So, I'm out of town for the weekend and it didn't occur to me that the retirement home where I was staying wouldn't have wifi or even an ethernet jack. Elderly people use the internet right, they can't all be luddites. In any case, I now feel rather hip using my laptop in a coffee shop eating something not-coffee, talking about an unlicenesed manga title that probably not many people have heard of
Carat by Watanabe Yoshitomo
Summary: Two girls, Yuni and Melissa from Carat have been chosen as candidates for the next queen and now have to fight each other over jewels that have been unleashed on Earth, the first to collect five wins. Buuuuut the girls don’t really want to fight each other, they’re best friends after all, so they both recruit someone to fight as a magical girl in their place and thus is the start of a truly bizarre adventure.
The Good: In case the summary didn’t make it clear enough, this is a magical girl parody and one I found much more amusing than ones such as Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan or Puni Puni Poemi. I think it did help that I read some of Sugar Sugar Rune recently, since this has a really similar identical set-up, but I think that a lot of fans of the magical girl genre have come across these tropes before and can easily find the humor in it. The story is also well paced, it’s not too long, doesn’t draw anything out (except the ship tease), as I said earlier I liked a lot of the humor so this ended up being a quick, fun little read for me which was good.
The Bad: I will admit that I wanted a few things to be a little more conclusively resolved by the end (heck, I wasn’t expecting the ending to be as odd as it was so it caught me off guard and I didn’t realize at first that this was the end) but I should have seen that coming considering this is a parody that plays almost no trope straight. Some of the jokes, especially concerning the villains, became a bit too repetitive by the end, and I would have liked to have seen at least a little more character development than actually happened (I hadn’t realized the story was so short when I started or I would have nixed that hope) but overall it was short enough that it didn’t have time to develop any huge problems.
The Art: The art was not exactly generic, since there isn’t really a “this is how all magical girl stories look!” style but if I was to read something else by the artist I wouldn’t even notice since there was nothing that stood out and made the style distinctive or even recognizable. I liked all the designs, they were cute and everything was certainly consistent enough for everything to look like it was from the same story but it didn’t stand out the way the art in other series has for me.
Licensing Chances: This is something I’m going to add in for unlicensed manga that I talk about (probably not anime but I might) and sadly I think that this series has next to no chance to being licensed. It is pretty short which does work in it’s favor and it’s from the publisher Mag Garden (ie, no company has “dibs” on it, although this does mean Kodansha Comics can’t license it and since they got a lot of Del Ray’s old titles which included a fair amount of shojo/magical girl titles that is a shame) but I noticed something weird about that. I went to Wikipedia, looked up what magazines Mag Garden has (a shojo one and a shonen one, ______ and _____ respectively) and as far as I can tell every title from those magazines that was licensed in the US was done by TokyoPop who hasn’t been around in a few years (I’ll believe they’re back when they do more than sell back stock through Right Stuf). I have no idea if they had a special contract or if they were just a good fit for each other (which is more likely the case) and sadly this does fit in best with TokyoPop’s line of titles, much better than any other company currently out there. So at this point I doubt we’ll be seeing this in English, if you want to buy it you’ll have to do so in Japanese.
Now that that’s out of the way, I give this 3 out of 5 stars for being fun, something I would pick up since it’s so short, but probably not something I would go to the trouble of importing (honestly if shipping was cheaper than it was then I’d be much more likely to consider importing manga from Japan, curse you Earth having an ocean and a continent between me and comics). However, even though I said I probably wouldn’t be able to identify the artist since the art style wasn’t very, stylistic, I do plan on looking up and seeing what else they’ve made, I wonder how their sense of humor translates into stories that aren’t straight up parodies.