by Iwahara Yuji
Published in the U.S. by CMX Manga
Slugline: Is this manga about the Loch Ness monster or Ranma 1/2?
This book is not what I expected it to be, and that was a refreshing experience. Misaki moves to the remote village where her mother grew up and learns there is a legend of a Loch Ness-type monster called Hohoro. Like all manga, said mother is dead, but Misaki quickly makes a new friend at the local school named Sanae, and on the way home they comes across the Hohoro, who they name Neo after a movie character. Hohoro is rather small, but can transform with the aid of a kiss into the form of a ten-year-old-boy that promptly follows them home. Meanwhile, there is a subplot of a rich girl, Tokuko, who has been kidnapped and then returned for the ransom. The kidnappers, including her piano teacher Reiko who was in on the plot, are getting away but crash near the lake, sending the ransom money to the bottom of the lake.
I wish that there was some way I could convey that this plot, in comparison to other manga, fairly bustles along. Things are happening, and no one is truly stupid. For instance, Neo, the human form of Hohoro, is accepted without question by the adults in the story for a day or two before they demand some sort of explanation. It is almost an American- stylestory, which is probably why CMX picked it up. Giving it a rating that reflects that is hard, because it is a competently done story, so far, but by the same token it is doing something that is different to manga readers but not to American readers. That is not to say there are not elements of manga here, such as the lonely rich girl who pushes everyone away, but I suspect that there are more familiar elements here than otherwise.
Chikyu Misaki, vol. 1 is available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.