Shugo Chara! – PEACH-PIT : Series Review

Shugo Chara! ran in the shoujo magazine Nakayoshi from 2006-2008.  It was brought to the states by Del Rey in 2008. In 2008 it won the Kodansha Manga Award for best children’s manga. An inspiring story of realizing a heart’s desire and saving dreams, Shugo Chara! charms with its adorable characters, vivacious images, and meaningful message.

Shugo Chara! Cast

T to B, L to R: Rima, Utau, Kukai, Yaya, Amu, Tadase, Ikuto, Nadashiko, Nagihiko, Kairi

The Gist: An elementary school girl named Amu Hinamori appears to her classmates to be very “cool” and a model student. On the inside, she’s actually a shy girl who wants to be more outgoing. After making a wish one night that her “would-be” self would emerge, she awakens the next morning to find three eggs in her bed. These eggs – one red, one blue, and one green – seem to hatch when Amu desperately desires a particular personality trait. The first egg to hatch reveals a mini-guardian named Ran who empowers Amu to cheer with amazing athletic abilities. Miki hatches next, and infuses Amu with the ability to draw, paint, or design anything creatively. The last to hatch is Su, who blesses Amu with the ability to cook like a gourmet chef. With the emergence of Ran, Miki and Su, Amu becomes part of the “Guardians”, a student council-like body which protects the children and school campus of Seiyo Elementary. Her adventures lead her on the search for “x-eggs”, broken dreams of children that are extracted before they can hatch into mini-guardians, and the “embryo”, a shining white egg that will grant any wish. Along the way she makes many friends and even a couple of crushes.

The Romance/Characters: The creativity of this writing duo makes for a unique twist on the “magical girl” manga. This is the first shojo piece written by Peach-Pit, and the newness to the genre is refreshing. The storyline follows a  coming of age/self-awareness theme that highlights the ideas of following your heart, determining your dreams, and believing in yourself. Amu Hinamori envelops this concept through her evolution of wanting to be reborn, hatching Guardian Characters, and using her abilities to save the eggs of other children’s dreams. She happens to discover her own changes and development in her personal dreams and wishes as she becomes stronger. Amu is a very likeable character because she symbolizes self-doubt and the desire to change and be better – a universal human emotion that everyone can relate to.

Amu has her heart strings tugged by two boys of this series – Tadase and Ikuto. Tadase fits the white knight stereotype – fair haired and cute, sensitive and reserved , a personification of justice able to win a girl’s heart with kindness. As a balance, Ikuto takes the role of the dark knight – dark haired and mysterious, rebellious and secretive, a bad boy projection threatening to steal a girl’s heart. This makes for an interesting love triangle in Shugo Chara! and has girls divided on who should be Amu’s love interest.

What sets Shugo Chara! above other manga aimed at a younger audience is the underlying message that the mangakas incorporated. In the manga, the main characters work hard to protect other children and never give up on their dreams. This encouragement to search out your potential, realize your dreams, and support the dreams of your friends is a powerful and positive topic. It can inspire people of any age, as shown in the story.

Peach-Pit's paneling and toning - and a memorable moment!

Peach-Pit’s paneling and toning – and a memorable moment!

The Art: I was first drawn to this series by the images. The art is well drawn and ubercute to appeal to a younger audience.  There are plenty of sparkly toned images for this series to scream “girly shoujo”, but the character designs and dialogue really set this series apart. I found it interesting that the two mangakas take turns drawing different parts of the characters. They provide some examples in the books, but their styles are so similar it really is hard to tell them apart. The colored pieces are well composed and colored, and it was no surprise to read Peach-Pit explain in the margins of the series that most of their colored work is done digitally in Photoshop unless it is a keepsake that they are handing out at signings. Those they color by hand. No matter the media, this series has plenty of toned and colorful images to showcase the talent of the artists.

The Audience: Cuddly – Aimed at a younger audience, this series keeps it age appropriate. Although this series is aimed at young girls, it is still enjoyable by all ages.

The Media: Shugo Chara! was released by Del Ray here in the states up to volume 9. Kodansha USA completed the publication of the series at volume 12. A 51 episode anime was produced by Satelight under the direction of Kenji Yasudaand aired in 2007. You can view it English subbed on Crunchyroll. A second season called Shugo Chara!!Doki!- also aired in Japan in 2008. Followed in 2009 by a series called Shugo Chara Party which includes Shugo Chara Doki!Doki! and Shugo Chara Pucchi! Puchi! Besides the animes, there have been drama CDs as well as video games. None have been brought oversees to an English audience.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥  A Shoujo Hit!

Not a huge collection at 12 volumes –  it’s a vividly animated manga with a well developed and inspiring story.

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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1 Comment

  • Hello…
    Ok so I started late in reading this book and by that Im saying that I gust started reading it this year…
    Like last month 3-27-13 and I just read volume 9 and I am waiting for volume and Ive been watching
    episodes and I … LOVE IT!!! >\\\\\\\\\\<
    I hope you get this and please email me at…… But I get it if you dont
    I guess you could say Im weird but I LOVE your book and episode please… Please… PLEASE reply!
    Well… Bye LOVE YA

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