1. I need coffee.
2. I knew I should've scheduled this post yesterday, but here we are.
The 2nd Wednesday of the month is typically set aside for what I am reading. I am still in NK Jemisin's short story collection, but I did pause long enough to read the manga I will be talking about today! Jacque Aye's brain child: Adorned by Chi.
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Adorned by Chi is an experience! There is a website with clothes, jewelry, accessories, and then you have this manga. First presented to us chapter by chapter, you are introduced to 5 Nigerian students at Peace University who are sought out by little familiars that help them tap into their magical powers! So far, this doesn't happen unless they are attacked by evil mmanwu, spirits that usually aren't evil as far as I'm aware, but because of some dark force rising in the background, these are (sort of).
What appealed to me about Adorned by Chi first was the clothing. You can take a quiz to find out which "character collection" appeals to you best. I haven't had much money to get anything besides the comics yet (UPDATE: I have 1 shirt, wore it for my birthday last year), but soon!
Back to the manga: our main character is Adaeze, a girl who after her father dies mysteriously, has crying spells throughout her life and isolates herself because of this. Whether it's because she has these magical empathic powers, or she is clinically depressed, it's yet to be said, but it's very important that we are presented with a young black woman with mental illness, which is often not discussed in the black community. Because she always feels like a failure, it takes her the longest of the 5 characters to properly tap into her magic. It makes for a partially funny moment.
Having read the original chapters and then the full manga, I was able to connect dots that I missed across chapters, so the twist we're presented with in this first volume is fairly dynamic, and it makes me wonder how the rest of the story will play out.
Overall, this is a fresh take on the magical girl, who even in Japanese anime is often portrayed as white girls. We have 4 black magical girls and 1 black magical boy! Each character is well thought out and unique; typical anime characters, but not stereotypical black characters, which is refreshing:
Adaeze is dealing with her issues as already stated;
Her roommate Gogo is bubbly, energetic, and striving to join the cheerleading team;
Her twin sister, Kelechi is the complete opposite, goth, hates parties, and loves black;
Kaira is earthy and meditative, one with nature and doesn't like to hurt living creatures;
and Emeka is the star soccer player, epic party host, and big man on campus.
We have a new setting for a manga by way of a university in Nigeria. As the goddaughter of Nigerians, I was excited to see this, and because of the setting, we're also provided beautiful, bright colors, patterns, and people! The individualism of each character, whether main or just a passing extra in the background, was well thought out, and the art is beautiful! Even the mmanwu we see, the way they are drawn makes them almost come to life right off the screen!
The whole volume is a really fast read, only 155 pages (I finished it in less than half a day). I don't know if Jacque will slow the story down, now that all of the characters are aware of their powers, and give us some more character backstory/development. I wouldn't mind it. We have glimpses of who each character is, but it would be nice to see them fleshed out just a little more, like Agents of the Realm or Sleepless Domain, online comics that also feature black magical girls and give us very detailed looks at who each character is while still giving us some action to enjoy.
Either way, I'm excited for this brand, and I hope it goes on strong. It gets 4 out of 5 stars from me!