Meet the Urumas, a slightly dysfunctional family of four sorcerers. Mom, being the most powerful sorceress around, works away from home keeping the world safe. Dad picks up the slack and takes care of the family. Except when he's out, which is when the older brother Jin finds himself in the unenviable position of keeping tabs on his sister Ran. And Ran, the youngest, is a willful girl with too much power and too little wisdom. Let's take a look at Ran's everyday misadventures, shall we?
Part of what makes this manga extraordinary, in my opinion, can be described by the age-old literary proverb: "show, don't tell." Yes, your 2nd grade English teacher told you this, as did your 5th grade and 8th grade English teachers. All of your English teachers, in fact (each subsequently more and more worried about your continuous failures in essay writing... no? just me?).
"Show, don't tell!"
Ran to Haiiro no Sekai, or "Ran and the Grey World," is a low-fantasy (fantasy set in a realistic world) coming-of-age story. Put simply, Aki Irie tells a beautiful story in a wildly imaginative fantasy setting without ever needing to explain how the magic works or explicitly convince you of a character's feelings and convictions. You are immediately thrust into a strange world where sorcerers hidden in the human society can transform into beasts at will and flora and fauna spring into existence at the snap of a finger. And yet, the mythical creatures, magical powers, and character interactions all feel completely natural.
The narrative is surprisingly fast-paced. Background stories (flashbacks) are short and sparse but wholly satisfying, and no chapters feel like they detract from the overall pace. The characters seem intimately human; their responses to dialogue and crises never feel contrived. It's also quite funny when it wishes to be. The author plays around with some common tropes but has a great sense of humor. The manga does venture into ecchi territory at times, but not for the sake of fanservice. The artwork is lovely and the showing of skin imparts a unique sense of style. Above all, it is magical in both its storytelling and in its ability to convey its message: "don't rush, take life in stride--one step at a time."
With that said, my given scores in the MAL rating format would be:
Story: 8/10 - a little lacking but still solid
Art: 10/10 - gorgeous!
Characters: 10/10 - likable and interesting, with amazing development
Enjoyment: 10/10 - shed a not-so-manly tear at the end
Overall: 10/10 - one of my favorites of all time
The lacking--and I use this term with some reluctance--plot is not so much a weakness as it is a side effect of a particularly character-driven story. The exact events that unfold are not the point of the manga; it is Ran's emotional development, her brother's attitude and evolving methods of dealing with her, her parents' struggle to balance community and family obligations, and a tightly-knit society's display of resilience in the face of overwhelming danger that make this manga so incredible. The real magic is not in the objects and animals Ran or her mother whimsically bring forth, but in the beauty of each character's growing understanding of themselves and one another, along with the life lessons to be learned through the story's charming and cathartic resolution.
I so dearly wish more chapters awaited, but am perfectly content accepting Ran to Haiiro no Sekai as the amazing (and all-too concise) celebration of life it is.
TL;DR: It's pretty damn good, go read this right now.read more
Without a doubt the best and sexiest manga out there. I don't mean sexy in a fan service type of way though. This is a Josei manga in the purest sense, because even though the characters are adults, they maintain the signature Shojo sparkle. But the sparkle has been refined with age, to a point where if you saw the characters in everyday life your eyes would naturally be drawn to them.
The whimsy that permeates this world is always there, even at its most serious moments of Drama and Melodrama. The art quality is absolutely phenomenal on every level, such that I could write paragraphs on end about the entire thing. The love that every character feels is portrayed with such grace and charm it is impossible not to feel a warmth in your heart reading this manga. There is no one who could read this and not be affected on some level.
I can admit some might feel the relationship between Ran and Outarou is a little uncomfortable. But you have to remember that nothing does actually come of it, and if you think to yourself that adult Ran isn't attractive you are lying.
The story does get very serious at points. People are nearly killed, lives are ruined, and the story gets extremely dark. But even then, the magic and wonder never leaves the series. If this is ever made available in America, I am buying as much as I can. Everyone who reads this will absolutely love it. read more
Note: At the time of my initial review, there was about 11 chapters released. I understand that MUCH has changed within that time, and I have made necessary adjustments. I hope that this review is much more faithful and reflects what Ran To Haiiro No Sekai has become.
