If you shopped at Target anytime last year, you would have seen this square, fuzzy brown figure with black beady eyes and a mouth in a perpetual roar. He is Domo. He started out as the mascot for the NHK, the Japanese Public Television station, but gained a following over the internet. He has had his own TV show and toys, and now Tokyopop has given him is own comic.
Domo: The Manga
Stories by: Clint Bickham, Art by Rem, Sonia Leong, Lindsay Cibos & Jared Hodges
Age Rating: All Ages
Tokyopop, September 2009, 978-1-4278-1597-2
89 pgs., $9.99
Domo lives in the woods with his animal friends. He shares a home with Mr. Usagi, a gray rabbit. Domo has a very vivid imagination, which we see him using a lot throughout these stories, much to the detriment of his friends. Whether it’s pretending to be a character on TV, a superhero, or playing a video game, Domo tends to lose control and wreck havoc on not just his home but his friends and their homes as well. There’s nothing malicious about Domo’s destruction, he just doesn’t realize what he’s done until it’s too late.
The stories in this title are short and simple, and sometime just plain cute. I really enjoyed "Hero For a Day," where Domo pretends to be a superhero. You can see his simple logic as he goes around doing his "good deeds," and his friends reaction to them. I really felt for Domo at the end. "The Ultimate Beetle" was a nice story too, as Domo trains his pet beetle to be wrestler, but the beetle has other things in mind.
The art in this title really helps to sell the stories. The character designs are simple, and are rendered in full color, making this title seem more like a comic book than a manga. The art is carried mostly by Tokyopop alumni Rem (Vampire Kisses) and Lindsay Cibos & Jared Hodges (Peach Fuzz). The way they produce their art may be different, but their rendering ends up being very similar, making for a seemless reading. There isn’t a lot of taking in this title, as Domo doesn’t say anything but "Domo." But even in the frames where there is talking, the art can just as easily tell the story without words, making this a title that 4-5-year-olds can enjoy just as much as 8-9-year-olds.
Just to see if an older child would enjoy this, I had my 10-year-old daughter read it, and asked her what she thought. She liked the book a lot. She thought the stories and characters were funny. Her favorite character was Domo, and her favorite story was "Living in the Now," where Domo and his friends get cell phones. There wasn’t anything she really didn’t like, though she didn’t care too much for the character Hungry Bear. She liked the art, both the "computer-made and hand drawn." She thinks other kids her age would enjoy it because "1) It’s not bloody, 2) It has funny stories, and 3) It’s Domo!" She highly recommends this title.
Domo: The Manga turned out to be a fun and entertaining title. It would do well in an elementary school library or the young readers section. There’s nothing objectionable in the stories, though, if you have a child that is as easily impressionable as Domo, you might want to supervise him or her after reading. I would recommend this title as well.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Tokyopop.