Only One Wish (Del Rey)

onlyonewish-header.jpgText the angel your wish and she’ll make it come true in this teen-aimed manga that pales in comparison to another well known, very similar series.



196 pgs. B&W; $10.99

(W / A: Mia Ikumi)


Be careful what you wish for. It’s an adage as old as time, but manga artist Mia Ikumi (Tokyo Mew Mew) seems to think her readers could use a little refresher in the form of her one-shot manga Only One Wish. Rumors speak of a mirror on a mysterious staircase that appears in a local school at midnight. If you find the mirror and text your wish to the number that appears in it, an angel will appear and make your wish—and only one wish—come true. But, of course, be careful what you wish for, because the people hurt by your wish may well cast their own wish to exact their revenge.

If you’re a manga/anime fan and that premise sounds vaguely familiar to you, odds are you’ve checked out Hell Girl, which features a virtually identical premise. (There, the text number is replaced with a website, and the motive is strictly revenge: have Hell Girl damn a person you hate to Hell now in exchange for joining them there in the afterlife.) It’s unfair to call one a ripoff of the other as the two were made more-or-less simultaneously—the collected edition of Only One Wish hit stores just two days after the first episode of Hell Girl aired on Japanese TV—but publishing coincidences don’t save Only One Wish from paling in comparison to Hell Girl, a series which wasn’t anything to write home about to begin with.

For starters, Ikumi lacks the imagination to come up with anything to do with her wide-open premise besides bland, simplistic love stories. A girl wishes for her crush to fall for her only to have her friends (who also love the same boy) to turn into revenge-seeking green-eyed monsters, a recently deceased girl gets a one-day reprieve to win the heart of a classmate that doesn’t know she exists, a girl shrinks her crush into a doll-sized boyfriend that she can keep to herself forever and ever: all three feature girls making their unrequited loves a reality, only to discover that reality doesn’t match the fantasy. The stories are dull and unoriginal, and feature characters that lack any personality to speak of — they’re strictly blank slates for Ikumi to hang her generic plots from. The angel who grants the wishes is even more of a blank slate than the rest of the characters, simply appearing at just the right moment to shove the plot in whatever direction Ikumi wants. She may as well cast her spells using the magic words "Deus ex machina." It doesn’t help that even the rules used to summon the angel change from story to story.

Ikumi’s art is similarly haphazard. As anyone who has seen Tokyo Mew Mew can attest, her art style is attractive in a generic shojo sort of way (big doe eyes, long wispy hair), but she doesn’t seem particularly interested in readability. The dialogue balloons are sloppily tossed on the page, as if they were placed before the script was even written, with one particularly egregious example (on page 63) featuring two small side-by-side panels: the first shows the girl yet has off-panel dialogue from the boy, while the second shows the boy while only the girl speaks. Why Ikumi didn’t just put both characters in one panel is beyond me, but the small pause of confusion that moments like this cause is enough to rip the reader right out of the story—and these moments are everywhere. The readability isn’t helped by over-crowded pages packed with odd panel transitions and unnecessary asides, with nearly every page slashed in half by a large diagonal panel.

The fourth and final chapter in Only One Wish is the only enjoyable one of the bunch, a sweet story about a boy and girl who accidentally swap phones and spend a day playing a coy game of hide-and-seek to find each other. The story is slight yet fun, but the wish-granting angel has so little presence that it feels like it teleported in from another, much better series, and goes to show how flawed Ikumi’s approach to the premise really is. And speaking of characters teleporting in from other series, the volume closes with an exclusive 7-page Tokyo Mew Mew story, but the story is so short—and so thoroughly confusing to the uninitiated—that only diehards need apply.

Only One Wish is clearly aimed at a young teen girl audience so it’s tempting to just write it off as harmless fluff, but it’s flawed on such basic levels that it feels like my duty to steer people away from it. If the premise of Only One Wish interests you at all, buy Hell Girl instead. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it more. | Jason Green





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