Think "The Mask", starring Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz, and you have the story of "Shadow Lady", aka. Aimee. Still, I'll go through the basics of the story, before we get down to the art and the pros and cons of this manga series.
Aimee, a shy and timid girl, gets her hands on a magic eye-shadow compact from the demon world. Applying the eye-shadow turns Aimee into a powerful, sexy and scantily-clad mischief monger. She creates havoc on the city roads, turns to petty thievery and generally makes life miserable for the Grey city police department, whose chief goes into fits of rage at the very mention of the Shadow Lady. End of the day, both Shadow Lady and Aimee, her alter ego, are competing for the love and affections of Bright, a handsome young cop. Not to mention fighting for their lives with some terrifying demons.
Shadow Lady, written and sketched by Masakazu Katsura, is remarkable not only for it's well fleshed out characters and superbly drawn backgrounds, but also as the basis for a very interesting and gripping plot.
The features of the characters are quite pleasing and Katsura's emphasis on keeping his women nearly naked certainly helps to maintain the level of interest. Also notable is the heavy influence of the Batman comics throughout the series, including in the use of Shadow Ladyís side-kick and the city background, which closely resembles Batmanís Gotham city.
Due to a sudden decision by the publishers to cancel the series, the end turns out to be highly compressed and not quite the way you want it to. Still, when you see two shadows flitting across the moon (another ruse lifted straight out the Batman comics), symbolizing the return of the Shadow Lady after her untimely petrification, it leaves one hoping for more. And more there was, in the form of "Shadow Lady : Another World". But thatís another story.
As far as this Shadow Lady is concerned, it has to be said that this is a masterpiece from Katsura. Question is - is it so gripping and interesting because it has only 3 volumes? As opposed to a long-running series with 25 volumes? The best ideas and depictions flowing out of Katsura's caricature of Shadow Lady are packed in close together, giving it a feel and look of being near perfect.
Whatever the reason, this manga series is eminently watchable and entertaining, with a coherent storyline, pleasing artwork and liberal doses of humor and near-nudity.
Shadow Lady was originally published in 1995 by Shueisha and later translated into English by Dark Horse Comics.
Shadow Lady consists of the below 3 volumes: