A few years back, Natsumi Ando created a delightful little shoujo manga called Kitchen Princess. One day, hungry for some more cute manga, I decided to check out her newest series Arisa. Awww, look at the sweet twin sisters on the front cover! This is going to be adorable!
Except it wasn't.
In fact, instead of getting a light romcom to sink my teeth into, I found myself thrust into a comparatively dark high school mystery.
The story of Arisa actually revolves around Arisa's twin sister, Tsubasa, who goes to school in her place after Arisa attempts suicide and winds up in a coma. Tsubasa believes that school is what drove her sister into depression and wishes to find out why, but soon finds herself in a game where an anonymous student grants a random student's wish each week... often with violent results.
The series is full of plot twists, unique characters (although several of the boys look a tad too similar to one another), and some funny moments to break things up. I'm surprised at Ando's ability to tell such a dark tale so well after her previous endeavors were so different than this one. Also, despite the dark theme, the series avoids getting overly gory, keeping the “less is more” shoujo manga philosophy for violence intact.
For fans of shoujo manga who would like something different, or people who want to be fans of shoujo manga but find it all too fluffy for their tastes, I recommend giving this series a try. I'll be over here, looking forward to the next installment.