Many of you Anime Vice lunatics have been asking me to read some manga for the site. Wouldn’t you know it? Whiskey sent me a copy of CMX’s DIAMOND GIRL Vol. 1 a while back and I finally got a chance to peruse it. Before I get to anything else, I want you all to clarify something for me. Clarify it emphatically. Is this shojo? Because I never get these gender/age classifications right.
Story wise, this is pretty light stuff. You’ve got a teenage girl with superhuman baseball abilities who absolutely doesn’t want to step back on the pitcher’s mound. - - not even if the team’s dying to have her join them, not even if she’s got the potential to be the best in the world. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I was really tickled by the inversion of the typical reasoning for a “girl joining the boy’s club” like this. It’s not like, say, JUST ONE OF THE GUYS. The prospect of cross-dressing isn’t there for her to prove some point about gender equality. Rather, the team wants her to pretend to be a boy so she can get around pesky school rules and single-handedly win the season for them. Go figure.So how did this read?
I’ve voiced my difficulty with un-flipped manga in the past. Here, I found the best solution was to read this as fast as I could - - to think less about it. I found that was actually best for the experience in general, actually. As I mentioned in my mini-essay about international comics, manga’s distinguished by “decompressed” storytelling and that was very much true here. I don't think you're meant to linger on any of this. It really felt like reading an anime on paper and I couldn’t help but take note of how much visual vocabulary anime and manga share. The speedlines, the super-deformity, the humor that comes in both whispered asides and spontaneous shouting… it’s all there on the page, so much so that I could practically hear the soundtrack in my head.Actually, the fact I could read this so quickly is a compliment to the strength and readability of its storytelling. I was an earnest passenger on this DIAMOND GIRL's roller coaster, feeling every bump, flip and twist exactly the way Takanori Yamazaki wanted me to, exactly when I was supposed to. I pay high respect to the level of craft in production here (although that's probably best direct to the assistants, right?) I was consistently amazed at how much expression they were able to get out of the gray tones and pattern films. Maybe this was done practically, maybe it was done digitally. If it's the former, than I really wish more creators would take some pages from this, state-side.
Will I continue to Read & Discover manga? Will this become a regular feature? I don't know. It depends on whether some happens to come my way. I'd certainly like to read more. Keep your eyes peeled!