I cannot believe that no one has yet submitted a review on this multi level, multi themed, multi quality manga. Because I feel it to be necessary, I am going to separate this review into two halves; two reviews. One for what was meant to be the series (1-13) and one for what became of the series (14-18)
My ratings are actually based on this first review; the main series itself.
First off, the story is astounding; my favourite to date. It was original and intriguing, emotional and inspirational, gripping and not predictable. It worked on several levels, allowing it to appeal to a wider audience than possibly intended. It had an epic quality, but at the same time was very romantic and touching. There were moments where I felt water come to my eyes; pathetic? Every moment- every side plot, every back story - added to the overall plot and made it all the more complex and intriguing.
The characters were all unique and fabulous. Their back stories were very good and each one had a radiating personality; whether it was good or evil. They were all believable and individual; no character was similar to another. They also worked excellently together to make the story all that more enjoyable. Their personalities were so strong that it felt as though Watase hadn't planned the story at all; it felt as though the characters were so alive that they ruled and made the outcome of the entire plot.
The art, while not Watase's best, was very good indeed. I loved the character designs and the overall feel of the manga; many have actually asked her to go back to that original style. She's certainly talented.
Overall, I enjoyed it a lot. It was one of those well planned, well paced stories of a perfect length (until Watase added the later chapters). Everything, I felt, was perfect. Worth the read!
As for the second half, those regretfully poor books (14-18).
This was just a saddening, fan-requested addition which dragged on and really added nothing to the story. Think Final Fantasy X, and then X-2. Wonderful story ruined by an unecessary sequal. The only difference is, FY's ending didn't really change at all.
As good as the main - true - part of the series. Same character designs; same style; same quality.
The characters were almost as good as they were in the first 13 books. The only problem is, they no longer developed. Those beloved characters were there to just add a few pointers, and so they truly didn't make spellbinding or inspiring appearances.
Slow, repetative, pointless, long-winded, samey... Yeah... You get the picture.
Need I say more? Only read it if you REALLY want to see the slight difference in the end.