Saturday, August 7, 2021

REVIEW: Beautiful People (manga anthology) by Mitsukazu Mihara, translated by Haruko Furukawa

Beautiful People is a manga anthology that ranges from fantasy to contemporary drama to apocalyptic fiction. It was originally published by Tokyopop and is now out of print. I bought my copy used.


Like many anthologies, this had a mixture of so-so, not so great, and good stories. Overall, I'd say the collection was so-so. "Blue Sky" was very good, "Princess White Snow" was decent but a bit off-putting, and "The Lady Stalker" was creepy. The rest of the stories weren't necessarily terrible but didn't really work for me.

Something about Mihara's artwork occasionally reminded me of Paradise Kiss - probably the elaborate clothes. I wasn't really a fan, but again, it wasn't necessarily terrible.

Like I do for most short anthologies, I'll go over the stories one by one.

"Princess White Snow"

Yasu moved to the city in the hope of making it big as a musician, but things haven't gone all that well and he's now behind on his bills. After another failed attempt at finding a job, he stumbles across a girl passed out among some garbage. He initially thinks she's just overheated, but she tells him some weird story about being a Snow Girl whose mother melted after being in the heat too much.

This was strange and tragic. The best moments were probably the scene in the bathtub, which was visually a little more horrific than I expected, and Yasu's actions at the very end.

"World's End"

The story of what appears to be the last two people still alive in the world after some kind of bio-weapon was unleashed. Tabasa's a spoiled rich lesbian, and Tokage is a gay guy who can barely stand to be around her.

I feel like this story was mostly an excuse for Tabasa to strut around in various uselessly fabulous outfits while whining like a toddler. I really don't understand what the point was supposed to be, or why it almost devolved to the point of Tokage raping Tabasa. I get that being completely alone would be terrible, but these two were the most awful post-apocalyptic companions ever, and not because they weren't sexually attracted to each other.

"Electric Angel"

Tenshi has to deal with an alcoholic father at home and bullies at school. His only comfort is a girl he met online who goes by the name "Angel Cat." Angel Cat is a character from Tenshi's favorite picture book, The Angel Cat and the Electric Cat, which his mother used to read to him before she passed away. As things at home and at school get worse, Tenshi finds himself wanting to run away with Angel Cat, but that may not be the escape he's hoping for.

This was really contrived, and I wish the author had devoted just a page or two more to showing how things turned out for Tenshi. As it was, the happy ending wasn't really believable.

"The Lady Stalker"

Hiromi knows that she's viewed as a workplace spinster by her colleagues, and it irks her when young and cute Michiru keeps asking for advice about how to deal with a stalker. As Michiru describes the things the stalker's been doing, Hiromi starts to suspect that she, too, has a stalker.

This was a dark psychological thriller. I wish it had played out a bit differently - I disliked the way Hiromi was depicted. The final revelation was nicely creepy, though.

"beautiful people"

Mimi goes back to her home town after spending a while living in Tokyo. After a few plastic surgeries, she looks nothing like her old self. She'd hoped that becoming beautiful would make life easier, but it seems like things have just gotten hard in different ways. Then she meets a girl who seems to have a bunch of scars and injuries and starts reconsidering her way of looking at life.

This one was a bit much. It was visually intriguing but didn't really work for me. Especially the bit at the end - I sort of understood the point it was trying to make, but "more surgeries" didn't seem like the best solution.

"Blue Sky"

A vampire comes across a young girl who, I guess, was abandoned because she was a mixed-blood Japanese girl with red hair and blue eyes. As the years pass, he comes to care for her.

Of all of the stories, this one was my favorite. The artwork fit the story well, and the last few scenes were lovely.

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