Miki Falls Vol. 1: Spring

By Mark Crilley
176 pages, black and white
Published by HarperTeen

Some might say that Mark Crilley’s been poised for success for over a decade now. His break-out comic series Akiko always showed those rare qualities in English-language comics that ultimately made Japanese imports so popular: a female protagonist, adventure, and a certain level of a delicate sensibility. His new series for HarperTeen, Miki Falls, takes that one step further—and while it may not have been his explicit goal, I can’t help but think that this book is probably the closest I’ve seen in a domestic release that fits seamlessly into the Japanese comic book culture while still maintaining the creator’s own unique voice.

Miki Yoshida’s final year of high school has begun, and she’s intrigued by Hiro Sakurai, the new boy in town. The problem is, Hiro wants nothing to do with Miki or in fact anyone else in their little town. Unfortunately for Hiro, Miki’s not going to take no for an answer. As she follows him around school and is determined to be his friend, though, she’s starting to realize that she may be in over her head. And when her fall happens, it could be a long one indeed.

Miki Falls is structured as a four-volume series, each book taking place during one of the seasons over the course of a year. It’s very apt that the book begins in spring, then; as the world around Miki comes alive and begins to grow, so does her relationship with Hiro. It’s a very natural progression of events, perhaps because Crilley lets it unfold over several months, and in part because of his innate understanding of young women as characters. Miki’s actions, while a little extreme in places, also feel natural and unforced by the progression of plot. And while Miki and Hiro are really the only fleshed out characters, it’s nice to get reminders from time to time that Miki does have other friends in the form of people like Yumi, acting not only as a sounding board but as someone that Miki does participate in activities with. Crilley’s script gives Miki a well-rounded life, one that to English-speaking readers will seem familiar yet slightly foreign at the same time. Perhaps because Crilley never speaks down to the reader about the cultural differences between Japan and the rest of the world, any slight differences in her life feel somehow natural. (There’s no need for a footnote explaining exactly what onigiri is, but in the context it’s very clear that it’s a food product, by way of example.)

Best of all, though, is that Crilley’s conclusion to the first volume of Miki Falls takes this from a simple story about infatuation to something much bigger. It’s a very clever twist, the sort of thing that you can see a very long series being hung off of. The fact that Crilley’s story is confined to just four volumes makes it the more intriguing, because there’s very clearly a beginning, middle, and end to this particular idea in mind. While the book itself is told in flashback (opening up with a scene from the final volume), it’s much to Crilley’s credit that at the end of Miki Falls: Spring I wasn’t wondering about the opening cliffhanger set in the winter, but rather just what would happen in Miki Falls: Summer. This is the sort of story that you really do want to see unfold properly; there’s no jumping to the end desired when there’s so much fantastic middle waiting to be devoured.

Crilley’s art has continued to refine itself over the years, and as much as I’ve liked his work on Akiko, Miki Falls is his best creation to date. Crilley draws his art here entirely in pencil, using gentle shades of gray to help give the world of Miki Falls a rich texture. Crilley seems especially fond of focusing in on character’s eyes, letting so much of their story be told through facial expressions and unspoken emotions. It’s a very soft, relaxing art style, one that does a great job of both looking very realistic while never seeming forced or posed. If anything, the reverse is true; these are characters who move and shift on the page with such ease that they almost feel fluid on the page.

If I was to have a complaint about the art, it’s actually that I wish Crilley showed more of the backgrounds in the various scenes. When Crilley does draw the settings of Miki Falls, they’re beautiful, intriguing places. The school, the town, even the rice patties come across feeling lush and fully realized. And what can I say? I want more of it. As powerful as it may be to have lots of close-ups of characters as they react to each other, a small part of me wants an entire volume of Miki Falls to involve everyone going on wordless vacations around town. Perhaps to lots of restaurants followed by picnics? At any rate, when Crilley does draw the rest of the world of Miki Falls, they are—just like the story itself—pretty enchanting.

