Monday, July 22, 2019

Missed It Monday - Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty Volume 1 (Manga Review)

Megumi MorinoMissed It Monday is a feature where I review anime and manga that isn't super current, but that I missed the first time around. I'm going back to try and find awesome series.

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty Vol. 1 - 7/10

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics) was first published in English in 2017. We meet Tetsu, a short but hardworking high-school student who wants to skip college and go straight to work to support his family, particularly his mom who is in the hospital in a coma (naturally, cause this is a shoujo series!). His father wants him to go to college, so to settle things, his father lets Tetsu work for his housekeeping company so long as he maintains his schooling. If he can prove that he can balance both, then his father won't complain if he heads straight into the workforce.

Tetsu is employed by the wealthy family in a mansion at the top of the hill. There is a ghost story about a straight haired girl that appears in the windows of the building in the back. Tetsu finds out that the family's daughter is ill and unable to leave her special house at the back of the property (again, shoujo!). One day, while tending to the gardens, he ends up meeting this mysterious girl, Shizu.

From here, Tetsu helps her leave her house and see the outside world. Quickly, he falls in love. She doesn't appear sick at all, but is vivacious and energetic and just plain fun to be with. After a few meetings, Tetsu confesses his feelings, but Shizu tells him to wait to see if he still wants to confess the next time they meet.

The next day, Tetsu finds Shizu asleep on a bench outside her house at the back of the property. When she wakes up, she only vaguely remembers him and has a completely different personality (tired, distant, restrained, weary, leery) than the days before. It was at this point that I worried this was more or less going to be similar to One Week Friends (the anime is one of my all-time favorites).

But thankfully, there is a twist. It's not that she's forgotten him, it's that she has multiple personalities, and the person he was hanging out with is actually Haru, a thirty-something man (in Shizu's body). However, that turns out not to be the real story either. The manga is billed as supernatural and the real situation is far different than multiple-personality disorder (which would have been cool in its own right).

Overall, the writing is decent, the characters are likable. I have problems with a child being segregated in an out-building and not seeing her parents for years because they think she has a personality disorder, but it is shoujo manga and that type of set-up is just a common trope of the genre (problematic, so let's acknowledge that, but not a deal breaker). So putting that aside and focusing on the characters: I like Tetsu and Shizu and Haru, and...well, it turns out there are quite a few more people to meet and the true spooky story to uncover.

The art isn't anything special, but its very competent and pleasant. It has a bland shoujo/shounen style (it was serialized in a shoujo magazine). Why did I combine those two genres when talking about art style? Well, it doesn't quite fall into either. It really looks like the type of art that is done for a manga series based on an existing anime, it's generically good manga art that borrows aesthetics from both demographics but doesn't have much of a personality. There isn't anything particularly note-worthy about the style, but it supports the story just fine. A few panels show a much higher level of detail and depth, and I wish the whole thing had that quality, but it's fine being just fine.

I'm intrigued enough by this first volume that I will read the second volume and let you know if its going anywhere. The characters are likable and we're rooting for them already. The fact that it had a double twist in just the first four chapters is good, and it seems that it will have a nice mix of comedy and drama. It probably won't be a profound series with existential revelations, but it might be quirky and interesting (and hopefully romantic) enough to make up for the bland nature of its art. This is a solid start: Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty, Vol. 1 - 7/10.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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