Manga-ka: Shiho Sugiura
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: July 2008
Synopsis: “Rakan is a lonely orphaned teen with an unusual attraction to flowers and plants. Chigusa is his surprise guest, who arrives mysteriously one day out of nowhere. Together, these two uncover secrets about each other – including the fact that Rakan may be a special prince, who Chigusa insists on protecting at all costs!”
Rakan is a kind-hearted orphan and student, living off the inheritance from his grandfather in a house surrounded by unending plant life. One day a man named Chigusa suddenly appears, laying in Rakan’s backyard. He shoots bullets from guns made of a tree branch and saves Rakan from a strange, black creature, then tells Rakan he’s from another world. Not only that, but Rakan learns he’s got abilities of his own and shares the face of a Prince from Chigusa’s realm.
Silver Diamond is a book that doesn’t feel like it treads much in the way of new ground at first, but it really surprised me by the time I was done this first volume. Initially, I feared Rakan was just another flat stereotype but somehow his inner monologue, bouts of back-story, and situational reactions really brought him together as a character, and an interesting one at that for his role thus far. Chigusa is still an enigma in many ways but I enjoy his suave attitude, and unique abilities.
Plot-wise, everything happens in a one-after-another fashion, keeping things briskly paced. Other characters are introduced, such as another guest who finds himself in Rakan’s home after being pulled from his world, and there’s some brief introduction to this mysterious other world. Pleasantly, I found that Shiho Sugiura did a great job setting up as much as she did in such a short volume: a fairly substantial amount to take in, but never once did it feel rushed. Even more impressively, at every moment I become confused about some sort of apparent inconsistency or plot hole, a perfectly placed line of dialogue fixed everything. Some sprinkled in humour (especially after the introduction of a fiery, little snake whose reactions to technology gave me some good laughs), also keeps things lively and entertaining.
Shiho Sugiura’s art seems like something you’d see in a boys’ love story, and with that often being a prevalent element to her stories, it doesn’t come as much surprise. Don’t take that as a complaint however! The men are attractively designed, ranging from handsome to femininely beautiful, and the style as a whole is pretty solid with a sort of delicate feel. It suits the story well and I really enjoyed this book visually. Lots of nice eye-candy for sure, but it never tries to put itself over the story and its characters, so the whole book feels nicely balanced in that regard.
Also on the note of visuals, Tokyopop did a slightly different release job on this than their usual fare. The cover design work is simple but impressively attractive. I really like what they did with the logo work as it compliments both the story and the cover illustration. The interior paper feels a little rougher than what I’m accustomed to from Tokyopop but it’s an observation more so than any complaint. Translation work seemed smooth and they handled the text placement really well throughout the volume.
Overall, I really enjoyed this first volume of Silver Diamond. It’s entertaining, intriguing and a real testament to the manga-ka’s ability, with appealing artwork and exceptionally smooth storytelling. This series seems like it’d appeal to fans of boys’ love (though this isn’t a flat-out BL story), or just pretty boys in general, who’re looking for a solid fantasy-plotline over slathered romantics. Sign me up and jot me down for pre-orders because I already can’t wait for volume two!
Review written August 19, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo.
Book purchased from independant hobby store, The Batter’s Box
Hee hee, you had much the same reaction to this as I did—I was both surprised and impressed by its quality and humor. Particularly as regards the snake. :)