A somewhat interesting premise marred by the fact that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be.
Story and Art: Makoto Raiku
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul
What They Say
Taroza and Riemu are in trouble when Giller and his terrifying chimeras attack! But the only way to survive is to hand over valuable information… Meanwhile, a notebook written by a long-lost mysterious figure named Quo holds tantalizing secrets about the role of the five humans left in Animal Land. Can Taroza fulfill Quo’s final wish? More importantly, does he want to?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The encounter between Taroza and Giller comes to a conclusion when Riemu gives in to Giller’s demands and hands over Quo’s research notebook. However, Giller does not allow them to simply walk away, and Gorion and the other apes give their lives to allow the two humans to escape. Upon returning to the village, Riemu is distraught at Gorion’s sacrifice and retreats within herself. While Taroza manages to cheer her up with a community obstacle race, she still seems bothered by something.
This was my first introduction to Animal Land, so I might not be the best judge of it. However, I will say that so far, it did not particularly grab me. The humor fell flat and the drama flatter (though to be fair to the drama, coming in blind isn’t the best way for me to get attached to any characters). The overall setup is interesting: a future Earth where humanity has died out, to which five particular humans from different have been warped in order to influence the path the rest of existence will take.
But for the time being, it’s really not coming off well for me. I think part of it is that I don’t think that it fully understands what it wants to be. We have the supposedly traumatic event where Riemu’s entire tribe is killed in battle, and then in the next scene we’re thrown into a silly race full of slapstick with no real buffer. The overall storytelling also feels like it’s something more for a juvenile audience (admittedly, that might be influenced by the fact that the main two characters are little kids), but there are themes and scenes that I think a lot of kids would struggle to understand. The fact that it has a Teen rating would seem to back that up. The end result is that it all fell a bit flat for me.
My first introduction to Animal Land was a rough one. Granted, it’s not easy to jump into a series seven volumes in, but this one certainly didn’t do anything to make me want to go back and read what I missed. There are some big reveals in this volume that appear to be the catalyst for at least the next part of the series, if not for the rest of it, so if you have been following it up to this point, then this definitely is not a volume to miss. Otherwise, it’s not the place to start. Thumbs in the middle.
Content Grade: C
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: April 16th, 2013