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Spotlight on Papillon

February 13, 2011

Miwa Ueda’s Papillon is the anti-Peach Girl: Characters talk out their problems right away.  Unlike the previous series, where characters muddle through every love triangle and mixed-message cliche in the books, Papillon‘s characters blow through them.  I just finished the sixth book (which is packaged with the fifth) and. while I’m not crazy about the set-up of a grad school student in a position of authority and a high schooler, it’s a refreshing change of pace from my usual “realistic” manga reading: drama with actual, almost immediate resolution.

On top of that, if you read the extras in the back, you can get even more insight into the characters’ behaviors in semi-clinical terms.  Ueda points out, for example, where one character is projecting her insecurities onto another.  It’s a fascinating way of approaching the source material, because it gives depth to what sometimes feels like flat, unreadable, and/or cliched characters like “The Evil Twin” Hana.

It’s easy to lose sight in manga of the depth of the characters’ pain.  For example, it wasn’t until I watched the Nana movie that I realized exactly how broken Nana and Ren really were, and how they were the only ones who could really understand and therefore comfort one another.  Papillon is maybe too explanatory in its extras for adult readers, but then again, if you’re reading Papillon as an adult, you know you weren’t really looking for more than a dramafest to begin with.  Teens may take some decent life–and psyche–lessons away from this series.

To sum: Drama with drama-resolving dialogue.  It’s almost subversive.

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