Ran and the Gray World Graphic Novel Volume 4 cover image
Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
She can't wait to grow up and be a sorceress like her mother, Shizuka. With the help of a pair of magical sneakers, Ran Uruma sometimes transforms herself into an adult and takes off on various (mis)adventures.
As Ran and the Gray World, Vol. 4 (Chapters 19 to 23) opens, Ran tries to beat Makoto Hibi's head in with a cast iron skillet. And she just recently made this boy her friend! However, Makoto knows Ran's secret that she uses a pair of magical sneakers to transform into an adult. Can Ran keep a friend, and can that new friend keep a secret?
Next, there is a surprise new student at Ran's high school, but what the other students don't know is that this new student, Nio Gekkoin, is a young sorceress, and she hates Ran. So Nio spends her first day unleashing her magic on her classmates, so can Ran stop her? Meanwhile, the Otaro Mikado slash bug hunt continues.
[This volume includes two bonus manga, “Magical Dr. Becchin” and “The Black Crows' Assignment Today.”]
THE LOWDOWN: I did not think that I would really like the Ran and the Gray World manga. There are a lot of manga that I like that I might not necessarily try to read on a regular basis. I don't “really” like them or care enough to be invested in them – chapter by chapter, volume by volume.
Ran of the Gray World Graphic Novel Volume 4 is the volume that makes me think that I could really like this manga. The first two subplots, which involve Ran taking on characters her own age, are actually nice exercises in teen shenanigans that writer-artist Aki Irie executes with skill and with some pretty art.
Fantasy manga often turn on conspiracies, so the best of Vol. 4 is the plot involving Otaro Mikado (an adult man smitten with the adult Ran) and the “bug” infestation. I think that Ran of the Gray World will grow stronger the more Irie reveals this series' world of sorcery (the Gray World?). I like Emi Louie-Nishikawa's spry translation, and I think Joanna Estep's lettering adds another spark of magic to the atmosphere of this series.
I think that if future volumes of Ran and the Gray World are this good as Vols. 3 and 4, readers will have a hard time quitting this series.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of coming-of-age stories about young magic users will want to try the “VIZ Signature” title, Ran and the Gray World.