“So Unique” – Shugo Chara (manga) – 9/10 Pencils

Man is never alone. Acknowledged or unacknowledged, that which dreams through him is always there to support him from within. ~Laurence van der Post

Mangaka: Peach-Pit

Genre: Romance/Comedy/Action/Fantasy/School/Mahou Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (12 Volumes/12 Volumes) – this involves the extra volume that was published as a sequel in Japan (published as the end of the main series in the US), which shows a little bit after the big events of the main series.

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed by Del-Ray.

Art: Typical Peach-Pit, with adorable character designs, thin, straight lines, and lots of sparkles and flowers everywhere.

Summary: Everybody at Seiyo Elementary thinks that stylish and super-cool Amu has it all. But nobody knows the real Amu, a shy girl who wishes she had the courage to be herself. Changing Amu’s life is going to take more than wishes and dreams- it’s going to take a little magic! One morning, Amu finds a surprise in her bed: three strange little egss. Each egg contains a Guardian Character, and angel-like being who can give her the power to be someone new. With the help of her Guardian Characters, Amu is about to discover that her true self is more amazing than she ever dreamed.

Review: This series has all the pink, pretty sparkles that I’ve come to expect from shoujo- doubly so when it comes to mahou shoujo series. Yet, I’m still enthralled by how great this story manages to be, with a fantastic set of characters and interesting circumstances. When Peach-Pit decided to do Magical Girl, they did it all the way!

When we’re young, what we want to be changes from day to day. This takes that idea and takes it a step further – by imagining that inside every child, there’s an ‘egg’ that holds the desires and hopes of what we want to be one day. Amu, a girl that hides who she truly is from the world, has no idea who she really wants to be… and wakes up one morning with three eggs in her bed, each one a personification of who she might be one day! When awakened, they can give her the ability to do wonderful things, like jump higher than a kite, bake fantastic treats, draw like Leonardo da Vinci… and save the eggs of children who’ve lost hope in the future.
The plot is simple and straightforward, which means that in 11 volumes the characters are developed in-depth, giving this story a sparkle that it needed. It manages to balance both the light-hearted and dramatic – after all, keeping hope for the future is one of the most cliche and childish tropes of shoujo! Yet the characters fighting over the X-eggs are torn in who they want to be, from Nadeshiko, who’s been raised to hide who she(?!) really is, to a teacher who broke his egg and attacks out of anger and jealousy, to Amu herself who not only has three different love interests, but doesn’t always have the stregnth to be true to herself. Even the bad guys have depth to them, and aren’t quite who the seem to be. They all manage to be a decently quirky and fun bunch.

Even the ending, which falls short for some people, seemed just fine to me. The whole story is about possibilities, and that’s where this ends – with the future of these young characters still ahead of them as they forge their own paths. Nothing is certain except somehow, they’ll all be happy, and that works for the story.

Overall, I’m impressed by how fun and fantastic this manga managed to be, and highly recommend it.

Recommended: 9+. There really isn’t much objectionable here – a brief glimpse of underwear in one of the panels in one volume as Amu is flying through the air, some of the outfits a little too revealing for 11-year-olds, and there is a noticeable age gap between a few of the couples, but overall this is pretty safe stuff.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Yumeiro Pâtissière (anime and manga)

Searching for the Full Moon (anime and manga)

Gakuen Alice (manga)

Card Captor Sakura (anime)

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