Summary: Pretty transfer student Mana finds herself in danger at her new school when she's recognized as a "Mindbreaker": a person with no powers of their own, but who can tap the hidden potential in others. She gathers her allies while uncovering the meaning behind the secret psychic wars of the "Aquarian Age". And what about her vague childhood memories of Kaname-kun, and his disturbing dreams?
Makoto's Notes: What's not to like? It's Broccoli, it's Gokurakuin Sakurako, it's a card game where you collect pretty boys and make them fight to protect you, their Master. Gee. Honestly, I wasn't expecting anything but eye-candy, which Gokurakuin-sensei delivers... but the story she's weaving in the Aquarian Age universe is actually very clever and engrossing in its own right.
The love-sim archetypes are in place: The brooding mysterious one, the wise-cracking suave one, the quick-tempered sporty one, the innocent cute one, and the older calm sensei. Each of them brings a vital backstory to the table, some of which are connected in ways that propel the story forward, some of which make me cry. A five-on-five battle set-up could easily have digressed into an "Enemy of the Day" format, but it stays fresh.
Broccoli and their huge budget for the Aquarian Age marketing machine have given Gokurakuin-sensei some excellent assistants that really make her art pop. Normally there's a lot of white on her pages and unimportant characters are comically simplistic, but here it's full of action, speedlines and screentones adding to the drama. Her gorgeous art was what drew me to Orion in the first place, but now I'm really excited to see where the story will go.
Warnings and Suggestions: Childhood trauma, and some fairly bloody hand-to-hand combat scenes. Western religion gets an odd treatment, though not "bad" persay... just odd. There's a bit of implied homosexuality, but it's done subtly, blink and you miss it (except for maybe in the 4-panel gag comic strips).
ISBN 4-7575-0576-0 (Volume 1)
ISBN 4-7575-0659-7 (Volume 2)
ISBN 4-7575-0816-6 (Volume 3)