Thursday, June 08, 2017

Captive Hearts of Oz, Volume 2 - Angelo's Review

(This is a review of Volume 2 of the new manga series Captive Hearts of Oz by Ryo Maruya and Mamenosuke Fujimaru from Seven Seas Entertainment. You can read my review of Volume 1 here.)

I wasn't already set on buying the second volume of Captive Hearts of Oz before buying and reading the first one for myself. As I discussed in my review of Volume 1, I didn't have the highest expectations for this series initially, but I did end up enjoying the first volume well enough.

Because this is a direct continuation of the first volume of the series, it's somewhat difficult to review it as thoroughly as I reviewed Volume 1. This volume continues to follow the overall narrative structure of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, beginning with the introduction of the Cowardly Lion (who is given the name "Leon" here) and ending with our heroes arriving at the Emerald City, where, as in the original story, they each hope to have their wishes granted by the mysterious Wizard of Oz.

Although this is by no means a faithful adaptation of Wonderful Wizard, I am still surprised by how much of Baum's work is retained here. The Kalidahs, deadly poppies, and even the rescue of the Scarecrow all make the transition in some form. What's especially unique and intriguing about this adaptation is the recurring idea that, as Bert in Mary Poppins famously said, "All that's to happen's all happened before." We understand that the events of this story follow those of a preexisting one, one that is actually known to some of the characters here.

Just how Captive Hearts relates to the original story is still a mystery by the end of Volume 2, and I'm definitely interested in seeing how that is explained in the next (and presumably the final) volume of the series. We do get a little more insight in Volume 2 as to who's involved here and what everyone's motives are, but I feel like it would be a more engaging and, frankly, less confusing read if the storytelling were a little more straightforward. There's so much teasing plot points and jumping around between different settings and characters that it becomes a bit difficult to follow at times.

I said in my review of Volume 1 that I felt like the drawings weren't very clear, and that issue persists through Volume 2, especially in the more action-packed panels. It's occasionally difficult to tell who's speaking and even to distinguish some of the supporting characters from one another.

Those frustrations aside, however, I am still enjoying Captive Hearts of Oz. It's a fun take on Oz that is unique and contemporary but still retains much of the story and spirit of Baum's work (unlike, say, Emerald City). The real strength of this adaptation is the bond between Dorothy and her companions, and there are plenty of moments sprinkled throughout this volume that play to that strength. I'm not totally buying the romance blossoming between Dorothy and another character, but I personally don't mind it as much as others might. (There are definite shades of Twilight here, though, I must admit.)

All in all, I wanted a little more from this volume in terms of storytelling, but I'm intrigued enough by the setup for the future of the series that I will be picking up the next volume and reviewing it on the blog. If you're reading Captive Hearts of Oz, feel free to leave your thoughts about the series in the comments! You can purchase Volume 2 from Amazon here.

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