Monday, April 05, 2010

Arata, the Legend, Volume 1 by Yuu Watase

Arata is the story of two men. One grows up in a world where Gods and Men co-exist, and women rule. This Arata is the last member of the Hime clan. He lives a fairly normal life, until the time comes for the succession of the ruler of this world. That's when he finds out from his granny, who raised him, that he was registered as a girl when he was born, and is the chosen successor.

Arata doesn't want to play at being a girl, but his granny begs him to, just until they can find another girl from the Hime family to replace him, but when the time comes, he finally agrees to play a girl. But as soon as he can legally step down, he will. But during the ceremony that will transfer the ruling Queen's magical essense to him, she is struck down by the very people who are supposed to be her protectors!

The second Arata, Arata Hinohara, comes from our world. He's starting a new school, because even though he's handsome and fairly manly, in his old school, he was constantly picked on, and the other students made his life Hell on earth. Now, at a new school, he finally has the ability to start over and have a happy high school experience... or does he?

When the same guy who started the teasing at his old school transfers to the new school, Arata finds his life quickly spiralling out of control. People he thought were solid friends suddenly abandon him, and his new school becomes his old school all over again. But just when a guy he thought was really a friend confesses to his old tormetor that he never really liked Arata anyway, that's the final straw. He goes running off into the city, his happiness shattered.

Meanwhile, back on the first Arata's world, he must take shelter in a cursed forest. Those who enter are said never to be the same- and it's true, for that is where the two Aratas switch places. Our world Arata must convince otherworld Arata's grandmother that he isn't her grandson, but that he's from a different world. Unfortunately, no one seems to believe him, because each world's inhabitants see their Arata instead of the newcomer.

With each Arata having to live the life of the other, can they survive in a new world and overcome the problems of each other's lives... without getting killed or put in an insane asylum? But when our Arata awakens the power of the Hime family's Hayagami, or ancestral weapon, his life becomes all the more complicated...

I was a little disappointed in this book, which I thought would be about both Aratas, but in the end, the story focussed only and always on Arata Hinohara. Admittedly, the story is Shonen, but I felt that the focus should be on both characters equally, especially after the equal time they gave them in the beginning of the book.

I was sort of not all that thrilled with the book. Yuu Watase specializes in Shoujo titles like Alice 19th, Fushigi Yugi and Fushigi Yugi- Genbu Kaiden, so this is fairly out of her comfort zone. But I want to see what Arata Hime is undergoing! Will his boisterous nature win over the people that are ganging up against him, or will he refuse to stand for the treatment that they are dishing out?

And more to the point, will they be stuck in each others world forever? I am guessing a strong maybe, given that Arata Hinohara is now a wielder of a Hayagami, making him a Sho or God, and supposedly a bodyguard to the next ruler.

I'll still wait to see if the story focusses on both characters equally in the next volume, and until then, I'll recommend it. But I do want to see more of Arata Hime.

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