Sakura Hime 12

March 18, 2015

Arina Tanemura – Viz – 2014 – 12 volumes

THIS IS WHAT SHOUJO MANGA SHOULD ALWAYS BE LIKE.

ALWAYS.

I was a little taken aback, because this is like Game of Thrones:  The Shoujo Manga in this last volume, and it’s a little uncharacteristic of Tanemura.  And Ribon manga.  But man, I loved every page.  There was a thing that kept happening over and over again, and I couldn’t believe it every time.  There wasn’t really that much take-back, though.  And I liked that about it.

I loved this ending.  I got ridiculously caught up in it.  Best scene was probably when she took her soul symbol back.

It’s volumes like this one that make me wish I had real-life friends I could call and just gush.  I can’t do it here without spoiling anything.

But man.  Sakura Hime was worth reading.  I liked it so much better than Gentleman’s Alliance and Full Moon.  Did I like it better than Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne?  Well, I’m going to have to re-read that one and find out.  Good thing Viz is giving me the opportunity.  I did re-buy it, because it now matches the rest of my Tanemura volumes.  And I desperately want to support Tanemura in English.

And I really, really, really hope that Tanemura isn’t falling out of favor with US shoujo fans.  The KKJ reprint is wrapping up, but there aren’t any more Tanemura books currently scheduled.  I hope they announce something this spring.  There are three titles currently untranslated.  Fudanjuku Monogatari, which is a one-shot that I’m not holding out much hope for.  There’s The Cat’s and My Friday, which sounds like a contemporary romance thing and her main series, and the newer Thirty-One I Dream, which sounds like a love letter to me, and I have my fingers desperately crossed for.  Admittedly, that one is less likely since the target audience in the US probably couldn’t relate to a 30-year-old heroine like I can.  But I would still like to see it.

EDIT: I AM SO HAPPY.  I wrote this up in November, and since then, Viz licensed the one I call “Thirty-One I Dream,” which is now called “Idol Dreams.”  Can’t wait!

Tanemura also mentions a couple times that she’s retiring from Ribon, despite her former wish to always write stories there.  Her letters of thanks to the magazine and readers nearly made me tear up, so it sounds like it really was a big deal to move to Margaret/Melody.

Basically, I’m a huge Arina Tanemura fangirl, and I was happy with the end of Sakura Hime.  If you like shoujo manga, you should check it out.

Skip Beat 31

March 18, 2015

Yoshiki Nakamura – Viz – 2013 – 34+ volumes

As per usual, it’s hard for me to be fair and reasonable about this series, as my passion burns with the energy of a thousands suns.  My fair and reasonable opinion is that this is great, very funny shoujo, and any shoujo fans should probably give it a try.  Even 31 volumes in, there are still awesome character quirks thrown in for no reason.  One of my favorites here is the energy that Yashiro puts into creepily eavesdropping on the conversation between Ren and Kijima.  Pick it up, and start from the beginning.  Do yourself a favor.

Now I’m just going to fangirl for awhile.

THIS VOLUME WAS SO BORING.  I’ve been waiting three years for the good stuff!  This is Ren acting out in his role as Cain again, and everyone freaking out, and then everyone holding their heads, because they don’t know what’s wrong with Ren and/or whether he will win his internal battle.  WE’VE BEEN READING THIS FOR SEVERAL VOLUMES NOW.  I’m tired of the Cain/Setsu plot!  I want the story to move on to something else, like maybe Kyoko or Ren actually opening up to one another.  It’s been thirty-one freaking volumes.

There were two bright spots, though.  One was the e-mail conversation between Kijima (who is obviously trolling Ren at the end of the volume) and Kyoko.  Everything about this was great.  Especially Kijima preying on Kyoko’s love for cute things, and Kyoko’s war with herself about how cute she could be in an e-mail to a senior actor.

The other bright spot was NEXT VOLUME (hopefully) IS A SHO VOLUME.  I live for these.

I am sorry not sorry for the emphasis.  This volume was recently excavated from the depths of my to-read pile, and I have the luxury of three volumes of this series to read.  My heart will burst with joy.

