by Mia Ikumi; adapted by Elina Ishikawa
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.99 US
If you read Hell Girl and thought “this would be even better if the devil girl cursing people was instead a witch angel granting wishes, and the stories had less point to them”, then Only One Wish is the manga for you.
As best I can tell, this is a single volume, with no continuation. Given the content, that’s not surprising, since it muddles around, and the author seems to change her mind. For instance, the method of contacting the witch changes from the first story to the second. Originally, it’s a convoluted scheme that sounds exactly like what a middle-schooler would dream up: text the angel at an address seen in a mirror at the top of a non-existent stair landing found in the school at midnight. By the second story, about a girl killed suddenly who will be returned to life with a kiss from the right boy, the method has become simply finding a magic cellphone lying on the ground.
The stories cover typical manga subjects: For example, three best friends work to set one of them up with the boy she has a crush on, only then they become jealous of the time she spends with him away from them. There aren’t any real insights into human nature or clever twists. The stories are mechanical and predictable in what happens. Well, that’s not quite true; I knew the schoolgirls would turn on each other, but I didn’t predict the smoke monster that shows up to eat one of them. So I was surprised by how ridiculous it all became quickly. It even ends abruptly, as though the artist ran out of pages.
Even sillier is the third story, in which a girl wishes for the boy she likes to be shrunken, so she can keep him like a doll in her room. I’m still not sure how or why the ending came together the way it did. The second chapter, set during Christmas, has the witch end the chapter by thinking, “Was I being too generous? … It’s not bad to have a happy ending once in a while.” That sentiment might have more impact if this weren’t only the second story with the character!
The last chapter is a romance between two kids who accidentally swap phones. It’s the best of the bunch, because the witch doesn’t appear until very late in the story and is pretty unnecessary to the events. Then the witch says it’s better to do things without her, and the book ends. I guess that’s appropriate, since once she’s decided she’s irrelevant, the premise is over.
Author Mia Ikumi illustrated Tokyo Mew Mew (brought to the US by Tokyopop), and just to make sure they get sales from her fans, the book also includes a seven-page story with those characters. Since I’ve never read the series, it was incomprehensible to me. I can appreciate that fans of the artist might enjoy reading this side project by her, but that strikes me as the only audience who’d enjoy this book. Otherwise, it’s forgettable. (The publisher provided a review copy.)