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Remember

Remember

© Benjamin / Xiao Pan

The Bottom Line

One of the first books in Tokyopop’s new line of full-color graphic novels, Remember is an unusual manhua about young artists struggling in the Chinese comic-book industry.

Creator Benjamin has impressive artistic chops, and the fully-painted book is arresting to look at. It's less interesting to read. The heavily-textured art makes the story hard to follow, and the characters never become very appealing.

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Pros

  • Attractive full-color art
  • A rare glimpse into the world of Chinese manhua

Cons

  • Unengaging characters
  • Slight plot
  • Art that distracts from, rather than enhances, the story

Description

  • Original Title: Remember (France)
  • Author & Artist: Benjamin
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1427815668
  • Cover Price: $14.99 US / $18.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: Not rated, but suitable for T – Teens Age 13+ for some violence, strong language
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: February 2010
    France Publication Date: January 2004
  • Book Description: 144 pages, color illustrations
  • More Manga by Benjamin:

Guide Review - Remember

With Korean manhwa now being translated into English in significant bulk and variety, Chinese manhua has become the new frontier in Asian comics. Remember, lovingly published by Tokyopop in glossy full color, is a graphic novella by one of the major up-and-coming Chinese comic-book artists. If only it were more interesting.

The slight story follows the relationship between two sexy young manhua artists, one male, one female. The unnamed young man treats his relentlessly sunny girlfriend, Yu Xin, with contempt, while both of them struggle in the industry. Yu Xin, a former comics prodigy, is drifting away from art and trying to start a more respectable career, while her boyfriend drives editors away with his surly attitude and refusal to conform to the aesthetic and decency standards of Chinese comics.

Remember is at its best when it offers sardonic glimpses into the manhua industry. In one scene, an editor demands that the hero remove a kiss from his comic, ranting, "Some uninformed reader could imitate that!", and delivers a lecture on how to succeed in manhua: "Copy, copy, copy manga! If some Japanese guy’s style sells well, copy it!"

Unfortunately, the romance between the two leads feels formless, and their personalities never coalesce. The guy yells and complains, the girl tries to remain upbeat in the face of his verbal abuse, and the tension periodically erupts into a confrontation or a big dramatic gesture that advances the relationship not a whit. The story ends on the biggest gesture of all, a final act of comic-book defiance. It provides an appropriately splashy climax to the story, but the story leading up to it hasn't been fleshed out enough to give it the emotional impact it ought to have.

The art is all photorealistic sexy poses and meticulously rendered pretty faces, with a finish of shiny, blurred airbrush color. It's beautiful, but in a slick, magazine-photo way. Remember feels like a shell of a story, with well-dressed models acting out the problems of starving artists. There could be a good graphic novel here, but the artist needs to crack that shiny surface.

Shaenon Garrity is a manga editor, writer and comics creator. She is the author of CLAMP in America, and the creator of Narbonic.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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