Earlier in the week I looked at yaoi parody of the RPG genre (Fujiyama’s Tale of the Waning Moon) and continue this theme with an examination of Yun Kouga’s Gestalt volumes 2 and 3.
I’m going to quote liberally from my review of volume 1, both to remind myself what originally defined Gestalt‘s epic quest but also because volumes 2 and 3 don’t do a particularly good job of reminding the reader why these folks got started on their journey in the first place:
Gestalt’s plot is set into motion when a priest, Father Olivier, abandons his holy order to search out the mysterious island “G.” The island G is actually the refuge of a former god who waged war against the ultimate God, Salsaroa, the one who ruled over the other original seven gods. “G” (or “Gestalt”) lost his war against Salsaroa, but like Father Olivier, we are left to wonder why he rebelled and if rebellion against the ultimate God makes him “evil.” Likewise, if “G” (the island, named after the fallen god) is such an evil place why is Father Olivier — a good, compassionate man — seeking such a place out? Of course, all good pilgrims must be tested and since this is a fighting comic, emissaries are deployed to stop Olivier to slow him down by any means necessary (but not stop him since then there would be no comic).
On his dangerous quest Father Olivier picks up an important and truly flamboyant companion — Ouri is first introduced as a mute and powerless slave, but in short order it is revealed she is much more than she appears to be. After Father Olivier uses his limited powers to free Ouri and her voice, she openly flaunts her voluptuous body and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of power. It is hinted that Ouri has significant connections to the original 8 gods — perhaps even being one herself? — and the mystery of why she deigns to accompany and protect the rather innocent and comparatively weak Father Olivier deepens.
Volume 2 strays from these original concerns by introducing an almost inexhaustible supply of random obstacles that the main travelers — Father Olivier, his “discipline” Ouri, an elf originally sent to stop them but then turned to their side, and finally, a “holy warrior,” who is quite useful for when the group somehow gets sucked into fighting tournaments (just in case you forgot this was an RPG-ish comic and whatnot). The problem is that volume 2 lacks narrative coherence, which volume 3 rectifies to a great degree.
Once the story returns to Father Olivier and Ouri’s plot (and their character
development), it becomes much easier to follow the story because there is an emotional core to the title once again. Father Olivier is one interesting fellow as he has another personality — Ouri calls him “Black Olivier” — who appears to grow stronger the further Olivier travels away from his order and Father Messiah, who took Oliver in as a child and was responsible for keeping Olivier’s dark half in check. When “Black Olivier” is unleashed he threatens to shake Ouri’s faith in her “master,” not because she loses faith in Olivier himself but because she has lost conviction in herself.
Kouga, like Fujiyama, can’t help but have a bit of fun with the RPG concept, but because she is also trying to play it “straight,” so to speak, her playfulness is contained in short interludes called “Gestalt Theater.” In these chapters, Kouga takes a break from the primary quest of the book, but unfortunately, while amusing, these episodes also undercut any momentum that plot might be gaining in the main story. In spite of my difficulty following the plot in volume 2, Kouga’s delicately detailed, almost wispy art is surprisingly powerful in volume 3, as Ouri’s pain and Olivier’s sacrifice are rendered to great effect. I’ll return to Gestalt for Ouri and Olivier’s probable reconciliation in volume 4 and in the hopes that their story will give much needed purpose to the title’s central quest.
Review copies provided by Viz.
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