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Friday, December 14, 2018

Selah's Manga Mania: Reindeer Boy by Cassandra Jean

by Cassandra Jean
December 20, 2016
Quincy has the same dream every year on Christmas Eve - of finding a little boy holding a special gift for her under the tree - and every Christmas morning, she's awoken to find a gift wrapped in tinfoil with her name on it... 

When school resumes after the winter break, Quincy's class discovers they have an unusual new transfer student named Cupid. Ridiculously cute and friendly, the new boy has everyone both enamored and confused. Those antlers can't be real...can they?? With Cupid having seemingly set his sights on Quincy, it seems she'll be having a memorable year indeed!

I never expected to find reoccurring themes of this sort, but who am I to turn down fate? Plus, hi, built-in Christmas review!

I just never thought that part reindeer humans finding lurv was like a thing. Who knew?

Anywho, today we’re taking a look at Reindeer Boy.

Quincy has a dream that reoccurs every Christmas Eve – a little boy under her tree holding a gift for her. Every Christmas morning, she finds that gift wrapped in tinfoil waiting for her. After winter break one year, Quincy’s school has a new transfer student named Cupid…who has antlers. He’s popular, as are his kinda-siblings, though they stress they’re not all related. They also have antlers. Also, what are those bumps on Quincy’s head and why is Cupid aiming his affection at her?
So pretty much Twilight with no angst and antlers. I’m sorry, that’s what it is. And honestly? I don’t hate it. It’s…odd, I will give it that. At some points, the stakes seem almost a little too low for me, and I think this could actually have been a multi-volume title and done just as a well. But yeah, I read it and survived and actually like it just fine.

The Good: The cast is diverse, which right off the bat I think is awesome. Everyone seems fairly likable, and it avoids a lot of the token tropey drama that a lot of relationship manga has (like the friend backstabbing the heroine, dudes trying to date her out from under the hero, etc). Quincy has a lot of agency and a lot of the plot is her dealing with her own feelings and being drawn into this strange world. The world building is also fairly interesting. The take on Santa is new-ish, and the reindeer kids as delivery people through pocket universes works. In some ways, I think this could have been explored more, especially how things would work on actual Christmas. The art is lovely and easy on the eyes. It emphasizes the story well and I like how much thought went into the character designs.

The Bad: I just wish there was some more time taken and more development here. I don’t need a will they won’t they, but I would’ve liked a bit more than the brief explanation on the button ending about why Quincy was being reindeerized. She also just kinda seems to go with it as she succumbs to her feelings for Cupid, which seems like a lot of missed opportunities. Likewise, her affection for another dude is kind of pushed to the side as other reindeer kids show up and monopolize his time. It works, and it’s nice to not see some sort of love triangle, but it’s all just a little too easy. Cupid and his crew are fun, but it’s like every girl fantasy ever of normal chick gets sucked into this group of benign weird people who show her a new world and just adore her. I wish there would have been some more challenges thrown up, like her dad finding out, or maybe her feelings being harder to sort through. And it seems weird to me that just no one tries to bully or be mean to these kids who all have antlers. They just go their merry way (pun intended), and it’s all good. There are hints of unrest in different plot elements, but nothing ever actually gets in the way of things. It’s a natural plot progression, and while it’s really fun in a cuddly warm way, I would’ve liked just a little more.

The ick: Nothing. This is as sugary and cute as you’d want a Christmas title to be.
In some ways, I think this may be a stronger story than Sweet Reign (seriously, WHY is this a genre thing??). But…I kinda miss Sweet Reign’s over the top weirdness. I do think if this had more volumes it would be easier to compare the two, and in that regard, Sweet Reign was able to do a lot more, build up a lot more lore, and just show a more progressive growth in the relationship of the characters. For a one-volume title, though, Reindeer Boy does come out as more normal (if you can say that about the reindeer people high school romance genre). It’s definitely more calm and relaxed, which I appreciate. It’s also just beautiful to look at, so for that alone, it’s worth putting on your Christmas list.

3.75 antler-having sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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