Friday, December 8, 2017

Wake Up Sleeping Beauty Vol. 1 Review

Tetsu Misato a hard working High School student, who gets a job working as a house cleaner for a rich family the Karaswas with secrets involving their daughter a cloistered girl named Shizu who is kept in a secluded cottage by her family. Tetsu ends up meeting her after he falls asleep on a bench and she finds him dozing. Tetsu finds himself taken with the tomboyish rich girl and even confesses only to learn a surprising secret about her and why she is hidden away from her family. A series that has many plot twists and a relationship that at times mirrors that of the main couple in Garden of Sinners. Is at its heart a series about forming relationships, isolation, and learning to accept people for who they are. It does this without being heavy-handed or preachy and Morino-Sensei gracefully uses the visual grammar of Manga to convey the personality changes Shizu goes through in the volume. The opening confession felt so perfectly set with starlight, shooting stars and both Tetsu and Shizu enveloped in the trees that I could hear the opening few minutes to Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari in my head. It was just that romantic and sweet. Then the plot twist happens. The seemingly tomboyish Shizu is actually a magnet for the souls of the dead and the tomboyish personality is actually the spirit of a man named Harumichi one of many who have taken up residence in Shizu. While Shizu herself is reserved, skittish, and almost recoils at contact with others. Tetsu while put off at first by this obvious switch in personalities. Still wants to help the girl he has grown to love, it's all really sweet and makes the one descent into the dark side of Shizu's predicament all that more arresting and horrifying. Especially since that horrifying event is subtly hinted at earlier in the series through the use of a ghost story by Tetsu's youngest sister Suzu. As mentioned earlier the use of the visual aspects of the Manga is something I really want to praise in particular the subtle use of shading, facial expressions, and the cropping of paneling while when Shizu is taken over by the Haru personality she is buoyant, upbeat, and a little bit dorky in the best sense of the word. Content to lift weights and is the best boy (girl). This is shown in mannerism and a shy easy smile from Shizu. When she is actually Shizu instead it is framed with this cold alienated panel layout especially in a scene where she accidentally drills a soccer ball into a child's face while practicing penalty kicks with Tetsu's old elementary soccer team. In an attempt by Tetsu to socialize Shizu. It hurts because Shizu is simply darling in her interactions and setting it up with her in a morose mental funk reflecting on the seeming anguish of her parents. It really makes you feel and is only more poignant due to the almost wordless structure of the scene causing the audience to actually put themselves in Shizu's mindset. Engendering a bittersweet empathy for a character that could have felt underwritten or stereotypical. A large part of this is the base quality of the volume with Morino-Sensei showing a gentle hand at dropping small hints combined with character design and art style that feels warm and inviting without feeling manipulative or overly stylized. While also having realistic and human dialogue translated quite nicely I may add by Alethea and Athena Nibley being able to capture the subtilities of personal pronouns and changes in personality in English which is harder in English than in Japanese given our lack of the panoply of gendered personal pronouns that Japanese has Transgender Neologisms in English notwithstanding of course given their work on Land Of The Lustrous this is child's play. Wake Up Sleeping Beauty feels like a warm supportive hug comparable to some of the best parts of Fruits Basket it's a pity this series will only have six volumes but if future volumes continue this level of winsome empathy. This could be a series that wins if not a huge following a devoted cult. Highly recommended and a "dark horse" title for best ongoing Shojo Manga in 2018

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