Wednesday, August 06, 2008

1520, vol. 1

Story and Art by KAI
Released in the US by UDON

Slugline: Is humorous transformation really a manga genre?

Zellos is the prince of a poor kingdom and has been told that he will marry the princess of rich neighboring kingdom. But by merely sneaking in to see his future bride, he is disgusted by her spendthrift ways, especially by her refusal to eat a rare delicacy that she was offered by her father's Prime Minister. Through a bit of silliness both Zellos and the princess's super-efficient maid Ana each take a bit of the cake with unusual consequences. Both characters are 15 years old but thanks to the magic of the cake their combined ages now cannot exceed 20 years. That means their default age is 10 years old each, but if one of them laughs/cries (depending on which one) they revert to their true age of 15 while the other is further regressed to the age of 5 but eventually revert back to their average of 10 years old. This is a problem because the Prime Minister is not happy his plan failed, the leadership of the neighboring kingdom is not happy with Zellos's wedding plans and there are some bandits out there that are far too interested in two 10 year old 'kids' wandering around unsupervised.

Magical aging/transformation manga seem to be numerous enough to form their own subgenre but this manga has some clever variations on the theme. The shared ages mechanism feels rather novel (it probably has been done before, but I don't recall any at the moment) and the characters, rather than being complete opposites Zellos and Ana have strong devotion to duty. The differences between them is how they express it and will undoubtedly be the source of their personal conflict. That still is a far more believable and sustainable for characters, rather than having opposites attract. Still too early to see how the series will turn out but I am interested in the journey so far.

1520, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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