Monday, January 13, 2020

Missed it Monday - Wake Up Sleeping Beauty volume 3 (Manga Review)

A high school boy and girl, her arms on his, leaning in close, surrounded by small flowers
Missed it Monday is the ongoing column where I review manga/anime that I didn't read/watch when they first came out.

Wake Up Sleeping Beauty vol. 3 - 7.5/10

Volume 3 of Wake Up Sleeping Beauty (Kodansha Comics) keeps up the cute, slightly overwrought, but sincere burgeoning romance between a girl possessed by spirits of the dead and the boy who cleans her house to pay the bills while his mom is sick in the hospital. (Yup, shoujo!)

To catch you up: Shizu is possessed by several spirits of the dead including her grandfather and a 10 year old boy. They take turns inhabiting her body and protect her from being inhabited by evil spirits. Tetsu's mom is ill and to help pay the bills he works, against his father's wishes, and has given up soccer (his passion) to do so.

Volume 3 begins with Tetsu sneaking Shizu out of the mansion where her mom keeps her locked away (hence one of many Sleeping Beauty references) for fear of what others might think of her possession. He takes her to his school on a Sunday and he plays teacher while she plays student in an attempt to give her some of the normal experiences she's missing. It's a really sweet and kind scene.

On their way out of school, they run into one of Tetsu's former teammates who is both angry with Tetsu for quitting the team, but also tries to get him to come back for the final "seniors" game. Hearing about this, Kanato (the young boy spirit in Shizu) meets with Tetsu's teammate (in Shizu's body) and learns about their former friendship and Tetsu's time playing soccer.

From here a plan is hatched to get Tetsu to play in the final game of the year. However, after much thought, Tetsu won't do it, not wanting to be the center of attention and take away from what the team has accomplished in his absence. But this ultimately doesn't sit well with Shizu, who wants something more for Tetsu.

Without spoiling the resolution to this volume, it is important to note that Shizu, perhaps for the first time in the series, displays some agency. She has been presented mostly as someone resigned to her fate of being locked away, looked after by the spirits protecting her, but without any desires of her own.

In how she handles Tetsu's situation in this volume, we see her start to think of what she wants and what she can do about it. She's coming out of her shell a bit and taking some small control over her life, through her desire to help Tetsu. It's a plus for this volume, and bodes well for where this series might go.

We also get a really powerful scene between Tetsu and his sister, Ryo. Ryo is aware that Tetsu is playing the mom role: working, cooking for them, and otherwise caring for his two sisters to the detriment of the teenage life he should be living. When she finds out that he is still not going to play the last game, she really lets him have it, explaining (forcefully) the burden he has put her under by sacrificing everything he wants for her sake. She feels indebted to him and doesn't want to lead her life knowing that everything she has is because of something he has given up. It's a very powerful scene and well written.

The art continues to be well done, not necessarily extraordinary, but really good. There is lots of definition, emotion, and details. There is good use of shading throughout. The art definitely supports the quality of the story and matches it well.

So this volume was a good one, in a series that keeps getting better, slowly, volume by volume. I'm only three volumes in, but with each one, I like it more and more. I like that Shizu is starting to have more of a personality, a sense of desire and need, and beginning to show some agency with that. As I said in the opening, it can be a little over-dramatic at times, but that's hardly unexpected in a romance shoujo series (and a supernatural one at that), and might even be part of the attraction. It isn't as nuanced a series as Ao Haru Ride, but it is fun, cute, sweet, and the characters are growing and changing. With that, volume 3 of Wake Up Sleeping Beauty gets a solid 7.5/10.


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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