Haridama Magic Cram School (Del Rey)

Venus vs. Virus creator Atsushi Suzumi channels Harry Potter in this done-in-one tale.


200 pgs., B&W; $10.95
(W & A: Atsushi Suzumi)
If you enjoy stories about outsiders who discover they have hitherto-overlooked talents and who persevere through obstacles to achieve success but don’t have time to invest in an entire manga series (or for that matter one of the Harry Potter books), then Haridama Magic Cram School should be right up your alley. There’s nothing surprising about the story arc (we’re talking genre fiction here, guys) but it’s well-written and gets it all done in a single volume. The characters are engaging enough to hold your interest (although of course they can’t be developed at length in only 200 pages), and if you like stories in which the female characters take an active role rather than merely cheering the boys on then that’s another reason you may particularly enjoy this volume.
Kokuyo and Harika are sorcery students struggling to learn how to manipulate the forces of yin and yang. Controlling these forces is the basis of magical power and students take exams (just like in Japanese high schools—what a coincidence!) to demonstrate that they’ve achieved the various levels of mastery. Our hero and heroine have a harder time than most because they’re both “obsidians” because each is incomplete: most people have both yin and yang, but they were each born with only one. They can somewhat compensate by using swords which have a chunk of obsidian in the hilt (hence the name), but everyone else makes fun of them and their presumed inferiority.
You can pretty much guess what happens in the story: Kokuyo and Harika team up, combine their strengths, have some adventures and end up showing those smarty-pants “normal” students that obsidians are a force to be reckoned with. It’s boilerplate, but reasonably good boilerplate if you enjoy this sort of thing. A particular strength of Haridama Magic Cram School is the action-filled art: Suzumi (who also created Venus vs. Virus) has a real feel for creating frames which pop out of the page and characters which pop out of the frames. Extras include two pages of translation notes and the usual Del Rey guide to honorifics. Haridama Magic Cram School is rated T for ages 13+. | Sarah Boslaugh

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