Sunday, July 27, 2008
Published by VIZ, rated T, and complete in fourteen volumes, From Far Away is high on romance and adventure, but low on physical displays of affection - the spiciest bit being a clench and a kiss. Schoolgirl Noriko has been transported to another world where she knows no one and doesn't speak the language. She is rescued and taken in by the mysterious Izark, a lonely warrior with no home. Upon discovering that Izark is destined to become the world-destroying Sky Demon, Noriko does not abandon him. Instead she finds a way to rescue him and, in turn, save the world. While none of this will be new to older fans of fantasy and romance fiction, for middle schoolers this is a perfect introduction to these kinds of stories. Noriko never becomes a brainless victim. Instead she uses her head, learns to communicate with the people around her, and becomes a heroine worth rooting for. Originally published in the early 1990s, the artwork is somewhat dated, but the story is compelling enough to counter the old fashioned art and tweens shouldn't be surprised to find their older siblings wanting to borrow this series to read for themselves.
Translucent is published by Dark Horse and has three volumes available so far. It is the story of Shizuka, an eighth grade girl who suffers from Translucent Syndrome, an incurable disease that gradually turns its victims transparent. Shizuka, who longs to be noticed, becomes friends with the beautiful Okouchi, who is tired of all the attention her beauty brings. By focusing on how society places importance on appearance over depth, the story at first seems to be well-intentioned bibliotherapy. But the story quickly evolves into a slice-of-life drama that closely reflects the lives of middle schoolers everywhere. With light humor, friendship, and a splash of innocent romance, this is a wonderful shojo starter series for tween girls.
Other shojo titles to look for:
Cardcaptor Sakura , by CLAMP (Tokyopop)
Land of the Blindfolded , by Tsukuba Sakura (CMX)
Sugar Sugar Rune , by Moyoco Anno (Del Rey)
Swan , by Kyoko Ariyoshi (CMX)
Ultra Maniac , by Wataru Yoshizumi (VIZ)