Manga Talk: Pompo The Cinephile

Welcome back to Manga Talk!

Today we are going to be taking a look at a manga series that started its life on Pixiv, and has started making its showing in English a few months ago.

We are looking at the first volume of Pompo: The Cinephile, and as usual there will be MASSIVE SPOILERS.

Let’s get started!

Summary

The story follows a young production assistant by the name of Gene Fini, who’s dream is to one day become a film director.

Gene is a certified movie maniac, as he has dedicated his whole life to watching and studying films, which eventually got him to being the production assistant to famed film producer Joelle Davidovich Pomponett, otherwise simply known as Pompo.

Now Pompo, despite looking really young, has a breadth of film knowledge and talent, some of it being raw natural talent and some of it coming from her grandfather, retired film producer J.D. Peterson.

While Pompo has an immense amount of talent, she usually produces B-Grade monster movies. While these movies are well received, Pompo has much more in mind.

After finishing her latest film, starring the rising star Mystia, Gene has a talk with J.D. Peterson to what it takes to be a great director and talks with Pompo on why he was chosen to be her assistant.

Pompo says that Gene has the makings of a good director, mostly because he is a shut-in who’s whole life is about film and how his lack of a social life has allowed him to leave reality and be more creative.

Pompo is trying to remember something, some form of inspiration, and after naming some possible hints, Pompo remembers that an actress from some recent auditions, Nathalie Woodward, had something about her.

Pompo calls up Nathalie and assigns her to shadow Mystia to learn how to become a better actress. Mystia and Nathalie get along really well, with Nathalie’s simple upbringing coming out to show Mytia who has lived the Nyallywood (their version of Hollywood) lifestyle for some time.

It is then revealed that Pompo spent most of her time with her grandfather, who forced her to watch films, and while they were all classics, and she cannot stand really long runtimes.

Pompo then assign Gene the tasks to cut the first fifteen second ad for the upcoming release. Gene is nervous, but as he begins the editing process, he gets into a rhythm that ends up impressing Pompo and the director of the movie, who then assign him to do the longer trailers.

“Just one more episode of One Piece…I’m only halfway through…”

This is the last thing that convinces Pompo to do something drastic, and after making some calls to Mystia and her grandfather, her plan is put into motion.

Gene finds an upcoming script and after Pompo forces him to read it, Gene says the right things to give Pompo the go ahead. Pompo says that the famous actor Martin Braddock will be playing the lead role after her grandfather called in a favor.

The second lead role is going to Nathalie, because she was the source of inspiration for Pompo to write the script and the last piece of news is that Gene is assigned to direct the movie.

Gene and Nathalie are nervous wrecks, especially at the production party, and even more so after meeting Martin Braddock.

Gene and Nathalie are given advice from everyone, which all boils down to relax and don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Gene’s most helpful advice comes from Director Corvette, who does a lot of Pompo’s monster movies, who tells Gene to make the movie for one person, instead of everyone.

At the end of the party, Gene and Nathalie have a heart to heart, saying that while they are both nervous, they will both do their best to make the movie the best they can.

The filming goes over well, with Gene showing his knack for film making, impressing everyone but especially Pompo.

When the scene that inspired Pompo to make the movie is finished filming, she leaves to get some other work done, and tells Gene that she trust him to make a movie and with the way he has done so far, the movie is a shoo in for awards.

She is right, of course, and the film earns many accolades, and when asked about his favorite scene, Gene remembers the advice that Director Corvette gave him during a flashback of Gene editing the film.

Gene says that while he couldn’t pick a particular scene that was his favorite, he said that he was glad that the runtime of the movie was ninety minutes.

Award Winning!

This is an interesting take on a slice of life story.

Going through the lives of filmmakers is not something that you generally see in media, but there were plenty of things that were really nice tidbits.

When I was in university I did take one film class, and while it wasn’t what I primarily studied I certainly do enjoy the behind the scenes of filmmaking.

There were plenty of aspects of film theory that were discussed, including philosophy of filmmaking, shot composition, improvising scenes, and just general movie making knowledge that I did like.

There was also plenty of movie trivia, with many of the major characters of the story sharing their three favorite films, which were then explained as to why they were the characters favorite films.

It acts as an additional look at the characters while also giving a mini lesson in film history that is not only rooted in American films, but also foreign films and anime films, which was refreshing to see.

Slice of life lives or dies by the characters, and I will say that the characters are very entertaining and interesting.

Gene, an cinephile, loves films in every aspect and that helps him and hurts him. He is socially awkward and has difficulty grasping his new responsibilities as director, but when he is in the zone, he is truly in his element.

Pompo, while not my favorite character, has aspects about her that make her interesting. She does love the process of being a creator, and when a movie is done she moves on to the next project. She is perpetually chasing the high of her next project.

Nathalie comes from simple upbringings, and has some talent that needs to be refined. While we don’t get much for her, we do see that she and Gene do bond on the fact that they are newcomers in a field full of experts in their craft.

The side characters are fun, with J.D. Peterson being entertaining in that whenever he greets someone, he usually calls them the name of a professional wrestler, which as an on and off wrestling fan always brings a chuckle.

This is strengthened by having very strong dialogue, which is especially important in slice of life stories. The dialogue goes from funny to deep in a way that doesn’t give you whiplash, and is some of the better dialogue I have read for a manga.

The art is very stylized and cartoony, which is definitely different from the other manga I’ve talked about, which adds to the charm of the series.

Rejected Script

Where the manga falls short is some of the dialogue.

It feels very much like a translation issue, because a lot of Pompo’s dialogue falls into slang terms like “dude” and “buncha”. I have no issue with Pompo being more casual in her dialogue, but to me it feels out of place in the story.

I do wish that Mystia was given more to do in the story, but I feel like she is being set up for more development in the future so it isn’t a major problem.

Another issue I did have was with…well how unrealistic the scenario was.

Of course it is a fictional story so there has to be some suspension of disbelief, but there are some aspects that come across as contrived at its worst.

Gene, someone with no experience in being a director becoming the director of a project that is starring a famous actor making their comeback? The leading lady being someone who is in their first time role? The film winning tons of awards, even with first timers?

It certainly has happened before, but to the breadth of how it was done came across as a bit artificial.

Again, this is very much a me issue and I’m sure a lot of other people can look past it, and in the grand scheme of things this is a minor issue.

In Conclusion

I would highly recommend this story, especially if you like films and film theory, fun characters, and entertaining dialogue.

This was not a story I was expecting to like, but I think that I will continue to follow this series. The second volume is out, with a third coming eventually and an animated movie that released in Japan last year with it coming to North America some time this year.

Coming on Friday, we are taking a look at a manga that is approaching it’s 24th anniversary. However the manga is currently on hiatus…and has been on hiatus for nearly four years.

Get ready for the Hunter exam as we are taking a look at Hunter x Hunter!

So until then,

Heiwa to sayonara!

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