4.0 out of 5 stars Future Idol
“Mikansei” (meaning “Unfinished” or “Incomplete” in Japanese) is one of those manga that doesn’t make a lot of logical sense and you just have to go with the flow. A time-traveling 15-year old girl gets sucked back into the past (our modern world) and finds herself caught up in the world of pop idols and on a quest to be a singing sensation (if love doesn’t get in the way, that is).
That’s essentially the plot for “Mikansei.” The latest series from Manjiko! (Code Geass, St. Lunatic High School) hits the ground running. Manjiko! spends all of about five pages setting up the plot; Neo Takigawa is unhappy with her life in the 23rd century, a time where girls are ultra-serious, wearing only long skirted military-style uniforms and certainly are never found running around on stage singing. Neo loves the 21st century, and cuts her skirt short to imitate the styles from history books. Thanks to a very convenient time/space warp, Neo is literally dropped into the lap of Chikage, a music producer who has just been stood up by his main attraction P-Shock on a live TV performance. Making a snap decision, Neo and one of P-Shock’s back-up dancers, Saya, are thrust onto stage to entertain the waiting audience.
A dream come true, right? Not really, as the angry crowd boos Saya and Neo and all of Japan is talking about the no-talent duo. Saya has all the right looks, and Neo has all the enthusiasm, but they just aren’t pro-level. After some hijinks, a record company producer offers to give Neo and Saya a contract if they can fill an audience for a concert in the park in three months time. So it is off to the rehearsal space for the newly formed duo “Clap.”
There is some groundwork for sub-plots laid in this first volume, such as a singer named Nanato who is the spitting image of a 23rd century boy named Kota, and might just be a fellow time-traveler. Neo spends some time trying to get back in contact with her home-time, but is far more enthusiastic buying new 21st century clothes and giving her all to being a singer. The tension starts up right away between Neo and Saya, with Neo getting jealous at all the female fans Saya is accumulating.
The art in “Mikansei” is really well done, with the characters looking cute without being “cutesy.” A manga girl in quest of clothes with short skirts is always a good thing, although this is definitely not a “fan service” comic. A couple of the characters are really funny, like the record producer with a giant afro than can assume all sorts of shapes. There is a good balance of funny/serious that works well together.
I had a good time with “Mikansei,” because although it is filled with goofy sci-fi and impossible coincidences, it rings true to what goes in Japan. Every weekend night you can see kids singing their hearts out and practicing their dance moves in front of train stations in the hope of catching the attention of someone who will give them a shot. I have seen the sight so many times I really liked the idea of some of those kids having an adventure like Neo and Saya.