Shoujo Manga Maniacs: Time Stranger Kyoko

Shoujo Manga Maniacs: Time Stranger Kyoko

By: Meg Humphrey

Arina Tanemura’s work was what really got me addicted to shoujo manga. Not only are her illustrations breathtakingly detailed and beautiful, she had compelling fantasy stories. I started subscribing to the monthlyKYOKO 1 volumes of Ribon (one of the many manga “digests” that featured 10-20 different stories at an agonizing pace of one chapter at a time) during the final chapters of Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne and fell in love with Tanemura’s next work Time Stranger Kyoko.

This three volume series features Kyoko, a princess of the unified Earth in the 30th century. Kyoko has spent the 16 years of her life living as a commoner, never being seen in public as a princess. As her birthday and the time approaches for her to take over the crown, Kyoko accepts her fate although she’d rather live a non-royal life. The suspicious looking King offers Kyoko a deal – if she can awaken her twin sister Ui (who has been trapped in time since she was born) then she can return to her normal life and Ui will take the throne. In order to accomplish this, Kyoko must find the 12 Strangers – one for each hand of the clock and each carrying a different power. Kyoko is, of course, revealed to be the Time Stranger – the most powerful of the 12 and the chosen leader of the group. They quickly assemble the group and move forward with awakening Princess Ui. Of course, this is too simple, and a things don’t turn out quite as expected for Kyoko (I won’t spoil it).

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I love this story because it was beautiful and direct fluff. Due to the short length of the series, there was no need for filler so the plot advanced well in every chapter. The romance between Kyoko and Sakataki is characteristic of Tanemura’s work – two stubborn people obviously in love, but refuse to admit it for grandiose reasons. The supporting characters are all likable and there’s plenty of comic relief. The one downside also comes from the length of the series – you don’t get full backstories and developed personalities for all 12 Strangers and you don’t really know what happens to them at the end (there have been a few omake comics that show some of the Strangers after the story, but not a solid wrap up like she did in Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne).

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An OVA (Original Video Animation) was made made based on Time Stranger Kyoko called “Leave it to Chocola.” Chocola is the King’s “pet” robot cat who keeps tabs on Kyoko for the King and it was developed for the 2001 Ribon Festival. The series was never developed into an anime, which I’m thankful for as other anime adaptations of Tanemura’s works paled in comparison to the manga.

If you’re looking for a short and lighthearted tale, give Time Stranger Kyoko a try!

Meg@haveyounerd.com 
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