Miki Falls: Spring is a great introduction to Crilley’s new series. It’s been too long since the end of Akiko for more sequential art from Crilley (he’s been busy working on illustrated prose novels), and Miki Falls is a reminder of just how great Crilley’s comics are. The particular publishing imprint may be pushing this book at teenagers, but this is the sort of series that I think appeals to a much wider audience. This is a real joy from start to finish, and as said earlier, it has that certain sensibility that I think could really appeal to a lot of manga readers as well as a more typical Western audience. (The ones not looking for gigantic explosions, at any rate.) I, for one, am already planning on rushing out and buying Miki Falls: Summer. Once you’re done, I suspect you will want to as well. Highly recommended.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

48 comments to Miki Falls Vol. 1: Spring

  • […] At Read About Comics, Greg McElhatton reviews vol. 1 of Miki Falls: Spring. Both Dave and Patrick weigh in on vol. 7 of Dragon Head at Comics-and-more. Matthew Alexander […]

  • Greg, thank you *so* much for this glowing review of “Miki Falls.” I really appreciate the solid thumbs up, and it’s just so satisfying to read a review by someone who really, really “got” the book (Not true of all reviewers, I assure you!). The comics world has been a wee bit silent about my return to comics, so again you have my heartfelt thanks for helping spread the word like this.

    I’m going to link to your review from my website right away!

    Thanks again,

    Mark

  • Op2rules

    Wow, after reading that I think i’ll get the book! I would like a sample though :(

  • Hi Op2rules, thanks so much for your interest! I hope Greg doesn’t mind me saying that anyone looking for a sample of Miki Falls can find it at my website. Just click the ‘Mark Crilley’ above this post and scroll down until you find:

    NEW VIDEO: SUMMER 12-PAGE PREVIEW [7.9.07]

    It’s a Youtube video that features 12 pages read aloud by yours truly….

    Mark

  • Ty

    God
    your amazing dude..
    you should really keep making comics..
    Oh one thing i wanted to ask is what is your genre?
    Also ill be definitely looking out for The miki fall series

  • Khoa Phan

    My god! How do u make your drawings so real, yet distinctivly anime as well? If u hav lessons on the internet please notify me.

  • err lol fan of ur drawings at youtube espiecially the 100 ways to draw manga eyes and the chibi drawings errm can you tell mi whr to find miki falls vol.1:Spring? i am at singapore and popular doesn’t seem to sell err plz reply from audrey to mark crilley PS: plz reply to (sevilla_weila@yahoo.com.sg) thanks don’t ever send it to audrey@yahoo.com.sg lol thanks anyways i luv ur drawings $$$$$$$$$

  • Mak

    AWESOME!! I’ve seen his tutorials in Youtube and I can say that i was impressed

  • i really enjoy comics with an awsome twist. i have read the actual books to but only books one – three. i hope to get the others out from our library soon and read them. i got stuck on comics by reading book one and some other comics called serenity. i read on e through six and wanted to read others by a difrean auther.

  • helen

    this is an awsome seris

  • kimi

    that sounds like a really good comic/manga/book w/e u would prefer it to b called

    i think ill convince my friend to buy it so i can ‘borrow’ it for a little while lol

  • ben

    Im convinced *searchs amazon.co.uk*

  • Namine

    i read the first book and thought it was amazing and awesome.Are there any other mangas like this one by him?

  • Kagome

    you rock!!!!! I love the akiko series and miki falls. Your anime is awesome and I love your videos.

  • miimii

    hey guys do you have any idea where they are like where i can buy them?!
    for example like wall mart or something plz answer im very interested in thoes books!

  • Miki

    I love reading the 1st book where can I find all the other series. But it has to be in the shops like bookstores, etc. as long as it is not on the internet.

  • Anney

    I read the firs book in 1 hour and I thought that I just had to get the 2nd one by today. I think that htey are so awesome anyone know were I can buy any ohter mangas by the author?

    – thanks
    Anney

  • Emrah

    Wow you got a comment from mark crilley at 5:44 in the morning lmao :)

  • bri

    good books i love them.

  • Erin

    Really need to buy manga….But it doesn’t appear to be advertised in Australia (darn) And I can imagine how long it would take to draw it in pencil and being careful not to smudge it…

    I need to get my own manga idea into gear!

  • Giannis

    hello everyone… first of all i have seen almost all of your videos.its great i have drawn a couple of “realistic” manga faces my self :D

    and second: i live in greece and here the manga style comics have not really been apreciated. althought i would realy like to read yours. does anyone have any idea have that can happen? i dont think i can find it in a regular bookshop…

  • Liz

    hey i really like your art videos they help me out a lot. but i had a question. what age did you make miki falls for? like is it appropriate for a 12 year old to read or like a teenager? i was just wondering. the store i looked at didnt have them in stock so ill try to order them if i have permission. well thanks!
    Liz

  • i cryed at the end of the video

  • Jennifer Van Zant

    I am so intrigued! I watched some of Mark Crilleys ‘how to” videos and relized he did a manga! I am so excited since i am always looking for a good manga, i did some research and now is frantic searching were i can get my hands on one!!

