Dawn of the Arcana Vol. 1 (Manga)
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 2011
Price: $9.99
Creator: Rei Toma
Format: 192 pgs; B&W; Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-42154-104-4
Age Rating: Teen
ICv2 Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

This manga has a premise more commonly used in bodice-rippers written for adult women.  A young princess is bartered to an enemy prince, to seal a temporary peace.  This has never worked before, and in the past these two countries have gone back to war within just a few years of such treaty marriages.

In this particular case, there are fantasy elements, including a race of near-humans who act as soldiers and servants.  The princess has a bodyguard from this race, and he has been her servant since her childhood.  He would gladly kill or die for her.  This adds an interesting bit of tension to the story, which provokes many questions.  Will the bodyguard be forced to kill the prince?  Is what the princess feels for her bodyguard more than just friendship?  Will the prince or his family have the princess assassinated?  Or will an unprecedented peace prevail?

The artwork is nothing special, but more than adequate, and the story itself is interesting enough to keep the reader involved.  The tale has romance, combat, politics and a host of other things… think of it as a bit like A Game of Thrones, but accessible to a younger audience.

The teen rating is for violence and romance, as well as some sexual tension.

--Nick Smith: Librarian Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.