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Battle of the Bands: Volume 1    by Steve Buccellato order for
Battle of the Bands
by Steve Buccellato
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Steve Buccellato's debut manga, Battle of the Bands, is a typical harem manga (aimed at older teens), but with a distinct American style. Comedy abounds in this off-the-wall tale of bands that literally battle it out.

When Led Salad, one of the foremost girl bands, loses their roadie, they realize they need to do something quick if they are to keep winning band battles. When down-on-his-luck waiter Chet saves one of the band members, they hire him on the spot. The problem is, while he has an ear for instrument upkeep, he is a totally inept roadie and also can't fight even to save his own life. However, though they constantly compare him to their old roadie, the girls begin to like Chet, until he screws up big time and accidentally tips off a rival band to their location. Now Led Salad is about to be eaten alive and Chet is their only hope. He must prove his worth to save himself and his band.

Buccellato has a knack for comedy, which is actually the main component of any good harem manga. Yes, scantily-clad girls are also a key factor for a harem manga, but it is how the loser-hero ends up in awkward situations with these scantily-clad girls that keeps readers - both male and female - wanting more. My favorite chapter is the sixth one, which consists of nothing but two-three page vignettes that play up the comedy of Chet's ineptness.

The close-up shots and larger spreads show a nice, American-manga style of bold lines and less-detailed toning that works very well with comedy. Unfortunately, the less-distinct panels, especially further along in the book, lose proportion and consistency. As this is Buccellato's first graphic novel as author and illustrator (he has worked previously as a colorist), I am sure his drawings will become more consistent as the series progresses - as happens so often with comic book artists.

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