Sweet Rein, Vol. 1

By Sakura Tsubasa. Released in Japan as “Yoroshiku Master” by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine LaLa DX. Released in North America by Viz.

It’s rare to find a manga series with so many things I’m wary of and so many things that I love in the same package. Sweet Rein manages to hit all my buttons, both the good and bad ones. It’s fortunate that it’s only a 3-volume series, as I suspect this isn’t sustainable in the long-term, but as a short romantic comedy, it’s quite readable. Even the unrelated short story at the end manages to be deeper than I thought while also briefly appalling me. Sweet Rein pulls in about ten different directions.


The first thing that surprised me is the degree to which this is a magical girl series. Animal companion (who is also the romantic lead, but let’s save that for another paragraph) finds a somewhat melancholic girl dissatisfied with her life and shows her that she can bring happiness to the world. In this case, the animal companion is a reindeer who is actually a young man named Kaito. His entire family is reindeer (on his mother’s side), and when he meets our heroine, Kurumi, it’s love at first sight. In fact, it’s more than that. The Japanese title of this series translates as “Hello, Master!”, and it becomes clear that Kaito is bound to Kurumi, both physically and emotionally. This doesn’t bother him at all, but gives her some difficulties. What part of his feelings are his own heart, and what is the magic “making” him love her?

Because this is a magical girl series deep down, I was a bit more forgiving of some of the more ridiculous plot contrivances, though the Spirit of Christmas curing cancer was a bit much even for me. It’s far more fun to focus on Kurumi, who is a more down-to-earth and practical person than many shoujo heroines, and doesn’t even crack a smile till towards the end of the first chapter. Her background will be familiar to readers of this genre – mother long dead, father works long hours to support them so he’s never home, all her friends out with guys for Christmas. The Japanese reading of Christmas as being “Love + Santa” really comes into play here, with little to no religious subtext. (And thank God for that.) As for the reindeer thing, it would seem that Kaito’s body is ‘default human’, so I can deal. They do make a cute couple.

The side story is unrelated to the main action, being a one-shot about an immortal vampire (who looks like a cute young man) being saddled with a daughter from a woman that he had bedded some time ago. Most of the chapter is actually decent, with a good look at what it’s like to be an immortal and watch everyone you love die, and a nice vampire mythology that basically makes “turning” someone pot luck – either they die or they become vampires, they usually die, and it’s not controllable. Unfortunately, the entire thing is nearly upended by a very unfortunate choice at the end, where the art and storyline dovetail in exactly the way I was hoping they wouldn’t the moment this little girl showed up. Bleah.

Overall, though, I think the good parts of this manga outweighed the bad. It’s the sort of series that I suspect you shouldn’t think too deeply about, which makes it a bad fit for me but a great choice for anyone looking for some Christmas escapism.

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  1. I picked it up on the basis it’s Tsukuba Sakura, as I liked her CMX works. I actually understand that volume 3 has a Penguin Revolution short story, so I quite look forward to it!
    Otherwise, the premise would’ve driven me away. But I do like how down-to-earth the heroine is, it makes the series an easy read for me.

  2. I’d never heard of this series until reading your review, and it’s definitely piqued my interest. It seems like a fun little thing to keep things light yet thoughtful, especially during this time of year. It certainly helps that it’s only three volumes long!

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