"From a dying planet shall come the children of light..."
While on vacation on a small island, young Shiina Tamai dives under the water near an old shrine and discovers an unearthly starfish-like creature. She nearly drowns but is rescued by the silent, wide-eyed little animal, who Shiina befriends and names Hoshimaru. To Shiina's surprise and delight, the creature changes shape, lets Shiina stand on him, and the two fly off into the clouds. But what looks to be a young girl's ultimate fantasy soon takes a darker turn as Shiina and Hoshimaru become entangled in a struggle between rival extraterrestrial factions who battle in the skies upon huge alien beasts called Shadow Dragons, with the fate of Earth hanging in the balance.
Narutaru: Mukuro Naru Hoshi Tama Taru Ko was first published in English as Shadow Star☆ by Dark Horse in the magazine Super Manga Blast from September 13, 2000 to February 1, 2006—issues 5 to 59, which was the final issue. The manga was partially published in standard tankoubon format as well by the same publisher, with seven volumes published from September 5, 2001 to December 21, 2005.
Shadow Star (Narutaru) is a unique blend of Supernatural, Military, Action & Drama with a really promising story, which was let down by the way things concluded. Just like this mangaka's other works, Shadow Star revolves around kids but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing.
It all begins when an energetic young girl named Shiina Tamai discovers a star-shaped creature, whilst visiting her grandparents over the holidays. Ever since then she becomes involved in some strange and dangerous incidents, involving other kids who have similar creatures to hers. It is later explained that these things are known by the term Dragon Child/Shadow Dragon and the
kids themselves are mentally linked with their respective Dragon Child, allowing them to do what they want with them. Shadow Star is just one of those manga where you are left in the dark about all the important stuff and it just shuffles between Military and Dragon Child issues. Although when it does explain things, the explanations can leave you with a feeling of bewilderment. At least it is possible to grasp an understanding of what this manga is all about and the story finally gets interesting, but being drawn back into confusion is inevitable once it reaches the halfway point. After the sudden change in the story, it just feels like trying to understand this confusing premise all over again.
The manga revolves mainly around a bunch of kids/young adolescence, all different in some way, but they share the same bond of being a Dragon Child bearer. Shiina Tamai is just one of the kids the manga focuses on and just like all the others, the reader will become familiar with their family & social life, as the story progresses. There are various other characters that come into play as you advance through the story, but not only can some be hard to figure out, there are also those who's motives aren't made clear.
Just like with Mohiro Kitoh's other works, the artwork of this manga has a similar style. Nonetheless this comes with its problems; the details of the characters are very inconsistent and some of the character designs lack any distinctive features so you can find yourself constantly wondering, "who is this again?" The military hardware and the Dragon’s designs are about the only note worthy thing about the artwork, having a lot of thought and detail put into them along with the scenery.
Overall Shadow Star is certainly a great read but when reading it; expect to experience lots of confusion whilst trying to comprehend the purpose behind the story. The story itself has a simple structure where each volume focuses on its respective arc. Though there are a few complications along the way and by the end you will be left with a bunch of unanswered question like: why are only kids Dragon Child bearers? And what was up with that ending? We’ve all heard the term "Kids can be so cruel…" Well that term is put into practice with some really intense and disturbing moments. If these words have put you off from checking out this fine manga, then there’s no point in giving it a try.
Shadow Star is probably the most well done manga I've read and could have a code name “100 ways how to mentally break young teens”. Cute monsters and young girls? Why not make their life hell and make them fight for their lives in a battle that is seemingly lost even before they try? Why not add a psychotic group of young teens that want to rule world with “cute” monsters of their own and give “cute” another meaning the most ugly and bloody way? That’s pretty much Shadow Star.
Everything begins when Shiina finds a weird creature, Hoshimaru (as she names it), and keeps
it as a pet. Later, she meets another girl with a similar pet but, unfortunately, the said girl isn’t very friendly and is weird. Weird as in, if taking everywhere your own bunch of bushes to hide in was possible she would do it. Shiina somehow manages to make this always scared and hiding girl her friend. But it isn’t until they are attacked by a freak (of similiar age) who gives a new meaning to “cute pet”, that the story actually starts unfolding. They found out that their pets are creatures called dragon children and are emotionless tools of mass destruction. Of course they find out it the hard way. These dragon children need human souls in order to mature because they don’t have their own. They usually look like something from fairy tales to show us that maybe they weren’t so far from truth.
