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From Eroica with Love
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This classic manga effort might be overlooked by the casual book-rack browser, but irreverent fun lurks within its pages. A parody of the girls' comics/bishonen ("beautiful male") genre, this satire owes a strong visual debt to Riyoko Ikeda's memorable 1972 manga series, The Rose of Versailles. The story follows the adventures of three British teens with keen interests in the fine arts whose lives are changed by their chance encounter with Earl Dorian Red Gloria. Gloria's flamboyant wardrobe would make Ziggy Stardust suffer an aneurysm out of sheer jealousy, but his sartorial style is merely an accessory to his true calling, which is masterminding international art heists by his gang of homosexual operatives under the nom de crime of Eroica. The series plays fast and loose with the genre's conventions; it features guys who are far prettier than any of the female characters, leading characters with superhuman powers granted to them for no apparent reason by a mysterious old man, simmering homoeroticism and homophobia, and the characters' awareness of and commentary upon their state as manga characters. The narrative builds to loopy heights best appreciated by fans of the genre, though even casual readers will enjoy this volume. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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