  • mia

    miki falls is the best book i have ever read!

  • mia

    in my whole life!

  • umm is this popular,becouse i cant really find it in any library

  • and is it also round the PG 11 rate?

  • markcrilley, your great in what you do! i hope one day i can become a manga ilustrator as well. im studying hard for it! im reading miki falls. thanks for the series! its awesome!

  • Bee

    After seeing mark Crilley’s tutorials on youtube and watching them OVER and OVER again, I just knew I had to buy his latest manga series ‘miki falls’.

    Obviously, the book didn’t disapoint me! I absolutely adored it, I thought it was a original story line, fantastic drawings and everything about it made me want to read more. It’s by far the best series i’ve read, I enjoyed it so much!!!

    I can’t wait for crilley’s new book ‘Brodys Ghost’, no doubt it will be epic!

    -Bee
    (age 14)
    England

  • OMG first of all i love mark’s art its soo good its fantastic !

    I have read all 4 books by far the best book’s i have eva read i enjoyed them sooo much i didden’t want them to end ! x

  • […] Crilley was creating a new series (Brody’s Ghost) for Dark Horse. I loved Crilley’s Miki Falls and Akiko, so a new Crilley comic is reason to celebrate. It’s also a change of pace for what […]

  • dany

    this is so cute i love it n i want it where can i get it besides internet?

  • Milly

    I searched for pictures of manga on the internet and I found the drawings very nice:)
    Unfortunately, the manga does not exist in France :(

  • Chloe

    Mark, I am planning on getting all 4 of these books soon. You inspired me to start drawing manga. And Milly, are you sure? I bet you can still draw it if you tried!

  • miku yukionia

    i feel as if this review mde my desicion easier even though on the google i asked for miki falls comics i thought this helped alot so geaorge applesace whatever your name is nice job

  • Elisha

    Mark; i think you did an amayzing job at drawing those drwaings in the books, the books are terrific and i have read all of them and would read them over and over :)
    im not a fan of reading at all, infact i hate reading, but i truely love reading you books,
    i hope you make some more :)
    thanks Elisha

  • (IN NEED OF SOMEONES HELP) OMG .. i so wanna get that book , can someone please tell me were u can get it from ?????

  • […] comics from Mark Crilley are always a reason to celebrate, as anyone who’s read Akiko or Miki Falls well knows. So ever since we got some teaser stories in MySpace Dark Horse Presents, I was looking […]

  • Sky-lynn

    This book is amazing and I will read it over and over again till I know all the words by heart

  • Sky-lynn

    I think if there was another Miki falls book about what happens after she is donr training so we see some more of the troubles that happen

  • dana

    can you please please send me a letter but here this first . the other day i went my school libary during lunch at riverdale middle and see your book on the i had also saw your movies on youtube so i took the book and checked it out . in one day i was done with it . then i brought it back to get the 2 book but they didnt have it .s o im begging you to give one or two books of mikki falls to my school.ohh and your drawings are amazing . bye your fan dana

  • hey mark,i am your bigist fan,and can you put miki falls in other contreys beacose i do not liv in america and i want your comic soooooooooo bad.

    PS,i have seen the music video about miki falls with the song bring me to life,and i allmost cryid

  • Jenny

    Hello! OMG IM OBSESSED WITH MARK CRILLEY AND HIS VIDS ON UTUBE(I’ve watched them (almost) all!!!) AND HIS DRAWINGS AND WANT TO GET OBSESSED WITH HIS BOOKS, but I can’t find them… Does anyone know where to get them in Toronto, ON, Canada? Thanks! Ps. MARK CRILLEY PLEEEEEEEEAAAASSSE E-MAIL ME AT jennymw1@hotmail.com !!!!! I NEED ADVICE ON MY DRAWINGS AND SKETCHES!!!

  • ur amazing seriouly ur book miki is the bestest book ever. really it the best book i’ve ever read i’ll be looking forward that u could write another book miki falls 5 nd that one miki nd hiro could live together happly whats ur opienin????? ur book miki falls is the bestest.

  • Cecilia Jacqueline Thompson

    THIS BOOK SERIES SOUNDS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! I couldn’t help it to read the reviews of the best book in history!!!!!(Well the first anime book I’ve seen) :)