Series Title: Arisa
Author: Natsumi Ando
Published in: 2010-2014 (first published 2009-2012)
Books in Series: 12
Genres: thriller, mystery, contemporary, manga
“Tsubasa thinks that her pretty and popular twin sister, Arisa, has the perfect life. Everyone at school loves Arisa—unlike the hot-tempered Tsubasa, whose nickname is “the Demon Princess.” But when Arisa attempts suicide, Tsubasa learns that her seemingly perfect sister has been keeping some dark secrets. Now Tsubasa is going undercover at school—disguised as Arisa—in search of the truth. But will Arisa’s secrets shatter Tsubasa’s life, too?”
-from Goodreads for Volume 1
Tsubasa and Arisa are twin sisters. They were separated by their parents’ divorce, but are now reunited after three years. But that reunion is cut short when Arisa attempts suicide. Now Tsubasa learns that Arisa has been keeping some dark secrets. To discover what they are, she goes undercover as Arisa at her school in her class, 2-B. There she learns of someone called “the King” who grants one person’s wish every week during “King Time.” No one knows who the “King” is. But whoever he is, he’s caused strange, freaky incidents in granting class 2-B’s wishes. This “King” rules over class 2-B and no one questions him. They all praise him and think he’s great and all powerful, like some sort of a god. Will Tsubasa discover who the “King” is?
Tsubasa and Arisa are very different from each other. Arisa is class president. She’s popular, pretty, has a nice boyfriend, and is a good student. She’s nice and caring and selfless. She’s girly and sweet. Tsubasa is just average. She does okay in school and has a few friends, all of which are boys. She’s a tomboy and isn’t really into to girly things. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and is tough. Her nickname at her school is the “Demon Princess of Higashi Junior High.”
Tsubasa and Arisa were separated when their parents divorced three years ago. Tsubasa lived with their father while Arisa lived with their mother, who was always going on business trips and leaving her alone. One day, Tsubasa and Arisa agreed to meet each other. They were so glad to be reunited after three long years. But that suddenly ended when Arisa attempted suicide the following day. Tsubasa had always thought Arisa had the perfect life, but she began to see that it wasn’t as it seemed.
To find out Arisa’s secrets and what could’ve caused Arisa to want to commit suicide, Tsubasa went to her school and pretended to be her while Arisa was in a coma. At first everything seemed normal and Arisa’s class a friendly class, but on Friday, she learned of something called “King Time.” Every Friday during 4th period, the students of class 2-B submit their wishes through a website on their phones to an unknown person, “the King.” The “King” then chooses and grants one wish every week. It’s later revealed that Arisa was the original “King.” She started it to fulfill the some of the requests she received as class president. When she was “King,” the wishes she granted were harmless. Except her last one, which was done by stealing a test. That was the end of her reign as the “King” and the beginning of the current “King’s” reign. It’s also revealed that Midori, Arisa’s boyfriend, is the current “King.” He made fake promises and manipulated her so she would be by his side. Once he took over, the wishes started being granted in a dangerous, violent way.
Towards the end of the series, Tsubasa finds out that Midori had a twin brother, Akari, who died when he was three. Their mother was neglectful to begin with and eventually abandoned them. Midori recently found out that his mother died. But of course that’s not what he told Arisa. Instead he told Arisa that he wanted to make class 2-B the greatest class so that he could find his mother. But in reality, he’s felt resentment and hatred towards her and thought Arisa felt the same towards her’s since Arisa had talked to him about being lonely with her mother always being gone. Arisa did eventually wake up from her coma, but faked memory loss and betrayed Tsubasa and joined Midori.
This misunderstanding of Arisa’s feelings towards her mother and Midori’s own hatred for his own led him to attempt to kill her mother at a summit where class 2-B and their parents were gathered for the recognition of class 2-B’s accomplishment of folding one thousand paper cranes. The series ended predictably, with Arisa discovering the truth about Midori and her mother being saved. Midori was eventually caught and Tsubasa and Arisa became close again.
When I started reading this series, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew from the beginning that it was a mystery, but I didn’t know that it was basically a thriller. With every volume, it seemed that it became more violent. I, at the same time, liked and didn’t like that Arisa still insisted on being with Midori after everything that happened. I liked it in the way that she was able to forgive and not hold a grudge and become bitter towards him. I think it’s sort of admirable and an important ability to have. But then again, he had, after all, physically harmed several people and tried to kill her mother.
I thought this series was very unrealistic. I don’t know much about Japanese schools, but I find it hard to believe that their teachers or parents wouldn’t notice. I mean, people disappeared! Both students and teachers did. And no one noticed or said anything. No one thought it was suspicious. I also find it hard to believe that no one in that class would question this. That no one would find these incidents to be freaky or strange at all. Everyone just essentially worshiped this “King.” None of it seems likely, in my opinion. Then again, I could be wrong, considering, like I said, I don’t know much about Japanese schools.
Arisa was a fast-paced, action-packed mystery. I recommend it if you are looking for a mystery/thriller manga series.
Rating: 4/5 Stars