Friday, February 4, 2022

Cocoon Entwined volume 4 (manga review)

Cocoon Entwined volume 4 cover
It takes freaking forever between releases of "Cocoon Entwined" volumes. Volume 4 finally came out and I have to admit, just like with each prior volume, I could not remember almost anything of what happened before. Add to that that the overall writing style is so oblique and obfuscated that it is nearly impossible to know what's really going on. That's also not helped by art that is quite variable in quality from panel to panel and that has trouble distinguishing certain characters (I must note that I clinically struggle with remembering faces, so this is double tough for me).

All that sounds like a resounding dislike of this series, which is actually not true at all. I am fascinated by it because it is quite a dark take on the "class s" sub-genre of yuri. Long-story short, there is an all-girls school where the girls never cut their hair, and as they graduate it is cut and then turned into the uniforms for the incoming students (creepy!). Mix that with a troubled and mysterious girl who Hana is in love with, and the more typical moral-center/shoujo-herioine/average girl Youko who is in love with Hana, and we have the recipe for an interesting yuri. 

The biggest thing is I can't keep track of the other character's stories. The art is also so ambiguous (or poorly drawn?) at times that I can't tell exactly what is going on (was that a kiss on the neck or did we just introduce vampires? I think it was just a kiss). However, despite the inconsistency with anatomy and indistinctness of some panels, the overall art is unique and sometimes really arresting.

The story itself though, while having great promise on the surface, has taken so long to move forward (or maybe not because it's only 4 volumes - it's just taken forever for them to come out that maybe it feels slow) that it doesn't have the momentum I would like. We also don't have much actual depth on the characters. They pretty much exist in the here and now, and when we do get their inner voices, they are so abstractly written as to not reveal much. It's hard to have real sympathies and connectedness with the way the characters are handled. From the art, to the writing, to the overall creepy vibes, the series feels like it's holding us at arms length. It's not really letting us into their hearts. 

As for volume 4, why we are here, there are long portions without Hana or Youko that are unclear to me as to what is actually going on. But the portions with Hana and Youko are definitely the best, and most grounded, parts of the volume. Just like the prior volumes, the art is inconsistent. I mentioned before that the anatomy is often wildly wrong with awkwardness or musculature/structural issues that show a lack of advanced draftsmanship (draft-person-ship?). That takes me out of the story a bit. However, giving credit where credit is due, at least it's daring art. Lots of black, lots of contrast, lots of textures and movement and flow. At least it's not boring (see my prior review of the art in "If I Could Reach You" volume 6).

I'm going to keep reading it, and honestly, when it's all done, I will re-read it all to see if it improves without the loooooooong wait time between volumes. I bet it will. 


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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