QuinRose / Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas – 2012 – 1 volume

I won’t lie, I love this franchise.  I’m a little surprised, usually series based on games with relationship paths don’t work out that well.  But the original Alice in the Country of Hearts was so delightfully weird that I had a hard time putting it down.  I was delighted when the spinoffs started coming out, and even more delighted when I realized they were popular and we’re getting what appears to be ALL the spinoffs.  I’m playing catch-up with these now.

The titles generally tell you everything you need to know about these books.  “Country of Hearts” and “Country of Clover” are technically different settings.  This one was one of the first spinoffs released, and I was excited to see how different Clover was, but it’s pretty much not.  There’s only a couple different characters and events, most everyone else is there (which I should have suspected, since it’s bad business to cut people’s favorite characters out of new game installments).  “Bloody Twins” tells me that this is about Dee and Dum.  If you like girly stories, and you like Alice in Wonderland, and you’ve read the original series, that’s about all you need.  I’m not sure that these are going to attract an outside audience, though.

When I started, I had forgotten Dee and Dum were kids, which creeped me out at first.  But due to the story’s logic, they can age themselves into adults for no reason, and spend most of the story that way.  They still act like little brats, so that’s a potential creep thing, but this is an entirely fluff-based story anyway, so there’s nothing off-putting in it.  The story kind of passes over their age the same way it passes over the fact that they’re homicidal maniacs.  Otherwise, it’s just Alice hanging out with the two of them, and they call her big sister and talk about how much they like her, et cetera.  It’s cute, and the fact they keep their bratty personalities even after they grow into attractive adult bodies was an unexpected humorous plus.

The art is nice… it took me a few pages to get used to the faces, for some reason, but otherwise everything looked awesome.  This is a frilly, detail-oriented series in terms of art, and Fujimaru delivers adequately.

Great!  If you liked the original series, pick this up!  It’s a nice quick read, and is relatively angst and problem free.  Fluffy, cute, and padded out with some surprisingly cute one-shots with the other characters at the end.

Murmur of the Heart

March 18, 2015

Makoto Tateno – DMP/June – 2014 – 1 volume

Another new-ish one!  I grabbed this one because I liked Tateno’s Yellow quite a bit.  But this one didn’t really do it for me.  It was okay, but not spectacular.  Looking back through the other books by her, I see I apparently didn’t like most of the other books, either.  A shame.

The story is about two doctors.  One is a surgeon ladies’ man, and the other is a physician with a crush on him.  An intern notices the physician’s crush, coerces him into sex in the break room one day, and the surgeon walks in.  The Physician is devastated, but begins kind-of dating the intern while the Surgeon kind of simmers in the background.  Turns out, the Surgeon liked the Physician all along!  There’s lots of doctor stuff liberally spread throughout, including a little girl with a bad heart whose condition kind of holds the story together.

It is unusual for these books not to have both main characters pining after each other the whole time, or at least unsure.  The Surgeon literally flips a switch and hops into bed with the Physician at the end, though.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it kind of didn’t read right.

Meh.  It was okay, a quick read, but there are better books out there.  It didn’t feel like there was a whole lot of romance here, and I didn’t wind up liking any of the characters.

Anomal

March 18, 2015

Nukuharu – Gen Manga – 2013 – 1 volume

Yay, another Gen one-shot!  This one came out in time for Halloween ’13, which is when I read it.  But of course I suck lately, so I’m writing it up in February 2015.  But it’s still good, and you should read it.

These were all cute, short stories about Japanese yokai.  The first was about a hundred-eye monster, a human, and a sparrow-spirit-boy.  The second is a silly story about a shy detective investigating a murder.  That sounds somewhat horrifying, but it’s really not.  Next is a longer story about a kotodama, someone who has the power to say something and make it so.  I LOVE stories about kotodama, and this one’s a great one.  There’s a longer one about a girl that senses spirits, and one last cute short one, this time about some magical gadgets.

