A few months back there was a manga moveable feast held for Moyoco Anno and, as if I needed any more convincing, I really wanted to try out at least some of her work. Funny enough I remember seeing ads for this in the back of various Del Ray manga I got back in high school but Sugar Sugar Rune seemed, well, childish and silly, something I wasn't interested in. Then I glanced at some of the reviews for it during the feast and discovered that I was completely off so when I spotted the first volume at my local used bookstore I grabbed it and hoped that I would end up liking it after all.
Sugar Sugar Rune (volume 1) by Moyoco Anno
Summary: Chocolat and Vanilla are two young witches who are both candidates to become the next queen of the magical world and are sent to Earth to capture the hearts of people as a contest to see who will become the next queen. But Earth is rather different from the magical world and both of the girls already have their own issues which means it isn't going to be easy for either of them to win.
The Good: Yup, this was much better than what I would have expected from the blurbs alone, although in retrospect I might have also been mixing this story up with Save Me! Lollipop a bit as well. I was surprised that Chocolat and Vanilla managed to be both rivals and friends, I've grown rather used to the "we used to be friends but now we're enemies" trope (which I rather dislike) that I was surprised to see how neatly Moyoco has subverted it so far. And in a way that sums up both of the girls as well, they have their own reasons to try and become queen, and plenty of pressure, but they aren't going to let that completely change who they are quite yet, even if the two of them have started to grow in more subtle ways.
The Bad: After just one volume it's hard to tell what's bad about the series, it's too early to say that Moyoco is hinting at something and then doesn't bring it up again or that the characters don't grow (which is wrong anyway since Chocolat and Vanilla have already started to change) and the pacing works well enough. So I'll just say this was a strong first volume without any big pitfalls, although if you go into this expecting a "dark magical girl" series you might be disappointed since while darker than usual this story doesn't quite fit into that genre.
The Art: Overall the art looks pretty cute although there are some elements which seem a little "less cute" (there's just something off about the proportions of the faces) but, given how this story does have some darker-than-usual elements to it I suspect that was completely on purpose (especially since I looked up a few other Moyoco's other manga quickly and her art style changes more than a bit each time to suit whatever genre she's working in). As an aside, I feel like I've only seen more neagtive things about the anime instead of the manga, which already makes me disinclined to search it out, but the color scheme for the clothes there is also really turning me off, I much prefer the colors shown on the covers of the books.
So, so far so good and I would like more please! It sounds like even though the manga is OOP it's not too hard to find and at 8 volumes it's fairly short as well, and yes I do want to get to more of Moyoco Anno's work someday but I just haven't found the time (or the books near me) yet.