This week I am reviewing Caribbean Blue by Ron Rodriguez.
Caribbean Blue is done in a manga style with those big eyes and exaggerated effects like fountains of tears. It’s also jam packed with cats. If that’s your kind of thing, then read on.
The characters are an interesting bunch. Tina is the tiger striped cat girl and Yuki is the … non striped catgirl. After the subtle character introductions, we find problems in the check-in at port. They make a big deal about Tina being a “nekomimi.” I’m a little puzzled by this because Yuki is clearly not a regular human; she’s a catgirl too. Try to keep up with me because Caribbean Blue is the sort of story that doesn’t focus on inconvenient details.
Speaking of which, blue haired Rose takes care of the Coral Inn, the inn in teh island. Helping her is Maya, whom we know very little about. Maya is a catgirl who cannot remember anything before Rose found her. At the same time, Rose lost her cat. The prevailing implication is that Maya was Rose’s cat but this is unproven.
Someone else to watch is Nekonny, the talking cat. He was once a human and is now stuck in the form of a housecat, although it is not yet explained anywhere for the reader’s benefit. All of a sudden, he starts talking about how he doesn’t want to stay a cat forever. As the story progresses, things happen which were properly hinted at and foreshadowed beforehand. I am not sure why there is this missing gap in the storytelling. It seems kind of important, given later events.
You’ll want to have all of this straight to make sense of the later comics. Caribbean Blue is simply not a comic you can just pickup and follow along with. Should you be so inclined, this relationship chart helps get it all in perspective.
Yuki, Tina and Nekonny are supposed to be on vacation together. Remember how I mentioned they ran into trouble checking onto the island? It was because of Tina the catgirl. It turns out there was a legend of a Nekocat Feline Heroine which promised to save the island. And the crowd goes wild!
I’m skipping plot details, but basically the island is in trouble – though I am not sure from what. What is focused on story-wise is the solution. There are some … missing pieces that need to be found and figured out before it is too late. Further, Mayor Taco Paco has a problem with everyone listed above. He sees them as a threat. As of this review, the Mayor has the upper hand and the feline heroine’s return is stalled. It is a dark hour.
So, let’s talk about the art. Caribbean Blue features a little bit of cheesecake, especially cartoon cleavage. If you can overlook that, the first few pages are inked and brightly colored. Then it goes to pencil and (maybe) watercolor with some computer backgrounds. After that it switched to black and white, as seen above left.
I found that jarring at first. Chapters keep flip-flopping between colored and uncolored with different artists (and sometimes writers) listed. The later chapters look more and more computer colored to me. That’s not a crime, of course, but I prefer actual watercolors over digital. In any case, some of the artists offered a little different look which helped spark my interest somewhat.
What about the story? In a way, the story is light and accessible. There are still some interesting and unanswered questions. What will threaten the island? Which cat person will try to save it? What is the Mayor’s problem? What will happen with the talking cat? Who is Maya, really?
In other ways, the story was neither light nor accessible. It’s hard to keep up without a scorecard and you need to read the whole thing to get it. The latest comic is simply going to be incomprehensible unless you read from the beginning. Caribbean Blue’s setting also reminds me of the Tenchi Muyo cartoon. There is some character development but don’t look too close or you’ll start to have problems with almost everything. Personally, it was a little too inconsistent for my tastes. That said, Caribbean Blue may be something you like.
What Did I Learn?
Visual gags can be found in many forms, so use them if you can. If the comic’s art and dialog suggest a light read then provide what has been promised. Don’t try to mix things up. Try to make sure the plot movements are properly explained and story consequences are appropriate.