Reviewby Melissa Harper,
The World Exists for Me
G. Novel 1
Sekai is a pretty, popular high school student. However, just as she is confessing her love to her childhood sweetheart, her whole world falls apart! The train she is on derails in a horrible accident, and only Sekai survives by being pulled through time by a strange little boy, with an even stranger doll with the ability to cross time and space. She finds herself hundreds of years in the past, tangled in the affairs of kings and martyrs, and being chased by a cruel man with the same face as the boy she loves.
The only way to describe this manga is to call it a shonen manga dressed up as shoujo. Yes, the story is almost obsessively centered on a romance, but every other aspect of the series has the feel of shonen manga, especially the pacing. Character development takes a backseat to fast-paced action involving real historical figures, and new situations arise faster than the heroes can deal with them. The problem is that the characters are running for their lives so quickly the reader never gets a chance to really meet them, and thus could care less if they make it or not.
The story revolves around Sekai, a girl from the modern world who is sucked into the past by a mysterious boy, Sovieul, and a doll with mysterious powers he calls S. Upon arriving in 18th century France, Sekai and Sovieul are suspected of witchcraft, and witness a plot to murder the king. This plot seems to be masterminded by a man named Machiavello, who is identical to the boy Sekai loves, Midou. In the second chapter, Sekai is mistaken for Joan of Arc, and is captured again by Machiavello, who tells her she shares a soul with the doll S, and apparently if he has sex with her he will be able to obtain special powers.
At the end of the first volume, not much is known about any of the characters. Sekai seems to react realistically as a spoiled teenage girl, and her reacting is all we really get to see. From the very beginning, all she does is run away or hide. It's realistic, but it doesn't give us much insight into her character. The boy who rescues her, Sovieul, is an odd cat indeed. His age is impossible to determine. He seems much younger than Sekai, but he calls Sekai his betrothed. The circumstances for this are not explained. Oddly enough, Machiavello calls her that too. Machiavello is called evil, and from the first volume it seems likely that the recurring theme of this manga will be that Machiavello caused many of the horrible events of the past. One feels that there is a bit of ambiguity as to which side is the good side, if there is such a thing, but that might just be wishful thinking.
The romance is really quite weak; we are just to accept that she is desperately in love with this boy. Instead of seeing how Sekai falls in love with Midou, we are simply presented with the information, as the story starts with her confessing her feelings for him. Now, it doesn't actually seem like she cares too much about him at that point; she just wants to snap him up before another girl gets him. Indeed, when he rejects her she tells him to disappear, and is really quite cold and unlikable. There is also supposed to be some romantic tension between Sekai and Machiavello; she hates him for his evil deeds, but he looks just like Midou, and is thus difficult to resist. Machiavello simply wants to sleep with Sekai, and is willing to go through a number of tricks and schemes to achieve that end. It seems like this is supposed to be romantic; it isn't.
Visually the novel is pretty high quality. Backgrounds are beautiful and detailed, as are the character costumes, hairstyles, and facial expressions. Designs on the characters are fairly bland, but not derivative. The doll, S, is gorgeous in every panel. So much detail is crammed onto her tiny person that she looks amazing. The most beautiful aspect of the artwork is the lighting. Saitou really shows the distinct differences between daylight and moonlight, and realistically portrays special lighting such as moving lanterns and firelight. The book is truly very attractive.
As for extras, a short explanation is included at the back of the book explaining the historical context of the chapters. As Machiavello is apparently responsible for many events in real Western history, this little recap is invaluable to the understanding of the story. You really should read that first, to offset at least some of the cluelessness that this book induces. That's really what it does; it goes by so quickly that you reach the end of the book wondering what just happened.
Overall : B
Story : C+
Art : B+
+ Looks good, original story and characters
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