If you ask me there aren’t enough narratives focused on kids with magic or who live in a magical world. Harry Potter is the obvious option, but why not other variations? Enter Ran and the Gray World, a manga about a fourth grader who lives in a magical family and can wear sneakers that make her look like she’s twenty-something. Call it Big but with way more magic.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
A young sorceress transforms into an adult and sets out on magical adventures full of charm and wonder! Ran Uruma can’t wait to grow up and become a sorceress like her mother, so with the help of a magical pair of sneakers, she transforms into an adult and sets off! Her father and older brother Jin try to keep her home safe, but Ran is determined to advance her powers and have adventures of her own!
Why does this matter?
This series is a mother of invention with wild twists and turns and mind-bending ideas. It’s as creative as they come.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This volume showcases shorter stories for each chapter rather than one long story. That said, many manga do use a chapter-by-chapter style since they’re produced in chunks for magazines. This second volume opens up Ran’s family quite a bit, introducing uncles and aunts with incredible powers. I could easily see this getting turned into a live action show with great results. There are moments where Ran’s magic sneakers create awkward situations (see below for more on that) like when she pops through a portal and a strange man pokes her butt. It’s still very lighthearted though, and the manga being taken less seriously helps to make all the magic come alive and seem realistic enough.
Wild stuff happens in this volume, like a whole crew of men flying in as crows and a tiny woman getting carried around in a box. There’s also a fantastic scene with Ran drawing on a pad and creating a portal around her house. It’s a fun way to show domestic life being mixed up.
I was rather taken by the art style from Aki Irie as it’s not very conventional in the manga-sense. It reminded me of Italian horror comic Dylan Dog as it’s a bit more detailed and clearly hand-drawn with a pencil.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Customary of a lot of manga, the story sexualizes women here and there. There’s also a quite disturbing opening with Ran going on a date with an adult while wearing her sneakers. I understand she’s in adult form, but her mind is still that of a child. That’s kind of creepy and it’s approached as if it’s totally okay. I was wondering if a pedophile reading this might think the story validates their feelings. Thankfully nothing comes of it in this book, but it makes me wary to continue on.
Is it good?
I love the sense of wonderment and creativity of this manga. There may be some odd choices that could creep you out, but the domestic lifestyle of a magical home is quite entertaining.