If you have been a regular reader of this website you may have noticed by now that I am a huge fan of Shiina Ringo and I like to read manga. Imagine my joy then, when browsing the selves of my local RECOfan used music shop, I found a manga about the life of the lady herself.
Ringo Through the Looking Glass (Kagami no Kuni no Ringo) was a manga released in 2001 and written by a bloke named Soushi Sakurai. It appears to be part of a set of manga that was written about famous Japanese bands of the time. Ads for comics about the likes of L’Arc En Ciel, Glay and the wonderfully named KinKi Kids litter the book.
The comic itself is a biopic (biocom?) about her life before becoming famous, largely focusing her school years but runs all the way up to the release of her first album.
To its credit the book seems like it is quite well researched and covers all the key aspects of Ringo’s life. Things like being unable to do ballet because of the operations she had as a child, the talent shows she entered, the conflict she had with producers over lyrics and her study in England are all mentioned. I guess the comic deserves full marks for that.
Where the thing falls down though is with Sakurai’s art. It ranges from competent to ruddy awful and back again. He has drawn Ringo with a crazy moon face and the expressions she pulls are really ugly. The other characters in the book don’t look too bad so I guess his style doesn’t lend itself well to real people.
Worse still is that sometimes the body proportions are all over the place, with Ringo suddenly possessing huge man hands every so often. You can tell this comic was drawn for money and not for love by the huge inconstancies in the art. This is really exemplified by the end of the book where the artist has drawn his own renditions of CD covers and famous photos of Ringo. Some are actually pretty well drawn others are grotesque.
Just look at these examples:
OMG THE HORROR!!!!!!
Would I recommend this book? Nah.
The art is mostly horrible and it is not available in English. I had to struggle through it in Japanese, which meant I had to look at some of those shoddily drawn panels much longer than the artist probably intended. If you really want to find out about Shiina Ringo’s life I recommend you just read her wiki page. It’s all in there, spookily so, it’s almost as though they used this book to research the entry.