Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Paradise Kiss Manga Volume 1

Overall Rating: A+
Summary: A fashion/drama/romance Josei series created by Ai Yazawa (who is also the creator of Nana), which follows Yukari "Caroline" Hayasaka. Yukari is an attractive high schooler, but her life consists of traveling from high school to cram school to home, and back again. The manga opens with Yukari running into Arashi (a punk) and Isabella (a transvestite), who are part of a group of fashion students that call their label "Paradise Kiss". Yukari thinks they are perverts (did I mention she's a bit naïve?), and faints.

When she wakes up, she's staring at a pink-haired woman named Miwako (the cute woman in lolita clothing on the cover), who explains the situation, and that they want her to be their model. She refuses, explaining that she's much too busy with school and doing important things, and that fashion students have it easy. This understandably pisses off Arashi (our spiky haired punk boy on the cover), who yells at her, and Yukari quickly leaves. Miwako runs after her and calls her "Caroline", because she doesn't know Yukari's name yet. As a result, Yukari is referred to as "Caroline" by the Paradise Kiss crew. Regardless, Caroline leaves, but drops her student id.

The next day a ridiculously attractive guy named George shows up, and tells Yukari Miwako has her id (he has it). George gets her to go with him, in theory to pick up her id, to the art school Yazagaku. He then takes her to a hair and makeup artist for a makeover (this mostly consists of giving her bangs). After this stop off, they go meet up with the Paradise Kiss crew, and they put Yukari in a dress they designed, give her back her id, and convince her to be their model.

I love Ai Yazawa. Nana is one of my favorite series, and I am now thoroughly addicted to "Paradise Kiss" after only one volume. I had already watched the anime, and finally got around to checking out the manga. Now I wish I had grabbed the first volume as soon as I finished the anime (or even while I was watching the anime). As with "Nana", "Paradise Kiss" has an excellent plot that really draws you in, interesting characters that develop in interesting ways (even in just the first volume), and is a lot of fun. The series is clearly intended for a slightly more mature audience (there are sex scenes, but they aren't explicit), but if you like Josei/Shōjo manga check this one out.

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