Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir (Manga) Volume 1 Review


If you’re a pre-teen, have a child within that age range, or are just a big fan of female-led animation shows in general, then you may have heard of Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. Originally debuting in 2015, it’s a French CGI series created by Thomas Astruc and developed by Jeremy Zag that, at the time of writing, has had five seasons (over 100 episodes), a full-length movie now on Netflix, multiple comic and book tie-ins, toys and much more. It’s an extremely popular series, not just with its audience but also with superhero and magical girl fans in general. Due to its unique Sailor Moon meets Spider-Man concept, Miraculous is a brilliant blend of memorable villains, high action and finding the balance between superhero and civilian identities to be found in comic books, whilst also incorporating the power upgrades, transformation sequences, character-driven arcs, and romance of Magical Girl media. The series has an ongoing story that ups the ante each time which, whilst developing the heroes as they navigate their way around also evolving supervillains on top of high-quality animation, makes this series very much beloved within its fandom and beyond. So of course, due to its obvious love-letter to Magical Girl anime, it has found high popularity in Japan, with the series getting its own dub, and a manga adaptation, available for the first time in English thanks to Kodansha.

The main series story follows two Parisian teenagers: Marinette and Adrien. Marinette seems like a normal girl with a normal life, but she’s actually Ladybug, a superhero with the power of Creation, given by her Kwami, Tikki. Adrien is a famous model, and son of the famous fashion designer Gabriel Agreste, but Adrien is also secretly Cat Noir, the superhero with the power of Destruction, given by his Kwami, Plagg. The pair are unaware of each other’s identities, but must fight together to defeat the evil Hawkmoth – who wants their powers for his own! That plot is also true for the manga adaptation, but does it provide anything different from the original animated series? Well, it’s a double review from Anime UK News, as Darkstorm and Onosume give their opinions on this highly anticipated first volume.


I’ve watched Miraculous since it made its debut, as I work in Kids’ TV so have followed its humble beginnings to its explosion in popularity as the series went from self-contained episodes in Season 1, to its overarching plot and drama-filled episodes in later seasons. It was the opening episode of Season 2 that turned me from a casual watcher to ‘I’m a fan until the very end’. The manga is based upon the first season of the series, covering the episodes ‘Stormy Weather’, ‘The Bubbler’ and the first part of ‘The Evillustrator’, but the manga isn’t a copy-and-paste job from the original series with new art; the changes are minimal but noticeable. First of all, there’s a touch more dialogue developing Adrien’s angst at his mother’s passing; it’s not noticeable at first as a lot of his facial expressions in these are quite happy and uplifting, when in the animated series he showed more variety, but the small cutaway in which we see him waking up from a nightmare about his mother reveals his more sombre side in a way that we haven’t seen in the series. There’s also his brief  conversation with Ladybug at the end of ‘The Bubbler’, where he asks the question about whether they can trust adults, that not only shows off Adrien’s mindset but also develops his relationship with Ladybug too.

The bit I liked less, however, was the casual reveal of Hawkmoth’s identity; if you were a fan of the series from the beginning, then it was a common fan theory that Hawkmoth’s identity is Adrien’s father, but it wasn’t outright confirmed until the opening episode of Season 2. The episode in question, ‘The Collector’, was not just a reveal but also a status quo change for the series; revealing that they were officially ripping off the training wheels that the first season had and going full throttle into the series we know and love today. Here in the manga however, it’s casually shown, alongside his motivation for why he chose to become Hawkmoth, in a single page at the beginning of ‘The Evillustrator’ and it just does not have the same impact. Admittedly it’s very common knowledge now, so getting it out of the way was probably the intention of mangaka here, but it’s just a shame that it;s treated so casually here. Then there’s the hints that Gabriel is suspecting his son to be Cat Noir, which is again treated briefly and casually in this manga, much earlier in the story than in the series. I can see that they’re trying to give this manga story a few alterations to stop this being a copy and paste of the animated series, but they’re doing so at the expense of long-term tension and potential drama, for a short-term spectacle that doesn’t land.

