Shugo Chara Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Friday, May 18, 2007
Release Date: Friday, March 30, 2007
Translated by:June Kato
Adapted by:David Walsh
What They Say
Everybody at Seiyo Elementary thinks that stylish and super-cool Amu has it all - but nobody knows the real Amu, a shy girl who wishes she had the courage to truly be herself. Changing Amu's life is going to take more than wishes and dreams - it's going to take a little magic!
One morning, Amu finds a surprise in her bed: three strange little eggs. Each egg contains a Guardian Character, an angel-like being who can give her the power to be someone new. With the help of her Guardian Characters, Amu is about to discover that her true self is even more amazing than she ever dreamed.
A charming story about being true to yourself...or is it?
The cover has a shot of Amu in a pose that's just full of attitude, along with an unhatched Guardian Egg. The title is embossed and the general layout is fantastic - along with a color scheme that's all pink, white, and black, it's a really eye-catching cover that should stand out on the shelves. The print quality and art reproduction are excellent as well. After the story, there are several pages of translator's notes followed by ads for other Del Rey titles.
Peach Pit is actually two artists with different yet complimentary styles, with each artist assigned certain characters to draw. Despite this, the art really flows together very smoothly, and if you didn't know it was drawn by two different people it would be very difficult to tell. The art itself - is cute. Very cute. Large eyes, detailed outfits, overdramatic facial expressions, and, well, cuteness are what really stand out about the artwork. What's most interesting to me is how much is going on with each page, and the variety they manage to pack into each one. Different layouts, angles, depths of focus, and even art styles and level of detail - it's hard to get bored looking at any given page, but it also avoids being busy.
The adaptation overall reads very smoothly and helps the story flow right along. Sound effects are subtitled on the page, and there are translation notes in the back to add some depth to the more culturally dependent elements of the story.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Amu is everything any girl ever wants to be - well dressed in cutting-edge yet cute punk clothes, tough, and almost unbearably cool in any situation, she has the admiration of all her classmates and quite a reputation. The only problem is - that isn't the real Amu! She's really a shy girl who never knows what to say who's terrified of ghosts, but she has no idea how to let the real her shine through the facade she presents to the world. When she prays for a way to awaken her true self, she wakes up with three strange eggs in her bed. As it turns out, they're Guardian eggs, and each one will hatch a Guardian character who can transform Amu's personality (with frequent comedic results) into something she wants to be - a good cook, someone who's good at sports, and so forth.
She's not the only one with Guardian characters - the Seiyo Elementary school council, called the Guardians, all have Guardian characters of their own! They take Amu under their wing to teach her the ins and outs of what it takes to be a Guardian, even if she's a somewhat unwilling participant. They make her a Guardian, appoint her to the "Joker" chair on the council, and start introducing her to her duties, which include preventing X Characters (like Guardian characters gone horribly wrong, born from a person with a problem in their heart) from getting loose and causing havoc.
There's a rival group out there too, lead by the somewhat mysterious Ikuto who has a definite interest in Amu, that's out to collect as many Guardian eggs as possible in the hopes of finding the Embryo that's hidden inside one. The Embryo a power that's enough that quite a few people out there who want to find it, and will go to great lengths to obtain it.
Shugo Chara is a really odd, quirky, and utterly charming story that's nominally about becoming the person you want to be. But, watching how the different characters act after a Guardian character changes their personality, it's hard to believe that is the way they really want to be. Especially with Amu, who seems to just want to be truer to herself, rather than a completely different, frequently nutso, person. Still, once you suspend that bit of disbelief the story has a lot going for it, and there's undeniable humor in watching the quiet, refined Prince transform into the pompous King, along with the other transformations. All the characters seem to have their own appeal, and very much drive the story.
By the end of this volume it's turned into a magical girl story complete with transformations. The bad guys, while undeniably antagonists, don't come off as particularly threatening (yet), keeping the entire series at the level of a light, fun read. I have no idea where the story is going to go, but it's going to be a fun ride to get there.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Shugo Chara