Shuriken and Pleats Volume 1
The concept of Shuriken and Pleats — schoolgirl ninja — is short but interesting. Sadly, the execution is slow and obvious. Author Hino Matsuri is best known for the popular Vampire Knight series, which I don’t remember being this patchy in plotting.
The young female ninja is Mikage, whose older master wants to adopt her and take her back to Japan with him. There, she plans to enroll in school, but she quickly finds herself protecting a younger man, part of an adversarial, conspiracy-minded family, when he’s attacked by other ninja.
Exciting as this plot sounds, particularly once people start trying to poison each other, it lays flat on the page, with slow pacing. The art is noticeably sparse, with lots of white space and no tone or shading in many panels. These characters seem to exist in a series of white rooms.
Much of the text is dedicated to Mikage’s internal monologues about her lack of emotion and how nice her masters are to her and her resulting dedication to them. I found the typeset text poorly suited to this frequently recurring content, since its mechanical perfection conflicted with the emotional message. Combined with the sketchy art, which doesn’t demonstrate any feelings of the characters, this made the content feel remote and unaffecting. Otherwise, the cast talks in plot exposition.
At the end of this volume, I felt as though twice as much should have happened as did. There’s a lot of potential here, but it’s not taken advantage of. The project feels unfinished or rushed. There’s only one significant scene with Mikage at school; I’d have rather seen more, because that was the most entertaining part of the book. Although this volume wraps up events neatly, there will be a second — maybe that one will be more what I wanted.
Shuriken and Pleats volume 1 can be ordered from the Diamond Previews catalog via your local comic shop with code JAN16 1793. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)
Patchy plotting was fairly rampant in Vampire Knight, actually, especially in the 2nd half of the series after (spoiler) happens. It’s still worth reading, as Hino has a tendency to make you ooh and aah at the cool things going on and the style while letting what’s actually happening whiz over your head.
As for the pacing, if this ran in LaLa, that’s an issue I find with many of its series, particularly Vol. 1-2. As opposed to the occasionally too manic Hana to Yume series, LaLa series can start off slow and repetitive before they get up to speed. Particularly if the lead is stoic, as it would appear from that cover.
Thanks for the background. I didn’t read much of Vampire Knight, so I’m not as aware of it as you seem to be. Here, there were cool things, but much of them were suggested and then happened in my head instead of on the page.