Originally posted: Saturday, January 31, 2009 on Blogger

ShutterBox Volume One: Basic Information


Author:
Rikki Simmons & Tavisha
Edition: English
Publisher: Tokyopop (defunct)
Release Date: October 2003
Retail Price: $9.99 US

Basic Story

(taken from the back cover of volume one)

On the surface, Megan Amano seems like a typical Los Angeles girl, attending college and spending a good time of her afternoons in therapy. However, when Megan dreams, she travels to a place unlike any other– a supernatural and surreal college, one any recent high school graduate would die to attend. And usually they must…for Merridiah University is the afterlife’s premier educational institute. But for Megan a great exception has been made.

Megan has been accepted as a Shutterbox exchange student, where she will spend a year studying to become a living muse. However, all is not as it seems as secrets are unlocked and a great mystery is exposed– revealed, of all places, through the lens of a camera…

Story

First, let me say that this is not a Japanese manga, but an america comic that is highly influenced by manga, these are often referred to as American manga, and unless you look at the author’s name (which isn’t japanese), you probably would not be able to tell it wasn’t from Japan.

I bought Shutterbox on a whim a long time ago, and I was not expecting too much from it, but this first volume shows a very promising beginning. The back cover explains the basic premise well; Megan, the protagonist, goes to Merridiah when she dreams, and that’s when the story get interesting. Volume one puts forth a lot of questions, such as why does Megan goes to Merridiah and what is the purpose of a shutterbox exchange student. These mysteries really pull you in, and set the story up quite nicely. The only complaint I have is the story doesn’t really hook you in until the third or fourth chapter. But I suspect that the first two chapters will have future significance. Actually chapter one introduces the mysterious AJ, but you won’t understand who he is until later in the volume. Chapter two is rather interesting; Megan talks with her psychologist, this seems to have no plot relevance at the moment, but I have a suspicious feeling that it will become more important at a later time in the story.

Overall, Shutterbox’s story holds a lot of promise; volume one is quite interesting and I’m certain it will leave you wanting more, in particular, fans of fantasy will really enjoy it, as it promises to deliver an interesting tale filled with lore.

Translation

Since this is an original English manga, there was no translation. Everything is as the authors intended, and I’m happy to report, there is no slang (well at least nothing noticeable)! =D

Art

To begin, I will once again report that even through this is an English manga, it reproduces the art well. However, those who read a lot of manga will be able to notice a difference between American manga style and the original manga style (that is to say the mainstream style in Japan). The difference isn’t drastic, but it is there. For one, the art is a lot cleaner (less screentone and lines) and second, the eyes aren’t as large. But these changes take nothing away, if anything they make this manga a lot more distinct, and I actually quite adore its art.

The first volume’s cover is alright. I don’t really like it all that much, but it isn’t horrible either. I like that it is a dust cover, and Tokyopop’s title fits nicely. All in all, it isn’t the best cover out there, and it might turn some people away, which is a shame, but it’s still a very interesting cover.

I am also happy to report that Shutterbox features some nice chapter covers. The first one is a little plain, but most of them are nice. My favourites include chapters 3 and 4. I also like the unusual chapter titles :)

Extras

For a US manga, Shutterbox has quite a few extras, which is always nice.Extras included in this volume are as follows: an introduction by the author Tavisha, chapter covers, two pages of extras (another note from the author and a really interactive preview of the next volume), an afterword by one of the tyokopop editors, and finally an author bio on the back cover. The introduction is rather humorous, read it with a grain of salt and you’ll thoroughly enjoy it. The preview was very fun, as it was written as if it was a diary entry by Megan. The afterword and bios were an interesting read, but not quite as good as the other things. Basically, you’ll probably pass over these two unless you like to read everything. :)

Content

Language: nothing really; it’s very clean.

Fan Service: again there is nothing, this is one clean manga.

Nudity: none

Other: well, the main character’s sanity is questioned; and there is a suicide.

Final Thoughts

  • Interesting first volume in what appears to be a mystery fantasy manga.
  • Darker tone isn’t too dark and thus a wide age group can enjoy it.
  • Art is pretty and a good American attempt at the prevalent Japanese manga style.
  • Interesting characters all around and a likeable protagonist.
  • Nothing too objectionable; no swearing or nudity.
  • Overall, I quite enjoyed the first volume and look forward to future volumes.

–SW

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