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Short manga reviews, Part 2

October 5, 2007

Shugo Chara vol. 1 by Peach-Pit
shugocharaAmu Hinamori has only attended Seiyo Elementary for six months, but that’s more than enough time for everyone to get the wrong impression of her. Amu is shy and wishes she had more confidence, but her classmates think she is the Coolest. Person. Ever. After wishing to have the courage to be her true self, Amu finds a set of three eggs, each of which contain a Guardian Character. The Guardian Characters have the power to transform Amu to a person who is brave, artistic, or athletic.

Shugo Chara is cute, especially Amu. And I really mean cute. If you don’t like cute, you should probably skip this one. The panels are busy with lots of overlapping elements, so it probably isn’t the best choice for a manga novice. And while Shugo Chara is rated for Teens, I don’t recall anything objectionable in this volume and can see a lot of tweens liking it.

Tsubasa vol. 1 by CLAMP tsubasa
Considering how many characters in Tsubasa first appeared in other CLAMP series, Tsubasa vol. 1 was surprisingly easy to follow. (Not to say that I didn’t get confused, but it could have been a lot more confusing. There is a summary of Cardcaptor Sakura and how it ties in to Tsubasa, as well as a character list that indicates which series they first appeared in, at the end of the volume, which did help.)

Syaoran is an archaeologist determined to finish his late father’s last dig. Sakura is a princess, in love with Syaoran, who goes to the dig site and collapses upon seeing the strange artifact that was just uncovered. Syaoran is told that Sakura’s heart is nowhere to be found on their world, and so begins his quest across multiple dimensions to recover the pieces of Sakura’s heart, even though it will cost him what he holds most dear.

The only other CLAMP manga I’ve read are Tokyo Babylon vol. 1 and The Legend of Chun Hyang, and I liked Tsubasa the best of the three. But not enough to continue the series, although I am tempted to give xxxHolic vol. 1 a try because it crosses over directly with this volume. I’m still not a fan of CLAMP’s artwork, which I found occasionally bewildering, especially in the full page layouts.

Vampire Knight vols. 1 and 2 by Matsuri Hino
vampireknightYuki’s first memory is that of being rescued from a vampire attack. Her rescuer is a vampire himself, and he takes her to a boarding school, Cross Academy, where Yuki is adopted by the headmaster. Ten years later, Yuki is a student as Cross Academy and a member of the Disciplinary Committee along with fellow student Zero Kiryu. Ostensibly, the purpose of the Disciplinary Committee is to make sure the Day Class and the Night Class at Cross Academy are kept separated, but there’s more to it than that. The Night Class consists of vampires, led by class president Kuran Kaname, the vampire who saved Yuki ten years ago. The existence of vampires is unknown to most people, and the only humans at Cross who know that the Night Class are vampires are Yuki, Zero, and the headmaster, a pacifist who believes that humans and vampires can learn to coexist.

The first couple of pages seemed like too much of an effort to set the atmosphere, and reading that members of the Night Class “are all extremely beautiful” didn’t exactly make me eager to continue. But the story quickly gets better. And Hino’s artwork is fantastic. Yuki may have big eyes, even by manga standards, but, man, those school uniforms are awesome!

Definitely recommended for fans of Twilight and Marked.

Yurara vols. 1 and 2 by Chika Shiomi
yuraraYurara’s ability to see spirits has always been a problem. Though her grandfather also saw them and told her that she was “being protected by something powerful,” it’s made her an outcast at school because she’s so sensitive to their presence. This year, Yurara hopes to control her ability and make friends at her new school. But on the very first day of school, she sees a spirit blocking her way to class. Deciding to go through the spirit, she is overcome by tears as she passes. Which, of course, makes the other girls in her class think she’s weird.

The fact that the two hottest guys in her class talk to her constantly and seem to like her doesn’t make Yurara any more popular with the girls. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t want the attention of Mei and Yako. They keep on talking to Yurara (or, in Mei’s case, flirting with her), because they can also see spirits. Mei and Yako have more control over their powers (read: they don’t start crying when the see a spirit and actually know how to get rid of them), but Yurara’s powers are stronger, and when facing danger, Yurara’s guardian spirit appears, transforming her physically and emotionally.

Overall, Yurara is an entertaining, enjoyable read, moving smoothly and quickly. There’s enough character development and humor to keep readers interested, and while Shiomi’s artwork didn’t blow me away, I didn’t dislike it, either.

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