Sugar Sugar Rune Vol. #05 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Art Rating: D+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 201
  • ISBN: 0-3454-9487-3
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Sugar Sugar Rune

Sugar Sugar Rune Vol. #05

By Ben Leary     September 26, 2007
Release Date: January 31, 2007

Sugar Sugar Rune Vol.#05
© Del Rey

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Moyoco Anno
Translated by:Kaya Laterman
Adapted by:Kaya Laterman

What They Say
Witch girls Chocolat and Vanilla were best friends before they came to the Human World. But the competition to see who will be the next Queen of the Magical World has come between them. Worse, Vanilla has embraced the Dark Magic of the Ogres, who are the enemies of all witches.

A day at the beach turns into disaster after Chocolat and the Ogre prince Pierre get caught in Vanilla's magic spell and end up in a vast and dangerous space called the Forgotten Path. If she cannot find her way back to the Human World in time, Chocolat will lose the contest! The Path leads her to the ancient witch Amber, whose magical help comes with a price. And some startling memories about their younger years return to both Chocolat and Pierre...

The Review
When you jump into a series at volume five, a lot of things can go wrong. You might be lost by the events of the story. You might be thrown off by the art. Or sometimes, both might happen to you at once. That's why jumping in at volume five should only be attempted by highly-trained reviewing professionals. And even then it's not the best idea.

I mean, I know this book can't be as bad as I think it is. It can't be. It won a Kodansha award, for crying out loud. So why does it read like a third-rate magical girl cash-in?

At least, that's what I was thinking in the first half of the book. I've been trying to analyze my reasons for not liking Sugar Sugar Rune, or at least, trying to figure out if I have any, and I keep coming back to the art. I'm pretty sure this style of art is love it or hate it, and I frankly hate it. The characters look like they weigh about 20 lbs. apiece, and are frequently drawn with shaky lines, some of which make their hands and feet look almost deformed at times. And on top of the ridiculously thin and angular bodies are stuck, like eggs on sticks, all but perfectly oval heads with bulbous eyes. The worst part is, the situational art looks fine, so we're obviously dealing with somebody who knows how to draw. They look this way on purpose. The book is rated 10 and up, so obviously children are part of the audience, but I think this would have seriously creeped me out when I was 10. The layout is awfully creative, but not often in a good way. There's a heavy use of insert panels which interrupts the flow of reading with disturbing frequency, as you try to figure out which order you're supposed to read the panels in. And once you have that figured out, you have to deal with text that's been awkwardly split in mid-phrase between the two halves of dialogue balloons. On top of everything else, the said dialogue balloons are often drawn without pointers, and placement can make it hard to tell who's talking.

Most of the events early on seem completely arbitrary. Pierre and Chocolat find themselves in a spell which is then dissolved. We are expressly told this should leave them trapped, but Pierre finds a cave with a way out. They spend some time wandering in the dark (this is a metaphor for the reader's state of mind). They kill a spider. The dead spider emits a darkness that shows them scenes from their childhood, which Chocolat apparently does not remember. The darkness separates them.

Then all of a sudden the story rights itself and starts making sense. The story keeps on making sense until the end. It's almost like the plot suddenly woke up from a strange dream and then continued on as if nothing had happened. Needless to say, the second half is quite a bit better than the first; but it didn't exactly wow me either. It was just fairly typical, albeit creepy-looking, magical girl stuff. You know you've got problems when the short extra at the back is more enjoyable than the main story.

I hope the ongoing story makes perfect sense in context with the other volumes, and I've just had the bad luck to come in at the worst possible time. I'd really like to believe this. Surely the Kodansha people can't be that far off the mark. But after reading this volume I all I feel like saying is, "Stop the broom--I want to get off."


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