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Bound Beauty vol 1: Recommending Under the Radar Shojo

Bound Beauty vol 1 -- I haven't seen this new Mick Takeuchi title (creator of Her Majesty's Dog) discussed much at all on the manga blogs and I think it is a real shame.  The first volume was released this fall and although the title makes me cringe (seriously, could they have picked something that sounds a little less like porn?) the rest of the package is a real treat.

Plot summary:  High schooler Chiyako has a special talent that sets her apart from other folks -- she can see people's red string of destiny!  (i.e. there is a legend that holds we each have a red string on our pinky finger connecting us to our "fated" love).  Unlike other goody two-shows who would use this power for "good," Chiyako instead decides to market her talent in order to save up enough money to move out of her father's house and become a proper adult.  Well, things go a little awry when she is targeted by a group of guys who can also see people's "fate strings" (strings for the physical body, for hatred, and various other aspects of the self).  Chiyako, herself, is fated to wield the "White" string, which ties the soul to the body and is also fated, much to everyone's surprise, to join this shady group known as the Tyers.  

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However, once she comes into this power the real twist of the story occurs -- now granted the power to tie other people's strings of fate, her tie to her most precious desire -- to become an adult -- is cut.  Which means she runs around in the body of elementary school student for the majority of the book, which can be pretty difficult for one who is already experiencing a rapidly maturing mind and set of feelings as a normal adolescent. 

My assessment:  There are two plot elements to the book -- an over-arching plot dealing with who and what the Tyers actually are and hard-luck cases that the group takes on in order to help those whose fate strings have been cut.  The pleasure of this book is watching Chiyako navigate this new world she doesn't understand...and, of course, there a lot of amusing problems that happen when one reverts to the age of 10.  We assume that the ultimate goal for Chiyako is to return to her previous body, but perhaps also solve the mysteries behind both the Tyer group and the individuals that form the group.   

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While I think Her Majesty's Dog is a fine shojo series it has a tendency to move very slowly, while Bound Beauty is fast, fun and imaginative.  Chiyako is constantly finding herself in a tight spot and watching her try to relate to her new Tyer-colleagues as well as her new status as a child offers a very engaging read.  The art is strong and attractive and very shojo.  Chiyako's child-status is made palpably real thanks to Takeuchi's fine and expressive art-work.  Volume one is highly recommended to us shojo lovers and maybe even some of you out there that have a fondness for body switching or transformation narratives.   

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Review Copy provided by Go! Comi.

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