Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, March 13, 2011
      ( 3/13/2011 03:40:00 PM ) Bill S.  

“NO, NOT SHAME! YES! TOTALLY OCD!” Between this new series and Tachibana Higuchi’s Portrait of M & N, the neophyte manga explorer might start wondering whether today’s shojo romancers have begun looking to the DSM for story ideas. Like the masochist and narcissist leads in M & N, the hero of Touya Tobina’s teen-rated comedy Clean-Freak: Fully Equipped (Tokyopop) is definitely diagnosable. An obsessive-compulsive germ-o-phobe, Sata Senda descends into hyper-neurosis as a third grader on a trip to the amusement park. Touching all the poles leading to a roller coaster, he’s horrified to discover that a kid ahead of him has picked his nose and robbed his snot on a pole. “It was a formative moment of horror in my life,” Sata tells us, though we suspect that if it hadn’t been that particular incident, it would’ve been something else.

Cut to three years later, and our manga-sized Adrian Monk has become an intensely closed-off sixth grader, covering himself with face masks and rubber gloves, walking around in progressively more outlandish protective gear. He’s comfortable with his outsider status until a cute classmate, Anna Aiuchi, starts to pay attention to him, leading to a series of small steps forward and panicky retreats on our hero’s part. When Aiuchi temporarily leaves to go overseas, Sata once more tries to revert to his solitary stance, but the damage has been done. Other students -- the self-consciously immature Yui Anzai, for instance -- begin making overtures toward friendship, and Sata finds that he ultimately can’t rebuff them..

As a comedy, Clean-Freak frequently oversteps the lines of plausibility (that our hero, for instance, is even allowed to carry bottles of spray disinfectant through the school strikes this reader as a stretch), though its basic theme -- that social involvement can whittle away at dysfunctional self-absorption -- remains a valid one. If the humor doesn’t always pay off as strongly as it could, that might just be this western reader’s response to the art. Tobina’s figures at times are less substantial than necessary, particularly during the series’ many slapstick moments.

Still, there are plenty of droll bits. In one of the first volume’s funnier sequences, our hero reluctantly becomes involved in the care of a hyperactive pregnant rabbit. A panel featuring a stylized image of the bun bounding around proves agreeably goofy, as are several shots where the freak-out bare-handed Sata tries to hold onto the pregnant creature as Yui gives him off-base advice. (“Don’t! Her babies are gonna fall out if you hold her like that!”) Life is messy, and in that mess lies comedy. If Clean-Freak was willing to be a trace less neat, though, I suspect its comedy quotient would increase substantially.

(First published on Blogcritics.)


# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter