Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Five

Tears of a Lamb is a shojo manga by Banri Hidaka that is published in North America by CMX. According to the rating published on the back of the volumes, this series is rated “T” for teens. Personally, I agree with this rating; from the content in the series, I would say that Tears of a Lamb is appropriate for readers who are thirteen years of age and older.

Tears of a Lamb Volume 5
Written by: Banri Hidaka
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: CMX
Release Date: March 24, 2009

The main character in Tears of a Lamb is a high school freshman named Kei Hasumi. At the beginning of the series, she wants to get into the apartment of her new classmate, Kyosuke Kanzaki. Kanzaki doesn’t know what to think of Kei at first, and wonders why Kei wants to get into his apartment so badly. First, he discovers that Kei lives in an apartment across the way with her older brothers, Saito Takama (their homeroom teacher) and Rihito Hasumi. By the end of the first volume, Kanzaki learns that Kei wants to get into the apartment to try to find a ring she thought she had lost in there that had belonged to the person who had lived in the apartment a couple of tenants prior to Kanzaki. He also learns that former tenant is a man named Suwa, who is friends with Saito and is someone that Kei really looks up to and admires.

As the series progresses, the reader learns that Kei had been in an accident, and has little to no memory of what happened, but thinks the accident has something to do with the missing ring. Kanzaki also has issues of his own, such as vision impairment in one of his eyes and two overbearing older sisters. Kanzaki also discovers that he has developed feelings for Kei, but he feels that he can’t compete with Suwa; it doesn’t help that Suwa drops by Kanzaki’s apartment uninvited one day. The appearance of Kei’s cousin, Shinogu, also complicates matters.

In the fifth volume of Tears of a Lamb, Kei is beginning to get some small breakthroughs in the mental block concerning the accident; however, what details she is starting to get glimpses of aren’t entirely clear. Kanzaki also acts on his feelings for Kei, and the reaction isn’t what he expected. There are also hints dropped that there could potentially be someone else who is also interested in Kei. Kanzaki receives another unexpected visit from Suwa, and Kanzaki is affected by him in a way that surprises him. However, the biggest payoff for the reader in this volume is learning the whereabouts of the missing ring; unfortunately, Kei is still in the dark.

What I have come to appreciate in writing of 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 want to read future volumes in order to find out what new information will be revealed in each one. In many 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. I appreciate how Hidaka has worked at developing her characters over the course of the series so far. I really don’t feel that any of the characters are one-dimensional or stereotypical. The characters are designed and written in such a way that the reader cares about them. I also enjoy how she is able to combine the dramatic and serious portions of her story with the overall light-hearted feel of the manga.

With that being said, though, the weak point of the manga is the art. While Hidaka’s art style has evolved and improved over the course of the first five volumes, 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 other times in the volumes where this simplistic style doesn’t work as well for conveying the look and feel of the characters.

Hidaka also has a tendency to rely heavily on some of the “stereotypical” shojo manga tropes and styles. In some cases, using these tropes work well and enhance what’s going on; the best example of this is in Volume 4, when she uses a lightning background, combined with the expressions on the faces of Shinogu and Rion, to depict how much they dislike each other when they first encounter each other at the beginning of the volume. However, there are other times when I feel that utilizing these tropes doesn’t help to 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 having the opportunity to read Volume 6 to find out how the story will go to next and how the characters will evolve.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Tears of a Lamb Volume 5 that my older daughter checked out through the King County Library System.

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