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Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: Anne Freaks, Volume 2

by  in Comic News Comment
Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: Anne Freaks, Volume 2

Anne Freaks, Volume 2
Written and Illustrated by Yua Kotegawa
ADV Manga; $9.99

Well, that was not at all what I expected.

Anne Freaks is the first manga that I’ve ever liked enough to buy a second volume (Akira doesn’t count because I borrowed the entire thing from a friend), so I don’t know a lot about Japanese serial storytelling. I guess I kind of figured that I’d get more of what I liked about Volume 1, but that wasn’t the case. I very much enjoyed Volume 2, but it surprised me by being a very different kind of story from the first installment. I don’t know if that’s typical of manga series or not (I suspect that – like most things – it varies from series to series), but it’s certainly welcome and exciting.

Volume 1 was so psychological. It had beautiful Anna recruiting two, tragic boys named Yuri and Mitsuba to help her take down her father and a terrorist organization. Did she orchestrate the events that led to their recruitment or is she just taking advantage of a couple of fortuitous incidents? Yuri is falling in love with her; maybe Mitsuba is too. Is that also part of her plan? Or does she actually have feelings that she’s doing a very good job of hiding? Kotegawa sucked me in with these questions and I was looking forward to spending more time with these characters and hopefully getting some answers. I’m going to have to keep waiting though.

Kotegawa doesn’t ignore the main trio, but rather than continuing to make them the primary focus, he introduces a bunch of new characters. Anna and the boys’ actions in Volume 1 have drawn the attention of the authorities, specifically the police and a government agency called the National Public Safety Commission. Sergeant Shono (who unfortunately looks very similar to Anna and created some confusion for me) is a talented cop who works for the police’s Juvenile Division. Because of her expertise in cases involving kids, she’s enlisted by another woman named Inspector Nishikama to help the NPSC in their investigation of the Kukusei Group, the terrorist organization that Anna’s going after.

Meanwhile, the Kukusei Group is launching its own counterstrike against Anna using one of its members: a young man named Moe who has a previous relationship with Anna and her dad. Complicating things further is the intervention of a man named Reverend Kunita who at first seems to stumble into the kids’ lives by accident, but soon reveals plans of his own.

The four adults surround the kids’ story and nearly overwhelm it. There’s always been a sense in which Yuri and Mitsuba are pawns, but now it’s no longer certain that Anna’s the only one moving them around the board. As the plot gets more complicated, the prominence of the three main characters is threatened. Which isn’t such a bad thing where the boys are concerned, because – after all – they’ve never really been their own masters. But it’s hard to watch Anna shoved aside. She was such a dangerous, charismatic part of the first volume; she spends most of this one sitting and brooding. Her response to the intrusion of the adults appears to be entirely passive. Until…

I don’t want to spoil any details, but there’s a point towards the end of the book where it becomes clear that Anna’s sitting hasn’t been as passive as maybe we’ve thought. That she is still in control. That maybe everything that’s happened up to that point was exactly as she planned it. And the way Kotegawa portrays it is a beautiful and chilling as Anna herself.

Bring on Volume 3.

Four out of five creepy ghost-moms.

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