Review: Shuriken and Pleats Vol. 1

Shuriken and Pleats has a dated feel to it. It might only be a few years old, but it feels much older than that. The reason being is that the story isn’t very deep. It’s a lot of surface level emotions and convenient writing. The gist of the story is that after the era of ninjas, some of them left Japan to seek employment else were.  One clan in particular runs a bodyguard firm. We meet Mikage, one said ninja, as she protects her high profile master. We learn that she’s basically his surrogate daughter because his wife and child were killed. Her master wants to adopt her and move to Japan after curing world hunger with his super seeds. He eventually dies, but Mikage is set free to do what she will because her master paid a lifetime salary to her.

She goes to Japan because that’s what her master wanted. There she runs into trouble instantly, but in a sheer turn of luck this person who needs and wants her protection is connected to her old master. She starts school while trying to save her new master.

shuriken-and-pleats-vol-1-9781421585253_hrThere’s nothing here that’s very original. Extraordinary student going to an average school is nothing new; it’s the classic fish out of water scenario and it’s been done a lot in manga and American comics as well. The only flip in the script is that usually with manga we’re following an ordinary student dealing with the extraordinary student. The convenient writing comes into play when we find out that Mikage’s new master is connected to her old master. It’s a huge stretch of the imagination for her to have stumbled upon the one man in all of Japan that was connected to her former master.

There’s a lot of attempts at emotions throughout the story. Mikage is stoic as the story points out, but when she’s set free she starts to learn about emotions. While this could be funny or in some cases heartfelt, it’s so surface level that it doesn’t feel real. It’s like someone saying your sad and you shrugging your shoulders and saying, “I guess I'm sad now.” In the end it doesn’t feel genuine which completely defeats the purpose the emotional moments are trying to serve in the story.

The plot for this first volume is painfully predictable. The writing allows you to see five steps ahead by the obvious information it gives you through the constant exposition. Any time a character declares that something is definitely going to happen “tomorrow” then you can pretty much count on them dying. That and the villain of the story is never built up and obvious from their first bit of dialogue. Really the villain of the story is the writing.

The art is okay. There’s nothing special about it and all of the male characters look the same for the most part. There’s a few that actually have different hair, but that’s it. Otherwise everyone has the same build, the same smile and the same flowing hair. It’s detailed, but then it’s also not quite detailed enough. I know that manga tends to have some interesting panel layouts, but the ones here come across almost lazy or poorly planned. Also the backgrounds of the panels are consistently lacking in detail, leaving a lot of white on the page.

This is the first manga in a while that I’ve read and been really bored with the story, art and general concept. There’s a lot of great manga out there at the moment with stories that are breaking the mold of previous styles like this one. I can see this story being popular fifteen years ago, but now it doesn’t even stack up to American produced manga which is growing in skill and style. This just feels like a dated story from a creator that’s using their seniority to float out a half-ass idea. The bottom line is that Aspen Comics’ Executive Assistant: Iris is basically the same idea and a way better comic when you compare the two and that should tell you everything you need to know about this book.

[button btn_url="" btn_color="violet" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 2/5[/button]

Shuriken and Pleats Vol. 1 Creator: Matsuri Hino Publisher: Viz Media Price: $9.99 Release Date: 3/30/16 Format: TPB; Print/Digital