Cipher 11

February 25, 2012

Minako Narita – CMX – 2008 – 11 volumes

The finale! My interest has waned in the last several volumes, when the character study of Jake and Roy has gone on just a bit too long. But the final chapters of the series make the wait worth it.

There are many happy meetings, sad partings, and bittersweet reunions in this volume, which is what the last five or so volumes has been leading up to. The most touching, other than the inevitable reunion between Siva and Cipher, was the goodbye Cipher had to say to his roommate. It’s better to read this yourself, and nothing I say can really accurately convey just how beautiful this scene is. It’s not a goodbye forever, but the moment between them is absolutely perfect in just the right bromantic way.

I’ve always been a little confused by the male relationships in this series. It’s clear that Narita is not slashing her own characters, and they’re not really romantic in any way. But they are way, waaaay to close to be just friends. I might be able to let it go if only one male relationship like that existed in the series, but there’s at least three of them. It’s a little… weird. But this is a shoujo manga, and in the end, they can all be best buddies forever.

And then there’s the reunion between Jake and Roy. It’s also perfect. Worth all 11 volumes.

Also, within the first pages of the volume, we find out that Roy dressed as Ronald Regan for Halloween. This is why Cipher will always be the best shoujo manga ever. Plus, they celebrate Thanksgiving again, and the manga ends with the observance of Ash Wednesday. I love the way Narita uses holidays to note the passage of time in this series, and I loved that she nailed just the right ones for the US.

I feel like I should offer deeper analysis for the end of this series, but I’ve been reading Cipher for a long time, and I think I’ve said just about everything I want to about it. It’s a very genuine, character-centric series that takes a look at sensitive relationships, and actually does a better job with friendship than romance, an interesting quality in a shoujo manga. It also lives and breathes the 80s and New York City as hard as it possibly can, and instead of being vague or wrong, Narita captures all of it just right. It’s unique, and I’m more than thrilled that CMX saw fit to publish this in English. It’s unique, and any fan of shoujo looking for something different should try and seek this out. It’s a little slow, and probably not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth trying out for yourself.

3 Responses to “Cipher 11”

  1. Estara Says:

    I so wish someone had also licensed Alexandrite. But at least I was able to get the full run of this shortly before CMX announced its closing. That amazing Japanese acquiring editor they had hopefully has been hand-picked for one of the remaining publishers – she had some fascinating choices for CMX in general.


  2. Glad you finished it and liked it. I liked it, too, for many of the reasons you mentioned. Oh, CMX, I miss you!

  3. Connie Says:

    Yeah, pretty much all the CMX shoujo was fantastic. A lot of unusual choices, and even the shorter, middle-of-the-road all ages titles were still great reads. Cipher, Moon Child, and From Eroica With Love are the three I feel luckiest for having read, though. I don’t think any other publisher would have taken a chance with titles like those, even though all of them are really wonderful classics.


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