Aug 31, 2009
Tongari Square Root is one of the best yomikiri shoujo manga tankoubon I've read so far, I think. (Well, technically not really yomikiri since the first story takes up 3 installments, but whatever.) It has very interesting and appealing heroines who trounce all shoujo manga heroine cliches, and who definitely give a very strong impression as opposed to simply being the generic, rather boring shoujo manga heroine whose only real defining feature is her good heart. (I have nothing against good-hearted female characters, but if it's the ONLY thing that they're known for, it gets a bit boring especially if you read as much shoujo
manga as I do and you get fed up of essentially just seeing the same character over and over again). The heroines in this tankoubon are really the main draw of the stories, and I would say the guys, although as cool as most shoujo manga heros are meant to be, really play second fiddle to the intriguing girls.
In terms of art style, the cover is actually quite deceiving since the inside art looks quite different. (I personally find that alot of Margaret manga are like that, really) That isn't necessarily a bad thing, though - the cover art is really pretty, but so is the inside art. The lines are clean and well-defined and the panelling isn't too messy, which is what a lot of manga tend to suffer from. And the character designs are very easy on the eyes - Ruu is actually very pretty when she isn't dressing up like a nerd, and even though this is actually a rather common cliche in shoujo manga (having a nerdy looking girl actually being very pretty), what actually like is the fact that the mangaka continues to let Ruu look like a nerd rather than having her have an "epiphany" when Kakene comes along and magically transform into a gorgeous babe. And as I said, the mangaka even manages to make Ruu's geeky look very endearing. (Or maybe I'm just biased since I have a soft spot for geek characters. :p)
Another thing I really liked about this tankoubon was how the mangaka tries to use different story-telling techniques that aren't your usual manga fare - for example, in the first story, running parallel to the main story is a rather unusual fairy-tale-esque story from a picture book that the main characters come across, but unlike other manga which have used this technique, the main story actually starts off with this sub-story and you don't realise it's a story from a picture book until later. Also, the sub-story doesn't unfold only when the main characters read the book - in fact, it isn't shown when they chance across the book, and rather, the sub-story unfolds along with significant events in the main story so that it emphasises the parallels between the two stories. Also, in the second story, the main female character often views event around herself like a reel of film that she can edit, rewinding past events and adding and changing her own view of things into the actual events that happen in the story. It's a technique I've never really seen in any other manga and fits in with the idea that the female character often perceives things the way she wants them to be, not the way they actually are. The film scenes are also drawn in very contrasting black and white, which helps to reinforce the idea that the stuff that's happening is just like the scenes in a movie as opposed to happening in reality.
I was actually going to add in my intros to each of the stories here, but since the review tips and guidelines suggests not having any spoilers written in this review, I've decided to omit them, but if anyone wants to get a further taste of why these short stories are awesome and should be read immediately, please feel free to check out my full review. :)
Reviewer’s Rating: 9
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