Dinosaur Sanctuary Vol. 1 | Review
Dinosaur Sanctuary Vol. 1
Writer/artist: Itaru Kinoshita
Seven Seas Entertainment; $13.99
Imagine a world where the impossible happened, and dinosaurs came back from extinction (Thanks, in this case, to a combination of the discovery of a lost island full of dinosaurs and genetic manipulation). Imagine enough time has passed that dinosaurs are no big deal anymore, and seeing one isn’t the most exciting thing in the world–or, at least, it’s no more exciting than seeing any other zoo animal.
That’s the world of Dinosaur Sanctuary, which manga-ka Itaru Kinoshita situates in a small, struggling dinosaur zoo called Dinoland. Our point-of-view character is Suma Suzume, a naive rookie dinosaur keeper joining the too-small, underfunded staff at Dinoland with big dreams of working with dinosaurs, a lifelong goal of hers.
Suzume quickly discovers it’s much harder work than she could have imagined—something that sets in right around the time she’s hauling her first load of Gigantosaurus poop—and that in addition to working with dinosaurs, she also has to work with people, navigating the differing personalities of her fellow keepers and zoo workers, like the bossy but kind-hearted Kaidou and the handsome but arrogant veterinarian Shiranui.
If the concept of a dinosaur zoo reminds you of a certain film franchise, well, it’s almost impossible not to think of Jurassic Park while reading Dinosaur Sanctuary. The major difference is that in the manga, the park works like it was supposed to in the films: Rather than the carnivores escaping and attempting to eat the human beings, the suspense and drama of Dinosaur Sanctuary comes from the care of the perfectly secured dinosaurs.
Can the keepers safely remove an obstruction from a Troodon’s throat? Can they help boost the popularity of a triceratops with a broken horn so he won’t be sold to another zoo? Did the vet catch the signs of kidney disease in the Dilophosaurus in time?
It turns out, there’s plenty of excitement in the concept of a dinosaur zoo without dinosaurs breaking loose and trying to eat everyone. There is a little more going on too, as is hinted at by Suzume’s connection to her late father and an “incident’ spoken of in hushed tones, but that revelation will apparently have to wait for future volumes.
The first volume of the series is a rather charming workplace drama set in the most fantastic of workplaces, with gorgeously rendered dinosaurs sharing panels with strong character designs.
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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