Kurumi thinks she’s going to be spending Christmas alone… but it turns out she’s going to be Santa, giving out gifts.
Kurumi is just walking along one day when she bumps into a cute guy who tells her that she’s his master now. In fact, he’s her reindeer, and she’s his Santa Claus.
She thinks he’s looney, until the boy—named Kaito—actually transforms into a reindeer in front of her.
In Sweet Rein’s Christmas mythology, there are magical reindeer who live all over the globe. They look like normal people most of the time, but they can turn into reindeer, and each one has a personal Santa Claus they work with to give presents.
When I read the back of this manga, the first thing that unwittingly popped into my head was My Santa!, but the story and especially the feel are very different between the two. Kurumi does become a Santa Claus, and Kaito works as her faithful reindeer. Kaito is always smiley and agreeable, sometimes ditzy, and he clearly adores Kurumi. Kurumi, for her part, can’t understand why Kaito is so insistent on having someone be his master, but he seems to enjoy it. The two of them are falling for each other, but that’s forbidden.
Sweet Rein is the first in a series, and it’s fluffy, light and cute. There’s no intensity or sophistication, and it has its predictable shojo gimmicks (like the fact Kurumi and Kaito are expected to kiss to handle some of their magical powers). The whole thing is pretty straightforward, and each chapter has a self-contained story. (Ironically, more of the manga takes place in summer than at Christmastime.) One story, for instance, has Kurumi wanting to make a young cancer patient feel better, and even though this could potentially be a heartbreaking story, it’s instead written with the kind of “We’ll be nice and it will all work out” feel from a Christmas special.
So, basically, Sweet Rein is for fans of Christmas stories who’d like to get their X-mas mangafied. There’s an enjoyable bonus story called “Sweet Bite Mark,” which, interestingly enough, is more like a Halloween story, because it’s about a vampire. The vampire opens his door one day to a little girl who insists he’s her father, and while the story is a standalone, it has fun enough characters that it feel strong enough to be more than a short work.
Publisher: VIZ Media
Story & Art: Sakura Tsukuba