Manga-ka: Natsumi Mukai
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: May 2006
“In this alternate universe, +Anima walk among us – shunned by society – as they search for others who have similar traits. Cooro is a crow-like boy who is on a quest to find other +Anima. When he meets Husky, a disrespectful boy with a past shrouded in mystery, he finds a kindred spirit who also possesses animal-like powers. Together, they try to gain acceptance in a world cruel to anyone or anything that is different.”
One last leftover from last week’s Animal people theme! +Anima is a series that introduces us to a fantasy world where there exist ‘creatures’ of the series’ name: +Anima. +Anima are people who have animal like qualities and some of their associated powers. For example, the lead character in the story is Cooro, a sweet little crow boy who can fly about with his dark feathered wings. In this first volume he befriends Husky, a pretty little boy who is able to turn into part fish when in the water. Unfortunately +Anima are often shunned or feared for being different, and thus it’s the search for friendship and acceptance that’s the core of this series.
Quite a bit happens in this first volume and things don’t take anytime getting started. We’re given a quick introduction to Cooro, the happy-go-lucky and innocent crow boy as he meets the beautiful, but a bit less than kind, Husky. Together they make their escape from a travelling sideshow Husky was a part of and take off to explore the big world together (one more enthusiastic than the other). Soon after they meet Senri, the strong and silent type, and Nana, a lively little batgirl. The four make up the core group of the series and volume one dedicates itself to their introductions.
This series is a charming one thus far, touching on sensitive issues such as racism and poverty but from hopeful perspectives, keeping an overall light hearted mood despite some of the less positive moments. The characters are fun and it’s entertaining watching them get to know each other as we, the readers, are doing the same. By the end of this volume the lead cast is assembled, leaving a big wide world for them (and us) to explore. When I finished reading it the first time, I couldn’t help but be curious about what other kinds of +Anima there would be and how their animal-features would form on a person’s body. There’s also the question of if any explanation on what causes a person to be born a +Anima would be explained.
The artwork in +Anima is gorgeous. It’s so solid and consistent from the get-go that you can tell that Natsumi Mukai is a pro at this. The designs are adorable with more rounded features and the style is flexible enough that it allows for a variety of different facial and structural features character to character. I am completely in love with the artwork and would recommend that anyone who’s looking for something cute, or wants to see some really refined manga artwork, should check this book out on those grounds alone.
+Anima is one of few Tokyopop releases that really stood out to me quality-wise. First of all is the cover. It was printed on high quality, textured paper that really compliments the colourful artwork. The logo, author and volume number were well placed and they altered their usual Tokyopop side banner to match the look of the logo. It’s overall a very visually attractive package on the outside. Inside, the translation was smooth with care taken to keeping the tones and way of speaking suited to each character. I liked the placement of the font, which was always neat and orderly, and the printing was crisp.
Overall, volume one of +Anima is a great start to this entertaining series. With likeable characters, numerous possible plot directions and adorable artwork, it’s the kind of series that anyone who has enjoyed something that could be described as cute, wholesome or charming, should find themselves a copy of this adventurous piece.