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The Other Side of the Mirror: Volume 1    by Jo Chen order for
Other Side of the Mirror
by Jo Chen
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Jo Chen's artwork is what makes her first full-length manga stand out from all of the other josei manga out there. Even though it is rated OT, The Other Side of the Mirror will appeal most to female manga fans in their twenties.

Lou, a guy who makes his living outdrinking bar patrons, wakes up one morning to find he brought home a prostitute, Sunny, the night before. After a short argument about paying her, he leaves thinking his problem is solved. However, when he comes home, Sunny is still there, and is making herself at home. Lou tries to kick her out, but since the landlady is on his case about back rent, he agrees to let her stay if she can earn her keep. Sunny starts walking the streets as Lou goes back to the bar. When he hears her cry for help, he rescues her from the john who is refusing to pay. It is then that he realizes there might be more to Sunny than meets the eye. As the two get to know each other, they realize that each has a lot in their past they would like to forget. They decide to leave New York and try to start a new life elsewhere, but will it be any better?

While the theme of The Other Side of the Mirror is not too different from some of the other josei manga (women's comics) that have been translated, Jo Chen's artwork puts it in a class by itself. The cover and the inside color pages are simply gorgeous and the rest of the art stays realistic. Chen's style looks a little more American than Japanese, which really helps set the mood of a hardscrabble life in New York City. The story and characters are also strong, which nicely complements the stunning graphics. The end of volume one leaves readers eagerly anticipating the conclusion in volume 2.

Josei manga can be a hard sell in the US where comic books are seen as entertainment aimed at kids and men who have not outgrown them, but for any woman who wants to try manga, The Other Side of the Mirror by Jo Chen is a great place to start. With stunning artwork and compelling characters, you can't go wrong.

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