Time Stranger Kyoko Vol. 1 (VIZ Media/Shojo Beat)

kyoko-header.jpgWhat’s a princess to do when she doesn’t want the obligations of life as a royal? How about set out on a quest to awaken her permanently asleep twin sister?


200 pgs. B&W; $8.99 (paperback)

(W / A: Arina Tanemura)


Time Stranger Kyoko is a three-volume shojo manga series set in the 30th century: the Earth has united into one nation and is ruled by the Suomi family. But life doesn’t look all that different from what we are accustomed to, except for the presence of the kirito, people who contain both human and animal or plant DNA.

Kyoko is First Princess of the Suomi family, but she’s been attending high school incognito and would like to continue leading the life of an ordinary girl. However, her father insists, as fathers often do, that it’s time for her to set aside childish things and start acting like a grown-up. In Kyoko’s case this means she must take up her duties as a princess within the royal family.

The cover to Time Stranger Kyoko Vol. 1 by Arina Tanemura. Click for a larger image.There is one way out: if Kyoko can wake up her twin sister Ui, who’s spent her entire life in a coma-like state of sleep, Ui could assume Kyoko’s role as princess. No one is sure how to wake up Ui, but perhaps if Kyoko can reset the giant clock under Ui’s bed that will wake her up. And how to reset the clock? Well, perhaps if Kyoko gathers the 12 God Stones (currently scattered around the world) and the 12 Telepaths who know how to use them, that will do the trick. At this point you can hardly blame Kyoko for protesting: who would trust a set of instructions with so many "perhaps" in it?

Well, it’s God Stones and Telepaths or start acting like a princess, so off she goes. Not alone, however: Kyoko is aided by the scorpion cane which allows her to manipulate time (hence the series title) and accompanied by two bodyguards who are the last survivors of the dragon kirito: Sakataki is younger and quite serious while Hizuki is older and more jovial.

Reading Time Stranger Kyoko is a bit like talking to a teenager who is simultaneously listening to her ipod and watching TV and texting on her cell phone: that is to say, the story’s a bit scattered. This may be intentional, since the author is fond of little sidebars and interpolated four-panel comics, or it may be that narration is just not Tanemura’s strong point. But Time Stranger Kyoko is pleasant enough if you are a fan of magical girl stories and have a high tolerance for distraction, and the plot may become more coherent in the later volumes.

Tanemura’s art, on the other hand, needs no special pleading. She excels both in detailed, realistic drawings (Kimiko’s palace and the giant clock under Ui’s bed are two cases in point) and hyper-shojo characters with enormous eyes and highly emotive hair. Occasionally she combines both styles in impressive full-page frames. The character’s costumes are also something to see: apparently a millennium from now people will be taking their fashion cues from the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover and Patti Labelle’s Burgundian space warrior phase, with a good dose of goth loli thrown in.

Time Stranger Kyoko is rated T+ for older teens and adults, but it’s really pretty innocuous: there’s some mild cartoon-style violence and unrequited romance, but nothing for parents of middle schoolers to worry about. It includes a bonus story "The Little Princess" which tells the back story of how Sakataki and Hizuki became Kyoko’s bodyguards. | Sarah Boslaugh


Click here to read a brief excerpt, courtesy of VIZ Media!

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