okay though, because this person’s gender isn’t that important yet.
Oh, also? The story sort of dissolved into an ambiguous mess. Everything broke down completely when I was trying to figure out who and what was working at cross-purposes, and what… just what. Apparently the world and/or humanity is coming to an end? Are the faeries doing it? Are the changelings? Are both the faeries and the changelings working to bring down humanity? Who is the corporation working with, the faeries? Yes? Is the blonde guy that’s allied with Ian working to stop the destruction of humanity? Is he working at his own purpose for real? What about that Raven, aka WHAT?! I think it’s just faeries working on humanity… they do mention a faerie ring at one point around a building, and all the people seem to have the faerie wings. Simple enough, perhaps I’m just reading too much into it. My question then becomes, who is going to stop them? Ian? He’s not really a hero. He just wants his old body back.
Most stuff had resolved itself by the end of the volume, or at least had resolved itself enough so that I could wrap my brain around the plot again. Yuki also does sort of a bad job explaining some faerie terminology. Bizarrely, I had been reading about some of these things recently, so some of it made sense to me, but some things seem too relevant to the story to leave unexplained. Some of it may also be bad use of some terms. I was thinking specifically that it was odd that there was no explanation for Beltaine provided in the story, but as I was remembering, I think the characters refer to Beltaine and Midsummer as the same thing, which is really not the case. I may be incorrect about this, though. Some stuff is explained, like the Leanan Sidhe, so it doesn’t totally neglect things.
One thing that made Angel Sanctuary readable were the extremely distinctive designs for each character. I was never really confusing anyone because they all had such unique designs. There was the occasional bit of confusion, and I never could tell who was supposed to be on the cover, but it was remarkably well handled for how many characters were in it. Fairy Cube suffers from some really bland character designs, unfortunately. In addition to three characters drawn exactly the same, there are also bland designs for most other people, too. Ainsel gets a good design, as do one or two other female characters (sadly, not the main female character), but they’re still not nearly as good as they were in Angel Sanctuary.
I think enough will happen that the story will pull together all right in the end, but there’s a lot of things here that just went wrong. I still like the idea, and I would love to read a manga that uses Gaelic mythology bits like this really well, but I feel like this is just… hm. Not very good.
May 25, 2008
I like Kaori Yuki’s art, but for some reason I have a hard time convincing myself to read any of her series. I think it has something to do with my brain just totally rejecting the first volume of Angel Sanctuary, but I did like Count Cain well enough. I heard some terrible things about Fairy Cube while it was being serialized, and I thought I heard it was cancelled after 3 volumes for being… well, terrible, but I kind of find that hard to believe after reading the first volume, and even harder after reading the little author talk section where she mentions outright that it was meant to be a short series.
I actually really, really enjoyed the first volume. There were some problems with coherency much like I had with Angel Sanctuary (the mythology isn’t explained very well), but they are relatively minor, and the main mechanic, that a shapeshifter kicked the main character out of his body and he’ll do whatever he can to get it back, comes through pretty clearly. Actually, the only parts I had trouble with was a very brief section where the main character and a fairy go to the fairy lands, but it’s pretty clear what’s going on. The only real problem was that I wasn’t familiar with some of the terms and creatures they alluded to, but it doesn’t have much bearing on the short section of story that it ties to. I probably would have known even less had I not read Laurell K Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series recently, but that’s only because they tangentially mention the Seelie and Unseelie a couple times.
The concept of involuntary body snatching is actually kind of awesome, and aside from the heated need for revenge that the main character has, there’s a larger plot alluded to that apparently the main character and his shape-shifting salamander tie into that may pick up in a bit. There’s also a little romance for the main character that was surprisingly well-done for how little we know about the characters so far. It comes across as pretty genuine, and the flashbacks to the character’s childhood do a good job of ringing true.
So far so good, and I’m kind of excited to see what all can happen in the next two volumes. Maybe I’ll give Angel Sanctuary another try, too.