From the back cover:
Ion Tsuburagi chants the letters of her first name as a charm to bring good luck when she needs it. Then she meets Mikado Hourai, the president of the Psychic Powers Research Society at school, and touches a mysterious substance he’s been developing. Now chanting ‘I-O-N’ gives her telekinetic powers!
I don’t normally comment on covers, but I.O.N has one of the prettiest I’ve seen. It’s all shades of green, blue, and purple, making Ion’s ginormous Ribon-issue brown eyes stand out. Her hair is blue on the cover, which prompts me to consider that I haven’t really encountered too many manga characters with oddly-colored hair (by which I mean impossible for a human and not merely improbable for a Japanese person). Maybe that’s more of an anime thing. In this case, I’m not sure whether Ion’s hair is truly supposed to be blue or if Tanemura is just having fun with the cover art. Either way, it’s purty.
Alas, it turns out the cover is really the best thing about this one-shot. Some of its problems are due to its length. Exposition gets crammed into dialogue where it doesn’t really belong, resulting in awkward sentences like, “I was wondering who that was, but what do you know, it’s Mikado Hourai, the President of the Psychic Power Research Society.” Emotional developments are also rushed, like when Ion declares that she might be falling for Hourai a mere 7 pages after meeting him.
The rest of the problems are due to the story itself, which just isn’t very cohesive. The nature of the plot is episodic, with Ion using her new-found powers to perform astonishing feats such as extinguishing fires, saving drowning kids from being struck by malicious logs, and protecting her romantic rival from a falling tree. Tanemura’s sidebars mention that her editors kept her in suspense regarding the ultimate length of the series, and it shows. She doesn’t really try to do anything substantive until the end, but even so, that mostly consists of Hourai being uncertain whether he likes Ion for herself or because she’s got psychic powers.
The artwork is typical of Tanemura’s style—lots of screentone, lots of flowers and stars—but as this is her first published manga volume, the result is a little less polished than in her later works. When seen from straight on, noses are just vertical lines and after I conceived of the notion that they looked like coin slots, I kept seeing them in the fashion. Pages do get a little overcrowded at times, but I didn’t have any problems following the story visually. I particularly like the character design for Tagosaku, who’s drawn in a different style from everyone else. The loyal henchman of the President of the Student Council, he’s essentially just a weird little dude who is used for comic relief throughout. I like him.
I.O.N is a decent read. It’s largely lacking in substance and purpose, but if one goes into it just expecting a magical girl fantasy, it’s not that bad. It might be better to procure it from a library, though, if one can.