Q-Ko-Chan: The Earth Invader Girl Vol. 1

By Ueda Hajime
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

What grabbed me immediately about Q-Ko-Chan wasn’t that it was another story about a boy discovering an alien in his backyard. Rather, it was that Q-Ko-Chan is anything but “another story” about a boy and an alien. Reading this book is a perfect reminder that you can take the most standard story idea in the world and still make it exciting and different in the art of the telling.

Kirio’s used to aliens showing up all over the place; every time he turns around a new group of aliens seem to be invading Earth. His mother’s a member of the Special Operations Force, and he’s practically the star of his friends at school. Then a strange robot alien shows up at his doorstep, and everything turns upside down for Kirio and his friends, but probably not in the way that anyone was expecting.

Q-Ko-Chan is a positively strange little book. It’s ostensibly about robots and aliens, but that’s really just what exists on the surface. This is about a lot of big emotional issues; about wanting to be part of a partnership, about jealousy, about wanting to be used, about feeling like you belong. This is really a book about relationships and everything that they bring to the surface in people around us. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still big aliens and robots fighting in our skies, and those scenes are pretty exciting. But in many ways they’re just the window dressing for the emotional heart of the book. There’s so much attention brought to the littler things, like the ties of family that define so much of the kids’s lives, that really shine through. This is a book that really had to star kids because they’re still so emotionally raw and confused that every little event can still upset them and rock their worlds.

As cool as the story in Q-Ko-Chan is, it’s Ueda Hajime’s art that will grab you from the word go. Probably familiar to manga readers as the artist who adapted FLCL into print, Hajime’s art is a minimalistic, sharp-edged masterpiece. Hajime is able to define characters with long, sweeping strokes of the pen that jut across the page, lines at distinct angles from one-another. There isn’t a lot of detail crammed into each figure, but there doesn’t need to be. From octopus-aliens to cute schoolgirls, each character has their own unique and striking look that will stick with you as a reader. It’s almost surprising what Hajime can do with a few—or when he feels like it, a lot—of lines to define a figure on the page. Even after you’ve read and absorbed the story of Q-Ko-Chan, you’ll keep re-reading it to simply gaze at the art.

The first in a two-volume series, Q-Ko-Chan is an off-the-wall story that is much more effective than most of its similar compatriots. Hajime knows how to take a basic idea and turn it around, making an alien invasion story more about relationships and emotions than the aliens… but without ever losing track of the fact that this is still an alien invasion story. It’s a careful balancing act that is ultimately impressive, and one of the best releases from Del Rey’s manga line this year. This is a lot of fun.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

10 comments to Q-Ko-Chan: The Earth Invader Girl Vol. 1

  • Definitely need to check this out. I loved the art on those FLCL books–especially since it was so different from the show (which is great in it’s own way)

  • Yeah. I luv that manga. I only have Vol. 1-2. Don’t know if there’s going to be a Vol. 3. Anyways, my fav. character is Q-ko-chan. The reason is that she totally cute and innocent like…I also like Kirio. He is cool but his eyes kinda creep me out 0_0

  • Fox

    There are only two books, yeah. My boyfriend got very into the first one, and when I got the second one for him, I read it before I gave it to him, so I knew what was coming. He was very disapointed. Why can’t Hajime create something that lasts more then two books?

    Over all, beautiful story and art. I loved the Goth-Lottia robot. Very cute.

  • Robert

    My research seems to contraindicate a volume 3.

  • Raichu

    I highly recommend this book, it’s everything this review says it is.

    I re-read volume 2 just now, and as much as I enjoy using my imagination to fill in the blanks as the author asks, I want to know what happens.

    My favorite character is AA-ko-sama, who without a doubt is the cutest alien robot girl in the series.

  • Shawn

    Personally i don’t think that there will be a thrid one, these types of authors like to deprive the reader of an easy answer to their question and force that extra human immagination out of them. But if they did make another that would be the shizdizzle.

    My fav. charector woul have to be kirio’s sister, she’s just so much hate bottled up inside and she’s going to let it all go up on kirio’s backside.

  • Javier

    I love manga ,and same as FLCL…

  • Very nice character. I love it.

  • Dave

    Sucks that there’s only two volumes, but this allows for me to write some fanfics when I have some free time. Still, art’s amazing, story’s amazing, characters are cute, especially Q-Ko-chan when she realizes she in love. XD

  • I like the characters and the story! They should make an anime about it!