Ding-Ding! It’s time for another rambunctious round of Manga Review Roulette! Same rules as last time, with the MWR writing team picking a volume one to read and review each. Then one volume picked at random to take the spotlight. On the reviewing roster this round was Age of Boredom with BL Metamorphosis volume 1, newcomer Joe Pascullo with Primitive Boyfriend volume 1, Antonio V with Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear volume 1 and myself with Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1.
I’m the lucky winner this time, so for this round of Manga Review Roulette, we’ll be diving into Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1. This freaky Friday-flavored Shojo series recently debuted with Kodansha Comics. It’s time for the four of us to crack open the first volume of this Superstar Shojo series and find out if it’s the next Your Name or if it’s time for the curtain call! Is Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1 worth reading?
In Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1 we’re introduced to the small core cast. The book focuses on (idol group) Prince 4 U member, Chikashi Chida and his #1 superfan, Azusa Asahina. In reality, it’s just the Azusa show, and hapless Chika is along for the ride! Azusa’s obsession with Chika and P4U is the core of her identity to both a positive and negative extent. Azusa does good deeds to maintain her perfect P4U fan image, but this effort causes her to overlook her smitten childhood friend Fumi. Still, it certainly provides a lot of humour throughout the volume, especially once the body swap shenanigans kick-off!
Much of the how’s and the why’s behind the body swap are left unsaid (beyond a couple of hilarious God cameos!). With it presumably slowly revealed as the story progresses. But, honestly, I’m in no big rush to find out, as the switching scenarios are so hilarious! Azusa’s supreme fan knowledge shines through in these moments, as she can pull through on a lot of Chika’s performances, but it’s also her Achilles heel as she gets flustered next to her obsessions!
Chika himself mostly plays the straight man for the majority of the duo’s interactions. Although he comes across as quite cold and distant when not running damage control on Azusa adventures. However, the surprise twist towards the volume end promises that perhaps soon Azusa’s warm heart just might melt Chika’s icy exterior!
Mangaka JUNKO is no stranger to Shojo (being the mangaka ofKiss Him, Not Me), and their art satisfies once again here. Both Chika and Azusa have a cute and dreamy side to them. While Junko is sure to turn up the charm when things get romantic between them, for however brief that is! The comedy is also superbly conveyed in Azusa’s excited and emotional expressions. Her infatuated crying face as she blurts out “Chiga-guuuun” (Chika-Kun) never failed to crack me up!
Luke’s final thoughts for Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1
A fun and breezy read! The shorter page count may also account for it, but it felt like I really flew through this one, and with a smile on my face throughout! Azusa’s obsessive nature may be a deal-breaker for some. Still, I found her fanatic antics to be extremely entertaining, and there’s enough intrigue going on behind Chika and even Fumi that I’m curious and content to check out volume 2!
The characters of Star⇄Crossed are a bit of a mixed bag. Our lead female Azusa happens to be the lead source of my consternation. She simply isn’t that strong of a female character. Her entire purpose in life seems to be just to worship (and no, that is not an exaggeration!) idols and idol groups, particularly P4U’s Chika (more on him momentarily). I don’t see any goals or drive to become something at all from Azusa so far. Her bedroom is a shrine to Chika. She sacrifices her life for Chika. When she’s dead and in heaven with Chika, she chastises God for killing him and depriving Japan of him, with no regard or regret over her own lost life. Case in point, she’s passionate sure, but not really in an admirable way.
And as for Chika, he’s rather gloomy for an idol. We are not quite sure why, as of yet. But, it seems he doesn’t care for his fortuitous place in the world and is just going through the motions. One panel, in particular, shows his bandmates comically teaching Chika how to smile, using their fingers, mouths, and faces to demonstrate.
Honestly, the God character steals the show in this one as far as I’m concerned! His dialogue is funny, and his nonchalance at the conflict in the story makes it entertaining.
Junko, best known for her 2010s hits Kimi Note & Kiss Him Not Me, is back at it with solid and serviceable artwork. Character designs have a cute, light air about them, which fits the tone of the story well. Other-the-top emotional displays swarm the pages of this title. All of it fits for sure, for this is not a story that takes itself seriously at all!
Joe’s final thoughts for Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1
While the characters aren’t my cup of tea (I certainly as a young adult librarian would never point at Azusa and say “Be like this!” to one of my teen patrons). I do think there is enough here to make me want to continue reading Star⇄Crossed. The God character and his blunders are legitimately funny. He treats life as if he’s in charge of a company with a futile customer service department and not like he’s an almighty power! In addition, the story does plant enough intriguing seeds to make me wonder why the body swaps are happening and how our two leads will survive these unpredictable occurrences. It’s no Your Name, but this sugary story has enough to keep readers turning the pages.
