THE STELLAR SIX OF GINGACHO (Kirameki Gingacho Shotengai), by Yuuki Fujimoto. First published by 2005, and first published in North America in 2010.
Mike, Kuro, Ibe, Q, Sato, and Mamoru are six children from six different families, who own six different shops and restaurants in the Gingacho shopping district. They have all been friends since they were small, but now as they grow older they find themselves growing apart. They come together once more when Mike wishes to help a local bartender fix his vandalized shop through a dance contest, and learn not only the value of their friendship, but the value of the friends and family they have within Gingacho.
Stellar Six is a rather well worn sort of story with equally well worn morals about friendship and community and such, but at least it's told competently with a little bit of charm and a lot of earnestness and honesty.
Our six leads are deep as puddles when it comes to personality. Mike is childlike and innocent, Kuro is ...um...er...a guy, Q is a flirt, Iba is motherly, Mamoru is weird and quiet, and Sato is a wilting violet of a girl, and all of them are just the same at the end as they were in the beginning. Naturally, if the main cast doesn't get any sort of development, neither does anyone else around them.
The plot itself is rather episodic, starting with the story about the bartender which ends in the classic, Mickey Rooney-style, "let's put on a show" manner, followed by a story about a cranky old sweet shop owner. These plotlines don't drag, and they do have a good sense of continuity between the two, but they are predictable from the first step to the last. There's no real drama to be found here, just a bunch of heartwarming morals about friendship and community. They're not bad morals per se, but they're not deep or original either. As such, it's not a great story, but instead a pleasant, simple diversion.
The art for Stellar Six is much like story: conventional, simple, but competent. The kids are all distinct, even if the character designs are rather on the simple side. Panels are packed with close-ups and text, and when combined with the occasional use of screentone, the whole thing can look a bit messy on the page. Backgrounds are rare and unremarkable.
The only extra is a bizarrely meta scrap where the kids announce the publishing of the first volume.
This series was published by Tokyopop. 3 of the 10 available volumes were published, and all are currently out of print.
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