Ran To Haiiro No Sekai is hands down probably the best manga in a long, long time. If that's all you needed to hear, then close MAL and go read it.
I think this is a little redundant to say (as the title translates to Ran and the Ashen World), but this is a story about Ran. It is about the many adventures of this very charming little girl who kinda just wants to grow up. And although it does have the fantasy tag, it is not a fantasy story. It also has the supernatural tag, but I can guarantee it's not that kind of story either.
This manga is about Ran, and this is a story of her growing up.
First and foremost: this manga just FEELS good. It's refreshing, magical, and just gives you a good feeling. After chapter one, I can guarantee that it will just feel remarkable -- I promise. The mangaka is very maticulate, keeping a keen eye on the level of intensity, it's atmosphere, the emotions... always making sure that it feels intangible and whimsical. It's very nicely planned, leaving some things unexplained for a while only to increase shock value, or maybe letting the readers know something that the characters do not, and sometimes he just prioritizes the order of events just to give us readers the best experience.
But despite how intangible and airy this manga may seem at first, it's pretty smart at being effective and memorable. Many things are hinted at (so that you understand something) without actually facing any topics head on. For example, in the beginning, it was immediately understood that Sango had a crush on Ran's brother (and not only does that develop, but it has become very important). This is something rarely done in manga, and I believe only the best mangaka are able to pull this off.
I mean, you always get the FEELING you understand what's going on, even though there's never a formal introduction.
The characters, too, are superb, and within the last 40 chapters or so, they all have been expanded greatly on. At first, it may seem like there are an abundant amount of stock characters, however, that idea pulls a whole 180 and begins to develop even the one’s we've seen little of. There are even some scenes just put in there for the sake of the character development. Extremely impressive, and even more so once you factor in the part where there’s currently only five or so volumes.
And the art is something I must touch upon, although I usually do not consider this part of my scoring. Just like the pacing and narration, it feels just so, so different. It's beautiful, but, it too feels whimsical and airy and magical. I don't want to touch too much on this (I mean, how many different ways can you try and describe someone else's art?) but there is no way to dislike it.
In my original review, I said it was a "great manga, with even greater potential". I still stand by this, but I am so glad I called that early on. It has become so popular in such a small amount of time -- for sure it has become the "next best thing". And like I said in my earlier review, Ran often gets herself in some undesirable situations for her age, but the mangaka has already recognized these problems and fixed it (how cool is that?). I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that it is a well-rounded, top tier manga, and because of the combined efforts of storytelling, characterization, enjoyment, and art, it will be wholly deserving of 9.0 / 10.0. I beg you to just try it out.
You see, Ran To Haiiro No Sekai is a breath of FRESH AIR.
Put down your battle Shounen Jump and pick this up.
Easily one of my favorite things ever, but flawed and difficult to recommend. The villain's unacceptable behavior is pretty unsettling, though I appreciate the way his character is handled by the end of his presence.
I also appreciate just how long it goes on after the final battle against the antagonists; almost half the manga takes place after that point. There's enough time for the characters to properly bounce back from that and to get to back to the real point: the parallel stories of adults and children dealing with stress.
The adults face hectic work and tough decisions, while the kids face the veil coming down from their eyes and the world showing its ugliness for the first time. Both of them seek comfort by returning home, but they've spent so much time fragmented that it's hard for them to work out a balanced family dynamic.
To vainly use some social psychology jargon: there are two kinds of support that can help alleviate the autonomic response that comes with stress, described as tangible and emotional support. The characters begin to surround themselves with people who can offer them both, while working out issues of interpersonal trust.
The fantasy allows for direct, creative metaphorical imagery which keeps it fresh while continuing to acknowledge the various problems faced by the characters; the probable best example of this occurs fairly late in the manga, and asks us to recall everything that Ran's been through up to that point while she struggles to cope with a brand new experience.
It's a pretty unabashedly sentimental thing that unquestioningly accepts its own ridiculous reality. But it doesn't cut corners to reach that sentiment, and for that it's very uplifting.read more