Thursday, August 14, 2008


Overall Rating: A+, but in a kind of disturbing way
Summary: In the drama Shōjo manga created by Keiko Suenobu, we meet Ayumu Shiiba, a middle school student who is intelligent, but struggles with her studies.  Ayumu is getting ready for her high school entrance exams, and relies heavily on help from her best friend Shii.

Shii's dream is to get into Nishidate High School, and Ayumu resolves to get in to. Shii always does well in class, and with her help, Ayumu continually improves in her studies. After raising her grades and doing well on the exams, Ayumu makes it into Nishidate, but surprisingly Shii doesn't make it. Apparently, helping Ayumu brought Shii's grades down, and Shii blames her failure on Ayumu.

As Ayumu starts high school, she has started cutting herself to understand her friend's pain and feel completely alone. Fortunately, she meets Manami who befriends her and the two start hanging out.

All of the above happens in the first volume of the series, and gets darker as the volume progresses. After volume 1, apparently Borders starts shrink-wrapping the volumes, and after Volume 6, the volumes go from Older Teen to Mature, so this stuff definitely isn't for kids. In fact, I had to take a break from reading, and then read something light after I got done, because even volume 1 is intense. However, it's also amazingly compelling, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Just go into knowing it's pretty brutal, and realistic in terms of portraying depression, and bullying in Japanese high schools (though it is certainly sensationalized to a degree).

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