From Vertical, Inc. the publisher behind manga like Twin Spica, Peepo Choo and Ayako comes Velveteen and Mandala, a crazy schoolgirl and zombie filled twisted adventure from the mind of Jiro Matsumoto.
The story revolves around a young girl named Velveteen who lives in a tank, seems to space out often and has a tendency to want to torture her friend Mandala; she does the same, when the opportunity arises. The two explore an area on the outskirts of Tokyo where humans can’t survive, except for Velveteen and Mandala apparently.
For the most part the story follows Velveteen as she tries not to kill Mandala and helps a man known as “The Super”. The Super is a half-naked man that watches over the area outside of Tokyo while disposing of the bodies that are constantly being dropped by airplane, which are all zombies. They aren’t typical zombies however as they can talk and seem to act like nothing ever happened, going about what would have been their daily life, though they still desire flesh.
A job is a job though and the two girls head out to take out the hordes with an array of weapons before nightfall when the zombies seem to become more active. At the same time though the story bounces around a bit and can be hard to follow.
The story of Velveteen and Mandala is difficult to describe and really seems as though there isn’t a lot of direction as far as story goes early on. It takes quite a while to really understand just what is going on and why the two girls seem so strange. It definitely holds up its rating of 18+ so it isn’t for young readers and those easily offended as well as it shows scenes of rape, nudity and defecation. These scenes also seem to be the most detailed and well-drawn parts of the manga.
Visually the manga has a great amount of detail and has a nice look overall. Many of the panels have great art and the characters each have nice designs, Jiro Matsumoto does especially well when it comes to capturing the different, and sometimes crazy, expressions of the characters. The cover art also looks nice and features full color, gun wielding versions of Velveteen and Mandala as they stand in the wasteland with a bomber above. The translations are clear, easy to read, have a nice flow and seem to fit in each of the bubbles on the panel just right.
All-in-all Velveteen and Mandala is a story that won’t be for everyone, as with Lychee Light Club and Peepo Choo it features a lot of violence, nudity and a story which will likely offend many. That being said it is very well drawn and tells a strange and twisted story that those who enjoy more graphic manga may like. The main issue, aside from the graphic content, is that early on it is difficult to tell just what is going on or if there is even a story being told, but as you progress it has some interesting twists that will draw you in.
For those fans that enjoyed adult manga such as Lychee Light Club this may be another manga you will want to pick up. If you didn’t like it though, you may want to pass on this one.
Velveteen and Mandala
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Story and Art by: Jiro Matsumoto
Number of Pages: 350
Age Rating: 18+
Release Date: August 30th, 2011
(A review copy of Velveteen and Mandala was provided by Vertical, Inc.)