Peepo Choo, Vol. 1
By Felipe Smith
Vertical, 256 pp
Rating: 18 +
Young Milton suffers from a malady that almost everyone experiences at one point in their life. He absolutely and utterly fails to fit in to the world around him. He goes out, forcing himself to be something he isn’t, but as soon as the opportunity arises his true self comes out. Namely, that of a huge anime geek. As fate would have it he’s about to get the opportunity of a life time, to visit the anime/manga mecca of his dreams, Tokyo, Japan and soon he’ll find out just how wrong his preconceptions of the country were. From Felipe Smith and Morning 2, comes Peepo Choo.
Peepo Choo is a brutal skewering and satire of geek culture, international cultural misconceptions and more. Nothing is sacred within this book. Milton and his hardcore “otaku” pals are generally the brunt of the jokes, but American comic fans, Japanese society, their perceptions of America, and more are all ridiculed and mocked in over the top and vaguely offensive fashion. Amid all the caricatures and skewering of social groups lies a plot line involving yakuza and an insanely violent hitman. This is clearly the connecting strand, pulling together the urban American culture obsessed yakuza member, the awkward fujoshi Japanese teenaged girl, Milton and the various other characters; but for the most part it feels like it was tacked on as an after thought to try and make the series something other than a group of skits mocking anyone it can.
Felipe Smith’s artwork is definitely dynamic and it’s heavily exaggerated for comedic effect. Unfortunately the result is that it’s also fairly ugly most of the time. The muscled characters are absolute mountains to the point of deformity, while the women are some sort of adolescent wet dream where they’re all ridiculously curvy and voluptuous, with breasts that must surely be exerting their own gravitational pull.
I’m not really sure what to think of Peepo Choo. I’m not particularly fond of it. The artwork is pretty far from my thing, and it doesn’t really feel like it’s saying anything new either. It generally feels like it was attempting to shock and offend for the sake of shocking and offending, and that’s just not something that appeals to me. But at the same time, given it’s huge popularity among the more respected commentators on the scene, I feel like I should like it. For me, I think Peepo Choo is my manga Preacher. Something that’ll be hailed by critics, but I just don’t get or enjoy at all. I have no doubt that it will find it’s audience though. Lord knows there’s enough people trotting out the stereotypical image of a “weeaboo” for laughs on the internet every day for it to sell well, but I’m definitely not among them.
Peepo Choo, vol. 1 is available now.