“Social media is safe for anyone as long as you have a non-addictive personality, you’re mentally in a healthy place, and you’re not hiding anything at all from your loved ones!”
That’s a quote from the graphic novel “Mariko Between Worlds” by a side character and just so you know, “social media” in the book is a drug, a literal one that looks like tiny shiny pellets that can be eaten. The euphemism was fun though.
“Created by author Matthew Erman and illustrator Liana Kangas, “Mariko Between Worlds” is a sci-fi romance depicting a couple spending their last day together before parting ways. It reads like a romantic-comedy side story from Brian K. Vaughan’s “Saga,” the space-fantasy comic-book series, without the dystopian themes. Mariko, a human, is in a relationship with Rem, a blue-colored alien who is relocating to a moon for a new job. Mariko wanted to move with Rem, but the government rejects her visa application, so she decides to end the relationship.
The graphic novel’s artwork is a beautiful explosion of colors, with Liana Kangas’ illustrations vividly bringing to life this intergalactic space romance. The two protagonists decide to have a final adventurous day in the “Mall of Portals,” a colossal space mall offering unimaginable entertainment options. Multiverse bunnies, alien DJs, philosophical refrigerators, Satan-like bargain hunters – Mariko and Rem have one heck of a day, but things come to a head in unexpected ways.
At around 114 pages, “Mariko Between Worlds” is a fast-paced story featuring made-up words and terms that might be a little overwhelming for some readers. Despite the out-of-space narrative with aliens, Mariko and Rem’s romance resonates with human emotions. Mariko grapples with grief at the thought of parting with her boyfriend of four years, while Rem remains cheerful and optimistic, suggesting they celebrate their last day together and allow grief to take its own time. Anyone who has experienced the challenge of parting with a loved one due to distance might find Mariko and Rem’s story quite relatable. Despite being the one who suggests the break-up, Mariko is the one who desperately wants things to work out, but paradoxically, she is also the only one unhappy in the relationship.
The artwork and relatable romantic elements made “Mariko Between Worlds” an easy read, despite some chaos and confusion in between.
Rating: 3.5 on 5.
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