Manga Review: The Palette of 12 Secret Colors

The “Palette of 12 Secret Colors” by Nari Kusakawa is a wonderful low key manga series.  It’s the story of Cello, a color magician, or “Palette, who bumbles through the years as a Palette student on a warm tropical island.  Cello is lousy as a standard Palette, but excels when she uses her powers in her own way.  As per many Shoujo manga series, there’s a romance with an older male member of the faculty, in this case, the school doctor, Dr. Guell.  For the most part, the romance is dealt with in a manner that doesn’t sugar coat the difficulties and at one point questions whether the relationship is proper.  However, at the same time, these difficulties aren’t shoved down the reader’s throat and, in this sense this sense, the romance is pleasant and ties in nicely with the story as Cello matures as a person and a Palette student.

There are some very cute and, at times, hilarious bird side-kicks.  The birds are the palette’s companions and in a way serve as the “chorus.”  They have their own role in the story, sometimes acting as obstacles the budding romance.  Ultimately, though, the birds love their companions and, in the end, cheer the couple on.

This series runs 27 chapters, compiled into 6 volumes.  There are also some one shots to pad each volume.  I really like that story was tightly limited, though, the end felt a little rushed.  I highly recommend this story for its imagination, likable low-key characters, adorable bird side-kicks, and it’s general tropically laid-back feel.  5/5

Buy “The Palette of 12 Secret Colors” from Amazon


  • hmm i have never heard of the series before but i guess it is worth a read…oh are you self-taught in japanese or you just know the language


  • @ohshclover — No, I'm not self-taught … well, kinda. I took 3-yrs of Japanese classes at my local University. That covered most of the grammatical structures and some kanjis and left me at an intermediate level. That was enough to give me a good foundation to learn more advanced Japanese on my own. I translate manga to learn more Japanese and to increase my vocabulary in terms of the words themselves and the kanjis. I look through grammar references to learn new grammatical or sentence structures when I come across unknown things in the manga while I translate. With respect to learning a language, it doesn't get much more fun than manga :).


  • wow that's a pretty long time..are you fluent in the language?


  • @ohshclover — Oh, gosh, I'm not fluent at all! I'm far from it, in fact. Japanese is very different from English. Not only is there a different set of characters, but there's also a different way of “thinking” in terms of the grammar. I struggle a lot with Japanese, as you can tell by the edits I have to make. I have trouble with identifying the subject and object of sentences and occasionally get them switched. I did this in the latest chapter of Ouran (76). The error was mentioned in a forum so I was able to go back and check out the grammar in detail in one of my references. I think this time “receiving” has been hammered into my head, so I hope not to make the same mistake again. Anyhow, this is why I practice so much by translating. I want to get better and I want to become fluent — at least in terms of reading written Japanese.

    My understanding is that it takes ~5-years for a native English speaker to become fluent in Japanese and I believe that is under conditions of immersion. I'm definitely not immersed, so I imagine it will take me longer or maybe never. The important thing is that I keep trying to improve and that I get enjoyment out of the manga I read and the anime and dramas I watch.


  • This seems so cute!

    I don't see that title in comic stores here sadly . . .

    hopefully someone scanlates it~


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