I loved this book.  It’s short, and all the stories are very short, but they stand well on their ideas.  Normally I don’t get that into short stories, but these ones are written well, and have interesting subject matter.  The art is good… the style is a bit plain, and the backgrounds can be sparse, but there’s some wonderful details (some of the monsters especially, and the hundred-eye monster in particular was a favorite of mine).

This is sort of a horror manga that’s not really a horror manga, and would probably make an interesting read for fans of something like Natsume’s Book of Friends.  Try it out!  For some reason, the links stopped working on my WordPress editor, but you can check it out at this address:  http://www.genmanga.com/books/index.html

Maoh: Juvenile Remix 8

March 18, 2015

Megumi Osuga / Kotaro Isaka – Viz – 2011 – 10 volumes

This one was something I followed avidly, then after a major bump in the road in volume 7, I didn’t pick it back up.  Not sure why, this is a pretty intense and clever series, and it was super underrated.

Actually, I do know why.  It kind of ends in volume 7, and I was worried about the continuation from there, because I liked those volumes so much.  But so far, so good.

The premise is basically that a charismatic high school boy named Inukai begins to gather a cult of people (initially youths, but eventually everyone) in an effort to overthrow the local government and get things moving their way.  What starts as a modest movement turns powerful and creepy very quickly, and seeing the nature of the group, Ando tries to stop them.  Some characters in the series have modest special talents.  Inukai’s may be that he inspires blind worship of his ideals.  Ando’s power is that he can perform a kind of ventriloquism and make people say whatever he wants.

Ando struggles as Inukai’s group, Grasshopper, gets more powerful and a more sinister group of people are hired to stop him.  Inukai himself believes strongly in fate, in that he was meant to do what he’s doing, and Ando is likely meant to stop him.  But this doesn’t stop him from cutting Ando out of the picture.

In this volume, the story picks back up with Ando’s brother, Junya.  Junya is now after Grasshopper, but is basically at square one for trying to figure out what is going on with them.  After witnessing a murder framed to look like an accident, he follows the killer home and finds out about the mild special talents.  He also finds out about Grasshopper, and even gets an interview with Inukai himself at the end of the volume.

This is basically setting things up for Junya’s story, but there’s still plenty that goes wrong.  Formerly happy and care-free Junya is now a smidge homicidal, and he wants blood and answers.  The murder in this volume was, frankly, fairly disturbing, if only because something equally sinister was expected.  And the aftermath involved some undeserved torture.

There’s some pretty visceral stuff in here, and it’s plenty disturbing.  This volume didn’t touch on the politics of Grasshopper, but I wonder if the end of the series will dip back into that.  I actually am very excited to see how things turn out.  Hopefully I can wrap up the last couple volumes tonight.

Blade of the Immortal 25

March 18, 2015

Hiroaki Samura – Dark Horse – 2012 – 31 volumes

Okay, so you know how I was complaining that there wasn’t enough Rin and Manji in the last review?  This volume heard me, and delivered.  This is the beginning (or most of?) the confrontation between Rin, Manji, and Shira.  I’ve been waiting for this.  I thought this would be closer to the conclusion of the series.

Shira is batshit insane, and does evil things to women that I won’t be able to unsee.  He also has Manji’s arm, which has been bugging me.  The shinobi girls finally realize who Manji and Rin are, and when confronted by Shira, self-preservation and recognition of a psychopath causes them to cough up the info.

The fight with Shira isn’t nearly as depraved as I imagined, although what he does to Rin is pretty messed up.  We get some backstory where we learn how the kessen-chu work, and why the experiments at the castle failed.  Shira also knows all the ways to kill a kessen-chu immortal, and of course since he has Manji’s arm, he is also currently benefiting from kessen-chu worms.  So this fight is pretty ridiculous.

Manji rightly points out that there’s only one pair of eyes and one pair of arms between them, so there’s only so crazy it can get.  But still, the slow reveals of what’s going on are crazy, as is the fact Manji seems to have no problem with putting Shira down.  Until he figures out what’s up with Rin.

This continues into the next volume, so YES.  I’m very excited.

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