Starry Sky, the manga adaptation of the popular otome game of the same name, is a bittersweet tale of young love that is simultaneously heartwrenching and saccharine, and while it occasionally dips into stereotypical trope territory, it still manages to conjure those many confusing feelings that younger people associate with falling in love. There's only one caveat: It's just a little difficult identifying with the seemingly perfect heroine who finds herself in a tangle of childhood friends and peers who are all inexplicably deeply in love with her. There's also a little too much going on for newcomers to the genre to identify with.
Creator: Hal Minagawa/honeybee
Licensed by: Digital Manga Publishing
Release date: 2012 MSRP: $12.95
The first volume follows Tsukiko Yahisa, the beautiful heroine, as a university student with flashbacks to her beloved high school days. Back then, she was recent transfer to Seigetsu Academy, surrounded by other male students (the school only recently went co-ed) who all study astronomy and related sciences. Because she's the only female student at Seigetsu, she's forged special relationships with those around her, from childhood friends to new classmates. She's a kind and gentle soul, and multi-talented at that, participating in the archery club and shining in other areas of study and leisure. And to top it all off, she's exceedingly innocent, reduced to coy little freak-outs when pressed as to who her first love really is. Crown her the perfect, demure shoujo heroine. It's a little off-putting even for otome game vets, but she's charming in a way that you can't help but root for her.
Tsukiko looks back fondly on her days at the academy as she enjoys a wealth of raucous lunches with her gaggle of classmates, heartfelt discussions with the guys she grew up with, and advances from said men for quite some time at Seigetsu, until a familiar face from her past shows up: Yoh Tomoe, which is foreshadowed when the present-day Tsukiko receives an email from Tomoe, informing her he has returned to France. Yoh is a soft-spoken, eloquent gentleman who shakes up Seigetsu with his declarations of love for Tsukiko, and how aggressive he is about making his feelings known. For Tsukiko's friends and veritable entourage she's gained since attending the academy, he's certainly a target -- even if the main male cast do end up accepting them into their circle. Subsequent chapters explore this theme and more, as Tsukiko looks back upon those seemingly endless days.
While it's pleasant enough getting to know each character (many of them future love interests for Tsukiko) you do get the feeling that you've been shaking hands with far too many guys who don't look different enough from one to the next that it's hard to keep up with who's who -- especially when the biggest qualities that vary between them are visual. Short bangs and no bangs. Yoh's are crossed. He's a redhead too, but how could you tell? The art is gorgeous and dreamy though, with expressive characters and detailed landscapes. It's a real treat for the eyes, especially the pastels on the cover.
In the end, Starry Sky is an airy nugget of nostalgia that lays some interesting groundwork for a story that will at least make readers work hard to guess who it is she'll eventually end up with. It doesn't make an attempt to lessen the cheese surrounding Tsukiko being the only girl at an all-male school and how fantastic she is because of it, or the ridiculous notion that nearly every man she meets is in love with her, but it's a bubbly and youthful look at both the current and past lives of a young woman seeking her first love and all the mishaps that come with it. I'm excited to see where the story goes next, and if Tsukiko will become more than a typical shoujo hero -- and more importantly, who she's ultimately going to end up with.
Hello and welcome to another week of Shonen Showdown, the regular battle anime and manga roundup that's--uh-oh, guys, it's making that face again! Clear the area!
Oh right, Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece recaps are below. Take cover there as well!
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Appearing on time this week are your favorite usual battle anime and manga suspects: Hunter x Hunter, One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto and Bleach! You should get on below as well to read up, and tell us your thoughts on the week in fighting in the comments!