Penguin Revolution, vol. 1

Yukari has always had the ability to “see” talent in the form of angelic wings on the back of stars and potential stars, but she never thought of using that talent to improve her lot in life. Cursed with a deadbeat father, whose last get rich quick scheme forced him to abandon Yukari, leaving her homeless, Yukari has her sights set on a nice steady future as a public servant. All that changes when she stumbles upon the secret life of one of the school’s beauties—Ryoko. It seems that Ryoko is actually Ryo, a boy who is a bottom rung talent for the Penguin Talent Agency. Penguin’s bizarre manager is so obsessed with secrecy that he makes his talent dress in outrageous disguises when they’re not working. Hired by Penguin to act as Ryo’s manager, Yukari must face a host of obstacles, including her own disguise, living with two new roommates, and a vindictive star, in her quest to help her new friend become the brightest star in Japan.

Tsukuba’s manga is yet another shojo showbiz story, but, even though it doesn’t stand out much from the crowd, it is a sweet story with two delightful main characters whose natural goodness makes the reader cheer them on. Yukari is a girl who is very much able to take care of herself. Her humorous conversations with her father in the beginning of the story show that she loves him, but has long since given up on believing in his ability to support a family. Ryo is a genuinely good person who dreams of being a star. His attempts to help Yukari out don’t come across as awkward romantic gestures, but actual friendship, a nice touch. The other characters are more stereotypical, but they leave room for development in further volumes.

The art is basic shojo—lots of wide eyes, sparkly backgrounds, and pretty boys. Tsukuba’s boys are different enough to tell apart, however, and she resists the urge to put them into bizarrely hip outfits. Even though there is a lot of dialogue and movement, her panels are adeptly placed, making the story easy to follow. This fun, light series is an excellent read-alike for anyone who has enjoyed Skip Beat, Chocolat, Pearl Pink, or Peppermint.

Penguin Revolution, vol. 1
Sakura Tsukuba
ISBN: 1-4012-1130-5
CMX, 2006