December 2, 2011

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Karakuri Odette Volume 6

All those disapproving
stares are for you,
Stu.
Written by Julietta Suzuki
Illustrated by Julietta Suzuki
Tokyopop

As Odette prepares for the next phase of her school life, forces threaten to take her away from everything she knows and loves!  Can she escape the clutches of Dr. Owen while avoiding the love/hate relationship Odette is developing with Owen's robots?  And how do Chris, Asao, and Dr. Yoshizawa fit into this picture?  Growing up means all sorts of complications and they don't get much more complex than what you find in the final volume of Karakuri Odette.

I'm really sad to have reached the end of this series, but I guess I should just be thankful that I was able to reach the end, given Tokyopop's abrupt departure from the publishing world.  I really liked his Suzuki was able to take the female android concept and turn it into something other than an adolescent fantasy.  Odette had real emotions, real problems, and real proportions.  Her emotions, while tinged with her robotic nature, felt real to me.  Her striving for humanity and her place in the world, which carries on right up to this final volume, really spoke to me as a solid representation of what it's like to grow up--especially if you are different from your peers.

In this final volume, we get the resolution of the battle for Odette's body, as she dodges Dr. Owen with the help of her friends and family, even as she becomes more attached to Travis, who is the closest thing to Odette we see in the series.  There is a lot of man vs machine vs emotional machine going on, and it probably stretches credibility just a bit too thin, but it's interesting to see how the various robots act in ways that fit--and yet contradict--their program.  In some ways, they're more human than the humans who built them.  Dr. Owen and Yoshizawa duel spar nicely about this, and the resolution is left just open-ended enough that it's ultimately up to the reader to decide the final outcome.

As with the prior volumes, Suzuki's artwork is top-notch.  She's able to give each of the characters their own visual personalities and does things with the facial features of the robots that humanizes them without ever making the reader think they are anything but androids.  It's subtle, but it works.  There is a lot of dramatic tension built into the scenes of the climax, with characters positioned in ways that draw attention to the tension in the air better than any number of speed lines could present, although we get those, too.  Suzuki's art nicely complements her plot and her dialog.  She's definitely one of the better manga artists that I read.

Karakuri Odette's story doesn't end so much as its finishes.  We see that she's got a lot of learning left to do, as do we all.  No one will ever be entirely happy, but if you try hard and work to understand the life around you, you can have a good life.  That's a message we can all learn from, I think.  I loved this series, and it's one to keep.  Find it as you can, and enjoy!