I have never encountered something so familiar and yet so refreshing as the manga by Aki Irie called Ran to Haiiro no Sekai. Something about it was just so magical that my stumbling upon it could have been considered the happenings of a spell of some sorts. It’s a whimsical tale of a girl who only wishes to be a grownup. The thing is, with the right pair of sneakers, she can do just that.
The titular character Ran is actually a witch, though her blossoming powers as a young girl are probably a bit to much for her to handle at such a young age. Well, it’s probably more along the lines that she lacks the wisdom and discipline to make the right decisions. She’s a rash, tomboyish girl with a whole heck of a lot of spunk and it causes her a fair amount of trouble as a result. However, we wouldn’t have a story without her now would we?
While Ran is certainly the life of the party in Ran to Haiiro no Sekai (as she should be) the secondary characters are no pushovers. First off we have Ran’s family, which consists of her beastly but gentle brother, her tactful yet wishy washy father, and her all powerful sorceress of a mother. Yes, it’s quite the lively family, and with the depths of all their personalities it’s a surprise that they all mesh well. Her parents are a simply a hoot, as their love for one another rivals the all too recent Hinako and Mamedai from Tamako Market and they’re both still alive, which is a plus.
The great relationships that this manga contains doesn’t end with the parents. Oh no, we also have her brother and a hand maid of Shizuka’s (Ran’s mother) named Sango, and Ran herself has the eyes of two men locked on her for better or worse. Relationships, both familial and romantic are perhaps the heart of the story, but at the same time they aren’t the focus. The conflict, while still in the early stages of development, deals with the giant door that’s steadily letting in these evil insects (like any of them are good, well, except ladybugs) that can potentially destroy humanity, but it’s still in quite the early stages at the moment and it may turn out that these insects are just the beginning
Now, I couldn’t possibly go through the post without mention the art style. If something like Oyasumi Pun Pun is something so real looking that it ends up being magical, then Ran to Haiiro no Sekai is like magical magicalism (roll with me for a second). We can see in the lively and expressive character designs and the detailed scenery every singly line Aki Irie used to bring them to life. Reading this manga almost feels as if we’re watching her draw every line right in front of us and I love that feeling.
What really impressed me though, was while reading this manga it felt as if I wasn’t specifically reading a manga but just a really good comic. Certain parts had a distinct western feel to them (though it could have been that I was listening to Ventura Highway at the time) that made this story, to me, transcend the boundaries of it’s genre into something just completely enjoyable. While it’s art can still be pin-pointed as specifically manga (it even looks old style, with the pointy faces and flamboyantness of the designs) there’s something that just screams, “I am a comic meant to be read and enjoyed.”
- I can’t really begin to explain how much of a pleasure it was to read this. Simply pure good fun is what it is.
- Tomorrow (or today actually, looking at what time it is) I am hoping to go to the screening of Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki at MIT in Massachusetts. Not only is it free but the director Mamoru Hosoda is doing a Q&A afterwards. The thing is I’m terrified of driving in Boston alone, so the only way I’ll probably go is if I can convince my mother to go with me (My brother’s in Florida the lucky bastard). She’s not one to watch anime, she’s told me on several occasions she’s not a fan for whatever reason, but I think she’ll enjoy this movie.