Friday, February 5, 2010
Takemoto Izumi's Transistor ni Venus is as light as a soufflé, and every bit as devoid of substance. But for a gently humorous, retro-futuristic sci-fi espionage story (with yuri!), it's a pleasant read.
April Enus is a 20 year-old spy living in the year 2269, when humans are living in space and the "major powers" (the Federation, the Empire, the Saurians, the Alliance, the Holy Land, and the Traditional Earth Administration) are competing for influence. April resides on the planet Lisbon, which has adopted a neutral stance, making it a popular hotspot for tourists and intelligence-gathering spies alike. April is renowned for never having any fatalities happen in any of the cases that she has been involved in- which causes her clients to behave recklessly and rack up an exceptionally high number of casualties. (As April points out, that's a key distinction.)
April handles several assignments in volume 1, from stealing back the purloined "back-up" personality of a famous scientist to acting as a VIP's bodyguard, to delivering classified documents and pretending to be a maid for some reason that nobody really cares about since she's busy seducing the other maids to obtain information on her employer. Bow-chicka-wow-wow. (Haha, just kidding. ^^; It's mostly just a lot of kissing, with one bath scene and one full-blown, mostly "off-screen" seduction.)
The chapters are mostly stand-alone, each focusing on a different assignment, aside from the two-chapter "Kissing Maids" arc. (Yup, it's really called that.) Considering its genre (sci-fi espionage), Transistor ni Venus is surprisingly mellow and low-key, which works both for and against it. The laid-back tone of April's missions (no fatalities, remember; even the casualties never amount to anything really serious) does have its charm, but it's hard to care about what's going to happen to the characters when it's clear that they'll be A-ok. (Even the characters themselves aren't that worried.) On the one hand, the lack of tension differentiates Transistor ni Venus from most of its genre-brethren and makes for a relaxing reading experience- but on the other hand, you wish that something would happen to really shake things up and not make the outcome of each mission so certain.
The characters are likeable (even though there isn't really any character development, at this point), and the slapstick humor generally works. (Including the instances when the characters don't take themselves as seriously as they would be expected to.) There is some cheesecake, but while Izumi clearly enjoys drawing April in sexy outfits (or in the shower/bath), it doesn't feel nearly as sleazy as it might be. The art is simple, but it's easy to follow and has kind of a charming retro vibe, and it suits the story well.
Not a masterpiece, but enjoyable. Hopefully the story will find a little more direction- and drum up a little more suspense- in future chapters.