Finding comics with female protagonists isn’t too difficult in comics today. But finding one that won’t give girls a complex about their chests, or make them the "damsel in distress" complicates things. Girls deserve a good role model just as much as boys, and Cinebook has done just that with their series, Yoko Tsuno, an electronics engineer that is smart, pretty and capable of taking care of herself.
Yoko and her friends, Pol and Vic, are visiting her cousin in Boreno, where Yoko grew up. While she is visiting some temple ruins, a mysterious ship materializes, and a young girl steps out. She claims to be from the future with a mission to save the earth and mankind. Yoko decides to help the girl, Monya, which leads to Yoko herself going back in time to 1943, to discover the truth of the mystery at Dragon Mountain.
By Roger Leloup
Age Rating: 8+
Yoko Tsuno first appealed to me as both a woman and a mother. With two daughters, I’d really like them to read stories with female protagonists that don’t need to rely either on super/magical powers or boyfriends to get them out of trouble. It’s a very limited category I found. Yoko doesn’t have any special powers other than her brain, which she uses quite extensively without seeming nerdy. And she does have two male friends that assist her, but there’s no romance going on, and in this book, they were only seen as support. Yoko has most of the action, and she takes care of herself just fine.
The story, a girl coming from the future to change the past and save the future is a pretty standard sci-fi plot. The twist is Yoko having to go back even further in time to the very beginning to get the answers needed in her present to save Monya’s present. It sounds confusing, but makes sense in the context of the story. I do have some problems with the plot in general, though these are more from a logical adult mind’s point of view. The "monster" of the story seems more of a McGuffin than anything else. Little details are dropped about it, but then never go anywhere, making one wonder why they were mentioned in the first place.
What makes the fantastic elements work is how realistic everything else is. The world is about the same as today, minus a few electronic devices. Written in the early 80′s, cell phones, laptops, or even computers are not part of the everyday. It make the story seem dated, but I think it makes the characters accomplishments more meaningful. The characters are also realistic. Their reactions throughout the story, from incredulous over time travel to Yoko’s shock at the end over her involvement in her own history rang true.
The art adds to the realism. It is drawn in a realistic manner. The style reminds me of the old Prince Valiant Sunday Comic strips. There’s nothing cartoonish about it, but it isn’t hyper realistic either. It strikes a right balance between what kids like and adults expect.
There is some violence, but nothing extreme. A gun is branished, hitting Monya in the arm, but there is only some red staining n her clothing. When Yoko goes back in time to WWII, her uncle pulls a sword, and there are guns as well as a tank, but again, no one is hurt. There are some deaths as well. Stanford who is sent back to the future is presumed dead, and professor ?? is killed by the creature as it destroyed the complex on Dragon Mountain at the end. I would rate the violence equivolent to the old TV show Johnny Quest or an Indiana Jones movie.
Yoko Tsuno proved to be a satisfying read, and lived up to my expectations. Yoko is a good role model for girls looking for more than the usual sterotype. She’s a good action lead without being too tomboyish or nerdy. This is a title everyone can enjoy.
This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher. Cover art © 2008 by Cinebook