|Shadow Star (manga)
|| A very strange manga by Mohiro Kitoh. The first couple of chapters give you the impression that this is a cute “young girl grows up into her teen years” story, not dissimilar to certain Studio Ghibli “coming-of-age” type movies like Whisper of the Heart (directed by Yoshifumi Kondo, not Miyazaki), about a cheerful girl named Shiina who visits her grandfather on a small Japanese island, nearly drowns while swimming with the local kids, and finds a mysterious, star-shaped alien, with whom she seems to have some sort of telepathic link. On the ride home, her plane is attacked by a sword-like entity, against which Shiina and “Hoshimaru”, which is what she named the creature, try to defend themselves. They fail, but another young girl, completely nude save for some body markings, appears in mid air with some sort of living ship, and saves the plane, although the two other passengers had gone missing. This series turns really dark when Shiina meets another girl, named Akira, who is also telepathically linked to a creature like Hoshimaru. Akira is the opposite of Shiina; she’s solemn and gloomy and she can’t handle the stress of being linked to her creature. One very disturbing scene has her nearly slit her wrists with a razor, though she can’t follow through with it. Soon, we meet some of the antagonists of the story, one of whom has a radical back-to-nature agenda, somewhat inspired by Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, which would have him kill off most of the world’s population. The others just seem to want an egalitarian (re: Communist) society. And, did I mention that they also have alien allies to help them carry out their plans? The use of kids as protagonists and antagonists makes this manga, at the same time, very charming yet very horrific. I can honestly say that this manga is unlike any other that I’ve ever read. The English version of this manga is published in Dark Horse Comic’s monthly manga anthology Super Manga Blast, and there was also a French version available (under the original Japanese title Narutaru), except Glénat, the French publisher, pulled the plug after just two volumes because they found out about an extremely graphic scene which had some underage sexual elements in the 6th volume... so, in this particular case, the Americam publisher's more open-minded than the French one. I've just started watching fansubs of the anime.