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Friday, December 30, 2011

Manga Review: Shugo Chara Chan! GN 1

Shugo Chara Chan! volume 1
Author: Peach-Pit, Naphthalene Mizushima, et al.
Kodansha Comics
208 pages

Amu's guardians get their own books in this new Shugo Chara series! These hilarious stories are in the vertical 4-koma (4-panel) comic strip format.

Shugo Chara Chan!, the spin-off to the Peach-Pit series Shugo Chara is cute - utterly, ridiculously cute. But beyond that, it doesn’t really have a ton going for it. The back of the book note that in this series, Amu’s “beloved” Guardian Characters “finally nab the spotlight” – okay, who the hell has been feverously awaiting a whole series based on the antics of Ran, Miki, and Su? Certainly not me; I had enough of them in the main series. This isn’t to say that I loathe this series; I’m just not in love with it like the publisher wants me to be.

It’s weird to see these characters in a style that is not exactly Peach-Pit; the entire book is helmed by a group of different manga-kas, each taking cracks at using Peach-Pit’s characters in various 4-koma strips and gag stories. Some of them even go so far as to put the Guardian Characters into their own series; the only one that will be recognizable for English language audiences will be that one by Miyuki Eto, the manga-ka behind the Hell Girl series. Luckily, the others aren’t so unapproachable to the unfamiliar members of the audience that they can’t be enjoyed as well.

It does have its humorous moments, to be sure. A lot of the humor is, naturally, gag-based, so it won’t appeal to everyone. And most of the jokes are either riffs on Japanese culture or aspects of the series itself, so people unfamiliar with Japanese humor might find themselves utterly reliant on the translation notes in the back of the book – and people unfamiliar with the Shugo Chara series might as well not read it. It’s cute, it will give you a wicked case of the giggles, but unless you are forever faithful to the Shugo Chara franchise no matter what the material matter is, you probably won’t want to make a big effort to read this one.