Thursday, October 09, 2008

Papillon, vol. 1

Created by Miwa Ueda
Published in the US by Del Rey

Slugline: A shojo that only has one bit of wackiness? How novel!

On the face of it the brief description makes Papillon sound like an rather unremarkable shoujo, but underneath it all there are some interesting subtext running through it. The story itself is rather off the shelf, two identical sisters raised separately so that one is shy and the other outgoing compete over the same guy, that being the one bit of wackiness of the title. But there are some interesting bits...

The guidance counselor , the voice of authority of the book, rather than enforcing wa, the tenets of social harmony that the school system reinforces in Japan, is instead encouraging competition for the sake for oneself.

The prettier twin sister had a reason to be pretty and loved, to be the center of attention, rather than receiving it as her natural due.

The plain sister's 'friend,' stabs her in the back, showing that just because people find themselves in similar circumstances do not naturally get along, and that the friendship was based on convenience/proximity rather than anything else.

The failures of the shy sister is not due to wacky circumstances or deliberate sabotage, but the type of self-sabotage that the shy and uncertain all partake in.

Now, neither does this manga cover new ground, not really, but the characters and how they interact is interesting and not just according to the standard fill in the dots plot. I feel the characters' pain, their discomfort but I am not moved by them, not yet. This is one of those series that I almost wish I had the next volume already in my hands, because how that is executed could radically improve this series rating up to a four, easily.

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

- Ferdinand

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