(Like with the Pokemon Special volumes, this is a series so I'll review each book individually and then the whole series once I'm done)
I give this adorable little romp...an 83/100.
Sometime early last month, I stumbled across a cute little anime called Tanoshii Moomin Ikka, or Fun Moomin Family. Out of curiosity, I decided to sit down and watch it to see what it was like since I was getting tired of watching too much Pokemon, Sword Art Online, and Pretty Cure. And wow, much to my surprise, it was ungodly adorable, but it's so much more! It's warm, charming, funny, sweet, and it's not cute in the overly saccharine I-want-to-gargle-cyanide kinda way! It's full of good characters and engaging storylines and fun adventures! But as of now I've only seen up to episode six of the 1990s series, so I can't entirely judge it yet. The series did, however, inspire me to buy one of the original books, the cover of which is pictured above. I read through it and find it to be quite cute!
The series starts off with young Moomintroll and his friend Sniff who hear about a comet that's said to plummet to Moominvalley and destroy everything. They go on their way to an observatory far away to see if the rumors are true. They run into various perils like raging waters, poisonous plants, and monsters. But they also meet new friends, like the philosophical vagabond Snufkin, a pair of Snork siblings, Snork the brother and Snork Maiden (or Floren in the anime. I'm gonna call her that in every review since it just sounds odd for an individual to be referred to by his or her species name and not an actual name) the sister. Once they confirm the rumors about the comet, they have to run back to Moominvalley and prepare for the potential apocalypse.
Since this is a children's book series, the writing is very simple. But it's not so simple that it aims to insult the reader's intelligence, only explaining things when needed, and is still varied enough to leave you visualizing the adventures Moomin and his friends have in your head. The illustrations, albeit a tad crude, are cute and give us a better picture of who the characters are, where they're going, and what's happening. I couldn't help but notice they looked a bit more cartoony and cross-hatchy, like cartoons from the forties. But then again, this book was written in the 1940s, around the time the Cold War was about to get a firm grip on the United States (In fact, many scholars claim this whole book is an allegory for nuclear war and the fear that gripped everyone like the Bubonic Plague!). The characters, despite falling into some minor stereotypes, are also very cute and unique. We have Moomin, the nice, friendly, and idealistic leader, the frightful and cowardly Sniff, the vain and somewhat prissy Floren, and the gentle voice of reason, Snufkin. There's also Moominmamma and Moominpappa, who may come off as idealized parents at first, but are actually a whole lot more than that. Some of the characters' reactions to certain situations really rang true to me, as I can see others reacting the way they do in similar circumstances in real life too. I want more of these characters!
My only problems with the book lie within the choices of words and overuse of parentheses to explain things. There's nothing wrong with explaining things when needed, just as long as they fit into the story. But the authoress has a tendency to use parentheses and throw explanations in them a bit too much, even during some pivotal moments in this book when they would have been better as footnotes, slightly killing the tension and stopping the flow of the story for a while. I also found some odd word choices in some places. In one chapter, Moomin is told of the Snorks, and he suddenly refers to them as wretched, even though when he actually meets the Snorks he's nice to them. Why would he call them wretched when he's never even met them before and if he doesn't even hate them? Is this a translation error or an odd choice of words? Also, they call a harmonica a mouth-organ in this, which is also kind of odd, but that's about it.
It's cute, sweet, engaging, funny, and when the stakes get serious, boy, do they ever!