Cover of the first volume, depicting Tsubasa (right) and Arisa (left)
|Written by||Natsumi Ando|
|Original run||February 2009 – September 2012|
Arisa (Japanese: アリサ?) is a mystery shōjo (targeted towards girls) manga series by Natsumi Ando. It appeared as a serial in the monthly manga magazine Nakayoshi from the February 2009 issue to the September 2012 issue. Kodansha published the chapters in twelve bound volumes, from April 2009 to September 2012. Set in present-day Japan, it focuses on teenager Tsubasa Uehara, as she investigates the mystery surrounding her twin sister's failed suicide attempt.
North American publisher Del Rey announced in September 2009 to have licensed the series for North America. Del Rey released the first volume, but shortly after Kodansha announced that they would be taking over from Del Rey on a case-to-case basis. On December 12, 2010, Kodansha Comics officially announced that they would be continuing Arisa in North America starting in May 2011.
Set in modern-day Japan, the plot centers on Tsubasa Uehara (上原 つばさ Uehara Tsubasa?) and Arisa Sonoda (園田 ありさ Sonoda Arisa?), teenage twin sisters separated by their parents' divorce who promise to send letters to each other to keep in touch. Finally meeting again for the first time after three years, tomboyish Tsubasa is envious, but proud, of her sweet, popular sister, in comparison to her own school life where she is often referred to as "The Demon Princess." Arisa eventually attempts suicide and becomes comatose. Shocked and saddened, Tsubasa poses as her, attending her school to find out why she tried to kill herself. She learns that Arisa's class sends wishes on their cellphones to a person called King each Friday. The King only grants one wish weekly, resulting mostly in violence. Tsubasa resolves to stop the King and find out the person's identity to save Arisa, as he or she may be the reason of her attempted suicide.
Assisted in her investigations by Akira Manabe (真鍋 明良 Manabe Akira?), Arisa's classmate who learns Tsubasa's identity, she encounters Mariko Takagi (高木 毬子 Takagi Mariko?), Arisa's best friend whom the King manipulates; Midori Yamashita (山下 緑 Yamashita Midori?), Arisa's boyfriend; Rei Kudō (玖堂 レイ Kudō Rei?), a transfer student whom Arisa had befriended online and who serves as the messenger of the King; and Shizuka Mochizuki (望月 静華 Mochizuki Shizuka?), Manabe's childhood friend who lost the use of her legs after a failed suicide attempt provoked by the King. Arisa wakens from her coma, but pretends to have amnesia and returns to Midori's side. She reveals that she was the original King: although she granted harmless wishes in the beginning, she eventually stole the answers to an exam for Mariko's wish, fearing disappointment if she refused. Midori caught her in the act, and she shared the task of granting the class's wishes with him, until he injured her mother, in an attempt to grant her wish. Midori then replaced her as King, using violence and bullying to grant wishes. Horrified by his cruelty and the perceived similarities between them, she then reached out to her twin, hoping that she would be able to uncover the truth. Tsubasa learns that Midori suffered psychological trauma in his childhood after being abandoned by his mother and having his twin Akari die of child neglect. He attempts to kill Arisa's mother, as he could not get revenge on his own mother and believed that Arisa hated hers, but Tsubasa foils his plans. Arisa confesses that she loves him for noticing her loneliness, and he realizes that he loves her too. In the conclusion, Arisa's mother spends more time with her, and Arisa reconciles with Tsubasa.
Manga artist Natsumi Ando initially felt worried about the absence of a "love interest" for Tsubasa, as Arisa 's target audience is girls; however, as the manga progressed, she thought of it as "a selling point." As a result of this, she was able to focus on Tsubasa's emotions towards her twin. Additionally, she created "Tsubasa", a bonus story focusing on Arisa's pretending to be her elder sister, soon after beginning the manga's serialization, but continued to delay its publication, as it seemed inappropriate to have a bonus story with Arisa appear when she was comatose in the main storyline; Ando wrote that it made a good chapter with which to conclude the story.
Written and illustrated by Natsumi Ando, the chapters of Arisa appeared as a serial in the monthly manga magazine Nakayoshi from the February 2009 issue to the September 2012 issue. Kodansha collected the chapters into twelve bound volumes, and published them from April 28, 2009, to September 6, 2012.
In 2009, Del Rey announced that it had licensed the series for an English-language translation in North America. Del Rey released the first volume on October 26, 2010, but shortly afterwards, the North American publishing branch of Kodansha, Kodansha Comics USA, announced that it would be taking over publication from Del Rey on a case-to-case basis. Kodansha Comics continued the publication of Arisa, with the final volume published on January 21, 2014. Arisa has also been translated into other languages, including German.
Arisa was positively received by English-language readers. Three volumes placed on the New York Times Bestseller List for manga. The second volume placed ninth on the list for the week of May 22–28, 2011, while the fifth volume ranked ninth on the list for the week of November 13–19, 2011. The sixth volume placed seventh for the week of January 22–28, 2012.
Young Adult Library Services Association placed the first volume of Arisa in its list of "Great Graphic Novels for Teens" for 2011. About.com's Deb Aoki reviewed the first volume of Arisa positively, praising it as "compelling" and "a much darker tale" than Ando's previous work Kitchen Princess; she later placed Arisa on her 2010 list of the "Best New Manga" for the shōjo category. Otaku USA magazine's Danica Davidson wrote that the first volume of Arisa underwent a change in pace from its beginnings as "a slice-of-life manga" to a darker one. According to Matthew Warner of Mania Entertainment, the initially cliched-seeming characters and plain premise helped to provide a "strong contrast" to the main storyline and "the depraved and twisted nature of Arisa’s class". While noting the presence of clichés and "plot holes", Carlo Santos of Anime News Network enjoyed the first volume, describing it as "a shoujo-styled Naoki Urasawa thriller, built upon layers of addictive mystery"; he had mixed feelings about her artwork, writing that it conveyed the plot well, but did not possess a distinct artistic style. In her review of the third volume, Rebecca Silverman, another reviewer for Anime News Network, wrote that while the middle-school setting felt believable and the mystery was intriguing, some aspects of the plot were trying on the reader's suspension of disbelief, and the artwork, though usually enjoyable, failed to be convincingly scary during frightening scenes.
- Ando, Natsumi (2014). Arisa 12. New York: Kodansha Comics. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-61262-439-6.
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- Arisa at Random House's website