story by Miyoko Ikeda; art by Michiyo Kikuta
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.99 US
When non-readers slam on shojo manga, they talk about how stupid magical girl stories are with their sparkles and their irrepressible optimism and their faces taken over by big eyes. If that is your take on girls’ manga, then this book will do absolutely nothing to change your opinion, because it fulfills every stereotype.
Runa is a clumsy orphan girl who loves everyone, regardless of how they treat her. Her childhood best friend, Sae, calls her names (because Sae’s more eager to grow up than Runa is, and Sae’s upset that Runa lets others take advantage of her), but Runa loves her anyway.
Runa has been told since she was little that she has a great secret power. Perhaps it’s related to the mysterious necklace left with her when she was abandoned? Of course it is. Two strangers show up, chasing the pendant, which leads to her finding out she’s really a fairy princess, the Legendary Child with the power to change the world. The two can turn into animals (both normal and super-cute versions) and also fight to protect Runa.
This is a very predictable girls’ fantasy, in which everyone is secretly magical and powerful. Plus, it reinforces morals of good feminine behavior: Kindness is the greatest strength. All you need is to keep loving those you care about. Good will win out. I don’t know why the book is rated for ages 13 and up, because I didn’t notice anything objectionable, and I would think its best audience would be younger, when these cliches aren’t quite so familiar.
I couldn’t find any information on the history of this series, which is a shame, because the author’s notes indicate that this was not the first version of the story. The artist says, for example, “There are quite a few parts to the comic that are different from the original.” Apparently, it’s based on a novel. (The publisher provided a review copy.)