Story by Ken Akamatsu
Art by Ran
Published by Del Rey Manga imprint of Ballantine
Review by Linda Yau
Japan is under attack from aliens from the outer space, and only the force that could defend the earth is a team of three elementary graders. They are Mao, Misora, and Sylvia respectively representing the Ground, Air and Navy Army forces, following their grandfathers who are the general for each force. However their three grandfathers don’t often see eye to eye, so how will the three girls face approval to be united against the common evil? The common evils are aliens that are really cute critters, with the objective of stealing famous landmarks. Why through cuteness, friendship and when the situation seems very bleak of course.
Mao-chan as a publication is released in a special oversized volume, where there are two volumes of manga instead of one or three as volumes are commonly released as. The next collective would possibly be the last one, since there are only four manga volumes when it was originally published in Japan back in 2003-2004.
Each chapter is filled with parodies and usual Japanese comedy points. To keep the translations more accurate to please the existing manga readers – there are Japanese honorifics that are used. Because of these factors, there can be some culture references that can be lost for American readers. There are several pages before and after the book to acclimate readers to this different culture.
The book is actually rated for ages 16 and older, however I believe that this book can be enjoyed by an audience of younger ages. The rating was probably because of the various white panty references and depictions.
The author Ken Akamatsu is known among long time readers of manga as the author Love Hina and Negima!. These are known as harem series, where multiple girls would fall for one male lead, but to read Mao-chan establishes the author as being able to write for another genre, which this books is known as a magical girl genre. Mao-chan, the book is based on a 26-episode animated series, which was released by Gennon before the company went under. Still this is a series that can be enjoyed by fans of Magical girl shows.