The Spring 2021 Manga Guide
Saint Cecilia and Pastor Lawrence
What's It About?Saint Cecilia is beloved by the townspeople—not only is she elegant and composed, she benevolently shares her wisdom with all who seek it. That is, until the last person has left—at which point she becomes totally hopeless! Only Pastor Lawrence, is keeping the Saint put together enough to do her duties...and though she may test him, it's all in a day's work!
Is It Worth Reading?
I can't really think of a book I've read recently (or possibly at all) that I was more ambivalent about. There are exactly zero things wrong with Saint Cecelia and Pastor Lawrence. It's got cute art, a nice use of the four-panel format, and a storyline that's both funny and sweet at times. It may be that it's almost too nice – conflicts are resolved handily, or, in the case of Lawrence's old seminary buddy Abel, on their way to being resolved when the book ends. The only tension is really that Lawrence is too dense to realize that Cecelia is in love with him, and that's so stereotypical, and so stereotypically handled, that it barely merits being called “tension.” Really, this is just a nice book.
The sad fact of the matter is that for me, sometimes just nice books aren't quite enough to hold my attention. There needs to be something more urgent to even the most laid-back storylines in order to counter the soporific qualities of bland niceness, and that's what this volume is lacking. That feels like a very nit-picky thing to say about a story as well-intentioned and sweet as this one is, and I suspect that were I reading this at a different time, one when I had the leisure to read it a chapter a day, I might feel differently about it as a whole. When read all in one fell swoop, however, it does fall a bit towards the side of boring.
Look, I feel bad damning this with faint praise. It's a nice story about nice people doing nice things for each other and the people in the town their church is in. There's some confusion about just what it means that Cecelia is a saint, and there's something slightly religiously suspect about fairies and angels hanging out in a church together because they all are attracted to the pastor for unexplained plot reasons, but that's not enough to ruin the book. But none of it is enough to elevate it, either, and at the end of the day, what I'm left with after reading this is a lingering sense of cloying sweetness and a yawn.
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