Sugar Sugar Rune 1 Paperback – Sep 27 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Following in the witch-girl subgenre, this manga is the story of Vanilla and Chocolat, two best friends competing to be Queen of the Magic World. They go to earth to see who can attract more boys and capture their hearts as jewels of different colors. If your teeth aren't aching yet, then you may be the target audience for this book. At first, Chocolat's too brusque and Vanilla's too shy, but the outgoing one quickly learns that human boys prefer a demure, suggestible girl, always thanking people and apologizing, so Vanilla gathers hearts more easily. Chocolat, meanwhile, may be falling in love with an older student called the Ice Prince, but if magical girls fall in love, they could die. The leads' huge eyes and hair makes them look all of their 10 years old, which contrasts oddly with the beautiful boys hanging around them and the strange, cynical views of emotions and manipulation. This attempt at a modern fairy tale is trying too hard, especially with the message that quiet girls make more friends.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A lot of people seem to look at this and immediately write it off as a drippy romance with sparkles and flowers. It is about romance, but there's so much more. Yes they're having a competition to steal hearts, and maybe it does sound vaguely like a wierd cross between Pokemon and Sailor Moon, but at the heart of it all Sugar Sugar Rune is about love, friendship, loyalty, and discovering one's own place in the world. From Chocolat's quest to learn about her mother to Vanilla's self-identity crisis, each character has a problem they need to work past and Moyoco Anno handles their problems with humor and sympathy. Maybe I'm being too serious about this comic, but it just pains me to see people write off a great manga series just because they can't get past the surface.
To begin with, it does seem as if Anno's simply reinforcing some of the most traditional Japanese stereotypes about the proper behaviour for young girls: quiet, shy Vanilla has no difficulty capturing hearts at their new human school, while Chocolat's aggressive bluntness scares both girls and boys. As the story unfolds, however (and with the help of some wise advice from Vanilla's mother, the reigning queen) they realise that they have to both stay true to themselves and to change: Chocolat needs to become more sensitive to others, Vanilla has to grow a spine. They begin to question the terms of the contest, too: what good is a boy's heart glowing with love if he loses all feeling for you the moment a spell has captured it? In any case, what kind of world demands that its inhabitants take others' hearts, but never surrender their own? Behind all the pink-sugar-candy flourishes and jokes about the Magical Artifacts Mail-Order Catalogue, Anno seems to be setting up something with rather more substance than usual for the pre- to early-teen crowd. Meantime, thanks to Del Rey's usual impeccable presentation and generally smooth translation, the rest of us can enjoy an agreeable diversion as well.
Reason enough to buy this series is Anno-sama's fashion concious, gorgeous, detailed art. But if you're expecting CLAMPish messages of the Chobits variety or Ghost in the Shell type seriousness, go elsewhere.