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Manga Review: Ako and Bambi Vol. 1 (2024) by HERO

manga review for Ako and Bambi Vol. 1
A shining example of how to best use the comic strip format to tell a story

“What happens when you put one down-on-his-luck amateur novelist and one amnesiac ghost girl in one bargain-priced haunted apartment? You get the punch line of Bambi's life. The good news is, Ako is neither the ghost of the person who supposedly committed suicide in the rental nor an unfriendly poltergeist hell-bent on causing chaos. But she needs a place to hang out until she can ascend to wherever ghosts go and Bambi needs source material for his career, so maybe they can have a mutually beneficial relationship…” (Yen Press)

Learning that a new title is presented in the comic strip layout gives reason to pause, with the format restrictions unsuited for long-form storytelling. In addition, the eight panels per page ensure that the art will inherently be a lesser draw to a series. “” certainly falls under some of the limitations of its format. Still, the series also acts as a shining example of how to maximize the restricted comic strip layout best.

The greatest triumph of 's work comes from a well-constructed story with an intriguing concept. Not a traditional ghost story, the inaugural volume hints at a peculiar situation that has intertwined Bambi with two women named Ako, one living and another possibly dead or an extension of the other. It presents an exciting mystery that delves deep into the personal lives of each. Despite the teen rating and the strip format, the title is more likely to appeal to a mature audience as the elements of supernatural and comedy are less pronounced than the dramatic aspects focused on character building.

The most impressive feat is having a story with such complexity flow in an engaging and easy-to-follow way in the 8-panel format. There is a slight adjustment period, especially as one starts to understand the type of story HERO is trying to show. Still, after a chapter in “Ako and Bambi,” it has a complementary flow that maximizes particular format. This comes, in part, because of the text-heavy story, but at no point does it feel overwhelming or superfluous.

Visually, “Ako and Bambi” is too simplistic and stripped back to offer much flair. The distinction between the cast is even so minor that it can be difficult to distinguish a few. However, does a great job with the release by printing it in a slightly bigger edition and using blue and pink hues to give the volume needed flair. The manga would have proven too visually bland to recommend without this addition.

“Ako and Bambi” is a shining example of how the comic-strip format can convey meaningful and complex relationships. Of course, this comes at the sacrifice of visual flair, which can define a series as much, sometimes even more than the story itself. It will be up to readers if they are willing to take the chance, but there is plenty to love about this well-constructed supernatural drama that will appease fans.

About the author

Adam Symchuk

Adam Symchuk is a Canadian born freelance writer and editor who has been writing for Asian Movie Pulse since 2018. He is currently focused on covering manga, manhwa and light novels having reviewed hundreds of titles in the past two years.

His love of film came from horror and exploitation films from Japan that he devoured in his teens. His love of comics came from falling in love with the works of Shuzo Oshimi, Junji Ito, Hideshi Hino, and Inio Asano but has expanded to a general love of the medium and all its genres.

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