Gimmick! Volume 3
By: Youzaburou Kanari & Kuroko Yabuguchi
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Action
Age Rating: T+ (Older Teens)
Price: $9.99
ISBN: 1-4215-1780-9
Rating: ★★★★☆

Gimmick! is the story of Kohei Nagase, an up-and-coming young makeup and special effects artist who loves his work and is capable of amazingly intricate work.  If you ever saw the movie F/X, starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy, you get the idea.  If you didn’t see it, go out, rent the movie and watch it right now.  Go.  I’ll wait.

This volume finishes the “Over the Rainbow” story started in the last volume, plus most of a second story, “TB Confidential” and a one-shot.  There aren’t any spectacular reveals in “Over the Rainbow”, it’s obvious it was simply room that prevented it from being printed in the previous volume and it’s a bit disappointing to have waited a couple of months for what is essentially wrap-up.  At least this time, “TB Confidential” ended on a cliffhanger, but I can’t help wondering why they didn’t just put the complete story into this volume and move the one-shot elsewhere?

While I suppose it’s a part of the genre, one thing that’s honestly starting to grate on me is the ridiculously overcomplicated gimmicks that Kohei and his friends will go to in order to showcase their special effects magic.  Case in point, in the first story of this volume, the conclusion to the “Over the Rainbow” storyline, the bad guy Koide is going to get away.  He gets in his car and races toward the front gate of the house.  Kohei’s new found friend Mone has painted what appears to be a bad image of the street beyond, ala the old Roadrunner cartoons where they painted the road on the side of a mountain.  Koide laughs at the pathetic painting, pushes his remote control and the painted gates slide open.  He jumps back in his car, triumphant, only to smash headlong into the real gate, also painted to look like the street beyond.  Koide reveals that he had de-activated the real gate and had friends hiding in the bushes to pull the fake plywood gates open.

What the?  Yeah, okay, maybe it’s possible that they took the time to do all of that, but how ridiculous can you get?  Unfortunately, that’s the kind of thing that seems to be the norm in this volume, even when it’s ludicrous to think they did all the extra work in the short amount of time they had available.

The one show I’m reminded of that does this kind of thing constantly is Detective Conan.  They always have needlessly complicated plot devices that make absolutely sure there’s no way you could ever figure out who done it.  It’s not cool guys, it’s annoying.

My other minor complaint is the lack of context for references to other manga.  In two separate places, Kohei refers to other manga characters and I suppose that both of them are popular enough that most manga fans would get the references, but in the first case, where he says “I’m not City Hunter”, they have an asterisk and their only explanation was “a 1980s manga”.  Um… that doesn’t explain anything guys, sorry.  Anyone not familiar with Ryo Saeba, either through the manga or the long-running anime series, wouldn’t get the reference.  Later on, Kohei makes a reference to Golgo 13, but it’s not explained at all.  There are no cultural references or anything else in the back of the book, so people not already in the know are going to be confused by both references.  All they’d have had to do is expand a bit, perhaps say “a 1980s detective manga” for City Hunter and “Golgo 13 is a dead-shot assassin, known for making impossible shots” and they’d have been golden.

Don’t get the idea that this is a bad manga, it’s not by any stretch and so long as you can make it past the ridiculousness of it all, the characters are genuinely likeable people.  Kohei has a gung-ho attitude and never lets anything get him down, even when things look bleak.  He’s always got a plan and for anyone who has even a passing interest in movie special effects, there’s plenty of trivia and tidbits that will keep you happy.  I recommend it, I just don’t suggest thinking about it too hard, it’ll make your brain hurt.

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