By Leroy Douresseaux
August 2, 2008 - 11:14
|Thanks to barnesandnoble.com for the above cover image.|
Rated “A” for “All Ages”
While at the local skating rink, Maya Kurinoki tries to inspire some bravery in her little brother who is afraid of letting go of the safety bar. Maya attempts a double axel (a jump that has two and a half revolutions), an amazing feat for a non-figure skater. She catches the eye of veteran coach, Eishi Todo, who convinces Maya to let him turn her into a figure skating “princess.” Todo assigns champion teen skater Shun Kano to train Maya, but he ignores her.
THE LOWDOWN: It wasn’t long into Sugar Princess, Vol. 1 that I started to think I was reading something right out of a Disney movie, and that’s not a bad thing. Imagine a potent drama full of character conflicts and featuring a young character facing a series of troubling obstacles, but not needing sexual innuendo and violence to create drama, and you have this surprisingly engaging shoujo manga (girls’ comics). It’s the kind of G-rated drama Walt Disney Pictures once did so well.
Manga-ka Hisaya Nakajo composes her lead character Maya Kurinoki, with a soft, round, open face and with emotionally expressive eyes that sparkle with wonder and curiosity. It’s a look meant to engage the reader (and it certainly engaged me). What makes this “sugar princess” seem like a winner is that she is a fighter. She doesn’t melt and cower before some boy upon which she has a crush. Maya is fighter who stands up for herself; she’s savvy and intelligent, and while she knows her own limitations, she isn’t going to be bullied – by anyone – into taking second place. She’s a great character that makes a somewhat ordinary manga seem like something special.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Fans of the magazine Shojo Beat and of shoujo manga/girls’ comics will find Sugar Princess to be the real thing in drama.