Monday, October 21, 2019

Missed it Monday - Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty Volume 2 (Manga Review)

A high school boy and girl back to back surrounded by flowers
Missed it Monday is the ongoing series where I review manga or anime that I didn't read/watch when they first came out.

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty  vol. 2 - 6.5/10

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty (Kodansha Comics) is a series about an only child, Shizu, who is inhabited by the spirits of several deceased people, including her grandfather. Several good spirits ensure that no malevolent spirits take over her consciousness. But at the same time, Shizu shares her waking time with these good spirits. As she so eloquently says at one point in volume 2, "I don't really know what myself is."

But the story really centers around Tetsu, the high-schooler working part time as a housekeeper in her rich parent's house. At the end of volume 1 he is asked to spend time with her since she is more or less locked away from the world. In volume 1, he is shocked when a malevolent spirit shows itself in her body. In volume 2, this concept is explored further, while Shizu takes some important steps forward thanks to Tetsu's commitment to her.

Volume 2 begins with one of the more mischievous spirits controlling Shizu and taking her out of the house. She gets "accosted" by some men on the street and Tetsu steps in pretending to be her brother. She keels over laughing at this ridiculous chivalry by him and ends up dragging him along with the guys who were seemingly accosting her, but that actually were harmless (and it turns out were a mix of guys and girls). I will admit that this scene is quite unclear (were they really accosting her? did she already know them? I'm not sure - so we'll assume it really was harmless and the author is not excusing actual harassment of women by having her go along with strangers).

We also see Tetsu spending more time with his comatose mother in the hospital. This leads to a new development in our understanding of how Shizu and her spirit inhabitation works. Apparently, a recently deceased person's spirit attached itself to Tetsu in the hospital and transfers into Shizu. This precocious elementary school child takes over Shizu's body to live all the life that it didn't get before it died. Ultimately, shocking Shizu's body is the only way to dislodge this spirit. The way it happens moves the real Shizu along in her own journey (but I won't spoil how).

What's great about this volume is the insight we get into Shizu's real self, and her journey to start finding out who she really is, rather than just living as a hollow vessel for other spirits. This emerging sense of agency could be a powerful theme in the rest of the series. If it's well developed, it could turn this into an awesome series. Tetsu is still somewhat bland as our hero, we don't know much about him. We do learn a little more about his soccer playing days, but we need to know more about his mom. There are also some glimpses into Shizu's father, and his seeming malevolence. I'm sure this will all be expanded as the series goes.

The art is okay, not exciting, but well done. The lines are clear, the character designs attractive, and the spirits inhabiting Shizu are well represented in her body language and clothing changes. Backgrounds are generally simple or non-existent. There is some minimal screentone use, but not the shimmery style I love in my favorite shoujo manga. It's competent, good looking art, if nothing exactly special or mind-blowing.

Overall, although my score it a little low for this volume, I'm really hopeful about this series. I think it's opening up some real possibilities for character growth as well as romance. If Shizu develops true agency, then I'll be really excited for this series. I'm definitely going to keep reading. Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty volume 2 gets a 6.5/10.

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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