After School Charisma Volume 1 by Kumiko Suekane

After binge reading the first three volumes, I have to say that overall the series feels very unimpressive. A long-wind up to the actual plot, vapid characters, a level of implausibility that is surprising even for manga, and over-the-top silly melodrama make for a rather uninspiring read.

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Story: Shiro is the only non-clone (son of a professor) at a private school that raises clones of famous historical figures. What is their purpose? Will they follow the same paths as their predecessors? Why is Shiro at the school if he isn’t a clone? Who is the mysterious school benefactor? Many questions are raised when the clone of John F. Kennedy is assassinated just as his predecessor was in the 1960s.

The point of this first volume is to introduce the famous historical figures. The people chosen to be cloned is baffling – Florence Nightengale?!? Hitler?!? And while the story should be exploring nature vs. nuture, really what we have is a lot of pointless ‘average high school kids’ drama. I have to wonder if Suekane actually studied any of the historical figures since the clones bear only the shallowest of similarities. Elizabeth the first is arrogant. Rasputin plots. Freud smugly evaluates. Napolean is a happy go lucky leader. Hitler is a quiet damaged looking kid. Joan of Arc is a bit unhinged. You get the idea.

In this first volume, the kids are traumatized and scared that they will share early deaths of their predecessors (especially Joan of Arc). They are all pretty stupid – so honestly, I had a hard time caring if they did actually die young. I was beginning to wonder if someone had lobotomized them in the process of the cloning.

There is supposed to be the mystery behind Shiro to explore as well as the students themselves conspiring against each other. But really, it’s mostly the kids running around overreacting to everything while Shiro looks on in confusion through most of the book. The art work is kind of ok.

On the plus side, this has a lovely presentation with flapped front and back covers as well as an oversize edition.

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