Sarah's Stars

FUJII Mihona. GALS! Vol.1
CMX  $15.25  ISBN 1-4012-0550-X  198 pg.
Reviewed by Meghan, Age 14

If you're looking for a story full of action, humour and honesty, look no farther than GALS!  In this new graphic novel series, we follow the story of Kotobuki Ran, 16 years old and one of the most famous Kogals in Shibuya. At the same time, Ran has to deal with a usual teenage life; school, parents, boyfriends and rival Kogals. Her parents are both in the police force (her dad's the chief detective) and her brother just started his career as a cop, so there is a lot of pressure on Ran to do her duty and join the force. But Ran doesn't want to have anything to do with the police; she's just interested in having fun! With her two best friends, Yamazaki Miyu and Hoshino Aya, Ran strolls the streets of Shibuya, looking out for the latest deals and cute guys. From the very first pages (where she's teaching some mixed-up guys a lesson) through to the very end, Ran deals with each new problem with courage, spunk and Kogal sense!

GALS! is a great read, in more ways than one. The dialogue is fresh and original and sounds very much like the way teens actually talk. The plot is good, with lots of twists and turns and lessons about morals along the way. It's full of humour, but there's also a more serious side to the stories. The drawings are clear and precise and tell the story beautifully.

I was amazed at the detail with which the characters' eyes are drawn; they convey emotion very clearly! I'm new to the manga format and style of drawing, but I was really impressed by how clearly each character's personality is laid out through their hair, face shape and style of clothes. You get to know them in no time at all.

For those readers who are new to graphic novels, GALS! would be a good place to start. I'll admit it's a little confusing having to read backwards, (GALS! is a Japanese novel, so it reads right to left) but after the first twenty pages, you get used to it and it's smooth sailing from then on. I was really impressed by the honesty with which FUJII portrays the life of average teens. This graphic novel is rated T (for teens) and for a good reason. FUJII attacks issues such as schoolgirl prostitution and gang violence without hesitation. She also makes use of strong language (swear words) but it fits in with the charactersí personalities and the story. I really enjoyed reading GALS! and I'm sure that all other girls, ages 13 and up will enjoy reading it, too!

I'd rate GALS! five out of five stars.


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