Lovefool 07.08.13 | When Stars Align

A skeptical teenager opens her heart in the face of metaphysical weirdness in Umitamako’s A Spiritual Boy.


I’ve said it before but I will maintain forever that there’s just something comforting about shojo. It was one of the first things I started reading and still, when I’m having a bit of a day, I like to curl up with a couple volumes and just slide under. And it’s kind of weird how it works, like a security blanket for my brain. For example, today I dialed up the eManga review list and picked something almost at random and it sent me what I like to think is a secret message from the Universe: “everyone is loved by all things that exist.” I woke up kind of unsettled this morning, which is my least favorite feeling, so maybe I needed the reminder that there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy.
And pretty much every one of them is covered in Umitamako’s A Spiritual Boy. Kiyora is a teeange girl who is refreshingly skeptical about anything that smacks of being otherworldly, bless her. High schoolers, of course, are all about the unexplained, and so her school has a club of four attractive-but-endearing weirdos called the Spiritual Research Group. They distribute fortunes to the school, give vague sorts of prophesies at assemblies and they believe all kinds of things that my logical brain finds completely maddening. Led by the very pretty Kazumi Tenjin, known to the school as The Chairman, Spi-Search meets daily to cleanse their chakras and check out auras and talk to angels. There’s a banishment at one point, too, when a fox spirit invades one of their ranks, very literally.
It’s really a little freaky, all the metaphysical stuff, and I kind of wanted to call in a ringer in the form of my dearest British friend, who is a lot more open to things like this. But then it settled into a story about a girl who’s been hurt and is having a little trouble viewing the world outside of that. I swear, my brain made an audible click noise when I figured that out and I sighed a little out of sheer relief. That I can understand. Crystalline grids and angels and astrology are a bit outside my wheelhouse but I can absolutely empathize with hurt little girls trying and failing and trying again and taking forever to get over whatever it is they’re stuck on. And I can understand the weight that’s lifted when you realize that you are maybe in the right place at the right time and the stars aligned or maybe you just got out of bed on time and it’s going to be okay. It’s a little frightening, letting go of the certainty that the other shoe is waiting to smack you, but it’s glorious to watch Kiyora do it.
The art is typical shojo stuff, all sparkles and falling petals with the occasionally fourth wall break to make those things funny, and the book helpfully gives definitions and little footnotes on all the woo-woo stuff that it mentions. It’s pretty flawlessly shifted from a story about otherworldly things to the tale of a girl opening her heart to possibilities, one of whom is a really attractive senior dude. And this story reminds us that we should always, always be open to possibilities because we never know what’s waiting for us and that open hearts meet cute boys and sweet new friends.
I, however, will pass on the energy maps and I’m fairly sure my aura shifts with the amount of caffeine coursing through my system at any time. But maybe this will be the week I listen to Francis Dunnery, my favorite star nerd, and accept whatever is in my life, every last bit of it. Because it can’t be that bad with books like these to hide in. | Erin Jameson

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