Daydream Sanctuary Features

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Obsession: Afterschool Charisma

Houkago no Charisma
by Kumiko Suekane
(Published by Shogakukan in Ikki)
St. Kleio Academy is a very exclusive school: all of the students are clones of famous historical figures such as Beethoven, Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon, Mozart, and Freud. All of them, that is, except for Shiro Kamiya. As Shiro struggles to adapt to this unusual campus, St. Kleio’s first graduate, a clone of John F. Kennedy, is killed. Are the clones doomed to repeat the fate of their genetic progenitors, or can they create their own destinies? And how does a normal boy like Shiro fit in?

If you are a sucker for manga with historical references, like me, THINK NO FURTHER!!! START READING THIS!!!!!

But of course, aside from that there are plenty of other reasons why I think this series is very good and enjoyable. I'll be mentioning the cool (even the not-so-great stuff) in this series but will try to make them as brief and non-spoilery as possible. I'll also be showing the cloned historical figures that had shown up so far (at least, until volme 2) so that you can see how they look like in this manga~

The premise of this manga isn't exactly original. I think those who watch Clone High will find the plot of this manga very familiar. Both series have clones of famous people experience high school life, but Clone High is more focused on comedy; while Afterschool Charisma, though it has a lot of humorous moments as well, appears to be more focused on mystery.

They're both entertaining and intriguing in their own way, but the mystery elements and psychological themes in Afterschool Charisma made it more interesting for me~

The cloning thing isn't that new either. The famous issue in stories that involve human clones usually have conflicts between the clones and the humans. Humans belittle the clones, and the clones even acknowledge their status. If I remember correctly, in this manga the clones are told to be created for research purposes and are expected to do as good as their originals. But later chapters are hinting that they're also merely raised to be of use to humans with power... clone issues here remind me of Ilegenes where clones are being treated as guinea pigs or merchandise.

Afterschool Charisma is similar to Ilegenes in that sense and is becoming much more similar especially with the hinted twist of the main character's possible true background~

This isn't the first series that created modern versions of famous people as well. There are a lot of series that have such characters, but only several dare to create controversial figures such as the Fuhrer. His portrayal in this manga is very much different from his stereotypical description... yet it still seems like him.

I've heard news that Clone High actually attempted to add such a character on its second season.... but it's a show from an Allied Forces nation.... I guess it had been safer for his character to be created by someone from the Axis Powers nation to lessen the controversies?

So... if this series is not really that original... then what makes it cool?

Indeed, it's not something new, however, if you put some twists and different mixes on an existing idea... it makes the newly formed idea different. That's exactly what Afterschool Charisma has been to me: It's not new, but it's different.

One of the things that made me so impressed with this series is the story. Honestly, it actually seemed ridiculous in the earlier chapters. Some scenes make no sense, some are just too random, some are contradicting, some even seem annoying, and so on. However, if you read further and meet more characters and learn more about the plot, there's actually more depth in its story than it seems. It's not just a simple "what if these historical figures are high school students" set-up... it tackles about things like fighting against destiny, assassination plots, occult practices, psychological problems, and so on. In other words, it's not just "history + highschool with a lil' sci-fi" because of the cloning thing... there's MORE.

Another good thing that I see in the story is that.... it doesn't have cliches... or at least not much nor end as such. Like for instance, our main character is The Transfer Student. Now, transfer students in gazillions of animanga are usually either the odd one out and is the center of attention, or the absolute loser/freak that is being disliked in an instant. This series' main character however... has been both. And no, he didn't gain too many fans nor just one friend (or none at all).... he gained a number... some of them the usual friendly peeps... and one of them the odd one like him. So the bottom line is, though some scenes may seem cliche or typical at first, you'll later find out that it's actually not like that at all. It got me so amazed~

It's a similar case with the characters actually, but before I go there, one of the main highlights of this manga is having historical references, right? You think it's just with the characters? Well, not really, because the name of the school itself also has a reference! St. Kleio Academy is derived from Kleio, the muse of HISTORY in Greek mythology. So it also has mythological references, huh? SWEET~

Now back to history, here are the characters/things that are clones of historical figures that have shown up in the series that I know of so far:

Napoleon Boneparte
Marie Curie
Sigmund Freud
Florence Nightingale
Elizabeth I
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Joan of Arc
Adolf Hitler
Albert Einstein
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin
Empress Dowager Cixi
John F Kennedy

Historical figures are not only presented as good-looking teens, but they're also related to animanga archetypes. Character design isn't exactly that unique either so no wonder these characters will remind one of existing characters in various AniManga. For me, Napoleon reminds me of Jack (Ilegenes) and Ikkyu makes me think of Hughes (Fullmetal Alchemist). Dr. Kamiya is almost a splitting image of Dr. Stein (Soul Eater), and the same goes for Elizabeth to Sonoko (Detective Conan). Mozart has been like a slightly more evil version of Karakane (Tenkyuugi Sephirahnatus) while Himiko is like an asian version of Natalia/Belarus (Hetalia) to me. I can totally imagine Hitler to become like Rolo (Code Geass) and Einstein to become like Shinra (Durarara!!) when they find their special someone (Hitler is close to recognizing his...). But well, they may have similarities to those particular characters, but they're still very different.

