I seem to have a problem with bittorent lately; none of the episodes have been downloading and I’ve fallen behind in reviewing a few series. While I’m looking into it I thought I’d take the opportunity to actually do another manga review. I’ve decided that I’ll try to review more of these sort of lesser known, obscure titles, so here we go.

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Boy meets girl, boy turns into sheep plush.

I feel no shame in saying that I am a huge fan of Nanatsuiro Drops, a mini-franchise that began with  a PC visual novel that then became a PS2 visual novel (renamed ‘Nanatsuiro Drops Pure!’) that also became an anime and two separate manga series. Even if the original game was an eroge (the PS2 version being a remastered, more family-friendly version of the same game), even if the plot is a not-entirely-original moe-fest-slash-magical-girl plot, even if the whole thing is incredibly cheesy.  There is just something about it that made it one of my favourite ‘moe’ anime ever…was it just the cuteness? Noizi Ito’s character designs? The over-the-top moeness of the lead character Sumomo Akihime? Whatever it is, it was enough to make me want to read one of the manga adaptations, so I picked the one simply titled ‘Nanatsuiro Drops’ as the alternative which was titled ‘Nanatsuiro Drops Pure!’ (the titling of the manga does not reflect ‘safeness’ of the contents, unlike the game), judging by the reviews on Japanese amazon, omitted too much and moved the plot too fast. The manga I’m reviewing here is drawn by Yuuki Takami, and actually precedes the anime so it is more closely based on the game.
As the plot goes, Sumomo Akihime falls in love with the kind but rather anti-social Masaharu Tsuwabuki, because he helped her out a few years ago when she got lost. Although even though it happened years ago, since then she still hasn’t been able to talk to him, even though they’re now in the same class. This is because Sumomo is incredibly, moetastically shy and seems to have trouble talking to anybody save her closest friends; the closest of which is Nadeshiko Yaeno.

I am pretty sure this is the only time you ever see those jackets ever.

I am pretty sure this is the only time you ever see those jackets ever.

As you can see…Takami’s art is really nice. It isn’t quite as moeriffic as Noizi Ito’s original drawings, but somehow even with the style differences the characters all look incredibly natural. There’s almost a slight shojo flair to it in the eyes, and all the lines are really clean, clear and pretty. Time and time again I see manga adaptations of visual novels with art that suffers in some way; whether its sub-par, generic, or makes the characters look odd, but Takami really nailed the aesthetic with this. Something else I should probably mention is that unlike the game and the anime which has Masaharu as the main character, the manga is almost entirely from Sumomo’s point of view. Not only does this put a nice little spin on things (and gives it even more of a ‘shojo’ vibe;  for example Sumomo fawning over Haru-kun is quite reminiscent of Sakura doing the same over Yukito in CardCaptor Sakura), it makes everything even more adorable than it was to begin with.
Anyway, as Sumomo’s luck would have it, one fateful day Masaharu is recruited into the gardening club that is populated by solely her and Nadeshiko. Or perhaps ‘forcibly’ recruited, by their teacher Kisaragi-sensei, who wants him to make more friends, and Nadeshiko herself, who wants him to help them as payback for making Sumomo cry. The reason she cried was because she accidentally spilled water on him and couldn’t work up the courage to apologize. Yes, that is how easily she cries.

Expect to see things like this alot.

Expect to see things like this alot.

If you are not me, there’s a high chance of Sumomo’s cry-babyness being unbelievably nerve-grating and not adorable. Of course she becomes a lot braver as the story progresses, but I’m going to put that warning out there. Although if you’re not into moe at all, crying or not, you probably would have stopped reading by now. Bottom line is that I find Sumomo adorable and want to take her home and feed her cupcakes but she’s definitely going to annoy a lot of people. So. After getting thirsty Masaharu goes to buy a drink but en route knocks into a weird guy…with dog ears. The collision causes this guy to drop a bunch of cans he was carrying, so that Masaharu’s drink gets mixed in with his, and as a result Masaharu ends up with the wrong can. If Masaharu had known at the time that this guy, called Matsuda, was from a magical world called Figurare and was carting around cans of magical potions for no apparent reason, he probably would have double-checked the can he got back.

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Matsuda...in disguise. The guy really knows how to wear a uniform, and yes, that was necessary.

