Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Author: Masashi Tanaka
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $10.99 US
Rating: T (Ages 10+)
Release Date: Available Now
The story of a little dinosaur who dishes out the hurt on the animal kingdom’s jerks.
Gon is a name that a few people in our side of the shore might know seeing as he’s been around in Japan for a long while now to the point that he even makes an appearance as an unlockable character in one of the Tekken games. If you’re familiar with a dinosaur who has managed to survive the cruelty of the Ice Age to defy the extinction of his kind then you are in for a treat because Kodansha Comics brings us Volume 1 of Gon and he will not fail to put a smile on your face.
First, here’s an interesting fact about Volume 1 of Gon: there are no word or thought balloons to be found nor are there captions with any text at all. Masashi Tanaka tells a story using solely his artwork and that’s more than sufficient seeing as his art is expressive enough to convey emotion from his non-human characters. Through Gon’s actions, we know all we need to about this little yet mighty dinosaur.
In the first chapter of the first volume, we get to see just how might he is as the tiny reptile sleeps so soundly that he doesn’t even feel the field mouse that happened to have landed on his belly. Nor does he wake when a leopard curiously swats at him with his powerful paw and suddenly decides to take a bite with disastrous results for the leopard’s teeth. He doesn’t even wake when a rhino comes charging in and smacks the pint-sized terror across the land. Gon wakes up on his own wondering just how in the world he got so far away from this original resting place.
In another chapter, which takes place a day after Gon’s first birthday, a young American Black Bear stumbles upon a stream filled with delicious Sockeye Salmon going downstream. It manages to catch one and is about to take a much-deserved bite when an older and more aggressive Black Bear shows up. The older bear shows his dominance quite clearly to the point that the younger bear has no choice but to flee and leave his delicious bounty behind.
Then Gon shows up and the older Black Bear tries to show him who is the bigger critter only Gon doesn’t even flinch. The little dinosaur snubs the aggressive bear and totally ignores him as he makes his way to the tasty fish. You better believe the bear won’t stand for this outrage but before it could even think of attacking, Gon head butts the bear and sends the older creature flying back across the stream and breaking a few trees along the way. Oh, the humiliation doesn’t stop there for the bear as it realizes that sometimes age and size do not matter.
In the next chapter, the peace and tranquility of the Serengeti is disturbed as an older lion decides to lunge towards a herd of Blue Wildbeasts. It races after them as the herd scatters and they prove to be faster than the lion who is clearly being too lazy to want to continue giving chase. Then Gon shows up and bites the lion’s head and manages to climb on its back as if he were riding a horse. Yanking the lion’s mane, Gon forces the lion to give chase after a Wildbeast and pushing the poor lion to his limits as it has no choice but to play the part of the dinosaur’s ride.
Then, a busy beaver is in the process of making his dam and is looking mighty proud of his handiwork thus far when the tiny dinosaur shows up and starts construction of his own dam as well. Suddenly, a small competition between beaver and dinosaur heats up as Gon uses his great strength and the fact that he doesn’t care about anyone else. In the end, the beaver makes his damn but Gon’s dam comes at a hilarious price.
Finally, Gon finds himself in the comforting warmth of a Golden Eagle nest as it awaits mama eagle just as eagerly as the babies all around him. Imagine the mother’s surprise when she not only has an extra mouth to feed but the mouth belongs to something that clearly did not come from her. Still, despite the obvious inconvenience, Gon’s presence is suddenly seen as a good thing since a determined bobcat managed to climb up to try and snatch a baby eagle away.
Instead of finding a tasty, defenseless meal, however, the bobcat’s attempt is thwarted by Gon himself who manages to save the babies from it but also ends up giving the bobcat a nightmarish scare and quite a beating as Gon joins a flock of angry Golden Eagles in dishing out the hurt. And so, Gon finds himself an honorary member of mama’s own flock.
As I said, the story of Gon is a visual one and works brilliantly seeing as the animals’ reactions say it all. In fact, it’s the animal reactions are comedy gold and will not fail to make you laugh. The American Black Bear Gon puts in his place is so frightened of Gon after he was sent flying that he much rather play dead than face the little guy. Masashi Tanaka’s art is really something to behold.
Volume 1 of Gon is nothing short of hilarious and absolutely exceptional in ways that make it one of those rarities in manga. Using nothing but gorgeous visuals to tell the story, Tanaka is able to showcase a series of encounters that will make you smile and laugh aloud at the antics of a very likeable little dinosaur. In other words, if you’re looking for a manga series that is actually very funny then this is a series you will certainly need to buy.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Meet Gon, the last living dinosaur who somehow survived the Ice Age and walk his own path as he adapts to a different kind of environment in his scrappy manner. Still, despite his short stature, Gon is a mighty little dinosaur who jumps into the circle of life with the strength of a T-Rex as he turns the king of the jungle into his personal ride, beats a beaver in making his own dam and defends a nest of baby golden eagles from a bobcat.
Relying solely on the visuals is quite a feat and a risk but Masashi Tanaka manages to say more with one panel than other authors do with two word balloons. His artwork is not only expressive and amazingly well detailed but the reactions from the animals will not fail to make you really laugh aloud. Really, this is a case of not judging a book by its weak cover.
A brilliant and gorgeous visual feast that will not fail to make you laugh, Volume 1 of Gon is one of those rare gems that uses no words but is still able to convey emotion and hilarity just as easily. On top of that, Gon is a likeably little bugger who unintentionally does what’s right. If you like something different and genuinely funny, give this little dinosaur a try.
Review copy provided by Kodansha Comics