Manga Village

PET (which stands for polyethylene terephythalate, a type of plastic) was a simple plastic bottle until nine-year-old Noboru Yamada recycled him.  Now PET’s a SUPER ROBOT programmed to protect Noboru at all costs!  Whenever Noboru’s in trouble, PET transforms, plugs in, and jets to the rescue!  Unfortunately, PET’s “help” usually does more harm than good, proving time and again that just because you call yourself “super” doesn’t mean you have a clue.

By Kenji Sonishi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Comedy
Price: $7.99

Another entry into the “manga for young kids” category, Leave it to PET hits all the right places on a kid’s funny bone. The short, simple stories and cartoonish art will pull them in, but don’t expect any meaningful environmental messages just because there’s a recycling theme.

Leave It to PET is about a boy named Noboru and his recycled robot “friend” called PET.  When Noboru took the time to recycle a drink bottle he found, that bottle came back to repay Noboru’s thoughtfulness by doing good deeds for him.  This volume is a shining example of the phrase “No good deed goes unpunished”.  Noboru’s single act of thoughtfulness has plagued him with PET, a robot who thinks he’s helpful, when he’s really just a nuiscence.

Even though PET claims to help Noboru, he does everything but.  When he first appears, he’s too wrapped up in his own introduction to save Noboru from some bullies.  Fixing a slipped bicycle chain ends with a call for a sanitation truck.  Charging a cellphone ends up frying it to a crisp.  But PET isn’t the only recycled robot to cause Noboru misery.  PET has a sister, Alu, from a can Norobu recycled.  P-2, is a new, lighter, version of PET, and Tiny Tin, a steel coffee can.  All of them are as useless as PET.  The only useful one is Plas, a recycled plastic cube that cleans up after PET sometimes.  Of course, it’s PET and his friends’ antics and Noboru’s frustation that makes this title so funny.

There’s no real plot to this title.  The stories are short, only a couple of pages long, which is just long enough for Noboru to have a problem and PET completely mess it up.  The art is very simple and cartoonish, in a comic strip sort of way.  The most detail goes into the different modes PET can change into, such as an RC car or the Ultimate Crusher.

Parents can feel safe giving this title to their children.  There’s only what some might call mild violence in the form of some bullying of Noboru, and some kids getting kicked into the distance by PET.  It’s more of a slapstick sort of violence.  I mean, even Noboru never kicks PET, even after all he puts him through.  Though, if you were looking for some information of recycling, you won’t find it here.  The recycling is just a plot device for PET and his friends to exist.  Other than some projects at the end of the book using old soda bottles, you won’t find any other enviromental messages.

So, I don’t have a problem recommending this title to kids.  Adults might not be as forgiving.  I found much of the humor flat, making me roll my eyes more than laugh about it.  But at the same time, I know my kids would love this title and laugh all the way through it.  It’s a kid thing.

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