I am always on the lookout for new manga that are different from your typical main stream manga. Japanese culture, history and contemporary lifestyle is fascinating, but it would be a treat to see other places portrayed in the manga style. Therefore, I was delighted to find Lifeâ€™s Tree Guardian by German comic book artist Natalie Wormsbecher.
Wormsbecher weaves a story about fifteen year old May Thomsen who is in the tenth grade at a prestigious and expensive German school. She has always wanted to have an adventure like the ones in fairy tales, but she leads a pretty moderate life. She has a crush. She participates in her athletic club. Her best friend June is a chaotic and lively girl who believes May is a good person. One day May is chased by some neighborhood thugs into an area she is not familiar with. After successfully dodging the goons, she witnesses a startling event. A man in black has captured a wolf and throws it against a wall. May has no idea what is going on. Summaries that are available online explain that the wolf (fittingly named Wolf) is a guardian of the Life Tree, but five shards have been accidentally placed in her world. She teams up with Wolf in an effort to find these shards.
The art is pretty average. The first few pages that are in color are lovely because they look like they were done in simple color pencil, lending a charming element to this tale. I did not know that this story was placed in Germany right away because the characters do act in a stereotypical Japanese manga manner quite often. For example, the teacher holds his attendance book near his shoulder with his elbow bent which is a pose you see a lot in school manga. However, the energy and attitude sometimes speak of a Western mentality. Juneâ€™s energy would be shocking behavior for a girl in Japan. I get the feeling that June and Kyleâ€™s bantering back and forth would have resulted in more teasing in Japan as well, but it is taken into stride here. The differing architecture is also refreshing.
This comic is rated 13+, although the only reason I can see why is because June swears once, and there is a little bit of blood. It is a romance, and in the shÅjo art style. This manga began in 2009 and has five volumes. I have not been able to find a place to purchase this manga, but I have been able to find online manga reading sites. If you would like to read the first chapter, you may find it at mangahere.com.