"To Follow A Star" – Shadow Star (manga) – 5/10 Sugar Cubes


A characteristic of the normal child is he doesn’t act that way very often. ~Author Unknown

Genre: Sci-fi/ Drama/ Action/ Horror

Licensed: Licensed in the US. The English release has stalled at 7 volumes/

Review Status: Full – (7 Volumes/ 7 Volumes) of the Enlgish release to date and all of the Japanese release (12 Volumes/ 12 Volumes)

Art: The art, while is excellent for fighter pilots and cities, isn’t so effective for people. For many of the girls, the only real way to tell them apart is their hair, and even that doesn’t help sometimes! This means that who’s who can get confusing very quickly, which shows that this mangaka still has a ways to go, unlike a mangaka like Naoki Urasawa, who can create and wield a cast of characters just as large, but make each one memorable and individual.

Summary: “Shiina Tamai, an atheletic and energetic sixth-grader, found a star-shaped creature on the seabed during her visit to her grandparents’ house. She befriended it and named it “Hoshimaru” (round star) and found it has some supernatural powers, such as flying and incredible strength. Later she found that there are other kids having similar creatures of their own, and not all of them are friendly. Furthermore, those creatures also resemble what her father (a former Japan Air Self-Defense Force pilot) had seen in mid-air many years ago.” (from ANN.com)

Review: While the story starts out as light-hearted and intriguing, do not be fooled. This may have some cute pokemon-looking creatures, this may feature young children, but this is not a manga that should go near young children. By the end of the first volume, you know that things are only going to get worse. This manga has some things going for it- there are multiple issues of child psychology that are brought up, from those who are abused or abandoned, or are placed in roles that make them mature faster than normal. There are issues of the morality of war, and what would happen if countries got their hands on nearly invincible weapons (of course, this assumes that there are certain unscrupulous individuals within the government that would attempt to use them, and go unchecked). Less prominent are some ideas about the nature of the Earth, and what humans are doing it by pillaging the environment.

Even so, this has far more things against it that fail to make it an effective look into psychology and morality. The story seems disjointed and fails to flow well. It’s hard to start caring about anyone other than the main character and her father. This has a huge cast of characters, and they aren’t used as effectively as they could have been- some seem outright useless, such as Shiina’s mother. The author also keeps throwing new characters into the mix, some right at the last moment (one that comes totally out of right field at the last moment is related to Shiina’s parents divorce, and was “in” the story from the beginning, but the connection is tenuous, and when you find out what/who she is, it feels like a wallbanger). There are also so many factions within the story that, even with the best mangaka, it would be difficult to keep them straight and understand what each was fighting for. Unfortunately, this means that it’s a tangled mess in this manga.

Overall, While this does have some interesting points to it, there are probably better manga out there that explore similar themes. This isn’t worth the time or money to read it unless you’re into nihilistic endings.

Recommeded: Not really, but if you really want to, then I’d say mature 16-year-olds and over due to the content.

Other titles you might like instead:
Eureka 7 (anime),
Macross Frontier (anime),
Bokurano (anime and manga),
Dennou Coil (anime)
To Terra (anime series and manga)
Beast Master Erin (anime)

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