One high school offers a very special course of study. Students with the right talents can learn to be “projectionists,” able to imagine a scene and, by using a magic lantern, project that imaginary scene onto the real world. But not everyone appreciates being different or understands their own abilities. In this collection of stories, students struggle with who they are, why the job of projectionist calls to them, and how their talents are perceived by others, while at the same time dealing with the normal high school pressures of schoolwork, family, friends and, of course, romance.
Ayami Kazama’s one-volume manga is a terrific choice for middle-school libraries looking for romances without mature content. Though the rating of “E” means that this volume could go in a children’s or elementary school graphic novel collection, it’s really a better choice for middle-school readers. They will be the best audience for the tales of friendship and budding romance. Each of the four stories has a different set of main characters, but each of those characters is tied together through bonds of friendship or family. This gives the book a cohesive quality that makes for smooth reading. None of the romances are overt. In one case, the couple doesn’t even appear to realize that they are in love. But their stories are touching, and they all fit together in a way that will make young romance readers sigh with pleasure.
The art is super cute, and the characters all look much younger than their high school ages, but they aren’t so young as to be unbelievable. Kazama is skilled at making each character into an individual --- in body, face, hair and personality --- so they never get confusing. Some of the characters are more fully fleshed out than others, but readers are given enough information so that their stories make sense. Though these are romances, there is only one kiss, and it is a very touching one at that. Other than a beach bonus story that shows off the girls in bikinis (they look high school age there, but their outfits are not too skimpy) and a cross-dressing father/teacher of one character, there isn’t anything to raise eyebrows or keep this from being too old for the target audience.
Kazama’s sweet story will appeal to middle school fans of The Palette of 12 Secret Colors or Land of the Blindfolded, two more “E”-rated stories from CMX.
Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith on January 12, 2010
The World I Create, Volume 1