However, I can’t complain about the art; the original series is very animated, not just in the literal sense but also in how expressive it is. It’s obviously inspired by anime, but due to being 3D with high budget thrown behind it, also allows for dynamic movements and fascial expressions. Luckily, that translates very well into manga form; the powers like the transformations and powers pop out of the panels, the character designs are very distinct and there’s very good use of shading as well to make everything look and feel more active. There are also some very good double page spreads that really stand out at the right moments. I’m less fond of the backgrounds however; the series is set in Paris, France, with very distinct locations like the Eiffel Tower, Agreste Mansion, Marinette’s parents’ bakery and more, but you get none of that in this volume. If you didn’t know, the series could be set anywhere.

The translation is easy to read too; there’s an error of double wording within the first chapter, but overall it follows the script of the original series almost exactly. The translation notes at the end are good too, to help newcomers understand the shows unique terminology.

Overall, this was a fun, easy-to-read volume. I wouldn’t say (at least this early in its run) that it replaces the original series, but if you love the show, are a massive collector for it or just want a brief reminder of the early episodes without having to go back and watch them, it’s a cute book to own.


While I only got into Miraculous fairly recently at the beginning of the year (as I’ve started to explore more western animation) it quickly grabbed me thanks to its magical girl-inspired roots and pulled me into its larger merchandise-infested world. After exploring its comic adaptations which haven’t done so well, I was excited to see it emerge here in manga form after it achieved some decent popularity in Japan.

This first volume adapts the beginning of the series and a couple of early episodes largely beat-for-beat, which I feel has both its pros and cons. While the series’ overarching story has been criticised as being rather drawn out over its current five seasons, the beginning is where it’s often at its strongest and simplest, giving us a winning combination of magical girl-styled superhero action paired with fun slice-of-life comedy and a dash of foolhardy romance. Jumping straight into things with Stormy Weather, it has all this in spades as it sets up all these ingredients, from the monster-of-the-week Akumatisation, Marinette crushing too hard on Adrien and getting into trouble, and some more down-to-earth moments with the extended cast, as Marinette’s best friend Alya tries to help her babysit Manon, daughter of news anchor Nadja.

If you’re a newcomer, this sets out the template and allows you to pick up the general gist of the series easily while just being a generally fun story to start off with, which is part of the reason why I got instantly hooked on the show in the first place. As an existing fan though, I had some mixed feelings in that this could have been a great opportunity to kick off with something new; however it was still fun to revisit these original stories where a big draw is seeing all your favourite characters in an actual manga art style, which fans will know was one of the original proposals for the show before they decided to produce it in CG.

It doesn’t go quite all the way in adapting art styles you’d see in things like Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura though, trying to accommodate some western-style comic inspiration as well, particularly for its adult characters. It doesn’t mesh as well as it might like it to, with an odd clash between slightly different styles that makes some characters look out of place. When Nino appears in The Bubbler, for example, the way he is drawn makes him look a little bit off in contrast to Marinette and Adrien’s more cutesy, rounded faces. Other characters though really pop off the page, from our two heroes to villains like Stormy Weather, who in particular makes a strong impression.

The pacing is quite tight and snappy, with each story fitting into around 60 pages, give or take, which so far gives plenty of room to put episode to paper and show all the main action. As well as covering Stormy Weather and The Bubbler, we also have the first part of The Evillustrator, so as well as getting to see that initial superhero action, there’s also plenty to dig into around Marinette’s home and school life which gives some of the side characters a chance to shine, whether that be in good ways, like showing how skilled in baking Marinette’s father is, or the bad, introducing the haughty class bully, Chloe, who throws her weight around, thanks to being the mayor’s daughter. Outside of the main stories, there’s also a nice little yon-koma after the end of each one which offers a funny aside to the main tale and works well in breaking things up.

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir is being released by Kodansha both physically and digitally. The book has been translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley and reads well and has a nice translators’ notes section at the back which highlights cool differences between the English, Japanese and French editions of both the book and TV show which I found pretty interesting.

Overall, the first volume of Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir offers a solid adaptation of the show’s opening episodes in a stylish and easy-to-read format that I think will go down well with both fans of the show and newcomers of all ages. It’s great to see the show finally meet its originally envisioned manga style, even if some character artwork can look a bit out of place; meanwhile, the individual stories are well told, although I do wish it was a bit more ambitious in inserting more new material.

7 / 10


By day, I work in the television industry. By night, I'm a writer for Anime UK News. Twitter: @lilithdarkstorm

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With a chant of "Ai-katsu!", Matthew Tinn spends their days filled with idol music and J-Pop. A somewhat frequent-ish visitor to Japan, they love writing and talking about anime, Japanese music and video games.

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