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Summoner Girl by Hiroshi Kubota

Take a dash of Cardcaptor Sakura and a helping of Inuyasha, mix them together and add a delusional, dopey sidekick and you have Summoner Girl by Hiroshi Kubota.  In this manga there are jewels to find, demons to catch and imprison, and the fate of the world may hang in the balance unless a 4th grader can save it.  Hibiki is the heir to the Saionji Summoners who help protect the world from the Ayakashi (think evil spirits).  In the first volume Hibiki battles fox demons (hello cute Kirara look-alike), giant spiders, and other spirits while looking for 6 mystic jewels that will bring calamity to the world.  If she can collect them and stop the destruction they will cause, Hibiki will become the leader of all of the Summoners.  (Cue the dramatic fanfare)

The best part of Summoner Girl is that it never takes itself seriously.  Ever.  The story could oscillate between serious and funny like Inuyasha, but, nope, from the get go Summoner Girl sets out to make you laugh.  Any hint of seriousness is quickly broken up after a few panels.  Hibiki's grandmother, who trains her in summoning, and alternates between planning Hibiki's domination of the summoning world and training/attacking/yelling at Hibiki to test her abilities.  The other human, a boy named Kenta, has just enough spiritual power to see what Hibiki can do, and immediately convinces himself that Hibiki needs his protection and that he is the one who defeats all the monsters (even if he is knocked out in every battle).  Kenta never has a good grasp on reality, but he'll always make Hibiki laugh.

The fights between Hibiki and the demons are beautiful with just enough action that they feel dangerous but never get gory.  I haven't seen battle artwork I liked as much in some time.  So if you are tired of angsty or overly dramatic manga with plots that Shakespeare would have loved, I give you Summoner Girl.  It is none of those things.  Just lighthearted fun that will put a smile on your face.

-Lauren

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