Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne

Storyteller:: Arina Tanemura
Publisher: CMX
Year of Publication: 1998 (In Japan)
Page Count: 172

What I Learned about Writing/ Storytelling:

1. This story uses a lot of familiar magical girl superhero tropes (at least, they would be familiar if you’ve read Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura) so one thing the author does to maintain interest in the first chapter is to skip the origin stuff.  As the story begins, our heroine has been battling bad guys for a month.  Exposition is filled in when she casually threatens to quit her job and her pixy-ish angel sidekick reminds her why she has to save the world:

kamikaze kaito jeanne origin story discusison

Now you could argue that the author is having a character say to another character what they both already know, and that’s “bad”, but the counter argument would be that it fills the reader in pretty quickly upfront and keeps the plot moving along, which makes it “good”.

2.  So, instead of having an origin and exposition issue we get a typical adventure in the first chapter with a twist in the end, a boy rival shows up! Is he good, or is he evil?  If you think about structure… many stories begin with a status quo, then an “inciting incident” turns things upside down in the protagonist’s life.  Well, here, instead of the inciting incident being “girl gets powers” its “girl with powers meets mysterious boy”.  This is probably a good way to write for a genre savvy audience.

3.  I liked how the girl was fairly cocky and not very angsty.  On this page she climbs a Ferris wheel car without concern or angst about the height:

kamikaze kaito jeanne- jeanne jumps off ferris wheel
It’s kind of a nice change of pace from some overly melodramatic protagonists.

4. There’s definitely some genre mash-up going on.  She’s a phantom thief, but she only steals paintings possessed with demons, which means she’s basically a superhero. But she taunts the police by announcing which painting she’s going to steal next, which is part of Lupin-esque thief genre. She also has a friend who is the daughter of a police detective and wants to catch her (not knowing her secret identity). She taunts the friend and the police like Lupin:
kamikaze kaito jeanne- thief announces crime
I guess this demonstrates a way you can try to mix some tropes to make them work in a different genre. (Superhero story with thief elements).

What I Learned About Art/ Storytelling:

Well, it’s shoujo, so the art tries to convey an emotion at times rather than give a literal depiction.  You can see in the image above the letters aren’t anywhere in particular, but it shifts to a solid establishing shot of the detective girl with a bunch of police, waiting for the thief to show up. So, it does abstract art but tones that down when it’s important to show the characters in physical space 

Recommendation: B

This definitely isn’t going to be in the running as one of my favorite comics, though it probably reads better if you’re a tween girl.  I can’t really find much to pick at or complain about, however, so I’m giving it a B.  It’s solidly done.

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