Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Someday's Dreamers, Spellbound, v.1

by Norie Yamada & Kumichi Yoshizuki
Published in the U.S. by Tokyopop

Slugline: Magic-user Nami fumbles her way through high school and meets Ryotaro, motorcycle boy.

Nami is the basic puppy-eyed manga girl -- prone to screw-ups, ambitionless, miserable. Ryotaro is the basic gruff manga boy -- snappish, defensive, yet harbors a "soft side." That they are going to fall in love and overcome various obstacles is a foregone conclusion. The story is set in a carbon-copy Japan with one little hook thrown in to make it different -- except it rings hollow.

Nami is a magic user. A screw-up, but a magic user. The other characters treat this as only mildly unusual, so one must assume that there are a fair number of magic users in the population. So it's odd that the world does not seem to have any real support structure for her ability. There are self-help books, apparently, but no special magic class at school, no magic social clubs, no magical version of team sports -- and considering that she's supposed to get a certification to practice, you'd think there'd be as many magic-test-prep courses as there are SAT-prep-courses. We don't even see one other magic user, in v.1.

It's as if the writer threw in Nami's trouble with her magic just to give her something to feel bad about. Which is a mighty shallow reason to include magic and all the implications that magic brings with it. There are plenty of odd problems Nami could have without even leaving the bounds of modern-day Japan.

That her getting a handle on her skill is a part of the story is obvious -- it's poor writing, though, that in the whole first volume there's no sign that magic has been integrated into the world the writer has created.

- Miranda

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