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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Manga Review: Return to Labyrinth

So I know that only three volumes of this manga have been released thus far (as of when I read it), so this isn't technically a completed manga review, but given my love for Labyrinth I felt the needed to give this a proper looking at. First thing that I want to get off my chest is this is NOT a manga. With a few small exceptions, Americans do comics, not manga. It just irks me that they need to call this American comic a manga to get it to sell. Anyway, moving on.

I enjoy sequels to my favorite things as long as they are treated like sequels. This seems to me that the writer obviously loved the story of labyrinth and wanted to write a continuation. He seemed to have a few interesting ideas however seemed to get stuck quite often and reverted to reminding the reader of how much it was still trying to connect to the original movie. Which would have been fine of that connection was based on researching the original story, locations and character backgrounds instead of relying on quotes and irrelevant cameos.

This book was written by Jake T. Forbes, illustrated by Chris Lie, with the first three volume covers done by Kouyu Shurei. I felt compelled to pick this book up at some point as I love Labyrinth and this cover art actually does David Bowie a bit of justice ( in my sick Jareth loving little fan girl heart anyway). Now, I was highly disappointed to find that the cover art is just that. The art within the rest of the book looks nothing like this. I'm not sure how you get from
This to this

What is sad is this is one of the nicest shots of Jareth in the whole story and he's probably the best drawn character in the book. The rest of them look like they were done with the help of one of those scholastic "How to Draw Manga" books, you know the kind drawn by people who have never in their lives seen a manga. Had the art been done by the same person who did the cover, I wouldn't have felt so compelled to stab out my eyes. Thankfully they grew back in time for me to write this review.  They also went on to ruin one of the best characters from the movie! What did they do to the worm?!

(credits for this image go to
I have to agree with everything I have seen about this. The worm turned into a soul eating zombie! Seriously. One of the nicest goblin/muppet characters gets turned into this. I understand that he may have gotten a little older, but this is ridiculous. Anyway, getting beyond my hate for sub-par "manga" art, lets move on.


Toby(Sarah's baby brother) - Toby is a rather unlikeable character. He has very little personality, is incredibly selfish, and has very little in the way of redemption. If you were like me you didn't like him in the movie either, but then again I have very little patience for babies, especially in movies. That being said whiny baby Toby is approximately 100 trillion times better than angsty teen Toby.

Sarah - She has turned into the adult every kid is scared they will grow up to be. She has forgotten anything and everything fun and become rather bland and uninspiring. I realize this is part of the story, but it still doesn't help me to like her or feel bad for her. Additionally her character desgn has degraded in to your basic sidekick quality nerd girl. A far cry from the Sarah every girl in the 80's aspired to be.

Jareth - Poor poor Jareth is a pathetic excuse for the witty and sly goblin king he once was. The author tries to portray him as just as cunning as he was before, but failed to capture the feeling of what made him Jareth. Now he's just a generic "sexy" bad guy type character with all the personality of a bowl of pudding who's become he's a whining, sniveling little emo boy because Sarah didn't want to stay in his incredibly awesome castle.

Mizumi -  She is one of the more interesting characters. I thought her addition into the story was one of the few things that actually make this feel like a sequel and not just a poorly written rehash of the first story.

Hana - The usual sidekick. Not much to say about her. She is not exactly likable but not hate-able either. She is just kind of there.In spite of having a stock character personality, she's at least sort of a new creation.

There are others, but these are your main annoyances characters.

As the storyline goes, it was a relatively unique concept that could have been very interesting. Toby  has grown up and has been sucked into the same Labyrinth his sister went through many years before. Jareth tricks Toby into tthe labyrinth because he wants him to become his successor as Goblin King. Toby has only mild weak whiny objections before agreeing. He then prepares to become the gobline King by spending a good deal of time within the Goblin City learning of it's history and the way of Goblin culture. Which honestly could have been made really interesting as there's a wealth of Goblin society underpinnings that were never discussed in the original movie. The author could have really ran with things here, but instead choose to stick with the bland mediocrity that characterizes the "manga". 

I honestly wish this could have been if not a good book a least enjoyable one if more time was on the present  than constantly and needlessly rehashing what  happened 18 years ago. Surely in a society that's exisited for at least the last 1300 years, there'd be at least a few other things to discuss. Instead we get random quotes from the first movie that have no real bearing on anything, and what amount to walk on cameos of characters that were annoying and unimportant the first time. That almost completely lack of any original contents just reminds you that this is just some fan-boys' poorly thought out fan fiction.

Overall this is a poor excuse for $10 a book. The art inside is pathetic, the storyline might be interesting but relies too heavily on retelling the original story rather than expanding on it like it was supposed to.The whole thing has a high school notebook doodle feeling to it. If you have any love for this movie don't break your childhood memories with this poor excuse for writing.


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