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Review: Sweet Rein Volume 1-3

Kurumi Sagara is sad about spending Christmas alone. While taking a walk, she bumps into a boy and a rein appears to connect them. The boy, Kaito, says that he is a magical reindeer who obeys her every command and that she is his Santa Claus. She doesn’t believe him—until he changes into a reindeer before her eyes. No longer alone for Christmas, Kurumi happily takes up her new duties as a Santa and delivers presents to all the good boys and girls on her list.

Review: Sweet Rein Volume 1-3
By Sakura Tsukuba
Viz Media, November 2013-July 2014. ISBN: 978-1421559315, 978-1421559322, 978-1421559339
190 pgs., $9.99 USD

Sweet Rein is a three-volume series about a girl Santa and her magical reindeer, and follows their adventures both during and after Christmas. It is a teen romance, with Kaito having feelings for Kurumi, but Kurumi is less sure of her own. Over the three volumes, they help people and their relationship is tested, both as Santa and reindeer and as a couple.

I had my doubts about this series when it was first announced. The set up of a Santa and her reindeer seems very seasonal, and unsustainable for more than a few chapters. But Tsukuba comes up with scenarios that put Kurumi and Kaito together throughout the year, even doing a “Christmas in July” chapter. Each chapter is a complete story and usually involves them helping out someone with their Santa and reindeer powers.

I liked Kurumi and Kaito. Kurumi has her doubts at first, but she falls into the role of being a Santa pretty quickly. She admits that she does it because she doesn’t want to be alone on Christmas, and she really does enjoy herself. But in order to break her connection to Kaito, they must kiss, and that is too much for Kurumi. Kaito isn’t too thrilled about kissing either, but he doesn’t want their connection to end. He is attracted to Kurumi and wants to become a reindeer who loves his Santa, not just makes her happy.

Kurumi and Kaito’s relationship is definitely not a smooth one. Kaito is pretty sure about his feelings for Kurumi, and that they aren’t just because she’s his Santa, where the affection isn’t necessarily voluntary. Kurumi is a lot less sure of his feelings or her own. Kaito tries to be touchy-feely with her, but Kurumi has no problem telling him no. These interactions usually end with Kaito landing in the sand or flying off far away, even to the South Pole. Kaito’s mom is very complimentary of Kurumi’s handling of Kaito’s reins. Over the course of the series, Kurumi does start to acknowledge she has feelings for him as well, but the humor of Kaito flying off never goes away or gets old.

While the focus is on Kurumi and Kaito at first, other characters are soon introduced. Kaito’s whole family are magical reindeer, so it isn’t long before his older brother Rhito finds his Santa, Daisuke Tatayama. Their relationship is nothing like Kurumi’s and Kaito’s, and it can be rather humorous. They don’t break their connection for somewhat the same reason as Kurumi and Kaito. Also introduced is the Black Santa, a human who is connected to a black reindeer that tests the relationships between Santas and their reindeer. He played up being the bad guy very well. I didn’t like him at all.

The art is well done, though it is typical for a teen romance. One thing I did like is Kaito’s eyes. They have a more animalistic look, helping to show he’s not as human as he appears. Kaito’s reindeer form is cute and has an even cuter chibi form that’s hard to resist. At the end of each volume is also an additional short story, none of which are related to the main series. They are one-shots that feature new characters and worlds, except for the story in the last volume, which is based on another series of Tsukuba’s, Penguin Revolution, which unfortunately was licensed here by the now-defunct publisher CMX.

Sweet Rein is a light romance series that mixes in Christmas for some seasonal fun. The stories are warm and cheery with the right amount of tension to lead to a happy and satisfying ending. At only three volumes, it’s not a big investment and would look good on any bookshelf.

Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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