Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hitchcockian Manga

While browsing for suggestions on new manga series, I came across a recommendation for the manga Arisa, by Natsumi Ando. It was recently declared one of the best manga series out there at the San Diego Comic Con this year.

The story begins as a bittersweet one: twin sisters Arisa and Tsubasa were separated from each other after their parents' divorce- Tsubasa goes live with her father and Arisa goes off with her mother (it's The Parent Trap all over again! What the heck? Don't these people know about custody sharing agreements?). For several years they stay in touch via letters. Things are seen from Tsubasa's point of view, primarily. She is the spirited and strong "Demon Princess" at her high school. Despite her toughness, she is actually a very thoughtful person with an innate sense of justice. She absolutely adores her sister and thinks the world of her: she's  beautiful, popular, has good grades, has a boyfriend... And one day they finally agree to meet.

This is where the plot thickens! Dun dun DUN! Tsubasa realizes that Arisa isn't as happy as she has let on. In fact, something is very wrong that Arisa tries to commit suicide by falling out a window. Arisa is in a coma...and Tsubasa is hell bent on finding out why her seemingly perfect sister has despaired to the point of wanting to die.

So...Tsubasa becomes Arisa: she dons her sister's school uniform and wears a wig to match her sister's hair color (Tsubasa has dyed hers blonde) and goes do some sleuthing. What she discovers is very disturbing: Arisa's class is involved in this macabre ritual: once a week, during their study hall, all the students lock themselves into a classroom and wait to be contacted by this mysterious person called "The King," who communicates with them via a strange website. The King has the power to grant people's wishes...and sinister things begin to happen and people tend to disappear or get hurt.

As Tsubasa's investigation progresses, the plot takes many interesting turns. She makes a few enemies and a few allies...or are they? Things are never what they seem...

I've really enjoyed reading this manga so far. It isn't a traditional shoujo, in the sense that there is a lot of romance, but it doesn't seem to matter. The story is really intriguing and the characters are compelling. And Tsubasa is butt-kicking...and I've already made my admiration for that sort of thing well known...

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