Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat Manga)
Author: Kaori Yuki
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo)
MSRP: $8.99 US
Release Date: Available Now
Seeing is believing and we like what we see.
Rare is the manga that not only keeps your attention to the very last panel but one that seems to rise above it’s intended target audience so members of all genders and nearly all ages can appreciate. Like this office’s current manga crush, Honey and Clover, the first volume of talented manga-ka Kaori Yuki’s Fairy Cube is nothing short of a surprising treat anyone who loves manga will love.
Yuki is no stranger to Shojo Beat Manga’s great lineup of shojo manga seeing as she is responsible for creating wonderful pieces of work such as Godchild and Angel Sanctuary just to name a few. So it came to no surprise that I would enjoy Fairy Cube but what is surprising is that I found myself loving it more than her past work that had made me a Kaori Yuki fan in the first place. Meant to be a short series, it’s close to 200 paged first volume has everything you would want in a manga … adventure, battles, romance and mystery. Believe me when I say that Fairy Cube pulls it off deliciously.
The volume introduces Ian Hasumi, a young man who has been able to see spirits and fairies for a long time. Nobody believes him, of course, and thus is stuck with the nickname “Ian the Liar.” Despite this, though, the gentle boy that he is doesn’t let it get to him. Just about the only one that does believe him is a girl named Rin who had actually seen the fairies when she and Ian were younger. In a way, their innocent peek into “another world” is reminiscent of the Cottingley Fairies photographs that were the cause of much debate in 1917 when two young English girls claimed they too pictures of real fairies.
Having been avoiding Rin since they parted so long ago as children, Ian suddenly finds himself feeling that she is special to him. His attention, however, falls to a string of deaths the media and police seem to call the Fairy Murders due to the fact that the bloody mess left behind looks like fairy wings around the body. It’s a mystery and somehow Ian believes is connected with a mysterious man in an eye patch who runs an antique store. On top of the murders, Ian has a spirit called Tokage (that somewhat resembles him) that is becoming more and more of a threat to him.
It isn’t until a traumatic event that Ian finds that he is no longer among the living and that his “other self” has assumed control of his physical body to become Ian and even steal his girl Rin. Assuming the man with the eye patch has something to do with his ghostly condition, he confronts this man only to find that he is guarded by a powerful and pretty fairy called Ainsel. Ian swears revenge on the spirit that had taken over his body and makes it his mission to reclaim all that he has lost.
Of course, Ainsel doesn’t think the boy has it in him so she decides to help him and convince the mystery man that had something to do with Tokage taking over Ian’s body. In a world of magic and the supernatural, Ian is able to get a new body and begin his quest to defeat Tokage and get his life back together. It’s not an easy task seeing as Ian’s new body belongs to a dead child and Tokage is using his time in the real world collecting an army of followers. Befriending Rin, Ian feels renewed strength and hopes to reveal that the spirit walking around in his old body is not who she thinks.
Fairy Cube is ripe with mystery and Yuki’s brand of gothic flavor that makes the quick pace of the book extremely exciting. The author not only takes her time peeling off the layers of the mystery behind to so-called Fairy Murders or what exactly is Tokage to Ian but she also weaves a story that’s intricate and fascinating. There are even battles, such as the one that takes place after Ian’s spirit (along with Ainsel) are transported to another realm. It’s also a tale of revenge in an almost classical sense (think “The Count of Monte Cristo”). In short, it’s a fantastical tale ripe with all the things we could ask for in a manga. Even the art is gorgeous.
In the end, Fairy Cube’s first volume is just the right ticket for anyone looking for a thoroughly entrancing and fascinating tale that is told wonderfully. You don’t have to be a fan of shojo to like this story because it seems to overstep genre to tell a quick-paced adventure that should satisfy all tastes. I think what I’m trying to say is that if you love manga as much as we do then you should really consider buying this volume right away.
Original and genuinely enjoyable, Fairy Cube’s fantasy tale is simply too good to pass up even if you don’t like shojo. Yuki’s storytelling is as good as ever, which is no surprise seeing as how good her other work is … so put away your beloved, worn-out copies of Angel Sanctuary and pick this one up.
Beautifully detailed and lovingly drawn, Yuki’s characters and backgrounds look great. I’m glad she included a gallery at the end of the volume. Even the cover is just so darn lovely.
By the end of this volume you’ll be praying the release of the second volume will come quickly because this one leaves you wanting more. That might sound like an exaggeration but seeing as the story and art are amazing you should see for yourself why we picked this one for an Editor’s Choice Award.