The World of Narue Vol. 1
Déjà vu. Here I am, writing the review of a manga series after writing the review of its anime counterpart. As I mentioned in the DVD review of The World of Narue, this happens a lot more frequently lately than it used to in the past. It's nice now that the domestication process has been accelerated to this degree.
Again, as I mentioned in the review of Narue's animated adventures, I picked this up knowing nothing about it. However, it turned out to be an addictive and relaxing way to spend these past few summer weeks, and overall, a worthy investment.
So now, I'd like to discuss the manga version of The World of Narue. Marukawa instills a respectable amount of energy in the manga, perhaps stemming from the cartoonish visuals employed throughout. This is not a very realistic looking comic series, with stark contrasts and unusual hairstyles.
Of course, the look differs from other manga out there, and it is appealing in its own way. As I've said, I think the manga-ka is able to convey more action by shunning a realistic approach to render the story and embracing this particular style.
Character designs are cute for the most part, and while the cast seems large at first, it stabilizes soon enough to allow readers to gain the ability to tell them all apart without trouble.
More than a science fiction tale, this is a primarily a love story about the innocent relationship between young Narue Nanase and her classmate, Kazuto Izuka. Kazuto is a typically teenage boy. He has far more experienced with anime and video games than girls, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have an interest in the fairer sex. The story starts off when the unsuspecting Kazuto is attacked by an alien.
That's right. An alien.
Luckily, Narue is nearby, and she knocks the aggressor into the realm of unconsciousness with a swing of her trusty bat. Kazuto feels indebted to the young woman, but more importantly, he feels attracted to her. The next day, he seeks her out to return her bat, as well as to invite her out for food and drinks.
At first, Narue is wary of his interest, but when she asks him if he minds that she is, in fact, an alien, and he says no, she begins to open up to the boy. Pushing aside her bizarre question about aliens, Kazuto is just happy to be talking to her. It isn't until a little bit later that he is hit by the full weight of her words. Most likely, it was when she used her technology to transport the two of them to a position orbiting the Earth, so that he could get a glimpse of the fleet of starships hovering over the planet, that he begins to realize there is more to Narue than what she seems.
As I've said, as much as the sci-fi elements of the plot may suggest to the contrary, this is a romance. Many obstacles - both extraterrestrial and domestic - will come between Narue and Kazuto, and the main conflict of the story revolves around whether their relationship will work or not.
We've seen stories like this before, and there are similarities between this series and Oh My Goddess, Onegai Teacher, or Guardian Angel Getten, but the characters here differ enough from other tales that it is still worth getting into. The World of Narue is less of a drama and more of a comedy, making it a great title to read when you want to let your mind relax. Thus, it's perfect for the summertime.
The book reads from right to left, and all of the original Japanese sound effect text remains in place in this edition. Translations are provided on top of or next to the originals, and honorifics are not used at all in the dialogue. There's a short bonus story (featuring Narue and Kazuto), as well as a page-long interview with the creator. I noticed the occasional typographical error, but essentially, this is a nicely adapted work. I do appreciate honorifics, but perhaps their inclusion in future adaptations will become as standard as allowing the books to be printed they way they were written. We'll just have to see.
I enjoyed both the manga and anime version of The World of Narue, though either one will easily entertain. With a bold, adorable heroine, a worthy love interest, and the occasional fight with interstellar assassins, this series will appeal to more than just manga addicts looking for the newest shoujo title. Narue's world is big enough to contain something we can all enjoy.