Saint Marie Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: ADV Manga
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 190
  • ISBN: 1-4139-0065-8
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Saint Marie Vol. #01

By Megan Lavey     September 03, 2004
Release Date: May 01, 2004

Saint Marie Vol.#01
© ADV Manga

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yang Yeo-Jin
Translated by:Jason An
Adapted by:

What They Say
A private school campus becomes an intellectual battleground as a high-stakes game of good versus evil begins. The students and teachers of St. Marie?s have become the pawns and knights of a chess game, and all who play must outwit each other until one side has won. The fate of those who fight remains in a precarious state, and the players will gamble with more than their pride. As student Dah-In Hyun soon finds out, the very lives of the chess pieces are at stake, and the life of her best friend is no exception. Dah-In must take her fallen friend?s place and join in the battle on the chessboard that is St. Marie?s private school.

The Review
This is a very attractive cover in a soft shade of pastel yellow featuring the White Knights. Elphege takes the front cover while Sylvina is on the back. The logo is a very simple serifed font with a few Photoshop effects added. It blends in with the color scheme well. Like with several other ADV series, this book does not feature a summary on the back cover.

The volume has characteristics I'm starting to recognize in manwha, such as the more slanted eyes than manga, the elongated faces and the slight differences in the girls' eyes. The reproduction is solid here and the art is pretty to look at. One thing I noticed is that there's not a lot of SFX here. What is here is subtitled, but the lack of SFX gives a lot of pages a more open feeling.

As is standard with ADV releases, there are cultural notes at the rear of the volume to help ease the translation gap. There's also a section back here called "Saint Marie: Behind the Scenes," which introduces the characters and the game of chess that the school's involved in. The character introductions also have songs that the author associates with the characters. The book reads well and it appears to be a faithful translation.

Content: (May contain spoilers)
My best advice for those reading this series - first turn to the back of the book and read "Saint Marie: Behind the Scenes." Bookmark this somehow. There's a lot of stuff thrown at the reader in this first volume, and it gets very confusing. I found myself not fully grasping the significance of some of the events, but reading those notes helped out immensely. It also will help you keep the characters straight.

Dah-In is a sophomore in middle school at the private Saint Marie school. Life's going well for this plucky, cheerful orphan. She's rooming once more with her best friend, Na Na, and has a crush on the school troublemaker Yoon-Ha. Sounds like the setup for your typical shoujo tale, right?

Well...not exactly.

As Dah-In goes blissfully through her normal school life, she notices Na-Na starting to act strange. She sees her talking to no one, then starts hearing voices in her head herself. Dah-In realizes that Na-Na is involved in a complicated chess game where students and teachers face off against each other in a game for their lives. Dah-In learns about Na-Na's role in this game just before a tragedy seperates the girls.

At first glance, the book is somewhat difficult to go through, but the key is to visualize the two sides to Saint Marie - pretty much like the two sides of a chess board. One is the very normal activities that are going on, the life that Dah-In leads for the majority of the book. The other side is the chess game that is growing to consume the school.

The chess game itself reminds me a lot of Utena - with its Student Council and seeking to revolutionize the world. In this case, the students and teachers seek the Philosopher's Stone, which is hidden somewhere inside the school.

So as confusing as some of the parts of the book was to read at first, I really did enjoy it. There's an unexpected tragedy that comes about over the course of the book that heightens the involvement that Dah-In will eventually play. There's a lot of emotion going through here that drives her actions. Combine this with the mystery of the chess game, the religious currents thrumming through the entire series and the intriquing characters and you've got a pretty intresting story. I'm looking forward to volume two to see if this keeps up.

Unfortunately, there's no summary of the book's contents anywhere, so you have no idea what you're getting into when you pick up this volume. I found myself surprised at what this book turned out to be, and I highly enjoyed it. It's an intriguing piece of work that appears like it's going to get much deeper as time goes by. The premise reminds me of Utena somewhat, so fans of that series may enjoy this work.


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