Monkey High! Vol. 1

Shouko Akira, Author, Shouko Akira, Illustrator Viz $8.99 (183p) ISBN 978-1-4215-1518-2

Can style propel well-worn subject matter into something much more substantive? Reading the first chapter of this manga brings up that question. The story of a pretty young girl named Haruna transferring to a new school starts off in a manner familiar to anyone with any experience reading fiction based on a high school setting. She doesn’t fit in with any of the established high school cliques and compares high school to a mountain populated with monkeys: both value hierarchy. What better way to illustrate the students’ hierarchy than the ever-popular idea of a high school musical? Haruna starts challenging the social system when she chooses nerdy Masaru for a role over the school’s resident lady-killer. Akira’s always attractive illustrations of teenage romance set the book apart. Scenes between Haruna and Masaru have a delicate look. There are figures in silhouette and beams of light shining through when Haruna finds herself falling for the boy she compares to a baby monkey. Despite the title, Akira never resorts to the “chibi” style. Her characters are all forceful and strong-looking. and her technical skills keep the familiar material fresh. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 03/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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