Shugo Chara Chan!
MIZUSHIMA Naphthalene et al (story/art), Peach-Pit (original story)
Shoujo – 4-koma, comedy, fantasy, magical girl
4 Volumes (complete)
Amu’s Guardian Characters may be small, but their personalities are not! With each of the eggs having such different interests — not to mention the search for the Embryo –, every day is a big adventure!
Shugo Chara Chan! is an official fanbook that generally has three main sections.
- 4-koma shorts
- Brief 4 page or so stories drawn by other manga artists showing Ran, Miki, and Su visiting other manga worlds
- Extras which may include pages to color, short manga stories drawn by Mizushima, and one-panel funnies
The first three volumes are about 140 pages (but look thinner), but the last clocks in at a wimpy 112 pages.
You can read this during Shugo Chara!, but at least wait until after the sixth volume to start. A few references though probably fit better after finishing the main series. It’s not like this is set at any particular time in the canon storyline, as many of the 4-koma are seasonal bits centered around summer, Christmas, etc.
There really is no plot here. It’s just everyone hanging around being funny and/or cute. It’s a comedy series, so some strips are funnier than others. They adopt a bird in one, go on a nature walk, and compete in a haunted house challenge.
However, this is also one of those series that runs into a couple of problems. I already mentioned the length, which means you are paying full manga prices for a random comedy series not drawn by the original artist and has no overreaching storyline. Shugo Chara Chan!, as you may guess from the title, skews to a younger audience, so older readers are going to wonder why they are spending money on something like this when there are so many other great series available at the same price.
The younger demographic means it faces a major roadblock: this series features a lot of Japanese cultural references. Sapphire the Princess Knight, kaki no tane, New Year’s money — on their own, they may not be much of an issue. But jokes about Princess Kaguya and all the Asian foods are quite common, especially in this short of a series, and these may be confusing to some.
Otherwise, expect a lot of wisecracks about Su being a glutton, Miki’s weird sense of artistic beauty, and Ran jumping headfirst into things. They even promote the Shugo Chara Chan! manga.The other Guardian Characters also appear regularly, but Amu and Ami are the only humans who play significant roles in the strips. But no matter who was featured, I didn’t find myself bursting out with laughter. My mood and age probably factored into this. Still, even for younger readers, which is a lot smaller market than teens or adults, there are a lot more options out there.
The bonuses are nothing to write home about. More comics, single panel follow-ups which shrink the actual amount of content to well below 140 pages, and stories presented in traditional manga format. Meanwhile, these are always put off until after the Shugo Chara Chan! Festival stories. These are the mini chapters drawn by fellow Nakayoshi artists. While Mizushima keeps the same spirit of Peach-Pit’s designs, the Festival stories are done in the creators’ own personal styles. It doesn’t matter with such limited pagecount; more significantly, most Western readers won’t recognize a lot of the mangaka featured here. Sure, many will be delighted to see Arisa and Missions of Love included, but Wankorobee‘s old-fashioned style won’t elicit a lot of nostalgia from its readers.
If you’re a Nakayoshi fan, you will probably recognize some of the names here, such as the creator of Missions of Love.
Honorifics are used. The people who worked on Shugo Chara! did not do Shugo Chara Chan! In fact, the four volumes went through three different translators! As such, there are some differences between this series and the original series as well as volume to volume. So the fourth Guardian Character is known as Daiya in one volume and Diamond in the next. Footnotes are used in the third volume while the others use translator’s notes at the end of the volume. The last does include a couple of lengthy footnotes for jokes that did not work in English. Yoru was also called a girl in one volume. Oopsie!
Shugo Chara Chan! is short and forgettable. I said that parts of the main series are skippable, but this entire spin-off is.
Kodansha Comics released the Shugo Chara! original series. TOKYOPOP released Peach-Pit’s DearS and Rozen Maiden while Yen Press released Zombie-Loan.