Ultra Cute (aka: UruKyu) Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 182
  • ISBN: 1595329560
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Ultra Cute (aka: UruKyu) Vol. #01

By Sakura Eries     March 06, 2006
Release Date: January 10, 2006

Ultra Cute (aka: UruKyu) Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Nami Akimoto
Translated by:Emi Onishi
Adapted by:

What They Say
Ami and Noa are the best of friends - except when it comes to cute guys (particularly ones they both fall for, which happens a lot). Then the claws are unsheathed and war is declared!

Ever since preschool, they've always fallen for the same guy, and always end up scaring the objects of their affections away, leaving both of them single and miserable. However, after 15 years of losing in the game of love, a light finally appears at the end of the tunnel.

One evening they go to a party and each fall for a different guy! Their names are Tamon and Tomohiro, and they both appear to be the Prince Charmings both girls have been searching so desperately for. As their respective relationships blossom all seems right with the world - that is, until Ami discovers that the apples of their eyes are really rotten to the core.

The Review
I was not particularly impressed by the cover of this title. The “Ultra Cute” logo, with its pale blue flowers isn’t too bad, but the rest leaves much to be desired. The front cover shows Ami in an action “punch” stance and Noa in a more demure pose. Behind the two is a red background with yellow dots, and unfortunately, the red of the background almost matches the red of Ami’s turtleneck and skirt so she practically blends into the background. As for Noa, I didn’t realize it was her on the cover at first. Akimoto draws Noa with a very distinct tan (think Momo from Peach Girl) and the Noa on the cover doesn’t really show a tan. The back cover is simply the red and yellow dotted background with the story summary in white text and a few yellow stripes.

The print quality of the pages is pretty good. Extras inside include title pages, including two 2-page title spreads, embedded mangaka notes, and original character designs with mangaka commentary (see Noa with long hair!).

The girls are cute, but there is one huge flaw to their design: the girls look much younger than they are supposed to be. When I started reading, I thought that they were in middle school because of the way their faces and bodies were proportioned. When I read that they were 15, I nearly fell out of my seat. I showed the pictures to my otaku husband, and he thought they were elementary school students!

That aside, I can’t say that I like Akimoto’s style too much. It is a comedy, but she relies too heavily on the exaggerated expressions and chibi figures (especially when the girls get overexcited or upset—which quite often) for my taste. Her backgrounds are okay, and her background screentones do a good job of conveying emotions and atmosphere, but she has a tendency to overcrowd her pages with her artwork.

Signs, words on pages/books, and sound effects in bubbles are translated with overlays. Tokyopop keeps the rest of the original Japanese sound effects, and some but not all are translated with small sized text to the side

Translations are okay, and there’s lots of slang but no offensive language used in the dialogue.

Ami and Noa are as different as two girls can be. Ami is athletic and loves eating, especially spicy garlic ramen (she could probably give Naruto a run for his money in an eating contest). Noa, on the other hand, is an academic, one of the best students in their school, who enjoys the more refined things in life. However, the two girls do have something in common: both want a boyfriend, and ever since kindergarten , both have fallen for the same boy and frightened him away with their competitive behavior.

But then, one day, things change for the better for the two rivals. After sneaking out on a horrible group karaoke date, the two girls stumble across and fall for two different boys! Tomohiro and Tamon are handsome, they're available, and, best of all, they're interested in the girls! With mutual interest sparking between Ami and Tamon and also between Noa and Tomohiro, things couldn't get better!

However, this image is shattered one day when Ami sees Tamon flirting with another girl. She immediately confronts him, and finds out that he and Tomohiro are just players, and they are not serious about Ami and Noa at all. Tamon is indifferent to Ami’s outrage and, out of spite, steals her first kiss. Enraged, Ami vows to make Tamon fall for her for real. But how? In the meantime, Ami is also frantically trying to protect Noa from having HER first kiss stolen by Tomohiro. Matters are complicated by the appearance of Chucky, an old crush from the girls’ past —as their new schoolteacher! And Ami finds out that she’s not the only girl determined to make Tamon fall for her.

Ultra cute? More like ultra catty! Most of the interaction between our two main characters consist of frustrated screaming because they keep getting in each other’s way (mostly in the realm of romance, but in other situations as well) and the flaunting of bodies, outfits, accessories, etc. in their competitive frenzy. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense nor do I find it particularly interesting or compelling. If they are rivals that are sick of each other, they seem to spend an inordinate amount of time with each other. And if they’re really friends, I don’t understand why Ami doesn’t tell Noa straight out that Tamon and Tomohiro are just jerks instead of trying to interfere with Noa’s first kiss in a very clumsy way. The girls “fall in love” for very shallow reasons, the boys are in the dating scene for shallow reasons, and no one is genuine in their relationships. If you’re looking for a romance that explores depth and intimacy, look elsewhere. If you want comedy, Akimoto’s humor has a very mean edge to it.

This series is rated youth, for readers aged 10 and above. However, I would have rated it for teens, primarily because there is one serious groping scene between Ami and Tamon, and I really would not want to have to explain to a fifth-grader why he's pulling her tank top off and reaching into her shirt. Also, in fine manga style, we have a teacher going after his high school students, a topic that would not be appropriate for younger readers either. Not to mention, Chucky has a rather provocative picture of Ami (one that he is using to blackmail her).


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