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.
The manga revolves around Sonoda Arisa and Uehara Tsubasa, twin sisters separated by their parents' divorce who promise to send letters to each other to keep in touch. They finally meet again for the first time after three years. Tsubasa is envious, but proud, of her sweet, popular sister, in comparison to her own school life where she if often referred to as "The Demon Princess" and Arisa suggests they switch places for a day. After this, Tsubasa goes on about how she envies Arisa, to which Arisa responds, "You don't know their (Arisa's class, 2B) secret, and you don't know my secret!" and attempts suicide by jumping out of the window. She stays in a coma, and Tsubasa poses as her and goes to her school to find out why she did so. She finds out class 2B sends wishes on their cellphones to a person called "KING" each Friday. The KING only grants one wish weekly, resulting mostly in violence. Tsubasa tries to stop the KING and find out who he is to save Arisa, as he may be the reason of her attempted suicide. At first she suspects that Manabe is the KING, which it is later revealed that he isn't. She explains the whole thing for him and he decides to help her.
Tsubasa Uehara (上原つばさ Uehara Tsubasa )
- A 14-year-old delinquent who is called "demon princess" in her school. Although the title character is her twin sister, Arisa, she is the main character. She attends Arisa's school in her place in order to find out why Arisa tried to commit suicide. Known to have a tough exterior, she secretly wants be girly. Tsubasa has purple eyes and wavy blonde hair, although it was originally the same red as Arisa's; she dyed it to make herself look more like a "doll", but it instead makes her seem more like a delinquent. With that, she states that Arisa wouldn't "recognize" her during their reunion. To find out more about her sister, she disguises herself as Arisa and goes as her to her school in an attempt to find out more about her class and her secret.
Arisa Sonoda (園田ありさ Sonoda Arisa )
- Arisa is Tsubasa's twin sister. She is describe as a sweet and gentle girl. She gets excellent grades and the class representative. She is the former KING, until an unknown man took her place when she fell into coma after attempting suicide. Even though Tsubasa claimed her as a sweet and gentle girl. Shizuka and Manabe doubt Tsubasa's opinion due to many cruel things she'd done. According to Kudo and Midori, Arisa is afraid that Tsubasa will take her mother away from her. Deep down, she is a very kind and nice girl who only needs more attention from her mother. She woke up later from her coma but seemed to have amnesia and didn't remember who Tsubasa was. It was later shown that she was just faking it. She reconciles with Tsubasa in the end.
Akira Manabe (真鍋明良 Manabe Akira )
- A mysterious boy in Arisa's class. Manabe is the only boy who doesn't get along with his classmates. He has purple eyes and dirty blond hair. He eventually finds out that Tsubasa was pretending to be Arisa and assists her in finding out who the new KING is. His password is 8001, and gave his account to Tsubasa so she could help figure out who the new KING is. It was mentioned that he used to have feelings for Arisa, but lost those thoughts after Shizuka's suicidal attempt. He seems to have feelings for Tsubasa.
- Tsubasa's close friend who helps her in figuring out the mystery behind her sister's attempted suicide and the sinister things going on Arisa's school. Cheerful and outgoing, he is a delinquent despite being a member in Tsubasa's "gang".
Mariko Takagi (高木毬子 Takagi Mariko )
- Arisa's best friend. Cheerful and easygoing, she also has a darkly sinister side. Mariko had never been noticed by others until Arisa had become her friend and had done as KING told her to in order to get her Arisa back. She eventually transferred schools because she believed she was a nuisance to the class but Tsubasa told her that she would always remember her as a special friend, believing that was what the real Arisa would say. Her password was 2571. In volume 11 there's a special chapter about her new life after she's transferred to her new class.
Midori Yamashita (山下 緑 Yamashita Midori )
- Midori is Arisa's boyfriend. He is very kind and gentle to Arisa, and is popular with the students of the school. He is devoted to her and has been know to go to extremes to please her. It appears that he doesn't know that "Arisa" is in fact Tsubasa in disguise. Despite his kind exterior, Midori is a somewhat twisted character due to being abandoned by his mother as a child, and losing his twin Akari to illness. The psychological damage suffered has made him hate most other people. He is cunning and duplicitous, hiding his true motives through charm. Midori is the one who replaced Arisa as KING. His password is 4632.
Kudou Rei (玖堂 レイ Kudō Rei )
- A mysterious transfer student with a heart condition. His mom is from Portugal and he transferred due to his father's job. He likes to hang out on the roof because it's "closer to heaven". He had heart surgery as a child and bears a prominent scar from it. He is the KING's messenger, meaning he poses as the KING and does whatever he is told by him. He's revealed to nearly idolize Arisa, as she'd talked to him on a chatroom and had been his only friend, and has even dedicated the rest of his life to her. His password is 7426.
Shizuka Mochizuki (望月 静華 Mochizuki Shizuka )
- A mysterious girl who comes later in the story. She and Manabe are childhood friends, and she is currently getting help from Manabe to fulfill her wishes. Her parents died at young age, so her aunt adopted her. Her wish is to get revenge on Arisa. She was the KING's first victim. Due to a failed suicide attempt as a result of a 'traitor letter,' she lost the ability to move her legs. During one of Tsubasa's attempts to break into Manabe's home, she and Shizuka become good friends. After she finds out they are "the same person", she lets out her rage on her house and aunt. After calming down and understanding the truth, she decides to go to an orphanage and to rehab for her legs. Her password is 3903.
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. In December 2010, Kodansha Comics announced that it would be continuing the publication of Arisa. As of July 2013[update], Kodansha has published ten volumes.
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.
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 Aria 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. 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.
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- Arisa at Random House's website