Quick Reviews: Dramacon 2 and Cantarella 4

Dramacon Volume 2 2.5/5 stars (amazon)

Dramacon 2 takes place a year after the events in the first volume. Christie has started a webcomic with a new artist named Bethany. She tried to call Matt once after meeting him at the last con, but quickly hung up when a girl answered the phone. She’s nervous and worried about what will happen when she sees him again. There are plenty of otaku antics featured at the con, like glomping and artists’ conflicts. Early on Dramacon 2 also features a rather didactic scene dramatizing the conflict between hard core fans who prefer their manga only produced in Japan and American manga creators. There’s an element of racism portrayed in the scene that I thought was a little odd. While I can see why a scene like this makes sense since Christie is an OEL manga creator, I felt like it could have been shown in around half the space, and it overshadowed some of the other plot lines in the book. When Christie meets Matt, she also is introduced to his new girlfriend. Will they be able to get together, or will they have to wait for the con next year?
The art in Dramacon 2 is great, it seems like one of the more artistically accomplished of Tokyopop’s OEL line. I found myself reading the first volume of Dramacon multiple times, but for the second volume once or twice will suffice. I hope the third volume is better.

Cantarella Volume 4 4/5 stars(amazon)

Lucretia struggles with her feelings for Cesare. Although she’s been telling herself that her feelings are pure and spiritual, she realizes that she loves her brother more than a sister should. Lucretia’s husband starts spreading rumors that the Borgias are incestuous, and Cesare wants to get rid of him. The pope prefers to wait until they have another husband lined up who will aid the Borgias’ quest for even more political power. Meanwhile the sexual tension grows between Cesare and his assassin sidekick Chiaro. Cesare continues to plan for the future, as his brother Juan is named to a military post that he is incapable of managing.
One of the things I love about Higuri’s art is the way she subtly changes character designs and body language over several volumes. The Cesare that appears in the forth volume is much more self-confident and secure in his power than the person we saw in volume one. I love the mix of romance and geopolitical plotting in Cantarella.