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Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Six by Banri Hidaka

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Tears of a Lamb Volume Six is a shojo manga by Banri Hidaka that was published in North America by CMX in 2009. The series is rated “T” for teens, and I agree with this rating. From seeing the content in this series, I would say that Tears of a Lamb is appropriate for readers who are thirteen years of age and older.

The main character of Tears of a Lamb is a high school freshman named Kei Hasumi. In the first volume of the series, she wants to gain access into the apartment of her new classmate, Kyosuke Kanzaki. Kanzaki doesn’t know what to think of Kei at first, and wonders why she wants to get into his apartment so badly. He learns that Kei lives in an apartment across the way with her brothers, Saito Takama (who is their homeroom teacher) and Rihito Hasumi. By the end of the Volume One, Kanzaki learns that Kei wants to get into his apartment to try to find a ring that belong to a previous resident of the apartment; she thinks she lost it in there. The former resident is a man named Suwa Kakeru; he’s friends with Saito, and Kei really looks up to him.

As the series progresses, it comes out that Kei had been in an accident and that she has little to no memory of what happened. However, she is convinced that the accident has something to do with the missing ring that she’s looking for. Kanzaki discovers that he has developed feelings for Kei, but he feels he can’t compete with Suwa. It doesn’t help that Suwa drops by Kanzaki’s apartment uninvited one day and that the two of them strike up a friendship. The appearance of Kei’s cousin, Shinogu, also complicates matters.

At this point in the series, Kei has started to get some small breakthroughs in the mental block she’s had concerning the accident. By the end of this volume, the details of that day start becoming even clearer. The reader is finally clued in to what truly happened, and the ending of this volume is a major cliffhanger.

What I appreciate about the writing in this series is how Hidaka reveals just enough new information in each volume of the series to keep the reader interested, yet still leaves enough details unanswered to make the reader keep following the story to learn what new information will be revealed. In a lot of ways, it’s like peeling away the layers of an onion; just as you peel away one layer, you discover there’s a new layer waiting to be peeled back.

Another thing I have come to appreciate about Tears of a Lamb is how Hidaka has developed her characters over the course of the series. They are designed in such a way that the reader cares about them, and they don’t come across as stereotypical or one-dimensional. I have also appreciated how Hidaka can combine the dramatic and serious portions of the story with the overall light-hearted feel of the manga.

With that being said, the weakest part of this series is the art. While Hidaka’s art style has evolved and improved over the course of the series, it has remained rather simplistic in nature. In some respects, the simplistic style works well for the story that Hidaka is telling; however, there are times that this simplistic style doesn’t effectively convey the look and feel of the characters.

Hidaka also relies heavily on some of the “stereotypical” shojo manga tropes and styles. In some cases, using these tropes is an effective way to enhance what’s going on. However, more often than not, these tropes really don’t enhance the story.

Even with the issues I have with the art style, I do enjoy Tears of a Lamb. I’m really looking forward to reading Volume Seven, which is the final volume of the series, to find out how the story is resolved. If you appreciate shojo manga with relatable characters and an interesting premise, then you will probably enjoy Tears of a Lamb.

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About Lesley Aeschliman

Lesley Aeschliman is a freelance writer who began writing on a full-time basis in 2007. She has served as the Anime editor at BellaOnline.com, and she also writes and maintains two blogs: Lesley's Musings... on Anime and Manga and AeschTunes.
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