Meant to get this post up for Valentine’s Day, but today will have to do! Miki Falls is an OEL manga (original English language–i.e. not from Japan, but has an art style that shares some similarities with manga in general) and tells a complete story in four volumes. It makes for some quick reading, and overall I found it pretty enjoyable.
It’s a bit difficult to say what Miki Falls is about without “giving it away,” since its unique supernatural premise isn’t actually revealed until you’ve read most of the first volume. It really is a great premise though, since it works so perfectly for a romance. And the romance itself plays out in a way that is pretty unique–neither the protagonist Miki nor the love interest Hiro really fit the archetypes you generally see in manga. There’s a certain balance of logic and emotion behind the decisions of the two characters, and the story does well to play with this balance and develop their relationship bit by bit through the adversity they face over the course of the story, which gradually turns into a sort of adventure thriller. I’ve come to realize that there isn’t much I can think to actually say about the characters–there isn’t that much that is explored with them on an individual basis, really–but they fulfill their roles well for the sake of the story, and this seems like an instance where the author’s focus on the plot leads to a good payoff.
The art for Miki Falls is good, but it will also be a bit jarring for someone who has read a lot of manga. There’s a very “sketchy” look to the drawings, which makes the pages look more like rough drafts (though this does seem to improve a little from volume to volume). The art doesn’t look inked at least, and when combined with awkward-looking word bubbles that look like they were made in MS Paint–well, it gives off a fairly amateur vibe. The art is still very good (especially for the double-page spreads, like the one pictured above), but it is different. Of course, you should probably expect that anyways when reading an OEL series.
That said, I think it’s worth checking out, and I do recommend at least getting through the whole first volume before deciding to stick with it or not. It has to build up for a bit to get to its reveal for the central premise of the story, but once I reached that point I found myself hooked. The artist (Mark Crilley) has a website for this and other comic series he’s made, and has a lot of popular drawing tutorials on Youtube for those interested. Some of these videos are quite mesmerizing, and I imagine aspiring artists will find lots of good tips for their own manga-style drawings.