Transformation

Ai Morinaga, Author, Ai Morinaga, Illustrator
Ai Morinaga, Author, Ai Morinaga, Illustrator Central Park Media $9.99 (167p) ISBN 978-1-58664-931-9
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Reiichi Swan--called""Helmet"" by his attractive older sisters--is short, homely and the sole member of his school's garden club. That is, while intelligent and good-hearted, he's a complete social outcast. Reiichi is infatuated with sweet, beautiful Yumiko Ito, who happens to be the only other student at his school interested in plants. But Yumiko is moving to America with her family--as soon as she can find her lost dog, Mister. While recovering the dog for his crush, Reiichi is hit by a car and falls into a coma. A year later, he awakens as a tall, gorgeous ladies' man with enough popularity to spark garden club membership. Armed with social tips from his popular sisters, Reiichi enters high school and discovers Yumiko has returned--but Mister now considers him a romantic rival. Morinaga's story boasts a strong hook: Reiichi's transformation from ugly duckling to swan. Unfortunately, rather than really exploring the premise (for example, can one man, no matter how good-looking, really make a garden club cool?), Morinaga opts for easy drama, throwing in lusty teachers, evil sorcerers and talking dogs who know martial arts. As an artist, Morinaga shows a high level of competence, with clean line-work, and his distinct characters show emotion without heavy reliance on exaggerated facial features.
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