Age of Boredom
OK, so honesty time. I’ve read a few Josei manga titles (Tokyo Tarareba Girls is one of my favourite series). However, I’m not well versed in Shojo. It’s not to say there have been a few series that have caught my eye. But, other than The Dorm of Love & Secrets, I’ve just not got round to them. So when Star⇄Crossed!! was drawn to be this month’s Manga Roulette, I was quietly excited to expand my horizons a little more.
While looking at the contents page, I noticed that the tankōbon only contained only three chapters which clocked in under 160 pages. After 50 pages, I was pleased about the short length as the book was already grating on me. I read this book in three sessions, and I have to say that going back to it was something I had to force myself to do.
From the offset, I found the main character Azusa rather annoying. She’s a super fan of P4U, and the depths of her obsession could have made this story quite interesting. However, it’s left very surface level and comes off quite childish. Obviously, she is overjoyed to switch places with the object of her affection.
Then there is Chika, Azusa’s favourite member of P4U. He lacks any personality at this point other than being mildly annoyed at the situation. Usually, it’s the protagonist that is the blank canvas for the reader to imprint themselves on. So it seems alien to me that the love interest is so lifeless. I feel the concept lacks any tension whereas the mother and daughter dynamic in the film Freaky Friday delivers more solidly. It seems that Azusa could be on the verge of ruining Chika’s life. Chika, on the other hand, only has not to give the game away to Azusa’s family, hardly high stakes.
The art for Star⇄Crossed!! is decent. The characters look pretty good both in their normal view and while having “comedy faces”. The boys are “hawt” like they should be in a boy band. Maybe the book would have been more interesting if Azusa was less conventionally attractive?
Age of Boredom’s final thoughts for Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1
So it seems I’m at a 50% success rate with Shojo manga. I’m not sure if I need to adjust my expectations or maybe being entirely removed from the demographic is causing my issues with the book. I honestly would not recommend this book to anyone as it stands.
Star⇄Crossed!!‘s story seemed so weak to me that the ingredients listed on the back of a shampoo bottle would be more gripping. Maybe Star⇄Crossed!! could improve in its second volume, but I won’t be taking the gamble.
Now, the premise is something you’ve likely heard dozens of times before, body-swapping, romance blooming blah blah blah. I won’t lie when I say that this is one of the cheesiest books I have read, but that doesn’t mean that the cheese isn’t tasty. Star⇄Crossed!! can only be described as a charcuterie board of genres. You have your sharp cut romance, your smelly humour, creamy body swap with enough fine aged Shojo to tie it all together. I had a blast with Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1. So while it may seem familiar, everything blends in together just perfectly to provide something fresh.
The characters also enhance this flavour palette. Finally, the time has come where I can fully see myself reflected in a manga character. Who better for that to have been than our female protagonist Azusa. The moment I read the first couple of pages, I related instantly to her. She is OBSESSED with her favourite idol, much like some people say I obsess over my favourite pop star. I may not be on her level, but all I’m saying is, I understand.
On the other side, you have the object of her obsession, Chika-kun. He is your more average cool-headed type, and this contrast really works when you pair him up with Azusa. Add the element of the body-swapping to their personalities, and you have some pretty good humour come out of it. After finishing, I have to say that I’m now invested in the story. There’s a lot of intrigue with the body-swapping aspect as to what causes the swap and what the eventual fix will be that I’m in it for the long haul.
The art is nothing too special, but it is still decent. It has those little shojo flourishes and blushes that add to the cuteness factor. Some of the facial expressions that Azusa makes are also great, so it deserves some points there too. Overall it’s a good style that works perfectly for this type of story.
Antonio‘s final thoughts for Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1
Absolutely. Star⇄Crossed!! is a series that knows what it’s going for and doesn’t hesitate for a second. It may feel like you’ve seen some of the same tropes in other manga, but there is enough spice to make it stand out among those. It also helps that our two leads are charismatic and bounce well off each other. I can’t wait to see what situations they find themselves because of the body swaps and discover what exactly causes them. Volume 2 is already loaded up onto my tablet, and I can’t wait to crack it open.
Is Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1 worth reading?
The body-swapping Shojo sappiness was to some of our tastes more than others! The Review Roulette format allows for us to compare and contrast our thoughts on the same volume, so hopefully, you got an idea of our different feelings for this Freaky Friday fantasy!
It’s clear Azusa is a controversial character, with some of us enjoying her fanatic antics more than others. Chika left us a little cold, but the chemistry between the pair was enough to keep a hold of our attention, or at the very least the comedic God cameos cracked us up!
The art also impressed all around, with Mangaka’s Junko’s experienced Shojo background packing the perfect mix of humour and romance within the panels. To sum it up, some of us loved it, some were satisfied, and some aren’t even considering volume 2! But what about you? Let us know if Star⇄Crossed!! volume 1 was your cup of tea below!