Iijima Yuuko is a 16-year-old, introverted high-school girl having trouble making friends with her classmates. Her only friend is her dog, Pochi. One day, as she's taken Pochi for a walk, she encounters Yamada, the #1 handsome guy in the class that all the girls adore. He asks her to come watch his concert at the summer fest. Yuuko goes to the concert all excited, without knowing Yamada's ulterior motives. As she experiences first hand the incurable cruelty of man, she makes the world's most atrocious wish upon the innumerable stars that cover the summer night sky. Pochi, on the other hand, has only one innocent wish: "If I were human, I could tell you that you're not alone..."
Volume 4: Gomibako wo Kettobase
It's a somewhat childish, fantastic (genre-wise) manga with a generally dark atmosphere but an optimistic tone. Even in the darkest moments of it, there's always a lingering light of hope.
The manga starts off at what is described as the world's end. Everyone's running away from a "witch" who is bringing the end of the world. Thunders falling, buildings getting wrecked--a real armageddon. There we see a boy with a guitar, who walks the opposite way to confront the witch, singing "Linda Linda" (The Blue Hearts)... That's the first four pages of the manga. Writing about the fifth page onwards will really spoil the surprise. You have to read it for yourself (that is, if you can read Japanese or when an English scanlation comes out, for right now there's only a Turkish scanlation of the first two chapters).
The story captures the reader with its astounding start, and goes on with building a solid story on top of it, but nowhere in the rest of the story do you feel the same excitement again. The rest comes out like a fairytale, not very deep, not very grim, not really shocking. Nevertheless, the mild twists and surprising developments in the plot are carried out well enough to keep the reader's interest. The bittersweet finale feels a little rushed, leaving you with some unanswered questions and able to speculate widely about how it could have ended. It wraps up the story fairly well, though. Looking back, I can't really complain about the start, development and ending of the story as a whole. If I were to liken this to anything, I'd say "Sleepy Hollow" the movie by Tim Burton: similar tone, similar atmosphere, similar traits and similar drawbacks. BWe has more interesting characters and a better treated story, though.
The art is what you expect from a shounen manga. Backgrounds are sometimes beautifully detailed. Character art matches the story well in general, not too cute, no too rugged, well-balanced. Variations in the comedic moments also blend well with the scenes and the general art style.
Main characters of the story are really interesting. Their backgrounds and relationships are detailed enough, just enough. Side-characters are not given much spotlight, but they don't look like caricatures at all. Considering the length of the story (15 chapters, roughly 700 pages), detailed side-characters are not to be expected anyway. The characters don't always do what you expect them to do, of course, but their deeds don't contradict with their personalities either. Every action of a character suits that character.
The flow of the manga was very enjoyable for me. Every chapter was well worth the one-month wait (I read it from the magazine first), and the end of every chapter left me wondering what would happen next. Through the end, the tension was not built very well, so the "ends next month" message came as a surprise, breaking the enjoyment a little; but overall, it was a very good read for me. I would very much like to see this adapted to anime. The chances are slim, for the manga didn't become very popular, but an anime version would still attract a lot of viewers, especially younger teens.
If you think you'll enjoy a dark fantasy treated like a fairytale, I suggest that you pick this up. If you can read Japanese, get the tankobons and I promise you'll like the one-shot manga in the last volume, as well. It's another "guitar hero" story. The mangaka likes rock music a lot, it seems.read more