With Viz entering an already crowded UK manga market, they're going to need the big guns, and in manga terms they don't come more well respected than Yuu Watase, creator Fushigi Yugi and Ceres!
In her latest opus, Alice 19th, our heroine is the younger of two sisters. Often overlooked and unfavoured, Alice Seno is a quiet but good hearted girl who has trouble expressing her feeling due to her inherent shyness.
But one act of selflessness changes Alice's fate, and in saving a seemingly ordinary rabbit from certain death on a main road, she's chosen to become a Lotis Master, a wordsmith who can utilise the power of the Lotis words to combat evil. If she can just get through school first...
There's a wonderful restraint in Alice 19th. The author herself states in the book's own commentary that she wanted to create a series where words and communication played a vital role, inspired by the lack of understanding so evident in the real world today. It's a nice thought and deftly handled, and whilst the book is, at heart, another magical girl tale, it'll be interesting to see how the world of the Lotis words develops, and if there's anything new that can be found in such a well-worn formula.
Like all magical girl stories, this one has a cute companion, and they don't come much cuter than rabbit-girl Nyozeka. Effectively a very young girl with rabbit ears and bunny feet, she's clearly Alice's mentor from the outset, and grabs most of the best lines in the book. She's almost designed to be turned into a plushie, but I can't see too many people grumbling!
The artwork is, as you'd expect from such an accomplished manga-ka, fluid, precise and detailed. It never over-complicates a panel, but it never looks barren either.
Fans of Yuu Watase will likely enjoy this first volume of what looks to be a fairly sizable epic. Whilst you may question the need for yet another magical shojo tale, fans of the genre should certainly make room.