An Ideal World starts off with an homage to Alice in Wonderland. Unlike Lewis Carroll's delightfully daffy romp, An Ideal World is depressing and didactic. A You is a hapless loser with a dead-end job. He looks like a kid, he still lives at home, and he swears he has bad luck. His real problem is his attitude. For no known reason, A You is transported to a fantasy world in order to learn the lesson that even the humblest job is enriched by the approach of the person doing it. His mentor, an old man who looks remarkably like Yogurt from 'Spaceballs', has to drag him out of utopia kicking and screaming. A You's job is to take his new outlook and transform this world into a utopia.
The story spends too much time lingering on A You's unhappiness and whining. No explanation is provided for why A You, out of thousands of miserable young men in China, is singled out for this life-altering experience. Nor is enough time devoted to showing how he matures, or any acknowledgment made that it might be hard to change the habits of a lifetime. Instead, within four years and two pages, he has a wife and baby and is opening his own business. Getting there had to be more interesting than getting to the magic tree, but we don't get to see it.
The art doesn't display a consistent point of view. Like it or loathe it, when you're reading manga by Takahashi Rumiko or Oda Eiichiro the style is recognizable and uniform. The characters in An Ideal World don't even look like they come from the same series. However, there's a sameness about the backgrounds and coloring that fails to make the real and fantasy worlds distinctive.
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