Friday, January 15, 2010

The Palette of 12 Secret Colors, vol. 6

The story: The island of Opal is home to tropical birds and magical craftsmen -- dubbed palettes -- who can manipulate colors. It's the end of the school year (and this series) and Cello must pass her final exams, or she'll be a third-year freshman! While Cello and Dr. Guell have admitted their feelings for one another, there's seemingly no movement on the romance front. But, when Cello learns some big news it disrupts her focus on school. Will Cello be able to pass her tests, or is her dream of becoming a palette doomed?

Reaction: Even though everything's out in the open, I'm rather uncomfortable about Cello's and Guell's relationship. And while I've considered that's probably due to my cultural bias, it still bugs me. However, there are more important issues at hand here -- like Cello's academic future. Cello's entirely too distracted to take her exams properly because of her feelings for the academy's doctor, illustrating the inappropriateness and inherent challenges in pursuing such a relationship at her age.

Deep thoughts: Throughout this series, Cello has shown an aptitude for using the secret colors to save the day. In the last chapter, she uses the secret colors -- this time a bright orange -- to save someone in danger. In many ways, colors can communicate as much as words. For example, red is a well-known symbol for emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks; it can mean "stop," or serve as an alert message within a spectrum of colors, like the American terror alert.

Artwork: Unfortunately, outside of its vibrant cover, there's no color used in this series. From day one, it's been one of the things that has held this series back artistically. For having created such an energetic setting in Opal, Nari Kusakawa lets it suffer with colorless monotony. A revisiting character returns in this volume, and he has an interesting "look" to say the least. In the end, a change in setting works remarkably better considering it's two-tone depiction.

The verdict: If only... The premise here has always promised so much -- innocent romance, color-manipulating magic, a tropical setting -- but it seemingly falls just a little short each time. In comparison to Kusakawa's other work, this story falls somewhere in the middle in terms of artistic skill, plot and theme. But, that doesn't necessarily make it an unlikable story, either. There's still great characters, beautiful backgrounds and comedy aplenty; it's just the "little things" that hold it back. The Palette of 12 Secret Colors is available in the U.S. from CMX.

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha! I liked this series a lot more than you did :). I thought it was very a very light and pleasant read and my imagination filled in the colors that weren't present on the page.

    As for the romance, it seems to be a typical thing in Shojo. I think as Americans, it's drilled into our heads that students and faculty don't and can't have romantic relationships. And when they do and get caught, the faculty member will go to jail and be forever flagged as a pedophile. Personally, it surprises me that manga with this kind of romance even gets published the US because it is so taboo. That said, readers can take it or leave it. Most of the time I leave it, because I do find it very offensive. But I think in the case of this series, the difficulties were dealt with better than I've previously seen, and the doctor did cease being a faculty member for Cello's sake. For younger readers, though, I should hope they understand that this is fiction, and that at least in the US, nothing good will come of a student/faculty relationship.