Reviews: Franken Fran

Messed up but good

I found the series quite enjoyable. I suppose perspective matters. It's quite disturbing, a lot of graphic violence and some horror, and this series could be the Most Triumphant Example for Body Horror. Overall though, a lot of it is played for black comedy or even going for a weird sense of being heartwarming. Laser-Guided Karma and Ironic Hell are also commonly used.

Fran is likely to be a tough protagonist to sympathize with for some, but she is a lab creation with a twisted sense of morality and she doesn't tend to do things that are actively directly wrong. Plus many of the recipients of her surgery deserve it anyway.

The series doesn't really have a strong sense of continuity and many stories only last one chapter and aren't referenced later. It also feels like the series ends abruptly with the last chapter being a rather lame dream sequence and return to the status quo.

Adorably Horrifying

There's little to say here, It's a hilarious series that makes you barf your stomach out (That should have been a chapter). It crosses the line so many times but luckily, it ends up on the even side and ends up hillarious. There's little to no undeserved bad things happening and karma is in full effect for some reason, the cast is too funny for us to take this seriously. It's all a good laugh.

All Guts, No Glory

When you get right down to it, Franken Fran is nothing more then a B-Horror story that relies more on guts and gore then on actual story. At the most, it can be called a guilty pleasure, at the least it can be plainly seen as a series that is trying way too hard to try to be scary. Sure the talk of all the gore and etc would draw and fascinate people to those who just hear it, but what they end up getting is a Manga that replaces character depth, sensible writing and even scariness with just plain gore.

The fact is, people say all the graphic imagery is supposed to be scary, but when you get down to it variations of the same could be seen in other places and even better. This series runs on the concept solely on doing two page spreads of horror which after awhile, turn into the Manga version of a Jump Scare. Which like all others of its kind, loses it's scare factor over time. People say the character of Fran can be seen as childish or just not understanding of what she does. Yet after horror upon horror she that she performs on other people: It hits you eventually that she is neither sympathetic, nor a likable character in anyway.

In the end if you like it, go right ahead and read it. But as it is story-wise it becomes undefendable, and scary-wise it becomes boring.

A sick and disgusting manga that I will go on reading

Fran is a typical mad scientist, insofar as she lives in a research facility on the top of a mountain, surrounded by dark forests. She performs unspeakable experiments aided by her loyal henchmen and monsters. However, Fran too is an abomination of science. She is the masterpiece of the absent genius Naomitsu Madaraki.

There is a formula that appears in many of the stories. Fran is prompted to perform some form of surgery and the results are unhappy, usually because she has been too enthusiastic to consider the consequences. On one occasion, Fran removes the head of a murdered girl and substitutes other vital organs for parts of the brain. The reanimated head becomes a macabre pet.

The twists are horrifying. In the second chapter, the fate of one of the protagonists comes as a particularly nasty surprise on the very last page. Sometimes, though, we get a happy end. In chapter 11, for example, Fran saves the life of a boy as a favour to his little sister. The means may be questionable—and there is a terrific picture of Fran, with glowing eyes and a maniacal smile, various surgical instruments in her six hands, henchmen behind her—but for the children everything ends happily.

Franken Fran is full of dismemberments and gore. It is also a very enjoyable black comedy. It is the humour that makes it especially worth reading. If it was just a gorefest, this reader wouldn't be particularly interested. Much of the comedy stems from Fran's limited self-awareness.

Fran is a likable character in the context of her comic book universe, a little bit the same way that Homer Simpson is a likable character. Like Homer, she wouldn't be pleasant to have around in real life. What makes her endearing is her childlike innocence. "Childlike" is an important modifier here. A child doesn't have a developed sense of moral responsibility. Fran is displeased when things go awry, but she never feels guilty. She is more likely to feel unappreciated for her efforts. Like a child, she feels that her good intentions are sufficient to clear her from blame.

I believe that the intended demographic is older teenage boys. That target audience may also go some way towards explaining the gratuitous nudity that appears now and then.

This review is based on the first two volumes, as published in German.

Enjoyably disturbing

Even though I had previously deadened my senses to insane amounts of gore and violence through two lovely inventions called movies and video games, I still have to admit the uncomfortable twinges I got from reading this series for the first time. Mind you, I had read violent manga before (Hellsing in all its gory glory comes to mind), but this wasn't played for thrills or perverse humor). Franken Fran definitely falls into the category of horror, and with good reason. The main character is a twisted psycho despite having a drive to preserve life, and she surrounds herself with fantastically grotesque companions and situtations (often of her own design).

The shocks and WTF twists in every chapter are what make this series so enjoyable, because you'll never know when the Outer Limits Twist or Tomato In The Mirror will show up. And even then, it's not sure if it'll be played straight or twisted into a subversion pretzel. After a while the sheer terror of reading chapter after Body Horror-infused chapter wore off, I started to look at the story more, which is really good. Fran has some good relationships with the people she knows, trying to keep all of them friendly, especially with her sister. And even when she tries to help someone, it'll be from a genuinely altruistic desire (lack of medical ethics notwithstanding). And the art isn't bad either. I caught myself looking at a particularly gruesome scene and marveled at how detailed the internal organs looked.

So try and see where it takes you. If you are a hardened jaded shell like me, you might like the crazy story and characters. If you're into this sort of thing, you could get the same perks plus a bonus or two.