Summoner Girl Vol. 1 (Manga)
Publisher: Tokyopop
Release Date: November 2010
Price: $10.99
Creator: Hiroshi Kubota
Format: 192 pgs.; B&W; Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4278-1568-2
Age Rating: Teen
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Hibiki is a fourth grade Summoner, a kind of exorcist who uses good spirits (called Shikigami) to fight bad ones (Ayakashi) who must find six magic Rikutou gems to become leader of the Exorcist Underground.  Along the way she gains a well intentioned if not particularly useful ally in Kenta and a fierce rival in Asuka who also wants to possess the gems.

There’s no shortage of these kind of supernatural combat manga featuring plucky magical girls currently being published but Summoner Girl earns a great deal of good will through it’s strong art and original approach to the material.  Because unlike some demon quellers Hibiki believes that there are no bad spirits, just ones who have problems (like a giant rampaging spider and an extremely strange haunted house) which she helps with an equal application of magic and active listening.

Summoner Girl is a lot of fun and should please both new and veteran manga readers though frankly I would have liked it even more if creator Hiroshi Kubota had jettisoned the whole overused exorcism as a competitive sport premise.  But I do have a question; supposedly if Hibiki gathers the gems "a great disaster is prophesied to occur."  I want her to get her promotion and everything but wouldn’t it be better for all concerned if she just didn’t gather them in the first place?

--Steve Bennett: Writer and retail services consultant.