By Machiko Sakurai
Released in the US by Del Rey
Slugline: Cute dolls can lead to not-so cute situations.
Ame is schoolgirl who is actually depressed and knows that her friends don't really like her, rather than just being relentlessly upbeat about it. In a moment of despair, she buys a remaindered small stuffed toy, who is tired of being quiet and overlooked, and breaks the code of silence and speaks. Things spin out of control like you would and would not expect as Nicori tries to find his place in the world and with Ame.
First of all, Ame is portrayed as actually depressed rather than the fake depressed that seems to pervade manga. You don't stay upbeat, you just exist and hope that you will stop feeling. Then Nicori enters the picture and while things change under his influence, they are just the first steps of change, Ame does not discover that all of her problems are solved overnight. And she has been crafted by her problems so even if the problems disappeared she would still be the same person for a while until she adjusted to the changes. The fact that when Nicori was revealed to the world as a talking, moving plush animal that Ame was able to leave the amusement park without being chased or cornered by reporters and businessmen seeking to take advantage was something that I had a hard time believing. But that plot hole was soon plugged by the return of the reporters, a businessman seeking to take advantage of Nicori and a gang of street toughs kidnapping Ame hoping to also take advantage of Nicori. This injection of real world consequences of something that at first seems impossible grounds the piece and makes me eager to see more.
Minima!, vol. 1 is available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.