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Graphic Story Review: Windrose by Studio Kosen

Friday, October 14, 2016 - 07:00

I think I mentioned previously that, having bought the Comixology app for my iPad to read a particular title, I went hunting around in their catalog to find other things of interest. Since they have a GLBTQ category in the catalog, I figured that was a good place to start. Mostly filled with very pretty boys kissing each other, as might be expected. But one title caught my eye for featuring a female POV character, a historic setting, and the promise of exciting adventure.

A young woman in late 18th century Spain, on the eve of her debut into society, receives a mysterious message and gift from her missing father: an astrolabe. As a child, her father had trained her with games of puzzle-solving and mysteries, so she takes the gift as a signal and sets off on her own to answer it and reunite with her father. Along the way, she finds herself in company with a brother and sister (or so they present themselves), and is flustered and intrigued by the sister's habit of wearing male clothes and wielding a deadly sword. There's a very Dumas-like feel to the story and setting, but with female characters far more centered than he ever did.

Windrose is a fun little adventure story with mostly excellent art. The first volume (which is what is currently available and appears to collect the first 6 issues) is only the very beginning of the story. It's not so much that there's a cliffhanger as that we're only beginning to climb the cliffs in the first place. It's promising enough that I'll be continuing to follow the series, but I'm also reminded of why I generally don't follow graphic stories much. And this isn't in any way a fault of the particular title, but rather of the format. There's just a very low story-to-page content, and while the art is enjoyable, I tend to read for story rather than art. So here are my likes/dislikes about this specific work.

I liked:

  • The attention to historic detail in the art. It isn't necessarily completely historically accurate (especially in the clothing) but this is a fantasy version of history so I'm generous on that point. And it has a solid look-and-feel. The characters are well-differentiated and realistic within a manga-style presentation.
  • The plot moves quickly but sets up a lot of structure for a complex story.
  • The female characters are complex and engaging.

I disliked:

  • I'm pretty sure this is a standard artistic convention of the genre, but the faces of background characters and characters in intense emotion are often shown in distorted charicature (often with emoji-like simplicity). I found it jarring and distracting, especially when it was done to one of the viewpoint characters.
  • At the current point in the story, I'm feeling a little queer-baited. We have a cross-dressing female character and some slight hints of "same-sex attraction from gender confusion," but I'd be more excited about investing in this title long-term if I'd been given in-story evidence that I'm going to get more than that. 

If plucky 18th century girls hanging out with sword-swinging cross-dressing girls is your thing (and it very much is mine) I suspect that Windrose will be very much up your alley.