A likable All-Ages fantasy romance, Ayami Kazama’s The World I Create (CMX) tells a series of tales about the students at an unusual high school. Each one is a projectionist — gifted with the ability to take an image in their head and give it form — and their schooling centers on honing this power through the aid of lanterns. With the exception of a lightweight multi-cast epilog, each of World’s stories focuses on a boy and girl as they struggle to deal with their varying skill levels and with their teenage attraction.
Thus, in one story, “Last Platonic Blue,” we meet a young boy Akitsu, who spends more of his time working on other students’ lanterns than he does developing his own abilities, and upper classmate named Suyoka, who is on the verge of losing her capacity to project. Akitsu and Suyoka's briskly captured relationship believably alternates between tenseness and attraction. For all their unexplained abilities (which could stand in for simple creativity or adolescent empowerment), these are convincing manga kids. No dubious sexual politics — just stories of tentative, budding relationships.
A sweet little book, airily illustrated, though I’m unsure from the packaging whether it’s meant as a stand-alone volume or the start of a longer series. (CMX plasters “Read the complete story inside!” on the back/front cover, but the book’s spine indicates that it’s Volume One.) I know I’d be ready to read a second collection of projectionist stories, though.