Monday, May 11, 2020

Missed it Monday: Wake Up Sleeping Beauty volume 6 - series conclusion (Manga Review)

A teen boy and girl hug while smiling with flowers between them
Missed it Monday is the ongoing column where I review manga/anime that I didn't get to read/watch when they first came out.

Wake Up Sleeping Beauty vol. 6 - 8/10 (*see full scoring rubric below)

This will be a simple and short review. Wake Up Sleeping Beauty (Kodansha Comics) came to its conclusion with volume 6. It was every bit the satisfying conclusion I'd hoped for in a series that gradually won me over with its sweetness, earnestness, and complete sincerity. It really was a very well done final volume to a wonderful series.

Series summary: Shizu, a young teen, is inhabited by several ghosts. Each one has time where they are in control of her body. They often communicate using a journal to write to one another. Her father and mother think she has multiple personality disorder and her father forces her to stay at home, in the outbuilding on their large property. One day, a new housekeeper, Tetsu, begins working there to prove to his father that he doesn't need to go to college. He believes he can't go to school because his mom is in a coma and her medical bills are hurting the family. By earning a wage, he can help keep her on life support longer.

In volume 6, with all the secrets revealed and the healing begun in both Shizu's and Tetsu's families, all that is left is the inevitable. It will be hard talking without spoilers, so you've been warned to skip to the end. SPOILERS TO FOLLOW...The spirits, and Shizu, have always known that they wouldn't be together forever. As she begins to fully develop her sense of self, as she begins to "fill her cup" (the metaphor used in this volume), there won't be a place in her body anymore for the spirits, she won't need them, since her heart will be filled. And of course, it is Tetsu (plus her own growing confidence) that fills her up. In volume 6, we say our goodbyes.

(Still spoilers) The volume starts off with Haru, and learning that when Haru died, he left behind a step-daughter who felt as though Haru didn't love her. Ultimately, she learns how her step-father died, and that he did care about her, and she becomes friends with Shizu.

(Still spoiling) As Shizu and Tetsu both begin to realize that the ghosts will soon all be leaving, Shizu's heart breaks at the loss. She has lived with these ghosts her entire life, they are her friends and her family. I was really glad that Morino-sensei spent time on how this profound loss impacted Shizu. It was well explored and needed. It would have been a disservice to have them disappear and that be an unconditionally happy ending. Instead, it is somewhere between grief and bittersweet. It is like they died all over again, and Shizu experiences that in its fullest.

(More spoiling) Which also brings up the final resolution with Mirei and Tetsu's mom, still in her coma. I won't give all that away, except to say that all the lose threads of this series have been tied up appropriately, leaving Tetsu and Shizu to start thinking about their adult life together. Interpret all that however you'd like.

Basically, the final volume affects just the right tone of growing love against deep sorrow and loss. There are sweet moments and devastating moments, and through it all Shizu and Tetsu become closer and closer. The pacing was spot on, the lose ends resolved, and a new future is in front of Shizu.

If I sound wistful while I write this, it's because that's exactly how it left me feeling. If you like high school shoujo, and want something just a bit different than the typical school girl and school boy, then this series is it. And it does it really well. It isn't overly dramatic, there isn't random plot just for the sake of plot, there are no antagonists, it's just people feeling their feelings and learning and growing and caring and loving and hurting and getting back up. It's a very sensitively written series and a very well written final volume.

The art also continues to be a selling point for this series. It's just lovely, crisp and elegant modern shoujo art. Lots of sparkly screen tones, lots of depth and good line use, lots of emotion. It's beautiful to look at.

So as I said at the beginning, this will be a short review. I liked the series and really liked this final volume. It does exactly what the final volume of this story should have done and it did it well. "Wake Up Sleeping Beauty" volume 6 concludes the series with a strong 8/10.

  • Story interesting (0-10): 7.5 - the added details about Harumichi's life were great. The epilogue had some great stuff from the future to share. 
  • Characters interesting (0-10): 7 - I thought the last volume was probably the height of this as we learned more about Shizu's mom and Tetsu's family. But overall, we really do like all these characters, especially all of Shizu's ghosts.
  • Quality prose/writing (0-10): 7.5 - this volume was perfectly paced for a concluding volume.
  • Emotionally plausible (0-10): 8 - it really nailed the hurt and loss that Shizu felt as the ghosts left her.
BASIC SCORE (avg.): 7.5/10

  • Emotional insight/depth (0-5): 1 - while not exactly showing us anything new about the human condition, the complexity of Shizu's feelings was well done.
  • True LGBTQ+ representation (0-5): 0
  • Female agency (0-5): 0, not really the point of this series
  • Character growth/change (0-5): 1 - Shizu grew every volume!
  • Quality art (0-5): 2 - I really like the art in this series.
BONUS POINTS (sum/8): +.5

  • Homophobic/transphobic (0-5): 0
  • Misogynistic (0-5): 0
  • Fan service (0-5): 0
  • Child/adult relationship (0-5): 0
  • Exploitative (0-5): 0
PENALTY POINTS (-sum/2): -0



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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