Friday, July 29, 2011
Artist/Manga-ka: Kumiko Suekana
Rating: T+ for older Teen according to Viz Media
The second installment of Afterschool Charisma opens only days after the first volume left off... Shiro Kamiya, the only 'human' student at St Kleio Academy-- a futuristic school designed to enlighten and prepare the clones of historical figures such as Joan of Arc and Albert Einstein for their destinies-- is still reeling from the attempted suicide of one of his classmates. The circumstances surrounding the murder of President Kennedy's clone are somewhat revealed, and a shadowy group of assassins emerge with plans to kill every last one of St Kleio's teenage clones at the upcoming talent Expo (think academy open house).
On a lighter and considerably more ridiculous note: Rockwell, the Academy's director misses the school helipad but drops in for an extended visit at St Kleio's anyway. The lucky guy assigned to be Rockwell's guide and entertainment... Shiro, as he's the only student not busy preparing the clones' Expo. Rockwell comes across as a pretty much hopeless idiot. His antics with Shiro and his mysterious adopted 'daughter', Pandora, really lightened up the ominous mood. Not so his obvious contempt for clones... or the bizarre cult-like club meetings which are swiftly taking hold of the entire student body.
Okay, remember Dolly the Sheep-- the first animal clone ever created? The clone students of the Academy keep miniature Dolly key chains as charms, hoping some of the sheep's good luck will rub off on them. In this volume, that tradition evolved from something kinda cute and cool to something vaguely creepy. There are fewer story developments overall in this second volume, but overall I remain impressed and enthralled with this series. The twist ending is a great and terrible cliffhanger! My jaw literally dropped open; I probably looked like an astonished cartoon character.
Hitler is my favorite character. Yeah, I never imagined I'd be saying that, but it's true. He needed more screen (panel?)-time, but what we do see of his tween-age clone only intrigued me further... Joan of Arc was kind of the "featured character" in this volume, as she's on the cover, and I did feel like she was developed a lot better than in the previous volume. Once again, though, the girls' main purpose in the story seems to be fan-service (that's strutting around looking sexy, if you're not familiar with the manga-lingo) and freaking out. Grow a spine, Queen Elizabeth! And don't even get me started on Florence Nightingale. I miss Marie Curie, though Rasputin is an interesting addition to the student body. (Teenage Rasputin= considerably creepy.) Let's see... Mozart may or may not be stark raving mad. There's some romance in this volume, though not much; this is shounen. Overall, this series is quickly becoming one of my favorite manga. I mentioned this in the last review, but I LOVE the art.