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Title: 聖克麗歐學園
English title: Afterschool Charisma
Author: 末包 久美子 (Kumiko Suekane)
Year: 2009+

Having finished Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack, I continued reading the next manga I borrowed from the same friend. Afterschool Charisma is something quite different, coming closer to the stereotype of Japanese comics: high school drama. However, if it was a pure drama, I very much doubt both that my friend would have recommended it to me, and that I would have liked it.

The twist in this story is that all the characters are young clones of famous people throughout history, including Hitler, Curie, Nightingale and Freud. Among them is a single student who is an ordinary human, the head master’s son, although nobody really knows what role he plays.

The story of the two volumes I’ve read so far focus on some intrigues on the school itself (Beethoven commits suicide and Curie wants to play the piano instead of being a scientist), but the overall plot centres on the question of predestination after one of the first to graduate from the clone school, John F. Kennedy, is assassinated just like his progenitor. Will the other students follow his fate or can they create their own destinies?

Afterschool Charisma is a lot easier to follow than Black Jack, probably because the story is more straightforward and perhaps also a bit more childish. I don’t know for what age groups these two are aimed, but it feels like this is for younger readers. That doesn’t mean that it’s boring, but I feel that a little it too much time is spent on idle dialogue without anything really interesting happening. After two volumes, some interesting social things have happened, but the overall story has just barely begun.

I might read more in this series if it’s convenient to get hold of the books, but I’m not going to get out of my way to do it. Still, as was the case with Black Jack, this is really good for my Chinese, at the same time as it’s at least moderately entertaining.

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  1. Xhakhal’s avatar

    I suspect that the Hitler thing is one of the things that ensured only one of these volumes be translated into English, and it makes me sad. It sounds like something I would like to read XD
    Pity it’s so slow though, but as many would testify, it’s often a part of reading manga (not that I can say anything about how this particular one is constructed, but when reading your review I can at least guess).
    Less happens on every single page than in stereotypical western comics, and dialogue is a bit slower and often more stretched out over several pages – but in return you often get better, more natural pacing and since you turn the pages quicker than if reading say the Sandman, or Watchmen, it doesn’t take much more -time- than other comics – just more pages.
    And more money, if you’re buying them – which is one of the reasons that I’m not anymore.

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    1. Olle Linge’s avatar

      I don’t know what part Hitler played in making this comic available in English, but the truth is that so far, he’s quite nice. I would have liked to see closer connections to their historical counterparts, but perhaps that comes later in the series.

      I like the dialogue, but I think it is possible to have dialogue like that without having the story move at snail’s pace (if you excuse the expression). I think comics sometimes can be too heavy, the ones you mentioned are good examples, I found both Watchmen and Sandman quite annoying sometimes because they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to be novels or comics.

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