Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review - Mariachi-Dachi #1


"Yeah, they're pretty good - but their old stuff is still way better."

The sounds of a Mariachi band are very uplifting. The thing is, those in feudal Japan might not have heard them before. What happens when they do? A lot of rocking out and being happy while doing it. Thrusting a Mariachi band back in time has the potential to be amazing in Mariachi-Dachi #1 from The Grey Ninja. The first issue is written by Kevin & Kyle Merriman and illustrated by Kevin Merriman.

An unsuspecting Mariachi band is hurled back in time and find themselves in Ancient Japan. By complete mistake, or utter genius in this bizarre mash-up of culture, time and space - the band ignites what will become ground zero of their ultimate and strange destiny. The aforementioned band just so happens to start playing at a shrine that inadvertently offends a musician who's part of the Monzaemon Clan, a clan rife with traveling street musicians.

You have to hand it to the Merrimans: Mariachi-Dachi #1 is very unique and refreshing. The concept of a Mariachi band thrust into the past is interesting in its own right, but putting them into a battle of the bands is even more fascinating. The book feels like a cross between Scott Pilgrim and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, but it's a lot more comedic in nature than those two. The writing is lighthearted and very enjoyable, not taking itself too seriously. Digging deeper though and you realize that there's a lot more to the story, mainly the premise that music is a language that transcends culture. That's part of the genius of the book: there's a lost in translation aspect between the Spanish Mariachi band and the Japanese citizens, but all of them can find common ground in music.

Merriman's illustrations are about as bubbly as the story itself. The characters personify the intensity of the music battles, filling the pages with explosions, color changes symbolizing music peaks and valleys and characters who are caricatures themselves. These colors change with the characters and their music; for example, when the Mariachi band performs, the color changes to an orange that feels warm. It's a very powerful art style that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the book itself. The panels afford a very seamless art style that really flows from panel to panel, stocking the book with a ton of instances of music filling life with, well, life.

Mariachi-Dachi #1 is a book that's a lot of fun. It's definitely all ages and offers a theme of music as a universal language. It's a very uplifting book that enjoys itself along the way, giving readers something lighthearted to read. What's more is that along with the book, there's also 22 pages featuring gorgeous fan art, sketches and some of the early development work done to bring this story to life. You'd be hard-pressed to read Mariachi-Dachi #1 and not come away with a smile at the end of it. There's even some intrigue as to what comes next (and before), as how the Mariachi band got back in time and get back is something worth reading.

Mariachi-Dachi #1 is available via Comixology now.

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