So I wrote a while back that I had acquired a shoujo manga sampler, and that if I could muster the guts to read it, I’d put up some mini-previews. Weeks passed, and it sat on my shelf unread. Today I figured, what better way to spend Valentine’s Day alone than reading manga written for 12 year-old girls? Hmm, maybe there’s a reason I don’t have a girlfriend… Anyway, here’s my thoughts on the first chapter or so of Ultra Maniac:
I’ve already watched about 80% of the TV series, so reading the manga was sort of like a review: Tateishi Ayu is the main protagonist and overall cool girl at school. She likes Kaji Tetsushi, who once told her that she seemed cool. So now she has to keep up being "cool" all the time. One day Ayu helps the weird foreign exchange student, Sakura Nina, find her magical PDA. After a day of stalking her, Nina decides it’s safe to tell Ayu her secret: she’s magical girl!
There’s a few differences that I noticed in the manga when compared to the anime series. First off, instead of having brown hair, Kaji is totally blond. I actually think the anime Kaji looks better with brown hair; the blond one looks too girly. Nina’s hair is also different (and better looking, in my opinion) in the anime. I thought it was weird that Nina kept referring to herself in the third person. I guess in Japanese I don’t notice it so much, but in English you can only pull it off if you’re Bob Dole.
The character designs are ok. Nina is cute, and I like how Ayu goes into perplexed mode frequently. The rest of the characters seem to be drawn as an afterthought.
Overall, Ultra Maniac the manga is really only average. The story is somewhat cliche, and characters aren’t all that interesting. I think I realized the reason that I kept watching the anime: yuri overtones in the ED (plus the ED song was pretty awesome too). Too bad the whole yuri thing never ended up happening. Anyway, being only somewhat average, I think I’ll have to hold off on buying this manga.