Tarot Café 3

March 17, 2008

I put off writing about this volume for a few days because I just don’t know what to say about it.  I like the art, and the story’s got some really awesome stuff in it, but… the awesome stuff just isn’t fitting together quite right at the moment.  There’s certainly plenty of story in this volume, and there’s more light shed on what the situation between the main character and the mysterious Ash is, but there’s still so much left unexplained that I feel like I can’t really talk much about it until I learn more.

There is a one-shot story about a rich sultan/king and one of his slave boys.  The king enjoys the boy’s company and favors him above his wife and all his other lovers, but an innocent request basically makes the sultan throw all that away.  He regrets it, obviously, which is what makes him show up at the Tarot Café.

There was another one-shot which I preferred, which was about a cute relationship between a young man and a Welsh water spirit which was in-progress, basically meaning he had a chance to save things between the two of them and it was surprisingly upbeat.  Plus the water spirit’s name was “Cheese,” which I thought was adorable.

The back story for Pamela and Ash starts to get into who Ash was in his previous life, and it does so by introducing a sort of antagonist for Pamela in the present who claims she killed Ash.  It starts off first by explaining that often customers will pay with beads from a necklace that Pamela is collecting, but it doesn’t really explain why she is collecting the beads.

Actually, I take that back.  The Sultan story starts off with the necklace explanation, because the Sultan pays with a gem from the necklace.  While she has nearly all the beads, she only has the one gem, so she may still take a long time to complete the necklace.

It’s got a lot of fun elements working for it right now, and there definitely is a lot to like, but I think it’s lacking right now just because the elements aren’t quite drawn together right for some reason.  I like it well enough, and I think it could be great once the main story gets going, but it’s just not quite there yet.

Tarot Café 2

February 18, 2008

I thought it was interesting that things didn’t stay as one-shot stories for very long.  A wee tiny bit is revealed about the proprietress of the café, and thus we get the beginnings of the plot of the series.

Don’t get me wrong though, most of this is still one-shot stories.  I really liked one particular story in this volume involving a werewolf.  An undying/forbidden love situation is set up, we get a new character, and we get to see that one of the mysterious established characters may have a dark side.  The relationship and the way the new Werewolf character was set up to interact with everyone was great, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how things work out for him.

The main character, Pamela, well… I suppose she gets quite a bit of backstory in this volume.  Her setup reminds me a lot of the plot to “Devil’s Trill” (Netcomics Manhwa Novella Collection IV), where she, a lover, and a rival are doomed to be tied throughout the course of history.  It seems like she’s the one who will never die, but it’s hard to tell at this point whether or not she’s old, or she keeps being born… I don’t know.  Her lover, Ash, seems like he’ll be coming back frequently, so I’m all about that.

The art is still very pretty.  Lots of good things are happening, so I feel pretty good about the direction right now.  I’ll probably mix this in pretty liberally with Berserk this week to have a fine boy/girl balance in my reading.

Tarot Café 1

February 14, 2008

I bought this at the same time I bought Les Bijoux and Ark Angels, and I think Ark Angels put me off Sang-Sun Park so much that I was afraid to start this one.  This had all the characteristics of something I’d love though, so it was kind of silly of me.

There’s a lot to like about this series.  It’s got a mystery shop setting where the proprietress tells supernatural customers what they should or shouldn’t do to complete their (usually sad) story.  Tarot card symbolism figures heavily into the telling of the story since that’s what the shop specializes in, reading the future with Tarot, and the art’s really nice and gothic-looking.

The stories are all right.  The first one stars a catboy, the second a vampire, the third a fairy, and the fourth one was some sort of alchemist.  You can probably guess that they’re gimmicky.  Most of the stories are romances, and the romantic element is decent… not spectacular, and some stories are better than others, but I really enjoyed the volume.

There’s no hint of overarching plot for the owner of the shop or the person who always appears with her, but I think I could go for at least a couple more volumes without.  I’m sure most people would be better served reading Pet Shop of Horrors or XxXholic, but this is pretty entertaining so far, and the art’s pretty good, so I’m gonna go with it for awhile.