If memory serves me right I actually stated that I would be reading the book a few years ago after reading the previews on the main site for the book. Of course… I completely failed to do so since I was never able to buy it over in Australia. However I finally managed to get my hands on it a few days ago and have been reading it. Since this is an omnibus of the book, it contains all three volumes of the series and is currently at the price of about 1 and a bit volumes, depending on where you get it from, which is a pretty good deal. So the question must be asked…. was it a good read? Please read on for my review.
“Little Lucy Snow was meant be be enjoying her first day at the nice elementary school in town; however a macabre twise of fate sees her enrolled instead at Miss Weaver’s Academy for the Scientifically Gifted and Ehically Unfettered, also known as Hollow Fields.
Located on the outskirts of Nullsville and run by the insidious Engineers, the grim boarding school dedicates itself to raising the next generation of mad scientists and evil geniuses! Classes include Live Taxidermy, Cross-Species Body-Part transplantation and Killer Robot Construction, and for her own survival Lucy has to master them quickly…. the student with the lowest grades at the end of each school week is sent to the windmill for detention – and so far, no child has ever returned.
First thing that I noted was that it was a very different “School-Life” manga. Usually school-life manga revolves around either a normal life at school or something involving students with magical powers (For example Gakuen Alice). This however is definately different as, at least for myself, it is different seeing a manga revolving around a school for scientific geniuses who wish to plan World Domination. This difference in my opinion is something that really caught my attention and had got me reading it in the first place.
To start on the positive factors of the storyline, the first half is essentially Lucy’s time in Hollow Fields where she has to rise from worst student to a student who can survive each week from being sent to the windmill. The second part mainly involves her finding out the truth about the windmill and is on a mission to save them, despite the fact that several forces are against her who are much stronger than she is. This story runs well and because there are only three volumes (Totalling 15 chapters), they don’t have any fillers and it is essentially one event after the other,which is good. The fact that they showed the past as well was also very good as otherwise I think the storyline wouldn’t flow as well… The two negatives I noted however was that I do think it may have been run better having something higher than an “All Ages” rating since some of the classes would have been interesting if they went a bit more…. grotesque like they would have been to the characters, this is a minor peeve through. The second problem is they kind of just jump from first week to about 2-3 months in without much warning, which I think it would have been nice to have some flashbacks on the year… unless I missed them… still, just a minor peeve.
The design of the manga is acceptable, isn’t among the best, but still very good. The character designs are overall done very well however except for a few characters, if you forget what they look like it is hard to look at them again and say “Oh, it is X”, and you would have to backtrack to the scene they are introduced in, however this wasn’ really a big problem as. The designs of the “Engineers” were all pretty well done and it was easy to identify all of them and they were designed well to suit the classes/roles they took. Character emotions were also done well and they had a wide spectrum of emotions that they used.
The thing that won me over however was the fact that they actually used backgrounds in a lot of the scenes and it really helped set the scene, even if on occasion it was just a bookcase or part of a tower.
The main character, Lucy Snow is pretty interesting, her personality is evidently changed throughout the series and is able to quickly adjust to her lifestyle, even if she is kind of a crybaby at the start. Of course she does inherit the righteous trait that all main characters seem to have, however it is interested to see how she develops. Evidently she does have a knack for evilness as she decides to take out the towns hospital in one of her exams. She is however the predominant character throughout the first half of the series as she is outcast from everyone else at the beginning. It may have also been better for them to increase the age of the characters to be a bit more realistic since I don’t think most 9 and a half year olds would manage to pick any of this stuff up that quickly!, but at least the ages arent mentioned that much during the series.
Interestingly enough, they don’t opt for a moving sidekick in this series however her companion for the first part is a stuffed dinosaur and the second lot is a talking mechanical box named Doctor Atticus, which is another different thing about this series, however is a nice change from either a wisecracking or cutesy animal that characters usually have in anime/manga. Other characters involved include Claude who supports her during the second half of the series in the windmill, alas occasionally trying to ignore or become embarassed around her, Miss Weaver, who is the one who is the principal of the school and who is responsible for children being sent to “detention” and several other characters who each play different roles, predominantly in the second half of the series.
The omnibus has the following features
- Artwork at each chapter introduction
- About the author artwork (With footnotes of her drawn office)
- “School Files” Character Information/Art
- Artwork of different areas of the school with footnotes containing (Often funny) information about the different areas drawn.
Not a bad lot of extras.
Personally, I found it a worthwhile read, whilst it may not meet the standards of the top manga, it is definately up there in quality and if you are someone who enjoys reading manga involving “school-life”, “evil organisations”, “School Mystery” or anything similar like that then if you have the time, pick it up! For the price of about one and a bit volumes and with over 500 pages it is a good afternoon read.
Personal Opinion: 8.5/10
Overall: 39.5/50 (79%)
[review pros="Overall good artwork, storyline and character development " cons="Wouldn't be for anyone who hates school-life manga" score=79]