Tomo #2: My Double-edged Life

Tomo #2: My Double-edged Life (2007)
by Zondervan
160 Pages - Black and White [ Action / School Life ]

Writer - Jim Krueger
Artist - Ariel Padilla

Publisher summary: When you're fighting two battles, you need a friend to watch your back. Hana must defend herself against bullies at school, then face otherworldly warriors at home! Fortunately, she learns she's not the only new ninja in town. Tomo, her grandfather's weird little pet, has some pretty amazing moves of his own. Together they form a powerful team. But can they keep the evil forces of Argon Falls from taking the Spirit Sword?

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 10 February 2008

On a basic level, Tomo is one of the more enjoyable of Zondervan’s graphic novels. This is as true for the second volume as the first as the story develops. It seems likely this series will have the plot structure that will feel most authentic to manga-purists.

The art is tested by the more extensive action in this volume and for the most part performs admirably. Melee sequences are well drawn, easy to follow, and generally interesting. We have yet to see a proper duel, which will be the necessary form of later battles, but I imagine the solid grasp of the fundamentals of action will serve the artists well. There are a number of sequences that use afterimages, but not so many that it seems unnatural. Unfortunately, expressions in combat still feel a bit off, which hinders an otherwise good two page spread. Tomo also participates directly this time, which isn’t desirable but not as bad as it could have been.

Many aspects of the plot were developed or explained, which is nice to see as a reader. But the further description of the Armor of God opens up new questions, most notably how they function as literal objects. They seem to be useable by anyone and sources of raw power, which doesn’t make sense for a theoretically spiritual weapon. On other fronts, we now have a prophecy and Hana is the chosen one… hmm, I think I may have heard a plot similar to that before. Lastly, the animals of Argon Falls are given an adequate explanation. This is good, but raises another question: with the revelation that Tomo is really an adult man, does anyone else find it unintentionally awkward that he sleeps in Hana’s futon?

Like the last volume, the normal school interactions are weaker than the rest of the story. The Bad Girls explain their Mean Plot through overbearing exposition. Also, one wonders how they could get something in Hana’s backpack, when that wouldn’t work on most untrained eighth graders. Likewise, their school seems a bit aggressive concerning their zero-tolerance policy (and that principle does not enjoy his job). All of this feels just a bit forced in order to create a mundane conflict.

Similarly, I was disappointed when the main battle sequence was ended by zoo keepers. Yes, it was a good idea since they can’t reveal themselves, but how can they miss the clothes, weapons, and bipedal body structure? Apparently “San Fran” is a weird enough place that this kind of thing slides. This also led to the zoo sequence, which was probably aiming to lighten the tension. I found the humor a bit juvenile, but that may be appropriate given the audience.

But as a whole, the plot of this volume was solid. There were no easy resolutions and plenty of loose threads remain by the end. This is exactly what one would expect in a series of graphic novels; I look forward to the completion of this story in the same way that I do many mainstream manga.

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