Manga-ka: Masashi Tanaka
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: July 2007
Synopsis: “The little dinosaur with the big bite and even bigger attitude returns, this time to CMX! Long before the dawn of man, savage dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Now, only one remains — the smallest, wildest of them all! GON marches across the wilderness defending the friendly and furry from the mean and hungry. Told entirely without words, these stories highlight the amazingly detailed art and visual storytelling genius of creator Masashi Tanaka.”
Gon, from what can be gathered from the first volume, is a series of self-contained chapters about its title character – the stern-eyed, do-what-he-wants-when-he-wants dinosaur, Gon. A manga series with no sound effects and no text is going to seem a little odd to readers at first but don’t let yourself be too thrown off. A little change is good and in the case of Gon, it’s also really refreshing.
Admittedly the initial chapter of the story doesn’t offer the most promising of starts. It has too many panels that hamper the flow of the story. Try not to let this trip you up too much though – the following chapters are much more smoothly laid out. The lack of sound effects and voice bubbles make the pages look abnormally silent (which is a neat thing to say in itself) but this does nothing to hamper the stories themselves. In fact it’s actually pretty neat, though on the downside most readers will find themselves flying through this book at a disappointingly fast rate because of it.
Onto the literal meat of the story, the cover of this book doesn’t do the character of Gon justice. Do not be fooled into believing you’re about to step foot into the prehistoric domain of an adorable little dinosaur. Gon is a stern, focused, self-indulgent little carnivore and you better hope you never find yourself in his way. When he’s not force-steering a lion to nab the big catch for dinner or flipping over a bear who gets in his way, he’s building a giant mansion out of logs and outraging the local wildlife. Just to name a few things.
Not everything Gon does is selfish, though he does act with a notably overwhelming lack of consideration for those around him. On occasion he acts in a way that seems intentionally helpful for others but these moments seem sparse in comparison, at least by the content of this first volume. Who knows, there could be a nice little meat-eater under all those teeth and muscles.
The artwork is stunning and considerably different then what most are accustomed to seeing when they open up a manga volume. Each panel is drawn and shaded with lots of darkly toned details, all of which look like their own individual piece of art. Animals are drawn really well and on model, perhaps with the exception of Gon himself who as dinosaur one would both assume and hope is one of a kind. And talk about emotive – Gon’s steely gaze is a force to be reckoned with as much as the little guy himself – yikes!
Gon isn’t the kind of manga that’s going to appeal to most mainstream readers however that doesn’t mean there isn’t the potential to if given a chance. While the time it takes to read through this first volume falls sadly short, it offers plenty of finite details to revisit and the initial time through is satisfying enough for the initial giggles and awes. Gon is a surprisingly hardcore little dinosaur and the ingenuity and brazen nature of his actions makes this book an entertaining first foray into his territory.