First things first: this series is both unashamedly silly and unashamedly all about the pretty boys. Despite my general appetite for manga, and awareness of the penchant for wacky hijinks, this series surprised me numerous times as just how insane it could get. I found myself laughing aloud one moment and then staring at a page thinking, “Did they really do that? Goodness!” It made me on the one hand feel like an old fuddy duddy, and on the other hand admiring at just how much the Japanese let their imaginations go when they choose to.
First, the silliness — it’s infectious and on practically every page. Most incidents are played for laughs, even those that normally might be very dramatic. This levity is fine, but it does lead to a few incidents (a lecherous attack or two) being brushed off as amusing rather than threatening, which did give me pause.
Second, the pretty boys — this is definitely a shonen-ai title, and quite a bit less coy about it than other titles like Demon Diary or Pet Shop of Horrors. All these boys are there to be pretty, to be leered at in various states of dress, and to be romantically pursuing each other. As I read, I finally realized that what I was seeing was the equivalent of what many comics are for teenage boys — an excuse to ogle pretty girls on convenient display. The difference is Eerie Queerie‘s for teenage girls — so we ladies get to ogle pretty boys on convenient display. The pin-up included in volume 2 makes this abundantly clear.
On the one hand, at least it’s equal opportunity, but on the other, it’s still objectifying people, and if I’m going to be annoyed by it when it happens to women, I’ll be equally annoyed when it happens to men. I try to ignore the evil voice in my head that says male readers now get to see what it’s like to read an otherwise ordinary crime/superhero/comedy story and get smacked in the face with a T and A shot. All of this ogling, though, is not nearly as bad as it might be, and does not negate the outright fun of the title, just as Elektra’s skimpy outfit doesn’t negate her titles’ kick-butt drama.
The art in Eerie Queerie is more unique — the jumpy lines and layout of this comic make everyone seem especially energetic, though this style also sometimes leads to some confusion as to what’s happening on the page. Everyone is, of course, beautiful, and the long, thin lines accentuate everyone’s gangly elegance. The proportions in faces are bit more skewed than other manga, so ski-jump noses and slashing eyebrows are everywhere. Character appearance also shifts often between the usual pretty-boy image and the outrageous emotional distortions common in slapstick manga. As per usual, the hairstyles are your cues for who is who.
The plot, you say? Well, yes, we’re getting to that.