W and I: Aki Irie
If I had the ability to shapeshift, I would probably end up becoming a chimera or some type of phantom. In this case, I’m quite scared to carry the magic as I would be hunted for my unique nature. In this manga, I would have the ability to become an adult who looked like a supermodel. In this case, I wouldn’t really know what to do as I wouldn’t be holding unique traits that made me different from other people. Please note, this manga contains sexual scenes not suited for anyone under 13 years old. This is the only warning I will provide for this review.
Ran and the Gray World is about a spunky, rebellious girl named Uruma Ran. She’s always running off to find adventures, only to cause trouble to people around her. It doesn’t help that she has a pair of trainers that turns her into an adult, but she has to deal with a responsible brother who stops her antics by transforming into a wolf. One day, she runs away and finds herself journeying farther than usual. This causes her father to worry more than usual and her brother has no choice but to stop her antics yet again. She ends up on the rooftop apartment of Kotaro, an older, rich man’s apartment who has his own sorts of pranks in his day to day life. She finds herself playing along with his pranks for once. How her brother finds her and the relationship she builds with the prankster is just the beginning of the story.
Ran is a ball of energy as she wants to explore the world around her and one day. I love her never-ending goal to become a sorceress like her mother and I think the mischief she causes quite adorable. Throughout the story, I’ve found her personality to be endearing and quite unique compared to other child protagonists. My main concern is how looks AND personality can be sexualized by different people. In my eyes, it presents a gray zone of morality that comes with her magical abilities. (My puns are disastrous…) However, my favorite character in the series is her brother, Jin. While he carries strength, honor, and responsibility in his personality, I love how he raises his little sister. He goes to extremes to stop her adventure. He never once disobeyed his father’s orders to bring her back and I really like how he doesn’t give in to his little sister’s desires.
The magic Ran inherits is quite intriguing. I always thought it would be something instantaneous as most magic takes place with the snap of a finger. Instead, she and her brother have no choice but to use objects as magical conductors. I’m a little surprised with how creative Ran can be with her magic. I’m in love with her and her brother’s journey with magic. Although her brother is reluctant to use magic, I think he is learning the benefits of it in small doses. I hope I get to see Ran work with other types of magic. More so, I’m beginning to wonder who’s the most capable user of magic, Ran or Jin? My biggest worry is that the magic will overwhelm the story and we won’t get to see Jin or Ran’s personalities come to life. Another thing that I’m curious about is the infamous Lady Shizuka, the mother of Ran and Jin who happens to be a sorceress. Although she has a lot of power, I’m curious to limits she is unable to meet her family on a daily basis. While she can do things beyond the laws of physics, she doesn’t seem to have the capabilities of doing everything that’s impossible to humanity.
The art style is amazing and I truly believe that its distinct, wavy nature will capture the reader’s attention. The characters look amazing with their movements from panel to panel. I love the angles Aki Irie uses to focus on a character’s movements and expressions. I also love the coloring Irie used to highlight distinctions on people and objects. One of my favorite panels is when Kotaro first sees Ran’s face. It highlights his expression really well alongside the stark colors used to define his hair.
Overall, I think the manga has a great start. I’m slightly on the edge with how Ran is sexualized, but that could be my conservative mindset. The art style is amazing and I would suggest the creator to keep using this style in other works. I like how magic seemingly has limitations, but I’m still confused on the limits Shizuka has to face. If you’d like more information on the manga, I would suggest you click here for more details.