Reviewby Theron Martin,
Bambi and her Pink Gun
A pink-haired, teenaged punk girl named Bambi, who carries and uses a pink gun, has kidnapped a boy as a favor to the “old men,” and now has a bounty on her head. Bounty hunters, professional killers, and underworld folk have been offered the equivalent of five million dollars for the safe—and unscratched—return of the boy to his father. Naturally this attracts all sorts of the wrong kind of attention to Bambi, but she approaches that problem just like she approaches nearly every other problem: with lethal force.
The world of Bambi and her Pink Gun is a grim, gritty, and heavily polluted land of indeterminate setting and time frame. In it, Bambi is the ultimate anti-hero: a dirty, profane, ill-mannered, amoral, ruthless, and self-centered teenage girl who is a phenomenal shot with her gun, can more than hold her own in any fight, and seems abnormally strong. She always shoots to kill, and always does it without hesitation or remorse, though one gets the sense that she does it more out of annoyance (or necessity of survival) than because she gets any pleasure out of it; people just get in her way, and that ticks her off. What motivates her? She has a strong desire to complete this job for the “old men” but no clue is given in this volume as to who they are or why she feels such a powerful obligation. Her gluttonous “charge,” whom Bambi eventually names Pampi, doesn't speak and seems blissfully unaware of what's going on around him most of the time, though at some points he is amazingly perceptive about impending danger. Other recurring characters include a young man who seeks to collect the bounty on Bambi but opts to do it in a careful, deliberate way, and an Elvis-like pop star named Gabba King, who virtually entrances young women with his music. Other characters cycle in and out of the story on a regular basis as they are killed off and replaced, the highlight among them being a grade school teacher who commits skillful assassinations in order to prevent his psychopathic urges from interfering with his caring, nurturing side.
For the most part, the plot in this first volume is just a convenience for setting up scenes of extreme graphic content. The circumstances for why Bambi is being hunted are set up, Bambi moves closer to delivering Pampi to the “old men,” and Gabba King is established as a prime player in the story—and that's about it for plot development in the more than 200 pages in this volume. Nothing is explained about why Pampi is so important or about Bambi's background, and there's little in the way of true character development beyond Bambi's oddly childlike behavior, including her obsession with a children's program called Mr. Pei. What the story does have in abundance is detailed, bloody action, nudity (especially in later chapters), and Bambi firing off sophisticated lines like, “Me Bambi. Gimme.” And “Are you tryin' to put a stain in Bambi's beautiful, pure body?” Catchy, maybe, but unlikely to win any literary awards.
The artistic style reminded me a lot of the kinds of strips Mad Magazine used to produce back in the '70s and '80s—and no, I'm not referring to Spy vs. Spy here. There is nothing distinctively Japanese or mangaesque about it; this is something that could have been produced by an American underground comic creator. Overall artistic emphasis is on creating a grungy, unpleasant feel; this is a title which aims to make an impression rather than look pretty. Character designs, while not detailed or complex, are distinctive enough to do the job, and generally unflattering. Foreground art is otherwise reasonably well-detailed, but background art, when present at all, is not. Special emphasis is always given to trauma inflicted upon the human body, so expect lots of splattered blood and body parts.
The text in this volume is devoid of any notes, comments, narration, or lengthy sections of dialogue. Digital Manga has taken a somewhat unusual approach in handling the sound effects: where room allows, the original Japanese effects are present but are accompanied by their English equivalents done in the same print style. In places where space is not sufficient for printing both, only the translated effects are provided. This is, I feel, the most reasonable compromise between making the title comprehensible and preserving its artistic integrity, but those used to other styles may find it a bit clumsy. The original right-to-left print format is retained.
With the July release of this volume from newcomer (to North America) manga-ka Atsushi Kaneko, Digital Manga Publishing adds to the ranks of ultraviolent manga released in the States. While hardly a sophisticated piece of work, mature readers looking for an intensely graphic actioner to serve as a light diversion should find this volume to be a satisfying read. It is definitely not for the kiddies, however.
Story : C+
Art : B-
+ Lots and lots of bloody action, sets the mood well.
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