Satomi Ikezawa, Author . Del Rey $10.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-345-47913-6

This could have been yet another in the long line of manga sagas focusing on the life and loves of a cute high school girl. Ikezawa's tale of 16-year-old Yaya Higuchi does begin as cookie-cutter fare (with requisite Sailor Moon -esque art), but it swiftly dives into the deep end of weirdness. Meek Yaya and her backstabbing "friends," Seri and Moe, spend their time doing things that girls in stories of this genre usually do: shopping and mooning over cute boys and teen pop idols. But unbeknownst to her girlfriends, Yaya is involved with a group of "makeup band" enthusiasts who dress in goth-rock costumes, which allows her to express a more assertive personality. That persona aggressively springs to life when Yaya becomes smitten with hunky Moriyama, a Led Zeppelin fan who also fronts a band. Since Yaya is too shy to deal with her feelings for Moriyama herself, her alter ego, Nana, takes over, exhibiting great confidence, empowered-yet-wholesome sexuality and martial/gymnastic abilities commonplace to superhero strips. As Nana appears more frequently, she sets Yaya's catty pals straight as to what a couple of utter jerks they really are, and ignites an escalating war of humiliation, romantic outmaneuvering and petty abuse against them. Ikezawa tells this story in a disjointed manner, but the plot and art capture enough universal teen angst to hold readers' attention. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/06/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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