shuriken‘Shuriken and Pleats’ is a two volume shojo series by Matsuri Hino, the same mangaka behind the hit franchise ‘Vampire Knight’. ‘Vampire Knight’, while a huge success, was a bit too morose for my tastes, not too mention, I found that it got kind of weird in the later volumes. If you’re like me and didn’t enjoy ‘Vampire Knight’, don’t let that deter you from checking out ‘Shuriken and Pleats’! This series was a lot of fun and worth picking up, regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of this artist’s other works.

Mikage Kirio is a ninja living in the modern age and working in the service of a kind, older man whom she has fallen in love with. Despite Mikage’s vigilant efforts to protect her master, disaster strikes and he is tragically killed. His last wish was for Mikage to leave the ninja life and live as a normal girl, and he leaves behind the means for her to travel to Japan and begin anew. Almost as soon as she arrives in Japan, however, Mikage stumbles upon an assassination attempt on a young man by the name of Mahito Wakashimatsu. After she saves his life, Mahito hires her to protect him and Mikage discovers that he was actually a colleague of her deceased master! Will Mikage be able to discover the truth of what happened to her master? And will she ever be able to live as a normal school-girl?!

This series may be short, but it’s packed with action and twists and turns that are sure to keep you guessing as to what’s going to happen next. Mikage is an interesting main character and a refreshingly competent fighter. All to often, female characters, who are supposed to be tough, spend a great deal of time needing to be saved or encouraged by male love interests. Mikage on the other hand is the one doing all of the rescuing in this series and I loved seeing her kick butt! She’s stoic, courageous and loyal and a great lead for this story. Her love for her master may border on obsessive, but the series is fairly self aware about this aspect of her character and pokes fun of it on a couple of occasions, which I found to be hilarious.

One minor complaint that I have with the plot is that the romance aspect of the story doesn’t end up going in the direction that I expected and leaves off in an unusual place. Overall, however, I was satisfied with how things ended, and I felt like the conclusion made sense.

The art in this manga is emotive and heavy on dark screen tones, that fit the dramatic tone of the series. Fans of Matsuri Hino’s other works can be assured that this series showcases the same lovely art that they’ve come to expect from her.

If you’re looking for a fun action manga that features a strong female protagonist and great art, this is worth checking out.

Final Grade: B+

For more information on this series check out Viz Media’s website: http://www.viz.com/shuriken-and-pleats

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