Search This Blog

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Manga Review: Time Stranger Kyoko GN 2

Time Stranger Kyoko volume 2
Author: Arina Tanemura
Viz Media/Shojo Beat
210 pages
After discovering that Sakataki is the Crystal Stranger, Kyoko continues her search for the other telepaths who can awaken her sister. Kyoko suspects that her longtime friend Karen might be one of the telepaths, but Karen is unwilling to help… (Source: Viz Media)
The middle volume of Tanemura's three-book shojo fantasy series Time Stranger Kyoko is all too aware that the end is near. It burns through plot at a ferocious speed, leading slower readers in its dust. Relationships are formed, hearts are broken, and suddenly this light and fluffy tale of a girl collecting stones has turned several shades more devious.
The focus is still awakening Ui from her frozen timeless slumber, but the battle to free her from Chronos' grip has taken an unlikely turn - with Kyoko at the heart of it. Her powers so far have already awoken one stranger and possibly identified another, but it is her identity that will shift the story away from the individual Strangers and back onto her, both as a princess with responsibilities and a young woman in love.

But first, Kyoko has to find several more telepaths in order to begin to wake up Ui. Her journey leads her to several neighboring tribes, including the Snake Tribe and the Fish Tribe. Naturally, leaders of these tribes are the most likely to be a Stranger, which means Kyoko finally has to perform a royal duty: making nice with the various nation's tribes and their leaders. And naturally, it turns into a right mess of shojo hijinks.
Some of the plot twists are pretty obvious - of course the strange lady you've got locked up in your underwater basement turns out to be bad - and some are just straight out of left field, like Karen's here-and-there phobia of men and Mizuno's raging brother complex. And then there's the fact that Witzig, the obnoxious thief always getting in the way, just happens to be related to one of the tribe leaders. This series is awash in 'fateful' coincidences.
It's only in the final act of this volume, when the new Strangers arrive at Kyoko's estate to help pour energy into Ui's still clock, that new truths spring to life about the situation surrounding Kyoko and Ui. I always had this feeling that Kyoko's father was more nefarious than he let on, and this volume just proved my suspicions. It seems like in Arina Tanemura's manga, the more goofy and lighthearted a character is, the more secrets that character is hiding. This is a point that has never failed me yet, even through Sakura Hime and Full Moon o Sagoshite.
As usual, the artwork in Time Stranger Kyoko is typical Arina Tanemura - big eyes, flowing hair, and over elaborate costumes. The action scenes in this volume are not that well drawn and look off-putting compared to the more dramatic scenes. Explosion scenes are masked by overuse of textured screens. Continuity is also a problem; despite having pointy ears being a plot point, Tanemura flips between pointy and rounded ears for Kyoko all the time. I almost thought Kyoko's hair changing color was another continuity error if it hadn't been brought up later on as another twist on her character.

Time Stranger Kyoko is not the best manga by Arina Tanemura I've read yet but it's still a good, casual read that entertains even when some of its plot twists make me groan (and not in a good way). Still, I've invested myself in two out of three volumes of this series. It would take a lot out of the third and final volume to pivot itself into greatness or fall backward into relative awfulness.