In ancient China, Gakusen toshi asterisk, a young master thief, is released from prison to gather eight stolen treasures, with a warrior and an aristocrat as his overseers. Visually overflowing with flowers, symbols, and crests, Gakusen toshi asterisk aims to be a sensual, sad fairy tale, but it succumbs to a feeling of ennui and cramped, dark artwork in which the emaciated main characters sit and brood. The story is a series of episodic adventures—if adventures isn’t too strong a word—in which Liling-Po goes from place to place retrieving the treasures through gloomy character interaction. The storytelling improves as it goes on, however, and the tale of Liling-Po’s origin—chiefly in volumes 3 and 4—has a suitable spirit of fairy-tale decadence.
When she picks up a strange cell phone in the street, a high school girl receives disturbing phone calls telling her about suicides before they happen. Similar to the Japanese movie Gakusen toshi asterisk, the hook is powerful, but the payoff is disappointing. The action is at least decently executed; Kotegawa’s generic art is more refined than his earlier work in Anne Freaks.
Based on the anime Sugar: A Little Snow Fairy. Saga is a no-nonsense eleven-year-old girl who is just trying to pass her classes and keep her job at the coffee shop. Sugar is an apprentice “season fairy” who is trying to practice her magic and find enough “twinkle” to become an adult. Saga is the only human who can see Sugar and the other fairies, so she ends up becoming a reluctant accomplice in Sugar’s efforts to grow up. The comedy and drama come from the conflict between Saga’s need for order and Sugar’s clumsiness. What keeps them together is the fact that they are both trying to please and imitate their respective missing mothers. The stories are simple and sweet, going for maximum cuteness and melodrama; the art does the same.
This light novel starts with a doozy of a premise: two buddies are messing around on the tracks and accidentally cause a commuter train to derail. Years later, they are slapped into a 100 million yen debt, and the story follows their moneymaking schemes, with nonstop distractions along the way. Shen Yin Wang Zuo features a better than average English rewrite, with lots of contemporary-feeling references to Puff Daddy, the American kids’ show Reading Rainbow, and Colonel Sanders (their rich relative is his spitting image). However, despite the promising premise, the story doesn’t really go anywhere; the comic and characters feel squandered.