Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Karakuri Odette Volume 5

By Julietta Suzuki. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Tokyopop.

It's time for the Manga Movable Feast! Which means I finally get to talk about Odette. I read this 3 weeks ago but have been patiently waiting for the time to arrive so that I can review it and tell you all what a fun series this is. (For those interested, my prior reviews are here: http://suitablefortreatment.blogspot.com/search/label/karakuri%20odette)

One thing I found highly interesting about this volume is the way that it handled Chris. He was introduced to us in the second story as one of a series of killer assassin robots, but after Odette and Dr. Yoshizawa subdued him, he hasn't really developed quite as well as the other cast members. We see that he has a certain jealousy at Asao's easy interaction with Odette, but it comes to the point where he's actually sidelined for the better part of two volumes because his battery life is lowering (which the author has implied - for both he and Odette - is due to stress). I'd often thought that his story would be very similar to Odette's, and that she was simply more advanced and a bit ahead of him.

As we see in this volume, however, Chris's problems are uniquely his own. We get a side-story dealing with one of the other Chris-Assassin-Bombs, who is sent to Italy to kill a professor. Unfortunately, he finds that the Professor is already dead, leaving him without a purpose. He then finds one as he not only bonds with the Professor's cute daughter, but discovers that her uncle, the professor's brother, is far more knowledgeable about the "accidental" death than is really allowable. The Chris shown here, his clone, may also lack outward emotions, but is shown to be caring and kind, even to the point where he sacrifices his own life for that of little Nicoletta's. (And by the way, the expression on his face right as he explodes is fantastic, a sort of "You lose" grin.)

Meanwhile, we run into another advanced robot, this one named Travis. The comparison between Travis and Odette is striking - both are advanced robots who have a bit more 'emotion', and have an extended family featuring their creator as well as another robot who is more deadpan and less advanced/emotive. Like attracts like, and it's no surprise that he and Odette bond fairly quickly. Of course, he is a bit ahead of Odette in one area - he's searching for a bride, and becomes convinced that Odette is the right one for him. Odette still hasn't quite worked out the whole love thing yet.

And then there's Odette's wonderful younger sister-older brother relationship with Asao, once again the highlight of the volume. For all that he seems to hate having to be her mentor, his advice remains fantastic. The first chapter sees Odette once again upset at her robot strength, in a call-back to Volume 1. She's not about to have the Professor alter it again, but she is depressed that she's never going to be seen as 'cute' like her fragile friend Yoko. Asao, despite being stressed out as Odette is clearly feeling bad but not opening up, notes that being cute is not NEARLY as important as being cool - which Odette certainly is.

All of this ties in to the final two chapters of this volume, where all of this comes together. Chris has returned to Odette and school, but is as undemonstrative as ever, and Odette finds it frustrating, especially given that she's had the occasion to meet Travis. She even bluntly notes that she wants Chris to be more like Travis. Of course, this also leads to one of Odette's faults - she can get so carried away with discovering her own emotions and feelings that she doesn't take in what other people are feeling. It's up to Asao to set her straight, and it's typical of him that it's with a verbal gut punch. He notes she didn't bother to think how CHRIS felt about things at all, only what she felt. Asao is especially irritated as Chris has been hit by a car, and Odette is off flirting with Travis (even though she's likely unaware it's flirting). "You playing around like that... is not something I care to see." And just like that, she's devastated. (She's also still crying out of one eye, a nice bit of continuity.)

I still don't see Odette and Asao as a romantic couple. But he's clearly become the most important man in her life right now - more important than Chris and Travis, and perhaps even more than the Professor. (The Professor gets a moment of utter awesome mid-volume here, which I apologize for not getting into. Odette's terror when she imagines his response is very telling.) The preview for the final volume shows Asao's graduation, and may be leading to a final crisis of sorts - though I also doubt Travis is going away anytime soon. But really, once again I find this review doesn't say enough because there's SO MUCH I want to talk about. Every volume of Odette leads me to want to babble on and on about its plot, its characters, its art, what it says about humanity, what it says about robots. Much as this is supposedly about a robot trying to be human, much of what Odette goes through strikes me as a teenager trying to grow up. It's a fantastic pickup for Tokyopop (so much so that I'll forgive them the tacky back cover motto), and I am very happy it got to be in a Manga Movable Feast.

1 comment:

  1. this volume and the sixth are raised to 12.99 so it must not have done well for them, yet it's still more compelling than some top-sellers