Though the title The Wandering Schoolgirl could evoke all sorts of flights of fancy-good and bad, the Americanized manga graphic novel relates the story of Breanna Cota, a self-conscious young girl who, unlike her friends doesn’t find much interest in the current manga and anime craze infesting American youth—particularly teenage girls. All that changes when her Uncle Bruce, sister Amy, and friend Karen drag her to an anime convention.
Feeling awkward and out of place, Breanna would like nothing more than to disappear, but when a robed figure asks her to pose for a photo, she does disappear - into another dimension. She finds herself in a magical land, being called “the chosen one” and having very strange things happening to her, like her pig-faced backpack conducting conversations with her. With no way of returning home, she listens to the instruction of a dying warrior who sends her in the direction of the Shojo Kingdom to help Kirei na against the governesses of the world. Breanna’s adventure begins as she makes her way through a foreign world to find a way home and even possibly battle some villains.
This graphic novel has spunk. The evolution of Breanna from a meek and timid girl to the more assertive person one sees at the end of the story evolves slowly and without unlikely precedence. Her battles can be humorous and entertaining since she doesn’t really know what she’s doing and, for the most part, neither do most of her allies. She resonates with the quiet girls out there everywhere who would love nothing more than to break out of their shell.
Though emulating Japanese manga comics, the artists don’t completely fall into line with the famous style. Their tactics works to the benefit of readers and the ease with which one can follow and appreciate The Wandering Schoolgirl. Most manga graphic novels really put a lot of activity into each panel, including images, text, action, etc., which proves distracting and overwhelming. With this graphic novel, one’s eyes can move smoothly from panel to panel and even soak up what is being said without a lot of pit stops. It has smoothness. One doesn’t feel inundated with text or confusing panels.
Returning to the title, one might assume that this graphic novel lends itself better to girls than boys, but with the humor and enjoyable plot, the male population could certainly find reading this graphic novel redeemable. Regardless, Gary and Louis Gallegos have started a fun little series that will hopefully keep readers entertained with each new edition.