My top favorite characters in this series are Freud and Hitler... followed by Shiro, Einstein, and Ikkyu. Among the women I find Elizabeth fun and Florence sweet~

Freud appears to be the fan favorite, and I'm not surprised since snarky characters are just that awesome~ Haha! His sarcastic comments are fantastic (I loooove how he mocked Shiro's daddy complex~) and it's so cool that he's the one who figures out what's going on (such plus points for being based on a psychology major character xD). And this is how the mangaka sees him: "My basic idea of Freud is that he's moody and lecherous. On the surface, he may appear unreserved, but inside he's bursting with eros." LOLz, eros. You gotta love his line from one of the later chapters (though he's just pretending here): "At my age, I'm still an adolescent, and I get these uncontrollable sexual urges at this stage of growth. My changing libido is causing all sorts of internal conflict within me. There are times when I don't even know what I'm talking about..." BWAHAHAHAHHAHA!!!!

Hitler in this manga is freakin' adorable~ He's so nice and supportive, and it amuses me that he doesn't actually see his former self as someone violent... physically. LOLz. Shiro is moe.. and he's loved by almost everyone... and I don't care because he's really that freakin' lovable xD Eintstein amuses me with his... gestures.... and I find it so cute that Ikkyu sorta treats Shiro as the gang's baby~ Elizabeth makes me chuckle.... and though Florence is fanservice material, I'm so grateful that she's not the clumsy-girl-that-is-prone-to-pantyshots type. I was so relieved.

The one that makes me laugh the most though is Mr. Roxwell!!!! Oh he makes my stomach hurt from so much laughing. Hahahahhaa!

Now about the relationships.... Shiro's friendship to any of the guys seems enjoyable... cutest for me is with his best friend Hitler... and most fun for me is with his cynical friend Freud. It seems that he's being shipped with Marie and Joan... which are kinda awkward history-wise... but at least it's not a harem... at least not yet.... I don't see the girl friends Elizabeth and Florence having any romantic interest in him. I'm relieved (I like those two girls by the way~)

Back to the characters in general, I find the choices of people to be cloned really interesting. Not all of them are essentially good.... it appears that those that are cloned are people who are brilliant in their own way... and they have some sort of charisma.... which explains the title. So the institute is attempting to develop excellent people form history for the better.... very interesting~

There had been issues with this cloned characters though.... one of them is that they're not accurately similar to their originals on personality and on physical traits. I think the inconsistency is excused because the clones are brought up in a different environment... and they are fully aware of the life and the mannerisms of what their originals have done. Given the circumstances, they are priviledged with different insights and other choices. Moreover, they can't exactly demonstrate what their originals had done... like with Napoleon: he has no army to lead.

On the physical traits though... one of the main reasons I guess why they're bishified is.... it's fanservice~ Well, fans like pretty characters! Hahahaha!

Speaking of fanservice, there is such in this series... particularly ecchi. And no, it's not censored ecchi, so I don't recommend it to minors. But only the tops are not covered so... I guess it could be tolerable to some. It's not my type of fanservice, but at least the perverted stuff here aren't forced... nor "accidental"... nor overdone. I'm fine with that.

Oh yeah, though majority of the characters in this series are clones, there are also a number of non-clones in this series. There are a group of villains who want to annihilate the clones too, but their faces are still not revealed (and it's making me frustrated because I know many of them are goodlooking!!! Aaaaahhh!!!!). Interestingly, it appears that not everyone on the protagonist's side are good ones for there are hints that there are enemy spies and hidden purposes and upcoming betrayals. So intriguing~

As for the art, it's not exactly something unique or extraordinary, but it's visually appealing. The art style is already somewhat common, but it may be more familiar to some video game fans for the mangaka also does graphics in video games.

....... Whoa! It's longer than I had planned once again ^^; But anywayz, there you go~ I highly recommend it to those who appreciated Kumiko Suekane's other works, because I find it as one of the mangaka's best works. Naturally, I think history freaks/nerds/lovers should check it out as well. I also think that fans of Ilegenes and Axis Powers Hetalia will find this enjoyable, because this has been sort of a mix of the two. I see people likening it to Code Geass, D. Gray-man, and Fullmetal Alchemist.... and Afterschool Charisma seems to be pretty similar to those series... in a way... depends on how one sees it.

There are no fan scanlations of this series, but there are official translated scans available online for free! Just use the power of Google~

However, only upto chapter 9 is up so far... I have until chapter 12... anyone wants them? But no, I can't scan them for I fear scanning licensed manga... but I can provide spoiler summaries that are like you're reading the actual thing xD But the latest is until volume 3 though.... and I don't see a copy of it in my local bookstore.... and it's driving me CRAZY!!!! I WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!! I WANT MORE!!! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!


xxgunxx said...

Woww!!! It looks awesome.
I really like Kumiko-sensei's art *w*
But.. I just looked for it on the net and found nothing :(
Do you know where can I read this manga :0?

Sapphire Pyro said...

@ xxgunxx
Yay for fellow fan of Kumiko-sensei~
Eh...? Google not being friendly with you? That's weird because I got it at once on my first try. But anywayz, click me. Enjoy~

xxgunxx said...

@Sapphire Pyro:

lol, I forgot to check if I had gotten any response before , so I guess my reply is quite late nao lol
Anyway, apparently, google is not being nice enough to mee D:! But ;A;! I've read it! And.. I think you're right, this manga is AWESOME! Kumiko's art is amazing, and the plot is so dinamic and cool! I just love it!

again, thank you so,so,so much for posting this here, and for letting me know where to read it! :3

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