Story perfectly ties together in every way. Not to mention that it’s perfectly realistic and whether air or ground battles with military are nothing rare. Neither are deaths that by the end happen on a massive scale.
While art isn’t anything perfect or modern since it’s a bit older but it’s extremely realistic and precise. It fits the story amazingly. Character designs are also very well done and memorable (although I didn’t like Shiina much).
While this have a very well done and solid story with unexpected twists, characters are about as strong. This manga goes as deep into characters’nature and mental health as possible. We have a big variety of characters yet none could be a stereotype or underdeveloped. Even side characters get their own nature that is just their own and recognisable. Main characters have it much more difficult because this manga doesn’t spare them any mental trauma since they are thrown into first fronts of a warfare at a very young age. I dare to say that character mental development and exploration goes as deep and in NGE but at a far larger scale yet it feels perfectly fluent. This doesn’t spare anyoe, whether it’s the villains or leads or side characters, everyone has a secret to explore and everyone has at least one mental breakdown to survive.
The reason why I started reading Shadow Star, was the anime that ended not even in the middle of the manga. I finished the anime within a day since I just couldn’t stop. Manga took me a bit longer because my parents forced me to do such useless stuff like eating and sleeping. Needless to say that even though I was scarred for life, this was the best manga I’ve ever read. Though, that might be because I have a weakness for psychological horror.
This is truly a must read for everyone who enjoyed NGE and the character depth in it. Everything is either explained or hinted at well enough. This is truly a masterpiece and when I manage to gather enough courage, I’ll definitely re-read it.
All the other reviews for this manga are positive, and I honestly can't understand why. The only thing I didn't think was total trash about this manga was the art, and that was "meh". Really, nothing is worthy of praise in this mess of a manga.
Characters - 4/10. All of them are unlikeable (except one or two). And NONE of them have any meaningful development. This wouldn't be that big of a deal (I mean, how many series has character development for side characters) except for the fact that whole volumes are dedicated to some characters, and still they don't develop. Of course the
MC doesn't develop either.
The story - 3/10. Terrible, terrible storytelling. Reading through, my biggest impression was that the author couldn't decide on WHAT to focus on. And since he can't decide what to make of the manga, it fails to be anything. As a character study it fails because the author switches between characters way too much, and nothing seems to have a lasting impact on any of the characters. Also, the situations the kids are put in are so bizarre and extreme they are nigh impossible to relate to. As a fighting manga, it fails because the "enemy" seems to forget about their plans to capture/ attack the protagonist after one fight. They just.... forget. There was also hints of it trying to be a coming of age tale, but again it switches between characters way too much, and protagonist doesn't get any character development. Besides all of that, there are many plot holes and random stuff that happen in the manga for no apparent reason. So... yeah. The whole manga is pretty much just a bunch of weird characters interacting with each other, for 12 volumes. And all of it is pointless, too. Seriously, you can read book 1, skip to book 12, and you wouldn't be missing a thing; when the finale comes, you'll be just as confused as anyone else that read the whole thing.
All in all - 4/10. Narutaru is pretty much a pointlessly violent, incoherent version of Evangelion. But if you reeeeally want a dose of kids suffering in pain and misery, read Bokurano by the same author (he's obsessed with psychopathic kids). It has the same agony, but the story is infinitely better.
"Shadow Star" is something I happened upon on the internet, the anime that is. After watching some of the anime, I decided to read the manga too. A little sceptical at first, I gradually got pulled into the story that exceeds the standards of the anime (for one, it actually CONTINUES the story and ties up many of the loose ends left in the anime). Not to say that the anime was bad, but I found the manga was a bit better.
In particular, the art of this manga is very unique. While manga usually has many busty maidens, in this one all the kids are
skinny and flat-chested, and the same goes for the adults, few of them have prominent busts at all.
One thing to note about Mohiro Kitoh, is that he really likes to put some shocking scenes in his manga. The further you read through "Shadow Star", the more uncomfortable things happen. One in particular was featured in the anime, and guess what, that episode was really controversial. There was an outrage (admittedly, it was broadcast on 'Kids Station'-God only knows why). It is about here that the English adaptation of the manga and also the anime adaptation ends. The manga continues, continues to delve into even more dodgy territory.
Most of these kids are 12 year olds. And some of the stuff that happens is just completely un-natural for kids that age. That isn't a criticism though. In fact, the dark twisted material of this manga (that completely contrasts it's outer image) appeals to me.
If you want to read something different, and if you were a fan of "Bokurano", then I am sure you will like this ★