Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

Jul 26, 2010

Panic X Panic VS. Fairy Navigator Runa

Magical Kiddos Unite! Looking for a new magical girl series, but not sure where to start? Del Rey has put out two new series that fall into this category and I've picked up both to see which one grants more wishes.

Panic X Panic

The Gist: A boy of western faith and a girl of eastern faith - rivals in their high school class, they seem to have a combined destiny to fight off evil demons that have been released through a broken gate in order to save the world.

Romance?: It looks like rivals who despise will become crushes in time. Fighting together will bring them closer. Each seems to need the other one's power.

Reminds me of: Cardcaptor Sakura - a boy and girl with their own powers overcoming evil together and falling for each other along the way.

The Art: I actually looked up the publication date, because the art in this series has a more retro look of earlier manga with small faces and big hair. Still, there are many action sequences that flow smoothly and typical busy shojo toning.

Intended audience - Rating says Teen 13+, and I'd imagine teens that are looking for action and romance would really enjoy this series. Gags and romance are aimed at actual teenagers.

Fairy Navigator Runa

The Gist: A young fourth grade girl discovers she's a hidden fairy princess that is destined to save her world.

Romance?: Already a love triangle in the works, one fairy boy tries to protect her, another mystery boy catches her love interest at first sight.

Reminds me of: Shugo Chara! - A girl discovering who she is and what power she holds, destined to save others.

The Art: This one wins hands down. Cleaner line art and toning. More attractive character designs. Judging by the cover art, Michiyo Kikuta has a softer style of cel shading than Mika Kawamura.

Intended audience - Rating says Teen 13+, but with the age of the protagonist, I think it would be appropriate for tweens too. Upper elementary girls would eat it up.

The Verdict

After reading both I do have a preference, and it's based on my feelings about characters. I think I'd rather read a story where the boy and girl are equals fighting together, than a girl trying to make up her mind which boy she loves, as she discovers her powers. It probably is influenced also by the age of the characters. But that's my personal bias.

Right now I think both series look promising, and if you enjoy this sub genre of mahō shōjo then by all means check them both out. However, if you happen to be on a tight budget and must choose just one then I hope some of the comparison above will help to make a decision.

In the meantime, our magical heroes must continue to save the world! ✩

Jul 19, 2010

Manhwa of the Month: Pig Bride Vol. 5 - KookHwa Huh / SuJin Kim

Synopsis: Mu-Yeon returns after enrolling at Si-Joon's private high school. Although Si-Joon and Mu-Yeon accept their feelings and are ready for wedded bliss, now Mu-Yeon must pass approval of Si-Joon's grandfather. Mu-Yeon enters the Miss Beauty Pageant to the chagrin of Doe-Doe. Ji-Oh gets highly embarrased, and Doe-Doe's "mom" has finally gone too far. The ending of this five volume series is anything but predictable.

Review: You can tell the author of this series really enjoyed writing the characters, because she didn't want to stop. She told the story right up to the final pages and even ran out of room to do an epilogue. If I had been the editor, I would have told the author to condense the first three-quarters of the book into a smaller storyline, and then encouraged more post marital and epilogue storyline. I don't really think the audience needed Si-Joon's grandfather's approval or the entire process of the Miss Beauty Pageant. The only major plot resolution with the beauty pageant arch was the revelation of what was to become of Doe-Doe. However, I'm sure the artist was dying to draw the cute fashion designs that were needed for the beauty pageant scenes. One of my favorite scenes in this volume was the actual wedding. The traditional Korean garb of the bride and groom is drawn in detail, and the characters play their parts quite well.

Speaking of the artwork, this volume has some of the best color work I've seen from the series. The cover art of the two main characters looks really nice, even with Si-Joon's pink eyes and hair. I guess it's because Mu-Yeon looks so cute now without her mask! There's also a color insert of the four main characters, which kind of stunned me when I opened the book.

I really like this piece. Maybe it's because I'm partial to butterflies, but I think the close-ups in the four split frames that bleed into each other is some of the best portraiture I've seen by SuJin Kim. It really envelopes the personality of the characters.

Then there is this concluding image of the characters on the back of the book in chibi-form that is very endearing. A happy, sparkly wedding day image of the characters that hits on the fun side of their personalities.

Overall, this series was a fun read, and I'm so glad Yen Press chose to share it with us. It would be fun to see these characters have another adventure together. I think the author felt the same way too, and that's why she couldn't stop writing. In the back she writes a quick epilogue telling what happens 25 years from now. Also, there is a telling of how Mu-Yeon ended up with the mask of a pig. A fun piece of trivia for readers. If you like fantasy and romance with humor to boot, then there's no doubt you'll enjoy the story of Pig Bride.

Romance Rating: Cuddly - Even with all the threats of consummation, the author doesn't go there even after the wedding. Cute and sweet kisses during the wedding is all we get.

Media Status: - Pig Bride is available in English in five volumes from Yen Press.

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