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Time Stranger Kyoko
Synopsis | Review

Tanemura Arina sure knows how to write a good fantasy story. She sure knows how to draw hot bishounen, too. It's enough to make me keep reading her stuff. Storyline? What storyline?

Interestingly, if you mix Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne's and Time Stranger Kyoko's images, you wouldn't know which is which. Everybody looks the same. Well, okay, you can probably tell them apart by their clothes if you've read both series.

Time Stranger Kyoko has three volumes and an OAV. In case you get excited about the OAV, let me warn you that it virtually has nothing to do with the main storyline. It was published as a side story, and it looked like it was made into an OAV to appease the die-hard manga fans. You do need to be familiar with the manga to fully appreciate the OAV. When I was watching it, I was like, "Ooh, so that's what he would look like in full color..." and "Ooh, so that's what his voice sounds like..." Obviously, I mainly checked out all the bishounen there. Never mind Kyoko. I could always watch Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne if I want to see what she looks like animated ^_^

Synopsis
Suomi Kyoko is a princess of the United Earth in the 30th century. Two bishounen bodyguards, Sakataki and Hizuki, are with her at all times. They are actually princes of the Ryuuzoku (dragon) people, but their kingdom was destroyed when they were children. When the king of United Earth took them in, they swore to protect Kyoko in exchange.

Kyoko's very reluctant to fulfill her princessly functions by appearing in public. The story starts with Sakataki begging her to practice saying greetings for a ceremony. This ceremony's actually pretty important because it's her 16th birthday celebration ^_^

Naturally, Kyoko wouldn't hear of rehearsing because she has no plans of having a ceremony. She has been attending school and trying to live a normal schoolgirl life, which is why she refuses to appear in public as the princess. If she does, then everybody would know what she looks like and she wouldn't be able to live in comfortable anonymity. Already she has a group of friends at school who like her for who she is, and she did not want them treating her any differently just because she's a princess. One of them is her best friend, a kirito named Karen. Evidently, in the 30th century, humans are able to merge their DNA with other organisms. A kirito would be a combination of human and flower DNA. To keep tabs on Kyoko, Sakataki is in her class (even though he's a year older) and Hizuki is one of their teachers.

Kyoko's 16th birthday ceremony was not something she could easily get out of. She tried to persuade her father, the king, to let her skip the whole thing. Finally, he relented and told her that if she could awaken her twin sister Ui from a coma, then she could stay the way she is. Ui has been asleep ever since she was born. There is a large clock on the floor in the room where Ui sleeps; if the clock is moved, then Ui will awaken. The only clue they could use is a space-time stone that came with the large clock.

Kyoko's plans of being obscure quickly changed when a group of bandits appeared at school. Their leader, Widoshiiku, spotted Karen and decided she would be his 286th girlfriend ^_^ Kyoko, being protective of Karen, confronted the bandits. When one of Widoshiiku's henchmen attacked her, Sakataki and Hizuki jumped into the fray. It was then that everybody found out Kyoko's true identity. Shortly after the dramatic revelation, the space-time stone glowed and gave Kyoko a staff. It allows her to manipulate time, and she fondly calls it Staffy. It also talks, and it doesn't seem like it appreciates being called Staffy :P

Using Staffy, Kyoko embarks on a quest to awaken Ui. Of course, Sakataki and Hirozuki are dragged along for the ride. They have to locate 12 God Stones, possessed by 12 Strangers. Kyoko and her time-space stone is one, so they have 11 more to go. Some of their adventures include a black market auction, a deep-sea rivalry, and the old Ryuuzoku kingdom. They also get harrassed by Widoshiiku along the way because he decided that he liked Kyoko better than Karen. Amidst their battles and schemes, Kyoko confronts her deepest fears about her legitimacy as a United Earth princess. She also had to deal with her growing attraction to Sakataki (c'mon, you know there must be a romantic storyline here) and the fact that she's always surrounded by men who are very interested in her, which includes Hirozuki.

Review
Great storyline, feels rushed. Sort of like the Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne anime. It's certainly a good read if you like Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne and would like to see Chiaki and Maron lookalikes in action. Honestly, Sakataki's the spitting image of Chiaki, and Kyoko's of Maron. The main differences would be that Sakataki's more serious than Chiaki while Kyoko's less serious than Maron. Hmm. I see a pattern here. And the main similarities would be that both Sakataki and Chiaki are devoted to protecting their beloved while Kyoko and Maron had to deal with inner demons and doubts about themselves.

I really think if this storyline was extended and more time was spent on each subplot, it would be a great series. For instance, the whole thing with Kyoko going to school with Sakataki and Hirozuki being their teacher--that had a lot of potential. However, it didn't even get past the first chapter because almost immediately, Widoshiiku and his friends appeared and...the rest is history. Also, the plots for the first four God Stones were mostly okay, but the rest were all clumped together. It's reminiscent of the second half of Xenogears :P And lastly, when Kyoko was with Chronos, events happened almost instantaneously. I was left with "Huh. That was fast." However, to Tanemura's credit, I read somewhere that Ribon magazine was the one to blame for the short storyline.

The rushed storyline is my main beef with Time Stranger Kyoko. To a lesser degree, everybody in this manga looks alike, so it's hard to tell which is which. I had a really hard time telling apart Kyoko, Karen, and Ui but was a little with the men (bishounen, to be exact). The only character I had no problem recognizing at all is Chocola, the king's pet and self-proclaimed sweetheart. She's really adorable. Well, originally she's a defective babysitting android that the king rescued from a recycling facility. Anything that's small with large paws always earn kawaii points from me ^_^

This is not a manga that should be rushed through because there's a lot of detail to be digested. I still have to go over the last chapters to better understand what the punch line was. There's definitely a lot of things going on, and this serves as the series' strength and weakness. At best, it's an intriguing manga with lots of eyecandy. Probably worth checking out.

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