If he didn’t we wouldn’t have the rest of the plot; in which the potion ends up turning Masaharu into a cute little sheep doll. Which really makes me wonder what Matsuda had planned on using it for…  Anyway, Sumomo and Nadeshiko are unaware of this, and assume Masaharu went home. He was actually’kidnapped’ by Kisaragi-sensei, who seems to know a great deal about Figurare and magic and the like, and is able to explain Masaharu’s situation to him. Which is where the magical-girl part of the plot comes in; Masaharu will be doomed to transform into this sheep-plushie every night unless he manages to help a certain girl collect seven ‘star drops’ which can be used to make an antidote. The fine art of Star Drop Collection is apparently nothing new, either; in fact Figurare actually holds contests in which they send a representative from each of their top schools, Pramu Cloris and Saint Asparas, to collect the drops on earth. This time something went wrong and there was no one able to represent Pramu Cloris, so a backup girl was chosen, one from earth itself, for Masaharu to work with. And yes, this is Sumomo.

A nice picture of Sumomos best friend Nadeshiko.

A nice picture of Sumomo's best friend Nadeshiko.

Sumomo’s an innocent and naiive little girl, so when plush-sheep Masaharu goes to her to tell her about her little quest she accepts it all quite naturally, and it doesn’t take her long to catch her first star-drop with the help of a magic ring that transforms into a giant…spoon-wand. And so the magical love story begins proper; at which point it is probably worth mentioning that ‘Yuki-chan’ (what Sumomo names the sheep-Masaharu) can never reveal his true identity, or he’ll be stuck like that forever. It’s all very silly, but it’s also all very adorable. Sumomo is really just a lot of fun to watch; especially  seeing her massive shift in confidence when she is at home versus when she is at school. And as said, Takami manages to capture her personality excellently, right down to her silly facial expressions.

Sumomos first encounter with the ladel, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Sumomo's first encounter with the 'ladle', which is exactly what it sounds like.

If its possible to trip over it, Sumomo will trip over it.

If it's possible to trip over it, Sumomo will trip over it.

One thing I love about Nanatsuiro Drops is its side characters, particularly Sumomo’s school friends. These people didn’t get a great deal of spotlight in the anime, sadly, but I’m hoping they’ll get a bit more in the manga if it takes after the game more. Specifically the blond, likely half-foreign Flora Koiwai; who was actually a possible ending in the game but was reduced to a very minor character in the anime. She’s one of my favourite characters; adorably aloof and yet always scheming. Kisaragi-sensei is also well-loved, the sort of ever-happy, ever-smiling guy I just cant dislike.

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Apologies for the slightly blurry photo. I would love a friend like Flora-chan.

Ooh, jealousy.

Ooh, jealousy.

Like any self-respecting magical girl, Sumomo needs a costume. Instead of being something that magically appears on her, though, this one is something that was sent to her by her fashion-designer mother, who also  made it. Said mother is currently working overseas, although she’s a pretty important character. Not just for giving Sumomo such a cute outfit to wear, either.

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As much as I love it, I'd personally lose the cape.

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I love these frames so much. Such is the fate of one who gets stuck with a girl who loves to play dress-up.

I’m also quite fond of a lot of the cute humour in the story; mostly due to Yuki-chan often being forced to cohabit with Sumomo but leave before dawn so as to avoid any awkwardness that could result from Sumomo suddenly finding Masaharu in her room. (Which, for the record, does happen, yet it is smoothed over in a rather amusing way)
More about the manga itself; the other thing that stands out to me, besides the art and Sumomo’s POV, is the rather leisurely slow pace it has. All of volume one doesn’t even cover the first two episodes of the anime; and nothing remotely ‘magical’ actually happens in the first chapter at all. This actually suits it very much; and I’m guessing is much more similar to the game (which I desperately need to play), as it gives the opportunity to get to know everyone much easier through mundane activities instead of piling too much on at once. My only concern is  if things get too cramped in the later volumes (I’ve heard there is only four; although I’m not certain if the fourth is the last one). The plot moves so leisurely that Sumomo’s rival from Saint Asparas, Nona-chan, doesn’t even appear in this volume at all, save for the last page.

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Nadeshiko being awesome.

Nadeshiko being awesome again, in a slightly different way.

Nadeshiko being awesome again, in a slightly different way.

Basically, I just took far too many words to say that I really like this manga and am looking forward to seeing how Takami handles the rest of the story. It’s cute, it’s silly, it’s fun…it’s like the ultimate comfort food in wibbly moe form. It’s also really nice to look at.  To me, it also doesn’t feel like a cheap or rushed cash-in manga that was pumped out at the height of a series’ popularity; something I’ve heard said about the Haruhi Suzumiya manga. The major flaws are those that are present in the series proper; the cheesiness of the plot, the wibbliness of the lead character (trust me, she does grow a spine), and a few things that really do require a suspension of belief (and I’m not even talking about the ‘boy turning into sheep doll’ thing). But no one said comfort food necessarily had to have nutritional value.
By its nature it’s likely very polarizing, so my biased review is likely very biased. But I enjoyed Takami’s rendition of this enough to earn it out of 5,
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