Review

La Esperanca, Vol. 4

by Chigusa Kawai

Everything gets more intense during the second half of the La Esperanca series. In the first half, the story would sometimes turn away from the main characters, Georges and Robert, to concentrate on some of their friends. This gimmick is now pretty much gone and Georges and Robert keep center stage.
 
So far the story has been about well-behaved Georges and badly behaved Robert, both of whom are drawn to each other. They also both have dark and secret pasts. Up until now that’s only been hinted, and with volume four readers start to find out the truth of what happened before. There are a few Dickensian-type surprises and revelations in store. This all leads up to the volume seven, the last in the series, which is almost nonstop action as it all comes together.
 
Someone picking up the first volume of La Esperanca might think it’s a light love story with pretty art and little else. That’s not the case. This series has a nice strong plot going through it, though that doesn’t become apparent unless one keeps reading. There are a few chapters that are more for fun than anything else, but a good chunk of the chapters are of importance to the end.
 
The relationship between Georges and Robert also intensifies. At first they’re feeling things for each other, then Robert kisses Georges, and then some time passes as the two back off shyly. They get back together eventually, and the series sticks with its 13+ rating and never shows them do anything beyond kissing. This is a very tame love story for readers who like it that way.
 
Chigusa’s art continues to improve throughout the books, though it was attractive from the beginning. Still, it keeps getting better. Her story also tightens itself considerably as it zooms in on Georges and Robert. At seven volumes, this series isn’t exactly short, but it isn’t long either, and it accomplishes what it sets out to do. It tells its story and wraps it up without going overlong or feeling too blunt. There are a number of likable characters here, and it’s cute to see the main characters, who are such opposites, find what they need in the other.
 
As a manga series, La Esperanca’s strong points are its art, its blossoming relationship and its revelations of the characters’ pasts. The love story between Georges and Robert is light enough that it can easily get a wide audience of different ages. All in all, this is a pretty and appealing manga series.

Reviewed by Danica Davidson on July 9, 2012

La Esperanca, Vol. 4
by Chigusa Kawai