By Nari Kusakawa
Released in the US by CMX Manga
Slugline: Explain to me again the logic of manga about colors being printed in black and white?
On Opal, an island nation, merchants come far and wide to get the cloth that is made by the magicians there, who are called Palettes, because of their ability to control color. Pallettes are paired with colorful tropical birds and use the colors of the birds to color fabrics and stones, with Cello being in training to become one. Unfortunately, she is not very good at it, capable of drawing out color from her bird from a distance but unable to control the addition of color, resulting in her repeated visits to the doctor-magician Guell to get the excess colors removed from her skin. In her training she gets involved in foiling several attempts to birdnap the colorful birds that they need to work with, along with helping Guell deal with issues from his past.
This is a solid story, with a little touch of creepiness because of some romantic, well not entanglements but at least fondness due to the age differences between Guell and Cello, but their exact ages are ambiguous enough with 'Doctor' Cello is merely a magician as compared to a real doctor who by necessity would be much older. But there is just one huge looming problem, is that this is a book fundamentally about color, and as a manga it is in black and white. It didn't help either than I am writing this review based on a preview copy, but still. The mere topic of the manga is enough to hold it back from really engaging you, simply because it lacks the ability to really draw you into the character's world.
But, on the bright side, this is All Ages title, so if you want to corrupt, I mean introduce younger friends and relatives to the joys of manga, but don't want to run into interference by older folks determined to save them from following your own dark path into fandom, this title is a useful tool.
The Palette of 12 Secret Colors, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.