Ran and the Gray World Volume 1 REVIEW

Ran and the Gray World Book Cover Ran and the Gray World
Aki Irie
Comics & Graphic Novels
VIZ Media LLC
November 20, 2018
216
Emi Louie-Nishikawa
Amy Yu
Joanna Estep

Ran has a magical pair of Nike sneakers that transform her into an adult, but what kind of hijinks occur when a little girl in an adult body goes on adventures?

Although I’ve previously read a version online, it’s been a while since I last read this series so I was hyped going into it. The magical world of Ran and her family runs side-by-side with the regular world of modern Japan. One of the most interesting things is how magic works in this universe. Magicians use items to enhance certain abilities like a wolf pelt to turn into a wolf for tracking abilities, magic shoes to turn into a grown up, or an umbrella to turn into a crow. But you don’t need anything to channel your magic, as seen by the scenes where Ran floats while dreaming or making a hot air balloon out of her flute cover. Magic is technically secret but her family uses it so carelessly, especially her mother Shizuka, who happens to be The Sorceress. Shizuka is a harbinger of chaos from giant sweets popping up around the neighborhood to cherry blossoms falling during winter and birds circling around her. However, magic has some costs in this story, as Shizuka has to stay away from her family for long periods of time to protect the world from harmful magic.

You can read this manga as short stories with Ran as the connecting point between each chapter. One chapter is Ran looking for her shoes in her messy house while her brother Jin tries to hide them in various places during her search. Jin even takes the main role in a chapter while turning into a wolf in order to search for Ran who ran away from home. And when we meet Otaro, an eccentric rich playboy, he’s perplexed by this mysterious woman that stumbles into his life that isn’t seduced by his looks or standing right off the bat.

Otaro meeting Ran

Art

The artwork is what attracted to this series to be honest. Grown up Ran and her mother are seductive beauties with long legs and hourglass figures. Meanwhile, the main men are attractive jerks with distinctive markings or hairstyles. Jin is mostly a protective older brother who tries to keep Ran out of trouble, which somehow makes him more attractive in my eyes. Otaro has this intensity in how he has these arrow shaped eyebrows and wavy hair. And all the hair is beautifully drawn too, especially Ran’s adult hair. As for the backgrounds, the birds, foliage, trees, and clutter are some of the highlights. The creator Irie seems to have a rounded artistic background in that she can tell a story and illustrate everything really well too.

From Ran and the Gray World

This volume has an insane amount of panels per page – it will take a bit more time to read each page if you’re used to typical modern manga, where there’s usually 5-6 panels on a page. Luckily, the density of panels makes the spreads and larger panels more impactful as they escape the confines of the gridlike panel structure. So I think a lot of Irie’s artistic inspiration comes from Tezuka and older creators, who use tighter grid patterns.

From Ran and the Gray World

Lettering is fantastic as always with Viz Signature line. They had a good person working on it and a large selection of fonts to choose from for SFX, which are always fully replaced in Viz releases.

Last Thoughts

After reading this volume, go back to the cover and back cover to find the hints of what happened in each chapter on the illustration. I think that little aspect makes the physical volume (paperback) worth owning over digital. In addition, it has french flaps, which is a rare feature in English volumes nowadays.

Recommend?

A hell yes to getting this manga, you won’t regret owning it! It’s one of those books that you can reread and find something slightly new each time. I would rec reading the teaser on Viz’s website in case you might have a different opinion.