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In the End, by Pink Psycho (Heath & Nheira)
English version published February 2008 by Tokyopop Inc.

Should we all take a moment to chuckle about titling a manporn sort of book In the End? We probably should, shouldn’t we? Let’s do that, just to get it over with. Ha, ha, ha!

OK. Now.

There’s a children’s book I like called The Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown. It offers a series of facts about things, ending up with the fundamental truth, as it were. You know – my train is big. My train is fast. My train is filled with self-important Republicans from the suburbs, taking up two seats by spreading out their newspapers. But the important thing about my train is that it is late. No, not really. That’s a friend of mine – I live on the south side of Chicago, and Republicans are thin on the ground here. But you get the picture.

Is there a point to this? A manporn point? Well, yes, and thanks for asking. The important thing about this week’s manpornish manga, In the End, is Pink Psycho. Because the plot – oy, vey. Adolescent angst gone wild. The protagonist is so misunderstood, so miserable, woe is him, yadda, yadda. Well, look. I’m willing to cut it some plot slack, but you can either tolerate this kind of thing, or you can’t. High school angst entertains me, especially Goth-flavored. But it is what it is. Assuming that you are not in high school yourself, you probably need another reason to read the manga. Because we are not in deep yaoi water here – it’s not an “I didn’t notice there was no plot because I was distracted by the constant and inventive sex” situation. It’s more of a heavy yaoi-implied sort of thing. (Kissing and implied sex.)

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Looking at this manga, you might assume it was Japanese – the layouts aren’t as polished and effortless as one expects, and ditto the art, but it basically has the right look. It’s certainly trying. In the End was produced for Tokyopop in Germany in 2006, though, and didn’t get to Japan until the following year, when it was released to cell phones. I may be betraying an embarrassing lack of sophistication here (if such a thing is possible in a column about manporn), but – released to cell phones? Anyway.

There is something about the book, though, and that something is Pink Psycho. If you’re like me, you saw the author was “Pink Psycho” and you were filled yea to the brim with a deep and abiding curiosity. I’ll share my own process. “Pink Psycho. I find that vaguely annoying. Who the hell is that? An Australian/Indonesian/European manga group everyone else knows about but me? Is it a band? A band that does manga? Did somebody leave cookies in the kitchen?” There’s sort of an explanation in the back of the book. I mean, it’s an explanation in the sense that a Lean Cuisine is a meal. It offers you something but mostly leaves you craving substance. Although they do tell us Nheira is pronounced “Nahy-Ruh.” Thanks, guys. Also that they drew the manga and are maybe in a band that might be called Nheira. “What the hell?” I asked. Is it a floor wax? A dessert topping?

So I did what one does when confronted with a question like this. A burning question. A question with many vowels. (I mean, really, Nheira. The name has a one-to-one vowel-to-consonant ratio.) I went to the Internet (after I ate a cookie). And while it pains me to boil down so bold and sweeping a story into so blunt a statement, Pink Psycho – Heath and Nheira – is – are – a fluke. A couple of German teenagers who got a manga published.

It’s an interesting story. Or compelling. Or something. I find Nheira kind of fascinating. He wants to be an artist, a mangaka, a visual kei performer (singer, songwriter, lyricist). He moved to Japan to further his career, apparently losing Heath along the way. (Heath filled in the story and pictures in the manga and played bass in a short-lived band – and somebody does need to play the bass.) Nheira is pretty. Which is a good thing, since he mostly draws himself. Pretty, Goth pictures of Nheira. I’m OK with that, too, in an amused sort of way. He’s young, y’all. And you want a beautiful boy to moon over? Oh, yeah.

Heath might be pretty too; I don’t know. I couldn’t find out a lot about Heath. For instance, did he name himself after the bass player for XJapan? I mean, he had to, right? But maybe it’s a coincidence. Anyway, it looks like he still works for Tokyopop in Germany. I wish him well. It’s like he’s my distant cousin or something. What’s he up to? I wonder. I sure hope that gay-ish cartooning thing worked out for him.

OK. Back to Nheira. (It’s OK. I think Heath’s heard that before.) Shyly glancing up through brutally thick lashes? Check. Double-pierced pout? Check check. Tiny, skinny little thing, dressed in those exciting and confusing visual kei Goth rags? Mm hmmmmmm. Jailbait? I think so, or not far from it. I don’t know how authentically distressed he is, though. A guess? Not as distressed as Kaito, his In the End doppelganger. Nheira comes across as kind of sweet-n-shy in his interviews. Did I actually watch online interviews with Nheira? In languages I don’t speak? Well, only two. And they were short. (Oh, shut up.) But as far as being an actual adolescent, I think he’s the real deal. Or within spitting distance. I’d actually kind of prefer spitting distance, since I like them legal, even for fantasizing (that isn’t a universal preference – cough cough, Harry Potter porn, cough cough), but there’s something – I don’t know, cute? – about a manga romanticizing adolescent pretty boy angst that’s written by an adolescent pretty boy, angsting.

On to the art. Nheira needed more time to draw In the End. Which is another way of saying he wasn’t able to make everybody the same size. There are some might pretty panels, but that is the level we’re working at. I liked some of the panels enough to want to buy the manga, but unless money’s no object, you should probably look before making a commitment. Here’s a fun project, though. Go to his
DeviantArt gallery. Go on. I’ll wait. You’ll see LOTS of photos, and you’ll notice that, as I think I may have mentioned, he’s pretty. (Also? You might want to check out his profile, where you’ll find out fascinating personal information, like that his personal quote is “rip it off.” I have no idea. Maybe it’s a koan? And that he likes milk. That actually creeps me out.) There’s some lovely art, too. This is beautiful. So is this. I cannot actually contain my love for those two drawings. Love, love, love. Did you get that? Love.

OK; now, that’s what I’m saying, right? Did you notice he basically draws himself all the time? Huh, I said. I don’t know what it says about his development. Or his marketing acumen, possibly. Because I like to look at him, and – well, check out at the comments on the DeviantArt site. Or his Web site. Or his MySpace page.

Anyway. I got a little acquisitive and wanted to buy his dramatically titled art book, Liberty, Raised Out of Dirt (I mean, oh, my God – it’s fun to say that in a War of the Worlds newscaster voice, though) but not $50 plus shipping from Japan on eBay worth, it turned out. I probably would, if there were more of that Edo-print-looking stuff. Which, by the way, makes sense of the samurai mouth motif on the cover of In the End, which I’d already noticed and liked, although it doesn’t follow through as a stylistic trope in the manga (which is maybe for the best, although I do like to imagine the whole book drawn that way – adolescent angst takes a whole new twist with samurai mouth).
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I’m going to bring it back to Heath, in the end. (Get it?) He was banned from DeviantArt a few years ago. Oh, Heath. But his comments to Nheira remain. They don’t make a lot of sense after you run them through Babelfish (I didn’t! Oh, yes, I did), but they seem effusive. Also, they frequently end with little rows of hearts, which is just adorable. I will not spoil it by drawing any conclusions. I will leave you to draw your own.
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