Mameshiba: On the Loose!

James Turner, Author, Jorge Monlongo, Illustrator, Gemma Correll, Illustrator
James Turner, Jorge Monlongo, and Gemma Correll. Viz, $6.99 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-4215-3880-8
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The Mameshiba, immensely popular characters in Japan with their own cartoons and merchandise, are adorable crosses between different varieties of beans and dogs, each with its own personality. They find as much peril in the kitchen sink drain as they do in outer space, and the adventurers use their strengths and weaknesses to either embroil themselves in more trouble or find their way out of it (whether intentionally or unintentionally). Mangastyle paneling and details like speed lines provide for fast-paced action, while chibi (cute) facial expressions and fanciful villains like sewer chickens and pink aliens provide cuteness and playfulness. Nerdy Lentil Bean and gregarious Edamame offer facts, figures, and trivia to anyone around them, which is a holdover from the characters' original incarnation (dreamt up by a Japanese advertising agency). The characters have enough personality to carry these stories, but the graphic novel lacks the bizarre charm of the original animated shorts. Turner, Monlongo, and Viz Media have reimagined the Mameshiba for a young audience, and while the results make for fun, fast reading, they may have lost the genuine quirkiness at the heart of the Mameshibas' broad appeal. Ages 8–12. (July)
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