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Rohan at the Louvre (Louvre Collection) Hardcover – April 1, 2012
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It's a gorgeous volume; the hardcover binding isn't too hard or too flimsy-feeling, like a nicer picture book. The printing quality is excellent, and while the author is known and loved for occasionally garish color use, the beautiful coloration on the interior pages is soft and dreamy, with colors reminiscent of early 1900s children's books accented with splashes of blacks and brights. If you're a fan of Hirohiko Araki's art, you want this regardless of whether or not you like the story as the single most inexpensive "artbook" you'll ever find.
The story is a decent standalone; its themes are similar to some of the other Rohan short story one-shots that haven't been published in English, but that's not necessarily a drawback. What is a drawback is that you really will get far more out of this comic if you have already read some of Araki's other work including Rohan Kishibe as a character, none of which has ever been published in English. There's a charming scene where three characters from Diamond is Unbreakable show up to say a few lines; for a dedicated Araki fan this is a wonderful shout-out, but for someone who hasn't read those comics, you might be left wondering who these people are. In fact, while Rohan's "ability" is explained very simply in the first few pages, its name is never given; if you're a pre-existing fan you might know that it's Heaven's Door, but when Rohan later refers to it AS "Heaven's Door", it's not explained, nor are some of the mechanics of how Heaven's Door works which wind up being crucial to the comic. I loaned my copy to someone who had no previous knowledge of Araki's works, and while they enjoyed it, they were a bit confused. Even so, it's a nice self-contained story, and the Louvre setting elements add to the story rather than feeling like they were shoehorned in just for product placement.
As far as the English editing and translation goes... The translation itself is quite good; it preserves the distinctive speaking style of the original comic while still being readable (delightfully so, in fact) in English, and the section in the back about the Louvre collections is a good primer for those who've never been there. However, as a long-time manga reader some of the editing is a bit sub-par. There's a few typos near the end, and some rather dubious typeface usage that I really don't agree with. The fact that the dialogue and the SFX subtitles are all set in the same typeface is a bit jarring as well.
I'd recommend this to anybody who enjoys the art of Hirohiko Araki, or to anybody with an interest both in artwork and in horror stories (because this IS a rather creepy horror story, with some pages full of strange gore). It isn't a perfect book, nor is it a perfect edition, but it's still good enough to have a place on my shelf for years.
As for the story itself, I feel mixed. First and foremost it's definitely not long enough. The entire book is maybe 100 or so pages, and the pace is turbo fast. Spoilers: Here's literally the entire plot: Rohan moves into a house, girl tells him about a painting, he goes to see it, dead people come out of it, he escapes and the painting is burned down for safety. The end. Each of those plot points gets about 10 pages each and the story just kind of ends.
I'm a fan of Araki previously from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure so I know what to expect but he honestly fell a little flat here in story telling. The beginning is about him meeting this girl and it seems they grow to like each other over time but then completely out of the blue this plot line is just dropped entirely and he's in France all of a sudden. Very jarring. His visit to go see the painting doesn't last long enough either. It ends as suddenly as it began. His stand power isn't used at all except in the end when he finds a strange and confusing loophole to escape from the painting which I still dont quite understand.
I very much understand that this is a side story that isn't necessarily supposed to be thrilling or epic, and Im okay with that but if youre going to have this entire relationship building first half I feel like it has to go somewhere but its just dropped for not much reason other than "guess I'll go see that painting she offhandedly mentioned to me that one time".
I don't want to sound like I entirely disliked the story, it's nothing more than "good enough". I guess you could say I liked it so much that the reason Im upset is because I just want more of it. I'd be lying if I said I'd recommend it to people who have never read JoJo before but if youre a fan I'd say give it a shot. If anything the art is still great and its looks nice on display.
Overall great, high quality release. I just wish the story itself was more fleshed out.
The book is larger than normal manga books and is hardcover.