“Bad Girl Gone Good” – Serenity (manga) (Review Part 2) – 3/10 Pools


You can tell the size of your God by looking at the size of your worry list. The longer your list, the smaller your God. ~Author Unknown

Review Part 1 found HERE

Genre: Christian/comedy/slice-of-life

Review Status: Complete (10/10)

Licensed
: Yes, this manga is licensed in the US. OEL, actually.

Art: Better than the first few volumes. It’s still good-quality doujinshi art, not really professional-looking, but not bad. The backgrounds are still undetailed, and there’s a high number of no-background panels. The clothes still look silly, the art is still left-to-right instead of like the Japanese right-to-left, and there’s more American influence than Japanese.

Summary: Her name is Serenity Harper and she’s one obnoxious little bundle of attitude, anger, and animosity. Can the case and concern of Derek, Kimberly, and the rest of the Prayer Club break through Serenity’s tough shell- and prove to her that true love does exist? (from the back cover of the first volume)

Review: I had a very hard time deciding whether this was better or worse than the first five volumes. In some ways, there is a marked improvement. The storytelling becomes less rushed, more about everyday life and having fun, casually mentioning the Bible and Serenity’s struggles with it. And I will say, for the most part, the ‘movie’ sections of the manga were fairly entertaining.

However, this still struggles with many of the same issues that the first half struggled with.

The pacing might be better, but the characterization? Except for the ninth volume where you get a surprisingly in-depth look at Christian morality about casual sex and the struggles with it, it goes from staggered and unbelievable to nonexistent. It’s like the author just stopped caring back in the third volume where they started her praying. Does she still ‘struggle’ with her faith? Yes. However, it’s beyond superficial. If there was any doubt before the seventh volume, at that point it ends. She’s talking to God and going to church. The 8th and 9th volumes are there to take up space.

No, no, I’m wrong. They’re there to show how hateful and irrational non-Christians are. You have more disparaging remarks from her mother (who, as I’ve said before, is completely out of character to be saying what she’s saying, considering how she’s into every other religion on earth). She has a rather magical softening towards her daughter. And then you have the completely irrational attacks by the school counselor, who goes to insane lengths to…. Well, we never find out. Unresolved plot threads ahoy!

That’s right. Instead of cutting the movie sections out – or even cutting them short- they decide to go with them and leave a few important side plots dangling. What makes it worse is that in volume 9, the end to the movie section is also left hanging! Volume 10, though, had to be the worst offender. This was a very heavy-handed Author Tract on not accepting God’s love, twisting a brilliant story on God and man, nature and breeding (Frankenstein, to be specific), into a very poorly-written metaphor.

I believe I mentioned before how much I disapprove of teaching bad theology. This continues the trend in volume 6. C.S. Lewis’ insanity-liar-truth triad has been taken apart by both Christian and non-Christian theologian alike, and yet is presented and used in it. Serenity does have bigger, harder questions, though, and when she asks them? HEY LOOK A DISTRACTION! Yep, they are avoided, and avoided hard. This does everything it can to not have to deal with those, and when someone coming from a background as Serenity fails to follow up for answers and becomes Christian regardless, I have to headdesk. It would be nice to see things such as doctrinal divisions between churches dealt with, especially since those are massive hurdles to someone who’s new to the faith. This is probably why her teacher’s (and youth group’s pastor) denomination is never mentioned, and the most in-detail they go into them is saying that one of the members goes to a different church.

Yet again, I am highly disappointed. While some things improved over the first five volumes, there were an equal amount that went down the drain.

Overall, Serentiy fails to be a compelling conversion story- on any level.

Recommended: No. Just no.

Other titles you might enjoy
:
Manga Messiah (manga)
Shelter of Wings (manga)
High School Debut (manga)
Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight (anime)
Gakuen Alice (anime or manga)
Aria (anime and manga)
Aishiteruze Baby (anime or manga)
Train Man: A Shoujo Manga (manga)

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