Pietà – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Pieta

 

Genre: Yuri Drama

Length: 2 volumes

 

Positives:

  • It isn’t awful.

Negatives:

  • Characters so flat, I am not sure what their personalities were supposed to be.
  • The “twists” have no build up; they just happen for plot’s sake.
  • Has no subtlety, no nuance in between key plot events to bring life to the narrative. This also makes all the dialogue stiff.
  • The art is bland to the point where every facial expression looks the same.
  • The two girls have no chemistry.

Pietà tells the dull story of high school girl Rio with suicidal tendencies who finds companionship in the arms of a classmate, Sahoko, from her all-girls school. Rio has led a troubled life, her younger sister dead in infancy, mother abandoning her without cause, and stepmother wanting her dead.

Pietà’s main problem is immediately apparent with Rio. Even with the tragic backstory, she isn’t interesting in the slightest and I can’t fathom how the author expects us to believe her popularity in school. This implied popularity is a common problem in bad writing. We are told that a character is so amazing, so wonderful that everyone wants to be them, and yet we never see what it is that makes them so special. In Rio’s case, she has no personality, acts in a manner that would creep out people, not attract them, and has no discernible skills. Frankly, this applies to all the characters, but Rio’s faults, as the protagonist, are the most glaring. By the second chapter, the most significant interaction between the two girls is a five-second conversation where Rio wonders if she has seen Sahoko somewhere before. Sahoko then accepts Rio’s invitation as if it’s the most ordinary thing to be invited, alone, to a mentally disturbed teenage girl’s house to take care of her fever.

There is no chemistry between Rio and Sahoko; the interactions lack conflict and drama, unless forced by the author. For example, early on, Sahoko cancels a date to have dinner with her parents who haven’t seen her in a while, sending Rio into a spiral of moping. It’s forgotten within a few pages. The writer clearly couldn’t think of any conflict to fit the scenario. Need drama? Have Rio act suicidal. Need even more drama? Have Rio harm herself. Such laziness. The plot points on their own sound fine – having a suicidal character harm themselves at some point in the story is par for the course. However, the narrative has to build up to these key moments. Pietà has no such rise in tension or nuance to hint at the forthcoming twists. Even when dealing with the stepmother subplot, I just didn’t care. They could have beaten each other to death with waffles and I wouldn’t have blinked.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the manga is intentionally lifeless to make Rio’s depression relatable. Boredom does not equate to depression.

Art – Low

Looking at a single page of Pieta, the art looks decent, even if expressionless, but when you notice that it looks the same on every page, the artistry dies. It doesn’t help that a ‘happy’ character looks the same as when depressed.

Story – Low

Pieta’s story of a suicidal girl finding comfort in a classmate is an exercise in lazy writing. The author had the concept and key plot points ready, though forgot everything else – personality, depth, details, incidentals, etc.

Recommendation: Don’t bother. Pieta doesn’t have anything of substance to hold your attention. The characters are without personality and the narrative lacks all the details that bring depth to a story.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

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