Thursday, March 19, 2009

Miki Falls: Spring

This four-volume manga series starts out with teenage Miki falling, literally from a building. It was no accidental fall, either: her first words are I don't know what my plan was when I threw myself out the window. She lands and lies there on the ground, unmoving, in pain, and her thoughts go back in time...

Miki is a teenager starting her senior year of high school. She is determined that this year is going to be different, she is going to be different, no longer the pushover that runs around trying to please everyone, to live up to everyone's expectations. But things at school seem to be the same, really - except for the handsome new boy who's moved to town. But even though all the girls think Hiro is the hottest guy in school, his cold, aloof behavior soon has them thinking about other, more accessible guys. Miki feels the same way, until a chance encounter with Hiro reveals a side of him that makes her determined to get to know him, despite his coldness.

Miki's determination to befriend Hiro eventually leads to a friendship forming between the two of them. She realizes that he has a secret - his unusual behavior makes that clear, although she can't imagine what it must mean. She watches him and learns things, and eventually snoops around enough to discover the truth about why he must hold himself apart from everyone, and why he can't be friends with her, mustn't be friends with her. But love happens where it will, even if it's inconvenient and forbidden...

The flashback is not over, it seems, and we do not return to the fallen Miki at the end of this volume. But her story continues in the next book of the series, Summer. Miki is an engaging character, and while her determination to form and meet her own expectations for herself turns into a determination to solve the mystery that is Hiro, she is a tough girl who knows what she wants and goes after it.

The story is intriguing, and the supernatural elements are unusual and surprising. I am unclear (so far, anyway) about the reasons for the fact that Hiro must keep to himself, but perhaps that will be made clear in subsequent volumes. I enjoyed the artwork immensely, particularly the gradations of shading that lent the pictures more depth than is typical of the manga I've read so far. The faces are wonderfully expressive, and the unusual format used in the layout is a lively, effective way of presenting the story. I will be interested to see where Hiro and Miki's relationship takes them in the next volume of this charming supernatural manga romance.

Here is a fascinating interview with Mark Crilley. Enjoy!

Spring (#1 in the Miki Falls manga series) by Mark Crilley (HarperTeen, 2007)

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know, and I'll add a link to your review here.

15 comments:

  1. I have to confess that my first reaction was "yay, only four volumes!" :P

    This sounds lovely, and I really like the art.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wish I read more manga but my library doesn't have a great selection of it. This one sounds really interesting though!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nymeth - that was a definite plus for me, too! I can barely bring myself to start those manga series that are 20+ volumes long. I have so many other series I'm committed to already!

    Ladytink - I wish libraries were more aware of the popularity of these books, particularly for children and teens. Research has shown that not only are kids more likely to pick up graphic novels on their own to read them, but that when kids read books they want to - and are given time to read them - their reading skills increase. Plus it's nice for the rest of us to have them in the collection!

    ReplyDelete
  4. My family usually goes to the comic store every Wed on new comic day. A while ago, I asked my 4yo son what comic he would like. He picked Miki Falls, Spring. I tried to steer him toward the much more age appropriate Akiko, also by Crilley, but he was adamant. Now we have all four.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Girl Detective - that is funny! I wonder what it was about the books that appealed to him. Have you read them to him yet? My daughter read Akiko last year when she was 9, and she enjoyed it but has not continued with the series yet. I see that kind of thing happening at my library a lot with the graphic novels and the really young kids. We keep the YA ones in a different section, thank goodness, but I often overhear parents trying to steer kids to more appropriate books, with varying success. Have you seen the "toon" graphic novel picture books - they are easy readers, which might be good for your little guy, by different authors. Art Spiegelman just did one called, I think, Jack and the Box. Maybe your library has some. I've been meaning to do a review of that series because I think it's really great.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You're the first person to give me any reason to read manga! Thanks for an intriguing review.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi, Mindy - Wow, I'm glad to hear that! There are as many kinds of manga out there these days, it seems, as regular books. I think it helps to think of it as a format rather than a genre. I'll be curious to hear what you think if you give it a try!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks so much for your wonderful review of my 'Miki Falls' books, Darla. I deeply appreciate you spreading the word like this--you really made my day.

    Hang on, now I've got to go check out your 'Miki Falls: Summer' review...

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi, Mark - Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am enjoying the Miki Falls series very much, and it was a pleasure read and review. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. AnonymousJune 12, 2009

    I recently started drawing in the manga/anime style and have found that videos by Mark Crilley are the most effective way to get a good picture. Just today I went to my public library and checked out the first book in the series MeruPuri (my first manga book).

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous - I love the drawing instruction that Mark Crilley offers, and I'm glad to hear that it's helped you! I have not read MeruPuri, but I have enjoyed that same author's Vampire Knight series, which you might want to try if you enjoy the book. Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  12. isn't this.... TWILIGHT? :o

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous - Ha! I can see, reading over my description of the story (in which I was trying not to give any surprises away), you would think that. But honestly, no vampires in sight - I promise! It takes a much different (and ususual) direction. Although you are perfectly right (as I think it over) - there certainly are parallels there, but of course those are common to many YA romances with fantasy elements. Give it a try- I'd love to hear what you think!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yes, I'm going to order Spring and Summer from Amazon. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great! I hope you enjoy them. :-)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment!