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Pick of the Litter: Volume 1    by Yuriko Suda order for
Pick of the Litter
by Yuriko Suda
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Yuriko Suda's Pick of the Litter is a comedy manga, but I am not sure how many Western teens will find it humorous. Volume 1 starts off more confusing than anything, but once it gets going, it does kind of grow on you.

Riku is a junior high student who is well-liked and very active in his school. However, he has no family and does not remember anything before five years ago. One day, Riku meets a strange merchant in a flea market. The merchant is apparently speaking bad Japanese (however this was not translated to poor English) and is reading from a translation book that no one else can read but Riku. The merchant takes Riku back to his home, an alternate world called Yamato. Here, Riku meets the rest of his long-lost family (which includes some half-rabbits and a half-cat), and is put to work in their shop. Riku is glad to have a family again, but insists on spending his time between his schooling in Japan and his work in Yamato.

The thing that makes Pick of the Litter hard to get into is that it lacks a coherent storyline. The whole premise seems to be that Riku is living in two different worlds, but there is no major conflict to keep the reader interested. There is a bit about a Holy Spirit Stone Welcoming Cat that occupies three of the seven chapters in Volume 1, and this is where the story is the most interesting because there is something cohesive with conflicts connecting the chapters, even though the first time we meet the Welcoming Cat is in Chapter 4, but he is not a major player again until Chapters 6 and 7. The Welcoming Cat was also the only character that I really got a feel for and was interested in. Unfortunately, he seemed to be finished at the end of Volume 1 and I do not know if he will come back. Volume 1 ends with nothing to keep the reader anticipating the next novel and the only discernable storyline appears wrapped-up.

Aside from no major plot, the other thing that makes Pick of the Litter confusing is its layout. The artwork and panels are fine, but the speech bubbles do not always flow. There are a lot of asides on some pages which also disrupt the flow of the dialogue. Pick of the Litter is good fodder for cosplay as it has some cool, outrageous costumes in it, but will disappoint those who want more of a story. I got one or two chuckles, but most of the time was just too confused to pick up on the humor.

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