Shugo Chara!, also known as My Guardian Characters, is a Japanese shōjo manga series created by the manga author duo, Peach-Pit. The story centers on elementary school girl Amu Hinamori, whose popular exterior, referred to as “cool and spicy” by her classmates, contrasts with her introverted personality. When Amu wishes for the courage to be reborn as her would-be self, she is surprised to find three colorful eggs the next morning, which hatch into three Guardian Characters: Ran, Miki, and Su.
Shugo Chara! is serialized in the magazine Nakayoshi and published by Kodansha in Japan. Del Rey has licensed the English language manga rights, releasing the first volume on March 27, 2007. It won the 2008 Kodansha Manga Award for best children’s manga.
In December 2005, Peach Pit announced that they were working on a new shōjo manga series called Shugo Chara! The first chapter was published in the February 2006 edition of Nakayoshi magazine. The first volume collection was then republished on July 6, 2006 by Nakayoshi publisher Kodansha. In addition to the regular volumes, the series is being released in limited editions in Japan, each of which include different cover art from the regular editions, metallic foil sleeves, and a set of postcards featuring Amu in various outfits and poses following the color theme of the dust jackets. Del Rey Manga announced that it acquired the English language rights to Shugo Chara! during Manga NEXT 2006 and released the first volume on March 27, 2007. Kodansha USA published the entire series in 2011.
The series was put on hiatus along with two other series, Rozen Maiden and Zombie-Loan, in December 2008 due to a sudden illness and hospitalization. One month later, Peach-Pit announced that all three series will resume and thanked their fans for the support during the illness. There is a spin-off manga series called Shugo Chara Chan!, featuring drawings by Mizushima Naftaren, which is in yonkoma (4-panel) comics style and focuses on Amu’s guardians. Currently there are three volumes. There is no special edition version of the spin-off series. The January issue of Kodansha’s Nakayoshi magazine confirmed on December 1, 2009, that Peach-Pit would be ending the Shugo Chara! manga in the next issue on December 28. A sequel series was later announced, titled Shugo Chara! Encore!, and ran between April and September 2010 issues of Nakayoshi.
The main protagonist of the story, Amu Hinamori, is a female student attending Seiyo Elementary. At first glance, her classmates refer to her attitude and appearance as “cool and spicy” and rumors speculate about her personal life. However, her real personality is that of a very shy girl who has trouble showing her true personality. One night, Amu wishes for the courage to show her “would-be” self, and the next morning, she finds three brightly colored eggs — pink, blue, and green — in her bed. These eggs hatch into three Guardian Characters, or “Shugo Charas”: Ran (pink), Miki (blue), and Su (green). The Guardian Characters aid Amu in discovering who she truly is and help fulfill Amu’s dreams. Amu’s life becomes much more complex, as she struggles to deal with her “would-be” selves and Seiyo Elementary’s Guardians, who each have a Guardian Character of their own. People with Guardian Characters can “chara-nari” (character transform) or “character change”. Each transformation has special powers, mainly for attacking or defending. Character changes have special powers too, but have more practical uses. Later on, they recruit Amu as the “Joker” to search for X Eggs and X Characters, the corrupted forms of people’s dreams, so the Guardians can purify their dreams. In Japanese, the egg is shortened.
Meanwhile, the Easter Company is extracting people’s eggs, in search of a special egg called the Embryo. The Embryo is believed to grant any wish to the one who possesses it. However, the process creates X Eggs and X Characters. Later on in the series, a fourth (yellow) egg named Diamond is born. Unlike Amu’s other Guardian Characters, she is only seen a few times in the series. Due to Amu’s mixed feelings before Diamond was born, she becomes an X character and is “stolen” by idol singer Hoshina Utau, who uses Diamond to character change for her concerts, planned by Easter as part of their plan to get the Embryo. Later on, Diamond is purified and becomes a regular Guardian Character. She would then appear in times of heavy crisis.