Monday, January 23, 2012

Mameshiba: On the Loose!

I am predisposed to like Mameshiba: On the Loose! after living in Korea and Japan. After a few years in countries that idealize cuteness, one of the top ways to appeal to me is by anthropomorphizing objects. Put two cute eyes and a mouth on anything and I will buy it, sad but true. So I lit up when James Turner's graphic novel arrived in my mailbox.

"Mameshiba" comes from the Japanese words for "bean" and "dog", and the characters are basically beans with dog ears. Still, Turner manages to infuse the shapes with a lot of personality. The book begins with a guide to the mameshiba which introduces the reader to their characteristics. For example, our hero Edamame is "the brave, determined leader of the pack". It helps that artist Jorge Monlongo constantly has the mameshiba in action: running, jumping, and riding unicycles. The illustrations are detailed and colorful, which will appeal to the young readers who are the target audience.

Also appealing to young readers are the short plotlines. There are several stories in the book, involving adventures into the sewer, as well as outer space. They are interspersed with one-page "shorts" by Gemma Correll which are bizarrely random and cute. Best of all, it will be easy for readers to mimic the drawings and create their own mameshiba comics. There are enough characters and potential stories that this short book can lead to many afternoons of fun.

This graphic novel was provided by the publisher in consideration for The Cybils. This did not influence my review.

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