Thursday, December 31, 2009

Manga Review: Only One Wish

Mia Ikumi, the creator of the successful Tokyo Mew Mew franchise, has explored other side-stories over the course of her manga-ka lifetime. The latest of which is a one-shot manga entitled, Only One Wish. This release originally came out in Japan in 2005, but recently Del Rey translated it and brought it Stateside for Ikumi's English-speaking fans to sink their teeth into.

Only One Wish is rather strikingly dark at times. It's a manga that's aimed towards teenage girls, but there's a foreboding tone that permeates throughout the book. It's certainly not your typical shojo read and it's clear that Ikumi had a strong vision of the theme she wanted to use. Basically the book's four chapters boil down to the simple, old saying, "Be careful what you wish for."

The manga's main character is a nameless witch, who appears with a cape, pointy hat, and scythe. In almost every frame she's accompanied by a cell-phone and a black cat and bears a mischievous smile. While she doesn't have a huge part to play in each story, she certainly sets the tone because it's her magic that makes things happen. Manga and anime lovers that have seen or read Hell Girl, should compare her to Ai Enma from that franchise.

As the focal point for many of the book's happenings, the witch is referred to as an "angel" and takes text messages from those who have a strongly desired wish. Her number appears to people in the nick of time, just as Ai's web address would avail itself to those seeking revenge. In the four short stories here, the angel is shown at the beginning of the chapter, at some point in the middle while things are going on, and she brings about a fitting close with a wink and a nod. It's enigmatic to say the least, but those looking for a dark-fantasy tale will find Only One Wish quite captivating, even if it's not the freshest concept out there.

The first story is about a group of friends get in a tiff over a boy and all hell breaks loose after that. The girls basically go at each other's throats, using their wishes to get even and make things right in their eyes. "Friends forever" isn't exactly the case by the end of the chapter and there's an open-ended resolution that leaves you playing with the possibilities in your head. The second story in this book follows a dead girl who wants to rejoin the land of the living. She's given the opportunity, but must get the boy of her desires to kiss her within 24 hours. Things get complicated when someone else gets close to the girl and even more complicated still towards the end. A surprise ending closes this chapter out and I think it stood out as one of the better stories available in the manga.

Chapter three is about a girl who wants nothing more than to be close to the one she likes the most. Unfortunately for him she makes the wish to have him shrink down in size so she can carry him around and take care of him like a doll. It's strange to say the least, but plays into a nice angle about the girl growing up. And finally, the last chapter here is a less involved story about some kids who misplace their cell-phones. It's also worth noting Tokyo Mew Mew fans will appreciate that the book also closes with a special mini-story from Ikumi's more successful franchise as well!

Only One Wish is a fun read with an interesting story and some very nice artwork by Ikumi. Whether you're a fan of her earlier works or not doesn't really matter when it comes to this release. It's a stand-alone story that does what it sets out to do. Sure the whole "be careful what you wish for" theme may not be the most original one out there, but there's something about the way Ikumi approached it that makes it stand out. I would be interested in seeing this revisited at some point, but who knows whether or not that will happen. Regardless, consider Del Rey's latest release strongly recommended!

Maki Rating:

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