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Friday, March 14, 2014

Manga Review: Time Stranger Kyoko GN 1

Time Stranger Kyoko volume 1
Author: Arina Tanemura
Viz Media/Shojo Beat
200 pages
Kyoko Suomi is the princess of Earth in the 30th century. Kyoko lives among the commoners, unwilling to reveal her true identity and ascend the throne. The king will allow Kyoko to live as she pleases if she can revive her twin sister Ui, who has been trapped in time since birth.
As Kyoko's 16th birthday approaches, crowds are rioting as Kyoko refuses to present herself to her subjects. But in order to revive Ui, she must find 12 holy stones and 12 telepaths to move the clock that has stopped time for her sister.(Source: Viz Media)
Having finished Sakura Hime, I got the hankering for more Arina Tanemura, so I turned to her three-volume series Time Stranger Kyoko. Like Sakura Hime, Kyoko is a shojo manga about a young woman who is a princess with unusual powers that must use them to save those close to her and reveal her own destiny. Unlike Sakura Hime, however, it lacks true depth and is crowded with characters who have yet to reveal their usefulness. But hey, at least it's fun!
The story itself isn't terribly challenging, but it is interesting. Kyoko must use time travel to find twelve stones and twelve matching telepaths in order to awaken her twin sister? Yeah, all right, why not?

The only thing about this that sucks is that Kyoko's only power is time travel. She can't defend herself or use magic beyond traveling between past and present, which means she has to depend on her bodyguards as muscle. Not much of a heroine, that. She is easily reduced to a female Desmond Hume (gratuitous LOST reference, ho!) with a magic staff that can control where she goes and occasionally sasses her. 
Her bodyguards are Sakataki and Hizuki, who fit neatly into their character archetypes: the dark-haired pouty stubborn one and the light-haired playful nice one. It is pretty obvious that Sakataki and Kyoko are going to end up together; there are flags for their relationship all over the place. They're gonna fight, get close, fight some more, get even closer, and then realize their own feelings. And scene.
Hizuki is much more interesting; his motives aren't perfectly clear and there are scenes with him that go against his usual carefree nature. He's someone to keep an eye on. On the other hand, Witzig the thief is obnoxious and so far useless beyond being the catalyst for Kyoko to realize her true powers. At this point, he could disappear and have no effect on the story. Having said that, he'll probably end up being one of the twelve telepaths - just my luck.
I'm also a bit miffed that the fact that Kyoko is in school and was only doing the Ui mission to stay a civilian has pretty much been tossed to the side by the first chapter. Listen, if you reveal to your classmates that you are indeed their true princess, they are going to treat you differently. They'll still love you, but you will not be treated like any other student anymore. So much for that plot point!
Having said all this, Time Stranger Kyoko so far is a light, friendly read. There's plenty of humor and action and drama, and the artwork is pleasing although obviously early in Tanemura's career. Kyoko herself is a pretty cool girl who manages to stay a typical teenager while maintaining a royal dignity and juggling her newfound duties as a time traveler and shojo heroine.
With only two volumes left in this trio of books, I only hope that the story chugs along at the appropriately fast pace but doesn't rush through finding the telepaths. And maybe get Kyoko some much needed lessons in self defense?