Ultra Maniac Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 8.95
  • Pages: 184
  • ISBN: 1-59116-974-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Ultra Maniac Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     April 08, 2006
Release Date: September 06, 2005

Ultra Maniac Vol.#02
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yoshizumi Wataru
Translated by:Koji Goto
Adapted by:

What They Say
At first glance, Nina Sakura seems like a typical teenage girl, but she's actually a transfer student from a witch school in another dimension! Now enrolled at a middle school in Japan, Nina is hoping to improve her grades, make some friends and practice love spells on her unsuspecting new classmates.

When Yuta, a boy from Nina's home-dimension, enrolls in her earth school, his motivations are suspect even before he secretly gives her best friend Ayu a camera guaranteed to reveal true love. Ayu quickly learns that love is an emotion most fickle, and not even Nina's magic can predict the target of Cupid's pointed arrow!

The Review
UltraManiac is one of Viz Media's initial Shojo Beat Manga titles and the production values are pretty nice. Presented in a digest sized tall B6 this title is printed right to left.

On the cover, Viz has kept the original cover art featuring the two leads, Nina (left) and Ayu, in what appears to be autumn wear on an orange snowy (?) background. The back cover has a long volume description blurb to the left of another piece featuring the main characters. Product placement is all over the back. There is a big "ShojoBeat: Manga from the Heart" image above the blurb. Then there is the obligatory bubble stating "The Real Drama Begins" above the character art. And of course, there is tie-in message noting that the manga inspired the anime beneath all of that.

The logo is pretty simple, looks like a funky veranda in light blue, which matches the color for the volume number and artist listing. The letters are arranged similarly to how the kana was placed which was cool to see. Above the logo is a cute little SB logo in magenta (or maybe its hot pink). It looks very similar to the SJ logo; so much so I had to do a double take.

Inside, Viz just jumps into the manga. The printing is a little on the dark side when I compare it to my Shueisha versions. Fortunately, Viz keeps the original volume header, chapter headers, mangaka free talks and bumper art. Viz includes a bonus chapter on new mascot character Leo at the end of the volume, which is followed by a 4-page long ato-gaki, a mangaka bio and some ads closing out the GN.

Some of you might remember Yoshizumi's art from her work on TOKYOPOP's Marmalade Boy. This series began years after that, the designs are much cleaner and inline with current fashion and trends. This series is filled with lots of nice inking and very good costume designs that keep her art looking fresh. Yeah, characters are a little long, but at least they are not that far off proportion.

Backgrounds are just there. I often find that annoying, especially in shojo, but this time I really don't care. That is because the layout is pretty active. Yoshizumi uses a variety of panel sizes and placements. Perspective is really good, but it is not as fancy as other titles. Her use of manpu also helps with the tone and light humor in this series. Simple but effective work from Yoshizumi.

Viz translates SFX with overlays. The retouch is real clean and the SFX they use look pretty good. Best of all they do not compromise art at all.

The translation is fine. I noticed a couple typos but nothing serious. I was a little frustrated that Viz did not use honorifics, well Japanese honorifics, for this series. Viz uses non-conventional English terms instead. For "senpai" they have Ms./Miss. For "-chan" they use dear. Outside of that translation maintains the integrity for the most part, but Viz did make a little change to the grades the characters are in. Ayu and friends are in 8th grade but Viz has changed it to 7th. Ayu's fans are now 6th graders instead of 7th. Basically, Viz changed the grade system from Japanese (K6/9/12) which was used by the mangaka to one used in many parts of the US (K5/8/12).

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Nina just saw something she shouldn't have. She saw someone take advantage of the love and kindness of others for selfish and self-absorbed reasons. This is something that she must share with the world. There are too many hearts that are being lied to and mislead; one of them belonging to her best-friend Ayu. What Ayu's crush Yuta is doing is unforgivable and needs to be dealt with immediately. If he is not made aware of the gravity this will continue and Nina will only feel bad for indirectly supporting Yuta's behavior.

At the same time, Nina knows more than anyone that secrets are supposed to be kept hidden. She has a huge secret of her own and she understands what would happen to her if that was exposed. This is not a matter of life or death, but the consequences will affect so many profoundly emotionally. Love is a delicate thing to play with. If Nina decides to do anything about this she better know not to hurt anyone's feelings along the way. She does not want to end up like this person either. But confronting Yuta would likely not work either. If he already is a liar, what would make him change his ways now? The chances are very unlikely he would even open up to someone like Nina in the first place.

But that is where Nina was wrong. Yuta is really a great person when you get to know him. Most people see Yuta as a cool guy, who is active but generally keeps to himself. In all truth, he really is only a guy who keeps to himself. The rest he has to work to keep up this image that others have created for him. However, to those who are close to Yuta, they are treated to a person who is fun, loyal and caring. Breaking down the wall he has created is a little tricky; it takes a little courage and equal amounts of curiosity to not only make him trust but also for him to just be his casual (un-cool) self. Breaking down that wall might also reveal just why Ayu fell in love with this introvert in the first place. And that is something she definitely did not want to see!

Some people think secrets are meant to be revealed. But the most important ones are meant to be kept close, because disclosing them will hurt. Nina found out the truth about one secret and then had to create one of her own.

What is worse - consistently misleading people because you do not want to be considered rude or being honest and occasionally offensive? When I reviewed the first volume of UltraManiac, I focused on the secrets and lies that swirl around the cast in this manga. Practically each character had their own secrets to keep, mainly to maintain an image they wanted to present before a specific person. Some would keep them to themselves but others decided to tell lies to create and justify the image. So far, the lies have not hurt anyone. They are very misleading and difficult to maintain and coordinate but since they have been kept secrets few have even had a chance to fully dish out their dishonesty. Lies usually tend to hurt when they are found out, right!

Well, in this volume some characters do their share of lying but unlike the previous volume these young liars end up pulling back on what they said to protect their friendships. They now understand the potential consequences and they accept the pain as their own instead. The transition has come very fast; atypical for manga, really. Nevertheless, the cast still has their difficulties with friendships and love, for they have only solved part of their problems. There are the self-identity and the confidence issues that seem to affect all teens at some point.

Add a little magic and some cute mascot characters and Viz has themselves a fun title. All in all UltraManiac is a harmless cute story about learning about love and learning about self-respect. Some of it is hidden under the cute magic, but Yoshizumi is really telling a story on the difficulties of maturity. Her cast learns to communicate with each other empowering themselves much more than they could with magic. They learn about themselves through their relationships and how they open up. Magic is a fun but becoming a young adult is can be just as fun and often much more fulfilling.


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