Manga Review – Wild Act

Wild Act Volume 1

Wild Act
TAKADA Rie
Shoujo – Romance, comedy, smut, adventure
10 Volumes (complete)
Tokyopop
Out of print

Summary:

Years ago, the biggest Japanese star died in a tragic plane crash. Yuniko adores his movies so much that she steals in order to get her hands on his scattered belongings. One night, a heist for a statue goes wrong, and Yuniko is busted by a rising superstar named Ryu. However, he lets her go and asks her to try to steal the statue from him again!

Review:

It’s not quite a phantom thief story a la Cat’s Eye or Lupin III, a journey to be a star like Skip Beat, or about dealing with a mixed up family like Marmalade Boy, but Wild Act has an admirably unique twist on the cat burglar and “girl meets famous boy” archetypes.

I like when I read a manga and it doesn’t feel like a rip off of another manga. Even now, I have a hard time thinking of a manga that is similar. That’s good. I want to read a manga with its own plot and not be a clone. Ten volumes is a good length for this series, giving plenty of time to bond with the characters while not feeling like things move too fast or slow. The ending goes a bit fast, however, but it’s not too much of a strike against the story. Twists in the story actually feel like plot twists that were prepared by the author in advance and not stall tactics to extend the story.

As Yuniko is a thief, readers are supposed to treat this as more of a fantasy than reality. Sure, everyone would love to have her skills (and most of her “victims” are criminals themselves), but she is still a criminal. Yuniko has two squirrels that are anthropomorphized to help in her escapades. Technology is a bit more advanced than what would have been around in the 90s. Yuniko and her allies do break A LOT of items and laws, as expected in a story about a thief. Violence is mostly limited to Yuniko defending herself, and I’m sure most readers wish for Yuniko’s martial art skills. The series is rated OT, and volume 10 takes its rating to the full extent. As for the other volumes, the rating is mostly for sexual situations and innuendo. While many heroines treat sex as something just to make her boyfriend happy, Yuniko wants to do it because she wants to. 

Yuniko is definitely a proactive heroine. She knows what she wants and does something about it. Not just with Akira’s belongings, either; she has no problem jumping in and punching out any guy whom she feels deserves it. Yuniko has a fake “damsel in distress” moment in the beginning, and several people comment on her physical prowess. She does have an active imagination and her moments of “duhhhh”, but her flaws actually make her human. She’s a 15-year-old girl after all.

Ryu can change from a mature man to a little boy and back again, just like real 17 year olds. He is also a virgin and wholeheartedly devoted to Yuniko from the start, which is uncommon in a male lead, let alone a famous actor. Ironically, he’s more of the idealist in the relationship rather than Yuniko. Not too many male leads are. It’s nice to have a hero who is a romanticist rather than a sleazy playboy.

Most of the secondary cast members are nothing special. They exist mostly to fill a role and do not develop. Yuniko is the only one who gets suitors. It’s very rare for a shoujo series to go 10 volumes without a real female romantic rival, especially with Ryu being an actor. (He’s not even in disguise most of the time, so it’s super rare.) I have to give credit for making the beta (secondary) couple be…a pair of squirrels!?

The art actually reminds me of YOSHIHARA Yuki’s. Like her stories, Wild Act has a lighthearted sex comedy feel with the heroine often going super-deformed in heated moments. The guys all look alike. Most of them are supposed to look like the actor Akira, but there’s a difference between similar and a copy. With the choices for backgrounds and screentones, I sometimes thought a different guy was speaking because the colors would invert the guy’s hair color. Some scenes feel like they could have used a few more panels for the action to flow smoothly.

Translation:

No honorifics are used. I was actually surprised the English kept pretty much tried to keep things like Maki using Yuniko and Ryu’s surnames instead of turning it all to personal names considering a lot of the dialogue is Americanized. Early volumes have some horrible redraws and retouching. Some English text is directly on top of the Japanese, making it extremely hard to read. In another case, the text is printed twice, one under the other, like a shadow. Besides the usual Tokyopop swapped speech bubbles and typos, some information is skipped. For example, the speech bubble is supposed to be a blush sound effect (“kaaa”) but it includes text that was outside the speech bubble. Sound effects are untouched and mostly untranslated, including kanji. Yuniko’s fighting style is named differently in later volumes. Sometimes Cinnamon’s “kyuu” is kept and other times not. But things like that happen when you go through several different translators and adaptors. Outside of the errors and some unnecessarily punched up dialogue, this is a decent translation for the time period.

Final Comments:

While I wouldn’t call a lot of things the characters did admirable, Wild Act is better than many modern cookie cutter shoujo. The length is just right. It may not top anyone’s list for the best manga, but it is enjoyable. And that is what manga is supposed to be.

As Tokyopop is now defunct, the secondhand market is the only place to find this title. The series will run about $50, which isn’t too bad for an old, out of print series. As for a rerelease? I highly doubt it.

Viz Media has published some of the author’s other works, including Happy Hustle High and Punch!

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