Note: Tomato is still settling into the new school term, so I’m reviewing a comic I picked up just because it was ALWAYS there when I went to the library.
Teenage angst is as certain as a toddler’s “no/mine” phase. For whatever reason, teenagers just get depressed whether they have a good reason or not. I’ve gone through it, real-life friends of mine have gone through it, and I’m sure the other Scratch-Padders have experienced it as well. And of course, nothing about teen angst is regional or cultural: it happens everywhere and to anyone. Hey guys, it’s the Prozac-gobbling RacattackForce. Please join me on a visit to China and into the life of a very depressed high school girl.
Creator(s): Benjamin Zhang Bin
Length: 144 pages
Publication Date(s): 2006 (French/Chinese) and 2009 (English)
Orange is about a teenage girl of the same name who feels “pathetic and alone.” Surrounded by false friends and boyfriends who make constant unwanted sexual advances, Orange finds herself on the brink of suicide, about to jump of the roof of her apartment building. However, she’s stopped by a man who tells her that there are things to live for…this man then promptly offs himself. The rest of this manhua is a flashback which tells how everything reached that point. It must be said that this Chinese comic is one of those stories that needs to be read a few times to really understand. Orange is a girl confused by the world around her and believes that she has no one to confide in. It is the story of a depressed teenager. A story which many can relate to. The character feels like a real person; a person that could exist and in all likelihood, possibly does.
The first thing you’ll notice about this dramatic title is the art style, which is both breathtaking and indescribable. Love it or hate it, you cannot deny that artist Benjamin has created something utterly unique with this art style. Done digitally with a graphic tablet, everything feels like its been painted in murky watercolors or oil paints. It can also be said that Benjamin has captured the feeling of the motion blur that can be found within photograph, and cemented it onto his digital canvas. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and probably won’t see it again beyond this man’s works.
Orange is a slow-paced, down-to-Earth tale that I enjoyed reading. Told from the girl’s perspective at all times via monologue and a collage of memories, the way the manhua unfolds is as simple as a day-to-day conversation. The artwork is completely unlike anything else out there; I loved every page of it and the unique style kept my interest even during the slowest parts of this depressing tale. In the end, I’d recommend it to a good chunk of my fellow teens, those who like drama, and those who want to see something a bit new and fresh in their comics.