Mamotte! Lollipop vols. 1-4 (Del Rey)

mamotte-header.jpgNina is looking for the perfect boy, but she better be careful what she wishes for! When handsome novice wizards Zero and Ichi literally fall from the sky, they bring along the whole wizarding world and a host of problems.

 

 

212 pgs. black and white;$10.95

(W / A: Michiyo Kikuta)

 

Nina is a typical middle-school student with a sweet tooth looking for love. Zero and Ichi are handsome wizards-in-training looking for the Crystal Pearl. Guess who eats the magical Pearl, key to passing the Magic Exam, thinking it’s candy? Now, Nina is stuck having two hot guys at her side every moment of the day. It wouldn’t be so bad, except the Magic Exam—which Zero and Ichi need to pass to become official wizards—is competitive. Whoever possesses the Pearl at the end of the exam wins, and Zero and Ichi aren’t the only ones trying to graduate. Shortly after meeting Zero and Ichi, Nina finds herself at the center of attention of the wizarding world, except that not everyone cares how they get the Pearl from her, or if she survives.

This being a young teen-oriented manga however, the slew of other wizards-in-training who hunt Nina never really harm her. Instead, by the end of the first volume of Mamotte! Lollipop author Michiyo Kikuta establishes a firm base of annoying but generally harmless recurring characters, which swells in size as the volumes progress. They trip up Ichi and Zero’s efforts and cast irritating spells on Nina (mostly causing her to get in blush-causing proximity to the boys), but fail to do anything serious. Okay, Zero does get beat up a bit, but no lives are threatened. The whole manga, in fact, is a pale and tepid effort on Kikuta’s part. Yes, it’s aimed at tweens and yes, it is Kikuta’s first manga, but I truly felt as if the author didn’t put much thought into Lollipop

The cover to Mamotte! Lollipop vol. 1. Click for a larger image.The storyline is the "magical girl" theme, where Main Heroine gets thrust into Magical Situation surrounded by Hot Guys. Love triangles and costume changes ensue. Although this is a common manga scheme, good writing can lend fresh perspective and engagement to a series, using such things as background, introspection, and character development to accomplish this. Kikuta, sadly, just seemed to grab the nearest cardboard cutouts of storyline archetypes and slap some new names on them. But really, when the big, important magical test is called the Magic Exam and the characters are all named after numbers to keep them straight, I wasn’t exactly expecting Kafka. The main female character, Nina, obviously has no brains and appears to be in the manga solely for the purpose of getting kidnapped and trussed up in various cutesy outfits. Zero and Ichi, main potential love interests, out of nowhere announce that it is their new sole mission in life to protect Nina. And they keep announcing that they will protect her—over and over again. True, they need the Pearl, but the change between being annoyed that Nina ate the Pearl and suddenly finding her stalker-worthy is jarring, to say the least. As for the cadre of competing wizards who are also out to get Nina (and really, I couldn’t care less if she did die. She’s that uninteresting.), their individual shticks are half amusing, but more just keep on coming, up to fifteen by the fourth volume. There are lots of explosions later on in the series, but overall I would fear Harry Potter and his friends way more than these guys.

Kikuta’s artwork for Lollipop is pretty decent, but it’s also nothing spectacular. There’s a distinct lack of background art; it’s mostly tones and motion lines. In all, standard artwork to go along with a standard story. However, the frequency of people being caught mid-change or shirtless in the series is shamelessly high for a tween manga, so prudish people, beware!

Although predictability is a gimme for Lollipop, what did surprise me is that I found that the series actually got less tooth-grinding as I read on. True, the randomly inserted background stories are uncharacteristically sober and further confusing, and Kikuta’s world-building attempts are worthy of an eye-rolling (her drawing of the Magical World is the New York skyline. Seriously. The Twin Towers are there.), but sanity and enjoyment can be had if one only chants: "It’s only a bit of fluff!"

So, if you’re looking for a way to kill time, Mamotte! Lollipop would be a good bet for you. Though not the most well-written or drawn of manga, the cutesy teen angst does provide for moderate entertainment. If you’re seeking a great fantasy manga with gorgeous art and a compelling storyline fraught with danger and romance, please look elsewhere. | Elizabeth Schweitzer

The cover to Mamotte! Lollipop vol. 2. Click for a larger image. The cover to Mamotte! Lollipop vol. 3. Click for a larger image. The cover to Mamotte! Lollipop vol. 4. Click for a larger image.

Click here to read a 7-page preview, courtesy of Del Rey!

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