In a land where people can manipulate their auras to unlock hidden power, Mimi Kaze must pay her fathers gambling debt to the local mob while discovering the ancient secrets of her home city and of her family heirloom The Jade Heart.

cover

Story

The Jade Heart is a story that I would say has a rough start. It certainly didn’t grab my attention straight from the start and this may be one of the reasons why its audience is relatively small currently.

The plot seems to jump around from scene to scene without really explaining how much time has passed, how they ended up where they are (logically), and forgets some important background information, like for example, how they get their abilities –Josie J.E.S. vaguely touches on auras.

To add to the lack of information on how their abilities are formed, there is the confusing transition from chapter one to chapter two. In chapter one the main character has no idea about anything and ends up in chapter two as this total badass with complete control. How that happened is a mystery to me, and as far as I know only seven days had passed since chapter one –which I find it difficult to believe she goes from zero to hero that quickly.

p1
Given a weapon to use…
p2
Summoned a weapon with her newly acquired abilities.

 

However, once you get passed those – relatively large – obstacles, you can see that The Jade Heart has a lot of potential to develop into something fantastic. Like anything, obstacles can be overcome and it’s just a matter of hard work and practice for results to be seen.

Writing

An area in which that hard work may need to be applied is the writing. Although it does improve slightly in the newer chapters, it is quite clear this is not Josie J.E.S’ strong suit. This is unbearably clear in the first chapter in which the grammar errors are in nearly every single speech bubble.

The biggest issues here are the spacing for the words, in which sometimes there is a space between punctuation and other times it just continues on into the rest of the sentence. Although this doesn’t make the story unreadable, it certainly doesn’t help aesthetically.

grammar

Another area is the use of capitals. Josie J.E.S sporadically and confusingly throws capitals onto the beginning of some words –regardless of punctuation. Again, it doesn’t prevent the reader from being able to understand the story, but it takes away from the overall appeal more than it adds anything at all.

Capitals
Random capitalized words make the flow feel slightly more choppy.

Both of these issues become less frequent as you progress through the chapters, although are still randomly there every now and then.

There is some great humour thrown into The Jade Heart which is really where I find a lot of potential in this story. Josie J.E.S. has such a random sense of humour that you just find yourself laughing at the ridiculousness of the characters.

The final point I want to address here is the issue of awkward conversations. These happened quite a bit and may have added to some of the confusion in the story. The flow from one conversation to the next could be very rough at times.

awkward 2
The character Mimi should either have more speech bubbles for the two distinct topics, or it should be cut into two different panels.

That being said, there were other times when the conversations were beautifully written and flowed smoothly between characters and panels.

not always akward
Nice transition which really compliments the dialogue

Art

Similarly to the writing, the art contradicted itself at times, sometimes showing great potential and other times falling short of a potentially great scene.

I also want to make it clear that the art in the first chapter does not represent The Jade Heart. The artwork improves from chapter two onwards.

long legged character design

massive improvement
Body feels more proportionate and the addition of colour is more visually appealing.

 

Josie J.E.S. captures some nice movement scenes in The Jade Heart which make a big impact on her action scenes which are pivotal in this action-packed comic.

movement

The movement is complimented by good panel transitions that create flow from one scene to the next. Again, this is key for those action scenes and helps the readers understand what is going on.

paneling nice

One issue that contradicts this is the flat and stiff character designs. Normally I’m not bothered by flat, or 2D designs, but the issue arises when the characters are put in posed stances. What I mean by this is that the characters look like they are constantly posing for a photoshoot, standing in ways that just aren’t realistic for the conversations they are having and the situations they are in.

strike a pose
Side business indeed…

Adding to this is the creepy lack of facial expressions. Either the expression changes are so subtle I’m not noticing them, or the characters are perpetually happy –even in life-threatening situations. Also I found it odd that the good guys were buddy-buddy with the bad guys.

lack of facial expressions
“Why should I be surprised or concerned that you are shaking me upside down? Is fun, no?”

Lastly in the art, although I love the addition of colour that was added after chapter one, I found the backgrounds relatively boring and disappointing at times. Some of the backgrounds even blended in with the characters, taking away from the overall scenes credibility or impact.

not always awkward 2
Yaassss… I am the Invisible Man.
blending into background
“Well I used to have hair, but then I figured, eh, who needs it?”

Although, Josie J.E.S. did have some great backgrounds that really were quite a stunning combination of colours. Colour palettes are definitely Josie’s strong suit.

gorgeous artwork now and then
So pretty! 🙂

Conclusion

Overall, I am impressed with the amount of growth Josie J.E.S. has shown in her artwork and in her storytelling. She has a lot of potential for a great story and I look forward to seeing where she takes it from here.

I would suggest working with the first chapter a bit to maybe find a way to better explain some of the background of auras and the world. I’m sure the reader can fill in the blank spaces themselves, but it may be beneficial to offer a bit more information –for structural reasons.


You can read The Jade Heart on Tapastic.