Tomo #4: The Argon Deception

Tomo #4: The Argon Deception (2008)
by Zondervan
160 Pages - Black and White [ Action / School Life ]

Writer - Jim Krueger
Artist - Ariel Padilla

Publisher summary: Hana, Tomo, and Jou prepare to return to Argon Falls to restore the realm and save the people from Ardath's evil purpose. The action moves from San Francisco to Argon Falls, where Hana learns that the enemy wants to steal the Spirit Sword from her to completely enslave the citizens. In preparing for battle, she will learn that, even after one's training is complete, there are still lessons to be learned.

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 20 July 2008

Nothing that occurs in the fourth volume of Tomo will change the opinion of readers either way. For those who want a foretaste of what it covers or merely discussion of the volume, Iíll provide a review in brief. As the series reaches the half-way mark, the overall nature of the series becomes much clearer.

This is really a fun series, but I have one major complaint: the comedy. Itís certainly distracting for an adult and even the people I know in the proper age bracket didnít find it all that amusing. Now that we know Tomo is a shapeshifter there are a variety of gags using that, none of which really work. The confession scene at school and the security snafu both fall flat, which is unfortunate given the space they consume.

It isnít all bad, naturally. There is an excellent use of the sweatdrop expression Ė good enough that the drop itself isnít necessary. Jou in an owl suit is utterly absurd, and the more dramatic scenes he wears it the better, in my opinion. Still, itís not a good sign when one of the funnier moments of the volume is the aftermath of a burping joke.

At this point the overall plot arc seems much clearer. Tomo has slower pacing and plotting than some of the other series, indicating that weíll be seeing a single conflict with multiple steps, not an epic. Arguably more happens in the real world plot arc than in the Argon Falls one, as it is spent mostly on the past. But with the number of plot elements on the table, things have to begin moving soon.

Plot in this volume ties up a few more loose ends, which leaves readers with only one thing: Urníado. Heís basically the last mystery of the series, and a completely unexplained one at that. By this point, I have to wonder: why do they even bother foreshadowing that Urníado is evil? Seriously, it isnít really foreshadowing anymore, he just seems to get a thrill off acting stereotypically malevolent.

Toward the end of the volume it is revealed that Tomo is slipping into the mind of an animal. Thatís a fairly slick retcon and I approve of it, but unfortunately it seems inconsistent with the story overall (he spends most of this volume storytelling or speaking of his identity crisis, after all). Weíll have to see how this develops.

I have been avoiding this issue because Iím sure it is far from the comic creatorsí minds, but this volume forces me to address the lolicon issue. Hana is an 8th grade Asian girl drawn in a child-like styleÖ you do not put her in a fox suit. Obviously this wonít register for most American readers, but this is about as major of an oversight as Tomo originally being a tanuki. They want to attract manga-readers, Iím sure, but not those readers.

One fortunate thing about this volume is that it sets up for good things to come. As I mentioned, much of the background is laid out and transition steps are out of the way, so the plot must begin rolling again. Though another battle with the stone statues seems imminent (and how many times have we seen them?) Urníado now has a crocodile ally that will provide a necessary secondary villain in the coming conflict. Hopefully the future will be bright for Tomo readers.

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