34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Journeys in strange lands
Nov 05, 2008 reviewed by Pippin4242
Hotel Africa is a fascinating work. Very few manga set in America seem to capture any sort of original feeling, but Hotel Africa's wistful and atmospheric drama is both intriguing and immensely satisfying. The protagonist, Elvis, is something of a cipher, and though he is very beautiful and has an engaging lifestory, at the end of two volumes, we have yet to learn much of his present-day personality. (No complaints on his child-self's portayal; the young Elvis is both that rare gem; a realistic child character, and utterly hilarious to read about). However it's often the side characters who make things interesting, and it can't be coincidence that the character featured on the cover of both works is the relatively minor but extremely charismatic Geo, and not Elvis himself as I assumed when buying the books. The nature of the story is somewhat episodic, but this doesn't present much of a problem, as the series of flashbacks and snippets of present-day life is clearly meant to be unravelling parts of a greater whole, which is gradually hinted at. The only thing that truly mars this work is the terrible translation. There are many redundant sentence particles, and somebody working on this series seems to hate contractions, in a way that often makes speech awkward and stilted. The odd speech bubble is even left untranslated. The first volume, happily though, kept the colour pages in the front of the book, and the above-average size of the books (standard issue for manhwa released through Tokyopop?) makes them extremely satisfying to hold and to read. Even in its problematic English-language incarnation, the good of this series outweighs the bad by far, and I eagerly await further releases!
Pippin4242 also recommended: Nana, Kino no Tabi,
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