One genre I’ve always loved watching and reading about when it came to stories were those of the underdog sports team suddenly finding a way to overcome their doubts, differences, and weaknesses in order to come together as a stronger unit.
By far, Slam Dunk was my favorite because it really put to the test the wills and hearts of each and every one of the players on Shohoku’s team. Add to that films inspired by real events such as Coach Carter, Remember the Titans, or Miracle, and you have a rich canon of people throughout history that have overcome great obstacles in order to achieve their goals.
Kai Castillo’s Patintero is one such story. Although not inspired by real events, it tells a tale that is seemingly impossible: about a blind kid wanting to become a professional athlete.
What to Expect
There’s a certain Daredevil element to Patintero in that the hero, Owen Garcia, has heightened senses in order to help make up for his lack of sight. It’s not a superpower per se, though, as this isn’t a superhero comic. Rather, the narrative simply exaggerates the fact that one’s senses are amplified to compensate their lack of another.
There were good things I liked about the comic, and things that I believe could have been done better. There were parts that could have been dramatized more to create more tension, excitement, and emotion, whereas there were also parts that emulated all those things.
Overall, despite its shortcomings, Patintero is an entertaining read. To break it down, today’s Filipino komiks review covers some things that struck me about the Patintero…
The only thing wrong with the narrator explicitly stating that the hero is blind is that it takes away the beauty of having the reader find out for himself. While most readers hate being confused, being spoon-fed information directly also isn’t very ideal.
One thing readers like about reading (but don’t realize it consciously) is finding stuff out for themselves. They like solving puzzles, and solving the puzzle of the blind kid isn’t difficult to dramatize. The principle of “Show, Don’t Tell” is often repeated because showing simply packs more punch than telling.
It gives the reader a sense of satisfaction to suddenly figure out for themselves that: “Oh, he’s blind!” So my only wish was that the epiphany that Owen was blind shouldn’t have been taken away from the reader. Make the audience’s brains work, even just a little bit. Don’t treat them like they’re clueless. They’re actually much smarter than you think.
Early on, the comic quickly explains the rules of the game. This is a good thing! But one way it could have been done without using an information dump is to insert a character that’s has no idea about anything related to patintero. It isn’t the most glamorous way of going about explaining things, but it’s a technique that’s been used time and time again. Place a character that’s clueless and loves to ask questions, and there you have that info-dump inserted in a more dramatic fashion.
You see that in Slam Dunk alone, wherein Sakuragi himself is the one that knows absolutely nothing about basketball. Prince of Tennis has similar instances wherein the beginners are being schooled on how the more experienced players play their tennis.
Ultimately, Doctor Who is one show wherein the Doctor’s companion’s main role is really to ask questions about the universe. Without the companion, the Doctor would have little or no opportunity to explain to the audience what’s really happening, who those aliens are, and what they’re capable of.
I understand that these are just independent, self-published comics, and having typos might even be inevitable. Heck, even traditional publications have the occasional typo. It would’ve been nice, however, to have gone through the comic a few more times before sending them off to the printers.
If we want our public to take us seriously as creators, we have to be professional about our work. I’m sure all of us know at least one person that’s good at grammar and writing. Maybe we could ask for their help?
This is very common in anime, isn’t it? It’s also something I’ve only recently found funny about the whole genre of anime. The great thing about the way it’s done in Patintero is that it isn’t the character that yells out the special move, it’s the announcer. That just makes way more sense.
Maybe this is just me nitpicking, but in some pages, the drawing of these extra players gets to me. For example, in page 31 it looks as though the artist’s little brother just inserted his own character onto the page. It’s not at all consistent with the rest of the panel.
Same goes with page 35 and 66. In these cases, somehow it feels like the panel was better off without the extras in the background. Including these empty stick figures only makes the comic seem sloppy, and the artist lazy—and I doubt that’s true, since he was able to come up with a full volume.
The narrator is at times funny, and at other times not funny. The narrator has a playful tone and voice, but sometimes takes away the enjoyment of reading the comic (at least, in my case it does).
Sometimes the jokes don’t fit and take away the drama and excitement of the page, and that’s a loss for the reader and the writer. It draws the reader out of the comic’s world, because now they either laugh or cringe at the joke. In a moment of tension in the story, that kind of narration just makes the reading experience fall flat.
I’m all for the blind kid leading his own team to victory. However, the first victory of the Flames is a bit questionable for me. The first game should have been like the gatekeeper for the Flames, their first hurdle. Instead, it just seemed too easy for them to even break a sweat.
First off, while I’m sure Owen is great at sensing where his opponents are thanks to his hearing and all, you have to consider the noise of the crowd. How does he hear above all that screaming and shouting? How is he able to concentrate?
The first game should have been a test for him, perhaps one of his hardest tests yet. In Joseph Campbell’s model, the Hero’s Journey, it would have been the moment where the hero battles the threshold guardian in order to continue on with his quest.
While that may make the comic seem predictable and formulaic, the fact is that the comic already started down that same path of the Hero’s journey. Making Owen’s first opponent a really monstrous beast would have at least allowed us to identify even more with the character.
People love to read about others overcoming obstacles and struggles. In Owen’s case, things shouldn’t have run so smoothly. That way we, the readers, will willingly salute this blind kid for being fearless despite the difficulties he’s experiencing.
Overall, Kai Castillo’s Patintero is a refreshing read. It’s nice to see something done to one of our nation’s local games and sports, and watch it be turned into an international phenomenon. I’d love to read more of it, and am hoping to grab a copy of the next volumes soon.