Peepo Choo Vol. 1 (Manga)
Publisher: Vertical
Release Date: July 2010
Price: $12.95
Creator: Felipe Smith
Format: 248 pgs.; B&W
ISBN: 978-1-9342-8783-5
Age Rating: 18+
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

At home Milton dresses to meet the expectations of his parents and out on the street desperately tries to pass for normal; it’s only while he’s working at the local comic book shop that he can truly be himself -- by dressing up as the star of his favorite anime series in a homemade Peepo Choo costume.  Meanwhile in Japan Yakuza killer Morimoto is just a big a fan of American gangsta culture and habitually acts out the violence in the videos he’s always watching.  And when Milton “wins” a trip to Japan those worlds are going to collide.

There’s a terrible sameness to a lot of manga but if nothing else Felipe Smith brings to it a unique vision, his raw, intentionally ugly art perfect for a culture clash comedy of extreme bad manners.  It amply demonstrates how loving another country’s culture isn’t the same as actually understanding it; the simple minded Milton loves a Japan which doesn’t exist outside of manga and anime while Morimoto can’t be bothered to learn how to correctly pronounce the English phrases he’s constantly quoting.

But ultimately it’s not the demeaning sex and visceral violence (there’s more than enough of both to earn Peepo Choo its 18+ rating) that frequently makes this one tough going, it’s the savage cruelty with which the characters treat each other.  Milton is naturally everyone's favorite pinata but no one escapes being pilloried; Smith seems to have equal contempt for the fans of both manga and superhero comics.

--Steve Bennett.