Friday, November 21, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #323: VS Aliens by Yu Suzuki

Reviewing a story with a big twist at the end is a tricky thing -- how well the trick works is vital to that story, but discussing the twist is usually a bad idea. (Sometimes, even mentioning that a story has a twist is a bad idea, which leaves the reviewer winking and vamping.) Some stories, though, are so simple and straightforward before their big twist that there's little else to discuss -- and that brings its own set of issues.

Yu Suzuki's standalone manga volume VS Aliens falls into that last category, I'm afraid, so I might not have much to say about it. It's another book from the very varied program at Gen -- I've come to start grabbing their books when I see them, which you can take as a blanket recommendation -- after Good-bye Geist and Alive and Sorako. VS Aliens is the most conventional of the Gen books that I've seen so far, the story of three high school students, their interrelationships, and the invasion of Earth by big-headed aliens.

You see, there's this boy, Kitaro. And, on the very first page, a mousy brunette (glasses and all; full cliche wallflower schoolgirl) named Aya tries to enlist his help in stopping an alien invasion in their school that only she can see. The main alien -- depicted as generic X-Files grays -- is their fellow classmate Sana, blonde and popular and all of the things Aya is not. Kitaro agrees to help Aya in tracking Sana, and even confronts the blonde girl.

VS Aliens meanders on from there -- it's not a very plotty book, and reads very quickly -- as Aya and Kitaro soon get involved in trying to save Sana from the other aliens. And then there's that twist at the end, which I have to admit I saw coming from quite some distance away.

This feels like an early work from a young creator: shortish, straightforward, taking some standard elements and ringing some specific changes on them. It's solid and entertaining, but doesn't aim much beyond that: it's a decent story about three kids in school. On the other hand, it is a unified story told over a hundred and fifty pages of comics, which is takes a lot of effort and thought -- so I don't want to damn it with faint praise. VS Aliens is a perfectly cromulent book.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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