Dramacon was one of the most successful of Tokyopop’s Original-English-Language (OEL) manga titles, but, despite being a fan of the creators more recent works, I had never read this series. So, when I spotted this 3-in-1 Ultimate Edition in my local comic book shop, I snatched it up so I could finally see how one of my favourite artists had gotten her start. What I found was a strong debut work with plenty of appeal for anime and manga fans, or anyone who has struggled to pursue a dream that’s a bit off the beaten path.
Dramacon follows Christie: a young, aspiring comic writer who is attending her first anime convention with her jerk-face boyfriend. They are attempting to sell the comic they’ve created together, but the before-mentioned fact that her boyfriend is a jerk is starting to put strain on their relationship. Then Christie meets Matt, a mysterious and snarky cosplayer sporting a sexy pair of shades, and sparks immediately start to fly between them. Christie must sort out her conflicted romantic feelings, all while trying to pursue her writing career and navigate the craziness of an anime convention!
Dramacon certainly lives up to its name, as there is a lot of drama packed in here. There are love triangles, breakups, girls running around crying in the rain and nearly getting hit by cars… lots of good romantic fun! Where the story really shines, however, is in its more grounded subplots. As Christie and her friend Bethany learn more about the difficulties of trying to break into the comic industry, they must choose between pursuing an uncertain future doing what they love or a more stable career path. Christie and Bethany’s journeys are both relatable and it’s heart-warming to watch them preserve through their struggles and push themselves to become better. I wound up feeling more invested in their careers then in their love lives.
Don’t get me wrong though, the romance is still good. Christie has her flaws but is a likeable character who grows a lot over the course of the book and Matt’s little quips are just hilarious. As a pair, they have great chemistry and I was quickly rooting for them to get together.
The series also features an eclectic mix of quirky and fun side-characters; of whom Bethany is the shining star who really steals the show in the latter part of the series. Her sub-plot involving her mom had me on the edge of my seat!
The narrative isn’t without its flaws however, and there are a couple of story threads that wound up being resolved too quickly to feel wholly satisfying. There is also a scene in the middle of the book, where two characters argue about whether the term manga can/should be applied to works created outside of Japan, that smacks a little too much of author soapboxing. However, these are just minor kinks in an otherwise enjoyable read.
Another charming aspect of this series is how expressive the art is. Comedic moments are made punchier with adorable chibis and the impact of the dramatic or tender scenes is heightened by the fount to emotions displayed on the characters faces. That said, this is an early work in the artists career, and there are a few rough edges and places where the art looks a bit off. This is only occasionally distracting though and overall this is a great looking book. The Ultimate Edition features several lovely colour pages and a larger trim size that shows off the art to its full effect.
Dramacon proved be a lot of fun and I can see how it became so popular back in the day. The convention setting allows for a lot of nerdy references and the ensemble cast is full of likeable and interesting characters. This series might be a little hard to track down nowadays, but if you come across it, consider picking it up. Dramacon has humor, romance, melodrama and a lot of heart.
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10
Content Warning: This book includes a scene that depicts a sexual assault.
For more information on this series visit Tokyo Pop’s website: https://www.tokyopop.com/book-catalog-classic-titles/2018/3/28/dramacon-ultimate-edition
What did you think of Dramacon? Are you a fan of the authors other works? Be sure to let me know in the comments.
Also, be sure to check out my reviews of some of Svetlana Chmakova’s other works:
- The Weirn Books: Be Wary of the Silent Woods Vol 1 Review
- Nightschool: The Weirn Books Series Review