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Shadow Star Vol.2 - Darkness Visible
Left-Right Manga
182 pages
Mohiro Kitoh
Dark Horse Comics
What began as a cute story about a young girl and flying quickly turning into an interesting epic where the fate of mankind will ultimately be questioned. Shadow Star is a fun, exciting, and beautifully illustrated manga.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Shadow Star Vol.2 - Darkness Visible
By Patrick King

Dragons. They're mysteriously present in some form or another in a surprisingly large number of worldwide mythologies, and to this day, we remain fascinated by the creatures. Without a doubt, dinosaurs were cool, but dragons are far more impressive, romantic, and ultimately, frightening, as Shiina Tamai - Shadow Star's perky heroine - is quickly discovering.

The story so far hasn't progressed very significantly. The cover of the second volume of this series shows a number of characters that we know practically nothing about from the last book - and we don't really get to know all of them even by the end of this installment. Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fall into place and the plot is being revealed. Thus far, Shiina has befriended Akira, a terribly shy older girl who shares a unique ability with her younger, more outgoing ally.

They're both "Dragon Child Bearers," children who, for some currently unknown reason, are able to bond with creatures that apparently are young dragons. A psychic bond is formed with the creatures, enabling empathic feedback between the human and dragon, and control over the creatures that can be exerted as fast as thought. The beings don't quite look like dragons, and not many biological details have really been explained this far in the series, but this appears to be a safe assumption. This particular volume introduces Shiina to Komori, a bloodthirsty boy with a more mature (and far more dangerous) dragon who is seeking her out for his own reasons.

Visually, this manga is a knockout. There's an admirable attention to detail, and the action is illustrated with enough skill to give a feeling of motion. Each scene is composed of very fine lines, and the character designs are refreshingly different from the norm. Rather than feature busty women or over-muscled men, Mohiro Kitoh has given us a cast of some realistically unexaggerated characters. They all tend to be on the tall and thin side of things, and perhaps they're prettier than average, but there's nary a gratuitous panty-shot to be found, and I applaud that choice. That simply means that the story and characters have to make us want to read it, instead of the hopes that there's a fan service scene.

The dragon designs are very attractive, as well, reminding me very much of Mobius's incredible concept sketches for the excellent Panzer Dragoon series of games on the Saturn and X-Box (soon enough...). The dragons don't look like winged dinosaurs so much as alien biomechanical beings. They are creepy, different, and overall a wonder to behold.

My only true complaint for this edition is its woefully flipped presentation. It reads from left to right, rather than in its traditional Japanese form. However, the translation reads well, and its characters are a treat to follow, so it shouldn't disappoint. Shadow Star ends up being an intriguing mix of fantasy, science fiction, and real-life relationships, and while it may be somewhat lighthearted two books into the story, it seems to be destined to contain darker times ahead. I'll eagerly await the next volume of this particular series. In the meantime, I bet Panzer Dragoon can keep me satisfied.

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