Akaneiro #2: Review

The premier issue of Akaneiro was incredibly promising —Vasilis Lolos’ art was sharp, and Justin Aclin’s reimagining of the Little Red Riding Hood myth was better anyone expected a video game tie-in to be.  But then came issue #2.  All the promise is still there, but so is the pressure to wrap things up by issue #3.

Here’s the official description from Dark Horse Comics:

The brave young warrior Kani battles a gauntlet of fantastic mythical beasts inspired by Japanese folklore. However, things are not what they seem, and danger lurks where Kani least expects it!

It’s too bad Akaneiro is a only a three-part mini-series, because there is ample bandwidth in this title for so much more. And writer Justin Aclin seems to know it. In this issue Aclin really explores the notion of identity in ways that are both sophisticated, and unexpected. Kani’s status as a “go-between” is at the core of Aclin’s examination; as a liaison between two warring cultures Kani unwittingly elects to erase traces of her native roots so she can become a dreaded Red Hunter. It’s only when she comes close to losing all of her old self that she becomes fully aware of the dangerous stakes.

Akaneiro #2 plays (quite elegantly at times) with themes of mixed-heritage and assimilation. But it does so much too fast. With only one issue left, and the video-game launch taking top priority, it’s clear this title won’t get the air time it deserves. But kudos to Justin Aclin for offering some varsity level character development before cramming in these last two issues.

If the story feels rushed, so does the art. Vasilis Lolos work on Akaneiro #2 is nowhere close to the careful and detailed work we saw last issue.  Yes, there are some spectacular moments (especially with Kani, where we can see every mood vividly rendered on her face); but there are too many moments where the lines feel rushed, or unloved (especially with the two villains).

Akaneiro #2 offers a decent follow-up to a strong premiere issue. But in the end if mostly offers this: a great premise, but without the time to really make it work.


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