Ric (Webmaster)

Based on:  4 Volumes

Publisher:  Dark Horse Comics

When I first got Super Manga Blast! a little while back there were three series in it that caught my interest - 3x3 Eyes (which is the series I bought it for), Seraphic Feather and Shadow Star.

What initially caught my eye with Shadow Star was the unusual and highly original artwork, which was both light and almost pencil sketchy but also highly detailed.  After reading a couple of issues of SMB! I picked up the graphic novels and this has since become one of my favourite manga series.

The story revolves around Shiina Tamai, an adventurous but relatively normal schoolgirl who lives with her air pilot father following the breakup of her parents’ marriage.  While out swimming with friends Shiina almost drowns but is saved by a strange Pokémon style creature which she befriends and names Hoshimaru.  Then the story really gets going.

To say what happens after this will give away large parts of the plot, but suffice to say other strange and more dangerous creatures, known as Dragons, are causing the Government and aviation industry some problems.  Following several attacks on the company her father works for, Shiina and her friend Akira – an introverted and angst-ridden girl who has also befriended an odd creature – become embroiled in a web of secrecy and violence that they are ill prepared for.

The plot is both interesting and involving, with plenty of twists and leaves you with a real desire to see what will happen next.  Intriguingly, so far, no-one’s motivations are that clear and, with the story simultaneously showing events on a personal and governmental scale, there seems to be something quite major being woven quietly around all the characters.

The plot and characterisation has been strong thus far, and the series is surprisingly mature considering the age of the characters.  This is not mature in a late night channel 5 way mind you, but that some of the events (particularly after volume 3) have been quite shocking and also pretty violent – which comes as a real surprise following the innocent way it starts.  It also deals quite effectively with a number of issues you wouldn’t expect it to – including depression, murder and suicide.

The thing is there are problems. I think the artwork in this series is excellent and original, but some people may not like the heavily stylised characters (everyone seems to be too tall and thin) or the light, pencil-drawn feel that is pretty unusual in manga.

Also, in a similar way to Neon Genesis Evangelion, the plot is pretty slow moving.  Things build up slowly to massive bursts of activity, before slowing down again.  This will cause some people to lose patience, but if you bear with it you will find yourself hooked.

The best thing about this series is the action.  You may have to wait for it but when it comes it is some of the best you will read, with my favourite scene so far being a dogfight between a jet fighter and a strange angelic creature armed with an Vulcan Minigun!

All in all Mohiro Kitoh has created something involving, surprising and truly original.  This will soon be held in the same regard as Neon Genesis Evangelion is now and with it being serialised in Super Manga Blast! you have absolutely no excuse not to give it a look.

Best Bit:  Shiina's father's aerial dogfight with an angelic Shadow Dragon.

Worst Bit:  Shiina's meeting with her mother.

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