By Yuri Narushima
DMP, 210 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)
Yuri Narushima’s Planet Ladder tells the tale of young, amnesiac girl Kaguya Haruyama. Years ago she was found naked, covered in blood by the side of a highway. Since then she’s been living with her adopted family with no memory of her past. Little does Kaguya know, that her past is about to catch up with her.
Planet Ladder seems to be following the shojo formula of taking a school girl and dropping her into another world. Unfortunately, that’s about all you’ll get from this first volume of the series, because not a whole lot happens. Kaguya putters around her house, musing about how she knows nothing of her past but does her best to fit in with her adoptive family. Kaguya gets sent to another world and.. wanders around, musing about how she knows nothing of her past or where she is. That about sums it really. There are other characters, such as the villainous Seeu, but he doesn’t do a whole lot other than send Kaguya to another world. Seeu’s apparently opposed in his plans by a small group of people who seem to know him, but they don’t do much aside from talk about how they have to get to Kaguya before Seeu does. There are hints and portents that Kaguya may be some kind of reincarnation of another character, or possibly that other character herself, simply with no memory, but in the first volume it’s all very cryptic with hints at larger things and greater meanings but with nothing solid being said. Talk of other worlds, organic gold and tarot readings all try to lend the story an air of weight and importance, but it’s not very affective.
If the story was a bit vague and confusing then, sadly, Yuri Narushima’s artwork matches it perfectly. Unlike the story though, I’m having a hard time imagining the artwork becoming clearer as the series progresses. The character designs are generic and bland, and the characters often look stiff and awkward. There’s virtually no panel to panel flow, and at times it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s going on, particularly in a rather key action scene partway through the volume. To make matters worse everything is covered with toning, making the artwork not only bland and unmemorable, but incredibly dark and murky as well. On more than one occasion the pages are so dark from toning that only the white, untouched faces of the characters are visible.
Sadly, the first volume of Planet Ladder isn’t terribly impressive and the series doesn’t get off to a terribly strong start. The story’s confusing and muddled, though that may be cleared up in subsequent volumes obviously, but given the poor artwork and the unmemorable and uninteresting characters, it’s hard to see why you’d return to find out what’s going on.
Planet Ladder, Vol. 1 is available now from Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.