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Moon Child, Volume 1 by Reiko Shimizu

Moon Child, Volume 1

by Reiko Shimizu

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Moon Child is a beautiful, atmospheric manga. Set in New York City in the 1980s, the story begins with Art, a young man who dreams of being a dancer, but has never managed to live up to his early promise. He struggles to get by and work towards his dream, while being taunted by an ex-girlfriend who has made it big on Broadway. One rainy night, Art nearly drives into a boy, and afterwards discovers this boy has no memories, but that Art has imprinted on him. Art, who has a soft spot for strays (often taking in dogs, cats, birds and once even frogs!) decides to let the boy live with him. The boy, whom he calls "Jimmy," is very polite and well dressed, but everything about him is a mystery. He does seem a bit off, however, and strange things begin happening in his presence.

As the story goes on, we learn that mermaids are real and Hans Christian Anderson's story was based off of real events. The little mermaid in that story betrayed her own people for her human lover, leading to the persecution of mer-people during the witch hunts of the sixteenth century. Now, mermaids are few in number, but have been congregating back on Earth in order to mate, like salmon swimming back to their original spawning-grounds. These mermaids are extra-dimensional beings who can swim through the currents of space as easily as water, and often leave for distant worlds, only returning to Earth when it is time to mate.

One of these returning mer-people is Shona, who has left behind his alien lover on a distant world to heed this call back to the mother-planet without really understanding why. He finds the earth is much different from when he left. Shona has also been haunted by dreams of the little mermaid who betrayed her people. He learns the possible reason for this is that his father was her intended mate, the one she betrayed to love a human. Though the original "little mermaid" is long dead, her child supposedly lives on. The mermaids believe that unless Shona and the little mermaid's child complete their parents' destiny, calamity will ensue, leading to the destruction of the entire world. There are several problems with this, though. For one thing, the little mermaid's child is not a girl, as predicted, but a boy and he is already falling in love with a human, just as his mother did.

This is a stunningly unique and beautiful manga. The surreal, fantastic artwork - ghosts of monstrous sea creatures often appear, coming out of buildings and things, when the mermaids are near - is stunning. There are also smaller touches of the paranormal, like telekineses, that come into play, giving the story a wonderfully supernatural atmosphere. At the same time, the 1980s New York setting keeps it grounded in reality.

I love this unique twist on the mermaid mythos, with the science fiction like concept of travel to other worlds and swimming through space as though it were the ocean. I love the characters. Art is very three-dimensional, he has his good qualities (taking in stray animals, helping his fellow dancers) and bad qualities (he is hot-headed and sometimes lashes out without meaning to) and his struggles to succeed in a highly competitive field where he once showed promise but now is just average, was so realistic and relatable. "Jimmy" is more mysterious, but I found him incredibly endearing and his devotion to Art is so sweet.

I will definitely be reading more of this manga - it makes me sad that it is out of print in English, but I am determined to get my hands on all the volumes CMX translated (I'm not sure if they completed it or not, since I know they did not complete all the manga series they started releasing in English.) I have just ordered the next eight books used off Amazon and I am eager to read more and see where this story leads. ( )
  catfantastic | Feb 13, 2015 |
With a plot involving Broadway dancers, aliens, telekinetic little boys who ought be girls, merpeople, and how these merpeople's mating rituals will affect the fate of the earth, Moon Child is undeniably, strikingly original. Unfortunately, the heart of a story is usually it's characters, and while here they are generally sympathetic and do have recognizable personality traits, they are otherwise mostly...nondescript? Usually that's a deal breaker for me, but the plot here really is so bizarre that I think I may actually read on if a cheap opportunity presents itself. (Especially considering I hear it only gets weirder as it goes on.) The art is also of the older late 80's shoujo style I'm not overly fond of. Still, while I feel a little odd giving something points just for weirdness factor, sometimes that really is enough to keep something entertaining. At least for a little while. ( )
  narwhaltortellini | Sep 28, 2009 |
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"According to prophecy, a half-mermaid, half-human girl will either bring an end to the feud between humanity and the mer-people -- or bring about the destruction of all life on earth. When the mer-man named Shona returns to earth to find the girl, he meets a young boy suffering from amnesia. The boy, Jimmy, joins Shona in his search. Will they be able to avert the prophecy, or will finding the secret of Jimmy's identity delay them and set earth on the path to destruction?"-- Cover.… (more)

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