"Game On" – Game Plan (manga) – 5/10 Candy Canes

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where the should be. Now put the foundations under them. ~Henry David Thoreau

Genre: Drama/Comedy/Romance/Christian

Review Status: Complete (2 Volumes/2 Volumes). However, I am reviewing the official online version, not the print version.

Licensed: This manga is licensed in the US.

Art/Animation: Overall, it’s pretty good. Definitely reaching professional-quality. However, there are several places where how rough it is really shows through- leftover sketchlines show up. There are very minor differences in the art between the online version and the printed version, mainly in the cover and insert art.

Summary: They need an artist for the Christian video game idea that they have- and he’s the artist they want to help with it. But Locke is a loner and has deep problems… can Sonia help him move past them?

Review: I approach recommended manga and anime with a certain amount of trepidation- after all, your taste and someone else’s are naturally going to be different. So I picked this up rather hesitantly, though the review I heard was very enthusiastic. And while I don’t think that this is the pinnacle of Christian manga, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

It was really nice to see that in Sonia’s group of friends and fellow game-makers there was also someone who wasn’t Christian- and presented in a good light. The main character is a pretty funny, nice girl who wants to have fun and make friends. While her friends don’t get a lot of screentime… barely any… they all are characters.

The premise is very good- someone who’d lost their faith and is hurting finds a friend who helps them. I liked Sonia’s description of why there’s pain and suffering- it was very well done.

There were also some fun little shout-outs that I thought were hilarious (“Strongbad”, anyone?! and Samus, too!)

Of course, this does have it’s problems. The story feels very rushed in places- there’s a lot of ‘tell, don’t show’, which breaks a golden rule about storytelling. The first instance happens very early in the manga, when Sonia flashes back to how Locke is in school. Then it happens several times thorughout the manga, which is a shame.

Locke’s mother spills pretty much everything about Locke and his past to Sonia when they first meet. Realistic? Maybe. However, she reveals so very much that it’s again, a “tell, not show” and again makes the story feel rushed. Locke’s behaviour also falls into this, with none-too-subtle hints that he isn’t into being around other people. Most loners don’t always mention that they’re into being alone or generally speak like he does.

Sonia’s “Pain and Suffering” bit was brought down by being just too early in the story. Some of the other Christian themes weren’t very well blended into the storyline (the God’s Chosen People thing in the game and unequal yokes) and sometimes don’t make sense considering the characters that are talking (unequal yokes and Tremble. He’s not Christian. Why would he care?). And then some themes seem like they’re being beated into the reader’s head, such as praying for Locke’s salvation- and only his salvation- when it’s fairly obvious that he has other issues that deserve it as much as that.

A minor jab at people who need antidepressents and infering that people who need them aren’t good people ticked me off, since I have friends and relatives who do need them- and are good people. There was also an odd comment near the end about Christians not getting angry, when Locke hadn’t ever really gotten angry before. So why would he get angry about something silly at that point?

I was also disappointed in Sonia’s explanation of how she would talk to someone who hadn’t had a miraculous experience like that. It really didn’t make any sense. And the miraculous events go from interesting and touching to becoming Deus Ex Machinas when there were two very convenient ones to make characters Christian and repent. It’s too much, at least within the short legnth of the story.

What really, really brings down my opinion of this, though, is instead of telling Locke that there’s such a thing as child protective services, or that the police could stop it, or even reporting the abuse to the CPS and the police himself, his teacher brings out a Bible. Do you know what kind of message that sends? “It’s totally okay that I’m leaving you in this horrible abusive situation that you could die from because I’ve saved your soul.”

F— you, teach. F— you.

Overall, this had a lot of things going for it, but the things that brought it down really brought it down.

Recommended: 10+. There is some blood and some hitting- mainly in the form of child abuse. Parents or older siblings might want to read it with the youngest.

Other titles you might enjoy: Kimi ni Todoke (anime and manga)
Fruits Basket (manga and anime)
Mars (manga)
Full Moon wo Sagashite (anime and manga)
Ouran Host Club (anime and manga)
High School Debut (manga)
Cat Street (manga)
Dengeki Daisy (manga)


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hope_In_Song
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 00:45:22

    Wow! Interesting viewpoint, again an opposite of mine, which is fine. I feel almost bad, 'cause it's almost like my reviews have led you astray XD!! And about his teacher…well, that's an obvious reason why Locke hates him, because if he calls himsef "Christian" why'd he leave him there instead of got help or telling him he could get help from such services? Anyway, it is a step in the right direction, and is alot more promising than other attempts at Christian manga. Boy am I nervous when I hand you over my project XD!! Oh well, bring it on!! Sometimes critisim is good anyway!!


  2. Sweetpea
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 01:24:14

    Well, it's not that they've led me astray. It's that I am critical of Christian manga because it has a higher standard to live up to.So when it immediately does things like breaking the "show, don't tell" rule that applies to all writing, I am going to read with a harder eye towards those things.


  3. Hope_In_Song
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 01:38:48

    That makes sense. I really like how you're not afraid to be harsh, when needed, for all manga/anime. It can be difficult for me sometimes, but I know I have to be open about my dislikes (like my review for Joseph & Yusra). At least you also cover the good point, too. And yeah, Christian manga does sort of have a higher standard to live up to, but it is difficult to make, and takes practice. It seems though, despite your 1 point lower rating, you enjoyed it more than HB XD!!


  4. Sweetpea
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 01:50:12

    I liked how you were hard with it. It's definitely a necessary thing. I try to be harder with my criticism, though it's … hard. But almost all anime and manga have good points and bad points.And yes, overall I liked this more than HB! I am actually borderline with this rating. I'm more… 4.5 out of 10. It was a hard call between 4 and 5.


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