.Manga about Twins article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 5, No. 8, July 2002
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.
There's something magical about twins. The mysterious bond which twins are supposed to share is fascinating and full of dramatic and comedic potential. Recently, Animerica Extra's Revolutionary Girl Utena and Fushigi Yugi have both utilized the powerful bond between twins to add intensity to their plots. Miki's reluctance to fight Utena evaporated when the safety of his sister was at stake, and Amiboshi's apparent death sent his brother Suboshi into a vengeful killing frenzy. With such examples, you can appreciate the appeal of twins to readers and writers.
Toni and Miki are Nami Akimoto's sweetly enchanting Miracle Girls. These sisters are miracles not only because they're twins but because they have special powers. They can communicate psychically, and when together, they can teleport! Toni is the athletic older twin who goes to a girls school. Miki goes to a regular school; she's an intellectual who stinks at sports. She's so bad, she tricks Toni into taking her place at her school's Sports Day festival. The identity switch causes more problems than it solves, for Toni begins to fall for Miki's sworn enemy and their psychic powers are found out by Miki's teacher, the creepy and ambitious Mr. K. The delightful combination of romance, teen angst and secret powers made the series popular enough to last nine volumes and one year on TV.
Such charming and upbeat use of twins is actually fairly rare. More often, twins are used to intensify drama. After all, most siblings are close, but twins are assumed to be even closer. So when something bad happens, it's somehow even more poignant if it's happening to twins. Fushigi Yugi's Yu Watase puts her leading twins through hell in the supernatural thriller Ayashi no Ceres (Ceres: Celestial Legend).
Aya and Aki are like regular siblings --sometimes quarreling but innately loyal— until their sixteenth birthday. When a mummified hand is presented to them at the dark family gathering to celebrate their birthday, their whole world is knocked off its axis. The hand awakens something inside both of them. As a result, the family is intent on killing Aya to prevent the celestial being within her from getting out. And well they should, for Ceres is extremely powerful and out for revenge against the family responsible for stealing her celestial robe and trapping her on Earth. Aya must fight against her family and Ceres to try to maintain her sibling bonds with her brother Aki. To make this situation even more heart-rending, Watase has made Aki the reincarnation of the man who stole Ceres' robe, a man obsessed with reclaiming his woman. An English translation of this tragic, traumatic series is being released in comics, VHS and DVD.
Die-hard X/1999 fans know the somber and severe Subaru was a twin. He wasn't always the laconic, single-minded, the-rest-of-the-world-be-damned hunter we see in X/1999. Once, he was a kind-hearted exorcist, the sweetest, most innocent young man you could ever hope to meet. That was when he had a twin sister. Hokuto's sparkling, vivacious personality was one of the only ways you could tell the twins apart --that and the outrageous outfits she would make for them to wear. The tale of Subaru's painful transformation from spiritual protector to supernatural vigilante can be experienced in CLAMP's psychological tragedy Tokyo Babylon, arguably their best series. Although this remarkable 7-volume manga has yet to be brought to English, VIZ is happy to announce the return of X/1999 in graphic novel form this XX. Also, the two Tokyo Babylon videos are available from Central Park Media.
Sarasa's loss of her brother echoes the story of Subaru and Hokuto, twins separated by fate. When Sarasa and her brother Tatara were born, a prophesy was made: the Child of Destiny would unite the people and liberate them from the tyrannical Great King. Chauvinistically, her village assumes Tatara is that Child, but when her brother is killed by the Great King's son, the Red King, Sarasa must overcome her tragic loss and take her brother's place. The action-packed tale of her struggle to unite Japan and defeat the Great King's minions compose Yumi Tamura's 27-volume epic adventure BASARA. This smash-hit manga also has a 13-episode TV series which covers about a third of the story. Sadly, neither the manga nor the show is commercially available in English yet.
Not all twin-oriented drama involves supernatural powers and tragic fates. The classic shojo series Cipher is about a spunky girl named Anise and her relationship with the twins Cipher and Siva. Set mainly in New York City, Anise decides to become friends with her cool classmate Siva on the grounds that they both have a mark on their foreheads. When Anise discovers Siva's secret --he and his twin Cipher live together and alternate going to class and work— she's frustrated she can't tell them apart. So she decides to move in with them to figure it out, threatening to leak their secret if they don't let her. Author Minako Narita exploits the humorous potential of the situation, but ultimately, it's a story about growing up. Anise's experience with the twins is the vehicle for exploring their complicated past and their struggles to overcome it. Neither the 12-volume manga nor Cipher's lone music video are available in English.
Short Program's Mitsuru Adachi portrays the relationship between the twins Tatsuya and Kazuya as complicated and compelling in his classic hit, Touch. Although Tatsuya is a natural athlete, his talents are undeveloped because he doesn't want to outshine his younger brother. While this situation started out as a good idea in his youth, it's negatively impacted Tatsuya's life in a big way. Now he lives completely in his brother's shadow. Kazuya is serious, hard-working and has the potential to carry his baseball team to the Japanese National High School Championship while Tatsuya is unambitious, unfocused and undisciplined. Although Tatsuya loves his brother, it's hard not to resent Kazuya for his relative perfection. Add to this the complications of Minami, the girl next door whom both boys like but who shows neither of them favor, and you've got a wonderfully complex, award-winning, eternally popular series. None of Touch's twenty-six volumes of manga, 101 TV episodes or three movies are commercially available in English.
Of course, there are series with twin leads which have never made it to anime. Mint na Bokura (We Are Mint) is a recent shojo hit by Wataru Yoshizumi, author of the popular Marmalade Boy series. Twins Maria and Noeru have been together forever, but when Maria decides to go to a different junior high school, Noeru is determined to follow. There's an amusing catch to this equation which adds a great deal of humor to this delightful 6-volume series about love and growing up. Read more about it on page XX.
Whether accentuating the difficulties of siblings growing up and apart, like in We Are Mint and Cipher, or emphasizing the differences which can develop between two people so close, as in Touch and Utena, twins add an extra intensity to the stories they're in. Many stories have used the loss of a sibling to drive a character to extremes, but for twins like Suboshi and Subaru, losing their twin is like losing a part of themselves, sending them to the brink of humanity. It's as though twins double the emotional impact. With such appealing reasons for writers to use twins, there will no doubt be plenty of other tales of twins to entertain us in the future. In the meantime, try one of these; there's bound to be a couple of characters you'll enjoy.