By Megumi Morino. Released in Japan as “Ohayou, Ibarahime” by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Dessert. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley.
I reviewed the first volume of this shoujo series, and then the next three were reviewed as Bookshelf Briefs. This is common for the majority of the series I follow – there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and usually I don’t have 500+ words to say about a title even if I am enjoying it. But sometimes a volume comes along that I just can’t stop thinking about, and this penultimate volume of Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty is certainly that. I actually put it off for quite some time because I had a sneaking suspicion that it was going to be too depressing and also driven by Shizu’s antagonistic father. I was wrong on both counts – Tetsu fleeing with Shizu actually turns out to work out for a while, and Daddy Dearest doesn’t get to do much until near the end, because first we have to repair Shizu’s relationship with her mother.
Speaking of mothers, Tatsu’s mom manages to be the star of the show this volume, which is all the more impressive given that she spends the entire book in a coma. This is actually a major plot point, as it’s been eight years, and the family has been sacrificing everything they have to keep her going. Is it time to give up and pull the plug? The family has a difficult decision to make. The reader is not helped in making this easier when we find out who one of the spirits possessing Shizu really is. I’m not entirely sure if the final volume will have Aki waking up or dying, but I did appreciate the backstory given to both her and Sanae, Shizu’s mother – honestly it feels very much like a shoujo manga of its own, and one I’d want to read. It also helps Sanae repair her relationship with Shizu, and come to accept her despite the spirits.
That still leaves her father, who is seemingly a tougher nut to crack. In reality, I suspect this is when the author was told “you need to wrap this up by the next volume”, as this is perhaps a very rushed resolution. That said, it is quite dramatic, and we get to see the past of Shizu’s father as well, showing why he’s such a seemingly emotionless hardass. When you are starving for love, it can be wonderful to find the right person in your life. But if you then have children, you have to accept that this love is not going to be entirely the same anymore, and that can be difficult for many people. Fortunately, despite a dramatic fall, this is not resolved via convenient plot death, and hopefully the family can work things out. This is especially true given that clearly the spirits in Shizu are all, one by one, getting ready to move on. The cliffhanger suggests this will be the thrust of the final volume.
I wasn’t expecting much of this series, but it’s rapidly become one of my favorite shoujo manga this year. Fans of the genre should absolutely be buying it.