Monday 9 July 2012

Rco Wada's "Toka + Toka 2" (doujinshi)

Collecting doujinshi can become a very dangerous hobby very fast. There are so many wonderful artists it's all too easy to buy yourself into bankruptcy. I am always doubly cautious when picking up doujinshi because of their relatively high expense-to-page ratio. Paying a dollar per page can burn through your wallet at alarming speeds, but when I come across something like Rco Wada's Toka + Toka 2 I simply can't resist. It shot me with delicious colours. Right in the heart.

Sometimes I feel bad about buying doujinshi, and not because it's costly. I wish I could give money straight to the artist rather than some middleman/used bookstore that capitalizes off the hard work of freelancers. Support the little guy, I guess, but the very nature of importing makes it difficult to give monetary compensation where it's due. Still, I love art too much to launch a protest, so capitalize away! I'll complain, naturally, but I'll still pay up.

Toka + Toka 2, by Rco Wada, was published for C77 in 2009. At 16 pages, all glossy and coloured, Toka + Toka 2 beats Ideolo's BlackAlbum 2 as the shortest doujinshi in my collection. If I were to point out its greatest weakness on the spot, it would be its length. 16 pages is not a substantial collection in any sense, especially when several of the pictures are two page spreads.

Still, there's something ethereal and dreamy about Toka + Toka 2 that makes it difficult to resist.

Bright, fantastic colours. Sketchy watercolour goodness. Everything wonderful in a compact package. You'll notice the pictures stretch right to the edge to maximuze visual impact. No wasteful borders in this doujinshi.

And, of course, no lack of brilliant colour either.

Ungh, right in the retina!
Anyone who knows me knows knows my deep obsession with fantasy. I live, breathe, and dream fantasy. If anyone could take fantasy too far, it would be me. That being said, many works in Toka + Toka 2 play right into my obsession, being colourful, dreamy, and downright fantastic (see what I did there?).

And some are a little creepy. Well, only one. The amputee one. Creepy to the max.

Ask me to choose and favourite artist and I'd get all philosophical. What is art? What constitutes good art? Who's worthy of setting such guidelines? I'll talk aesthetics for hours. In the end, I won't have an answer. I only know there are some aspects of style I favour over others, and Rco Wada has a style I dig. With her unabashed use of neon colours and big-headed, square eyes, her work is easily recognizable, and nothing screams "artist" than being able to point at a piece and say "That's a Wada".

That being said, Toka + Toka 2 doesn't actually stick to a single style. It begins to wander off somewhere near the middle, with a single-page spread of some modern classroom non-action with muted colours.

Continuing with the strange detour, she begins to employ darker lines halfway through. The proportions become more natural. The watercolour style gives way to something more conventional. It's almost as though they were drawn by a different artist...

Of course, just to weird us out, there's a dress-up print right smack in the middle. It's not even viable. Cut out the pieces and you'll be cutting out chunks from the beautiful pictures on either side. Not worth it in any sense.

So why, Wada? Why bother inserting something so blatantly pointless? Was it in the name of artistic variety? Experimentation? Different for the very sake of being so? God forbid it was filler.

Still, points for, I guess.
After that moment of aesthetic confusion, we snap back to the dreamy, fantastical pictures we all know and love. Could I have used more works along these lines? Naturally. If the entire book were ethereal elves with hybrid animals, I would have nothing but the highest praise.

And finally -

Oh wait, that's the end.

16 page doujinshi truly are short. So short I'm not sure how to feel. The last two pages are flourescent pink, very much like the first two pages (minus the girl and baguette). Do I feel cheated out of two pages? Yes, I do. Arrangement wise, Toka + Toka 2 forsakes the opportunity to insert 3 more brilliant pictures by opting to insert bright pink filler instead. In reality, the doujinshi only contains 13 pages of art (covers included), making it seem even shorter than it already is.

What is this feeling? This discomfitting, gnawing feeling right in my abdomen? Can it be...buyer's regret? Quite possibly so! And yet I can't say with total conviction that I regret getting Toka + Toka 2. After all, I only paid a minute allowance for it. But damn it, I used to be disciplined! I used to have a will.

Size: B4
Pages: 16
Price: ???
Purchased from: Mandarake

Curled in a corner,

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