by Mihona Fujii; adaptation by Jonathan Tarbox
published by DC/CMX Manga; $9.99 US
As the book opens, it’s New Year’s for Ran and her friends. Ran’s competing in temple contests to win good fortune and prizes. Sensible friend Miyu wants to earn money with a part-time job. Her sense of responsibility and ability to take care of herself contrasts with Ran’s approach to life: Ran relies on others to watch out for her and give her things, but she’s so good-hearted that it doesn’t come off as too selfish. She’s self-centered, but in a natural, humorous way.
The third gal, quiet, studious Aya, is concerned about her boyfriend. She wants to do whatever he wants because she’s afraid she’ll lose him. Her lack of self-esteem makes her pathetically grateful to him, qualities that will end up driving him away if she doesn’t pay more attention to her own needs. If she’s not careful, she’ll end up making happen what she most fears. Hopefully, she’ll learn from Ran the virtue of a cheerful self-indulgence.
Ran doesn’t really understand the problem — she’s with her loser boyfriend because he cracks her up and they para-para together — but she wants her friends to be happy, so she meddles best she can. This teen soap opera has a lot of energy, three-dimensional characters, and an attractive setting focused on trends and fashion. The art is packed but easy to read, with lots going on, just like in Ran’s life.
The author’s notes add a great deal to the appeal of the book. She sounds like one of her own characters, enthusiastic about enjoying life and sharing that enjoyment with the reader. Aside from the typical “thanks for reading my book, I worked hard on it”, she also provides advice on looking like a gal. In this volume, that includes how to buy and wear fashion wigs.
It’s a lot of fun, with the author keeping the story moving over the volumes in the series. When threats arise, they’re taken down quickly, so the gang can get back to reveling in their youth and enjoying life. I’ve previously reviewed the first book in the series.