Ran and the Gray World, Vol. 1

Ran and the Gray World Volume 1 by Aki Irie

Ran and the Gray World blends slice of live pacing with beautiful illustrations in this story about a girl with magical tennis shoes that transform her into a grown-up. Ran is being forced to do her chores in her cluttered home, and her older brother Rin strategically hides her shoes in a light fixture in order to get her to clean up. Ran’s homelife is just as haphazard as her room, since her mother is a powerful sorceress who has to live away from her family to deal with magical business.

Shizuka appears accompanied by a flock of birds and a profusion of flower petals, conjuring up sweets that threaten to engulf the whole neighborhood. Irie’s illustrations are wonderful at showing how things get off-kilter and out of control with such a powerful sorceress paying a visit, as Shizuka and her daughter lean up against a giant strawberry while eggs hatch into giant chickens and doughnuts threaten the roofing of the family’s near neighbors. Shizuka seems utterly unaware of the effect of her sudden appearance and disappearance on her family, and doesn’t seem to care that she’s annoying her son as she dazzles her daughter with magic.

Ran and the Gray World

Ran continues to throw on her tennis shoes and run away, with her most extended adventure involving dropping out of the sky onto the penthouse garden of playboy, who is intrigued by Ran. They remodel her guest room and have an additional random encounter at a local festival.

One aspect of the book that made me uneasy was seeing how Ran was getting placed in situations with adult men who are reacting to her as a young woman. While nothing much happens due to her magical powers, naivet√©, and the vigilant actions of her older brother Jin, this is certainly something that I’d like to see minimized in further volumes. The first volume did such a great job setting up a unique magical world, though, I’m hoping that the series doesn’t turn into another Bunny Drop. Uneasiness aside, Ran and the Gray World seems like a must for low key fantasy fans. The magical world Irie creates with her illustrations is lovely, and it is shown off well by the larger volume size and deluxe treatment of the Viz Signature Edition.

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  1. Dave Baranyi says

    Low key? Hahahahahahahahahahaha…

    Stick around and find out how wrong you are.

    It’s a tremendous story and you will be amazed and astounded by where it goes.


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