Para Para

By Andy Seto
144 pages, color
Published by ComicsOne

Go to a large-scale arcade and chances are you’ll see them—the dozens of teenagers clustered around the games where you literally dance on top of a series of pads to score points. While Dance Dance Revolution is the most popular brand of these games in the United States, it’s hardly the only one. For instance, there’s Para Para, a variant where sensors also track your hand gestures and award points for style. Even then, who would have guessed that Andy Seto would create a comic about it, revealing it to be the true expression of love? Not me, that’s for sure.

Yuki Chang has led a privileged life, with her rich father giving her everything she needs. Failing grades? Get a tutor. Need to get home? Send the limousine. If being a spoiled brat isn’t enough, she’s also a world-class athlete. She’ll need that skill when she meets Dennis Lingmu, a former gangster turned Para Para dancer extraordinaire. But if Yuki discovers her secret connection to Dennis, can the two win the Para Para dance competition and truly work together?

Writing the previous paragraph, it’s more clear than ever how utterly ludicrous Para Para is. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t that far off from the avalanche of (bad) teen movies that flood theatres every summer. It’s just hard to imagine until you read the book itself how utterly straight-faced Para Para takes itself. There’s not an ounce of humor here, with internal monologues dryly explaining how Para Para is how love enters people’s hearts. Who knew this is what was missing from our lives? Add in some of the most cliched sudden revelations and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. And yet, I kept turning the pages. Maybe it was a car wreck mentality, maybe it was Seto’s secret lure that made me simply have to know who would win the Para Para World Tournament, but I simply couldn’t stop reading. I can’t explain it, but I can’t simply write this book off either because let’s face it, I was entranced.

I’ve always liked Seto’s art; it’s very pleasant on the eyes, and this book is no exception. Sure, everyone’s tall and leggy and has perfectly crisp hair, but that’s part of the attraction to Seto’s style. In a world of near-perfect people, Seto seems to delight in drawing legions of people dancing Para Para together in perfect unison. In many ways, Seto’s art is the personification of his story: too perfect and idealized to be truly believed, but you’re going along with it. Seto doesn’t really get to show off here the way his Kung Fu comics do, but he’s clearly having fun.

Never mind the cliches, full speed ahead seems to be the order of the day in the world of Para Para. As an ongoing series I think it would bomb horribly, but as a one shot? It’s pretty darn funny. If you’ve got a friend who is a Dance Dance Revolution addict, you’ve simply got to get them to pick up Para Para. All that’s missing from the book is a leap to people who do Para Para suddenly achieving world domination, but I’m sure if Seto ever does a sequel that’s the next move to make. Right now, though, I don’t think I’m ready for that bonus round.

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