Schoolgirl kicks ass; film at 11

Here’s something new, but with a familiar look: Gal Samurai, a translated Japanese web coming to you free courtesy of Popteen, which is the U.S. version of a Japanese teen magazine.

The manga jumps right in without much backstory, so check out the intro page first for background on all the characters. However, it’s a good introduction to the cliches of shoujo manga. The heroine, Ran, is a fashion-forward high school girl who just happens to be highly skilled in the martial arts, having been trained by her grandfather. (Cute girl who kicks ass? Check!)

She has a crush on her classmate Fujii, who is a TV actor. (Check!) They have been friends since childhood, when both had to deal with the loss of a parent. (Check!)

And in the first episode, someone is going around taking photos of the girls’ panties. (Panty shots? Houston, we have a manga.)

The story is not bad—a shadowy group is manipulating the students in Ran’s high school into fights and betting on who will win. Their leader, being no fool, bets consistently on Ran. The storytelling is a bit choppy at first, and it took me a while to figure out what was going on, but once the story gets rolling, it’s quite entertaining. And while the art is nothing special, it’s a pretty good example of standard shoujo style.

The format is a standard-size manga page, so most people will have to scroll down to read the whole thing. The pages are left unflipped, which means they read from right to left, in standard Japanese style. However, whoever set up the page put the “next” button on the right, not the left, which is a little confusing when you’re reading the page in the other direction. Aside from that, the interface is pretty good.

The story is going up a chapter at a time, with three chapters up so far. It’s not going to change your life, but it’s entertaining enough to be worth a look on a slow day.

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