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Book Review < Back

Mars vol. 1

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Fuyumi Soryo
Publisher: TokyoPop


MARS tells the story of two high school students who couldn't be more different. Kira is an introverted artist who is invisible to her peers. Rei is a walking hottie with a taste for cavalier rebellion and racing Ducati motorcycles. Their worlds are miles apart. Of course, they fall in love.

Legions of teenage girls in Japan made MARS one of the best selling romance graphic novels of all time, and it's not hard to see that the characters are a major reason why. Despite their typical shy girl/Mr. Popular roles, Kira and Rei are intricate and fully realized teenagers, with tragic backgrounds and impulsive, unexpected behavior. They're given plenty of space to reveal themselves naturally; watching their personalities unfold is as enthralling as seeing what happens next in the relationship.

Despite the age of the main characters (not to mention target audience), MARS is anything but trivial and immature. Death and violence are major themes. And the drama is as compelling as high-octane gossip. Reality twists around each fleeting look, mountains move with every casual conversation, and the heavens part for even the smallest kiss. Exactly the level of fervor you would expect to surround two teenagers recklessly falling hard for each other.

Fuyumi Soryo's clean and graceful artwork has no problems matching the passion of her tale. Imaginative backgrounds filled with soft lights and stippled kaleidoscopes lend events a heady, dreamlike quality. At the same time, Soryo knows when to step back and let a drawing of her two young stars alone against a blank white page tell the story.

MARS is a pixie stix sugar rush. MARS makes typical American teen romance television seem as thrilling and consequential as amateur background noise. MARS reminds you that young love is as intense as ten thousand heart attacks.

-- Sam Humphries


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