Don’t let the overplayed shrinking girl gag turn you off, there are some cool Buddhist and onmyoji occult themes driving this story.
Writer/Artist: Mick Takeuchi
Translation: Christine Schilling
Adaptation: Brynne Chandler
What They Say
They say fated lovers are bound together by an invisible red thread. Most people think it's superstition, but Chiyako knows better - she can see it! Her own fate is hidden from her, but a chance encounter with a mysterious group known as the Linkers shows her there's much more at stake than finding true love...
The front cover depicts a goth-style dressed Chiyako and Hirotsuna, which is funny since they get along like oil and water. The Go! Comi cover is the same as the original Japanese release, with the exception of the title font. Go! Comi is one of the smaller publishers that always puts out a top notch release, as far as packaging is concerned. The printing is solid and clean from start to finish. Along with the Translator’s Notes page, there is also a page describing the meaning behind many of the character’s names. I love this section and wish more publishers would include something like this.
Fans of Her Majesty’s Dog, also being released by Go! Comi, will already be familiar with Takeuchi’s art style. It is typical of most shojo, with sparse backgrounds, bishi boys, and spontaneous flowery moments when a male character gets close to the female lead, Chiyako. Chiyako is an energetic girl, which the author does a good job projecting with facial expressions and fits of SD. I also found it interesting the high level of detail in Chiyako’s eyes and those of the male characters, when the other female characters receive little more than a black dot for eyes.
There are no glaring grammar errors and the dialogue flows well. Most Japanese SFX remain with a smaller English translation nearby. In smaller places, the Japanese SFX is replaced with the English equivalent. Honorifics remain between characters, unless they are close, in which case they are dropped.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Most high school students can’t wait to grow up and move out of their parents house, and Chiyako is no exception. Only difference between her and most kids, is her dad said she could hit the road as soon as she could afford it. What!? Seems to be some serious dysfunction in that family.
Since school won’t let students have jobs, Chiyako has to get a little creative. Since she can see the red strings of fate binding people to their true love, she decides to become a matchmaker. I’m not sure how often she actually tells the right people they should date, but she does a fair amount of breaking couples up. It pays good money, but I think she should feel bad about destroying the growing process humans have to go through. You know, the whole love and learn thing. Anyways, this matchmaking scheme of hers lands her in some serious trouble in a rough-looking guy tracks her down at school and tells her to stop matchmaking. Why should he care what Chiyako is doing? Or maybe she ruined the guys relationship with some girl that asked Chiyako for help?
The threads of fate are strong, so it doesn’t take long for Chiyako not only meet that guy again but also hear something she should not have. She is in love with her calligraphy teacher, Akeo, and when she tries to spy on him she sees the rough guy talking to him. When they catch her, Chiyako runs away, but a fateful turn takes her to the basement where one of the 5 Colored Threads, Silver, chooses her to become a Tyer. This will give her the power to see all the Threads of Fate and manipulate silver threads, which represents metal. In exchange, the Thread steals her greatest dream from her, which happens to be becoming an adult. Her body is reduced to that of an elementary school kid and only returns to normal when she uses her Threads power. Unfortunately, she can only maintain that power for a matter of minutes and it forces her to sleep afterwards.
I know this all sounds corny, but the fact that the Tyers are onmyoji makes it an interesting theme. That is if you enjoy stories about the occult. The comedy along the way as Chiyako and Hirotsuna fight is pretty good. There is also some fanservice whenever Chiyako reverts to her normal size and her clothes explode. There are also plenty of mysteries about what it means to be a Tyer, what the group giving orders to the Tyers really wants, and just about everything about Akeo, Hirotsuna, and Aya. Akeo seems to know a lot, but because he hasn’t shared it with the others, there seems to be certain amount of distrust among the three men.
Bound Beauty certainly isn’t your standard shojo series. Sure, it has bishi boys and only a single female character, but there are also creepy demons and ghosts. With the characters being Tyers, in charge of tying off the threads of fate for people, they often encounter ghosts unable to move onto the next world. This aspect makes Bound Beauty like a cross between a shojo romance and xxxHolic or Category Freaks. Much like xxxHolic, the people in Bound Beauty that seek help from the Tyers often receive help that doesn’t always end the way they had hoped. This occult aspect is very attractive to me, especially the mix of attractive characters and horrific ghosts.
This first volume introduces a lot of characters and the overall occult premise. Because of this, there are still a lot of things up in the air. What are the Tyers really after? Was Chiyako somehow setup to encounter the Silver Colored Thread and become a Tyer? Who is the fifth Tyer, another hunk? Only more volumes will tell if this series grows into a great read or merely wanders the world of mediocrity.