Story & Art by: Matsuri Hino
Imprint: Shojo Beat
Published by: Viz Media
Release date: 1st November 2016
Mikage has fulfilled her mission to help Mahito apprehend the undercover enemy within his family’s service. Mahito has grown attached to this teenage ninja and has even asked for her to stay in his family home as repayment. Mikage can now focus on her former Master’s finale wish, and devote herself to being a normal Japanese high school student. However when Mikage discovers her former ninja associate within the Wakashimatsu family property, she may just have to put her plans on hold again in order to deal with her past. The final volume to Shuriken and Pleats is out now!
This has been an incredibly short series from Matsuri Hino, author of the popular Vampire Knight manga series. Breaking away from a supernatural series which followed the students within a dual educational academy, housing both human teenagers and vampires. Matsuri Hino followed up her best selling manga series with Shuriken and Pleats, bringing to life the story of one teenage girl who was raised as a ninja in America. After the death of her Master, she moves to Japan in order to fulfill his last wish for her. To leave the way of the Ninja behind and enjoy life as a carefree high school student. Wishing only for her happiness and to gain some friends. Volume One introduced us to Mikage just pages before she lost someone dear to her. Having been raised as a ninja, taught to never express or give in to one’s emotions, we see her learning to deal with grief as she mourns their death. She also begins to understand that the feelings she held for this person, were much deeper than friendship. These emotions are carried forward in this volume for both characters, but considering her age the topic was dealt with very maturely. By setting boundaries and not allowing for a relationship to mentally bloom.
Mikage goes through such an emotional rollercoaster in her life. Taken in by Mr Rod as a young girl in order to train beside his security personnel. A decision mostly influenced by her age, seeing as Mr Rod had previously lost both his wife and young daughter. Taking in Mikage was a way of both dealing with his loss and a form of repentance. He plays the attentive father in her life, always aiming to bring a smile to her face. Something her own father fails to do. Mikage slowly starts to understand his affection and develops her own feelings towards him, however it is only when he is deceased does she realise she wanted to not replace the role of a daughter in his life, but as a wife. From grief to anger, Mikage also learned how to best understand her own feelings of affection for Mr Rod from her female classmates. As we all know, teenage girls have their own idea of romance and crushes.
At the end of Volume One, Mikage was successful in apprehending the one responsible for stealing the prized seeds of the Wakashimatsu family. Locked up within a holding room on the family property, Mahito fails in his attempts of interrogation. Knowing that there is a second person involved in the operation, the plot becomes even more important to Mikage when she hears the name of her beloved Master. It appears Mikage never will be able to make a clean cut from the life of a Ninja. The action was very well played out and Mahito did his best to keep Mikage out of it. The series may have ended, but Mikage’s’ story doesn’t have an end all finale. This was just a chapter extract from her life, if it was expanded upon it could have made for an interesting anime series or at least a stand alone movie. We have a Ninja Organisation, working as both bodyguards and an intelligence network. Add in a young teenage girl who was raised to be a skilled ninja, put her into a high school and we have some romantic feelings incorporated. Not your typical romance manga, but perfect for those that like a bit of action with their love stories.
The Cover Art this volume appears to be more of a polar opposite from Volume One. In which Mikage was still dressed in her school uniform but with a white background. Now standing against a black backdrop, she appears more as a skilled mercenary. Looking as though she has fallen back and accepted her life as a ninja. Once more in this volume we see the return of a handsome young boy that attends the same high school as Mikage, his dazzling smile does not go under her radar. This is the first and only love interest that is around her age. A possible boyfriend, but for now her heart still beats only for Mr Rod. With the same character and art style used in Vampire Knight, fans of the previous work will enjoy Shuriken and Pleats. Capable of showing the loveable characters amongst the stiff looking adults. Although involving a serious storyline, the ice is often broken by some teenage romance or simple adorable moments.
Matsuri Hino is a Japanese manga artist who made her debut in 1995, with a one shot called ‘Ko no Yume ga Same Tara’, in LaLa DX magazine. She has also published several other manga series, including Captive Hearts, MeruPuri: Marchen Prince, Wanted and her most well known series – Vampire Knight. Of which was also adapted into an anime by Studio Deen.
Once again, a perfect short series to pick up for those that are already fans of Matsuri Hino. It would have been nice to see the story further expanded upon and the ending may not be to everyone’s taste. However it is a good mini series to pick up in order to see how skilled the writing is when it comes to quickly dealing with how a character, raised such as Mikage, deals with these new and strong emotions. Shuriken and Pleats Volumes 1 & 2 are available now both online and in all good bookstores.