August 23, 2015
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2013 – 19+ volumes
One of my favorites! I lost this volume, which is how I got so far behind. I was happy it turned up during a re-sort recently. However, it’s been so long since I read it that I can’t recall what is merely mysterious and what has already been explained. A re-read is in order, and it will be a pleasure. Hayashida’s art is so detailed, I’m sure there’s a thousand things I missed the first time through. Actually, she tells a pretty detailed story as well, so that doesn’t hurt either.
For instance, I’m almost positive full-grown Kasukabe is a novelty. What I can’t remember is whether or not we know why he reversed-aged (maybe it had something to do with his wife?). In Dorohedoro, this may not have been explained. It also may never be explained. It’s not important, and mysteries like that make it very charming.
I’m a bit confused about the main thread of the story, which is why I want to re-read it. I know there have been some subtle hints dropped about Caiman and his connection to the Cross-Eyes gang, which are all completely lost on me now. The end of the volume drops a huge bombshell, so maybe I can just pick it up from there, but something tells me I need to go back and re-read. I think he’s heavily implied to be someone else, but I need to make sure it is who I think it is.
Elsewhere, En is still being a bad guy. He comes to pick up Nikaido, and he and Caiman fight. It was somehow less satisfying than I imagined, but it led to said bombshell above, so I can’t be too mad.
Ebisu!!! I was a little sad at the beginning of the volume to see she’d gotten her memories back, and was abusing Fujita with her full faculties. But then. I’m not sure if that’s for real or not, but man. It’s pretty cold-blooded if it is.
I still LOVE the artwork. There are a thousand small things you’ll miss, if you don’t look hard enough at each panel. My favorite here was the En heart tattoo on the bird-mask man’s bicep. I’d just never seen it before. And the sorcerer masks still get me every time. I love looking at them. Then there’s the heartbreaking detail in Ebisu’s scene towards the end of the volume. There’s just so much here.
The Extra Evil in the back cracked me up, but then again it always does. This one was about Chidaruma being a big ol’ eccentric asshole. I loved it.
August 23, 2015
Chika Shiomi – Viz – 2015 – 4 volumes
Actually, I like this series quite a bit as of volume 2! Shiomi is great at setting up a creepy, uncanny mood, even though what’s going on isn’t particularly spooky. And I’m liking the limited cast of characters right now, too.
There was a non-recurring character in volume 1, who was replaced here by someone who is likely a permanent part of the triangle. What’s interesting in this series is, because past lives are involved, this is a guy-guy-girl love triangle where the girl is a different person depending on the era. It hasn’t done anything super-interesting with this yet (and actually may have side-stepped an interesting approach), but it’s still fun to see.
We get to see more of the past, and Yukari realizes that Mahoro may not be who he thought she was. We are also introduced to a new character named Satomi, who’s likely to stick around to the end. He’s Yukari’s new caretaker, and obviously a key figure in Yukari and Mahoro’s past life. He and Mahoro rub each other the wrong way, and periodically lapse into other personalities that seem to want to fight each other to the death, while Yukari is passed out dreaming of Edo in the other room. Nobody remembers anything when they wake up.
On one hand, it hinted at one identity for Mahoro last volume, but this volume hints strongly at a different one. I’m not sure whether to trust that yet or not. It would be interesting if it was somehow able to switch back and forth, or if Mahoro were somehow two people.
I also really like the outfits Yumurasaki wears, mostly in the chapter illustrations (she’s usually in a state of undress during the story this time around). For not liking to draw period clothes, or knowing anything about them, Shiomi does a great job with Yumurasaki.
I like the short length of this series, too. It should be finished up by the end of the year, which will be perfect for me.
August 23, 2015
Mayu Shinjo – Viz – 2014 – 6 volumes
Pretty good last volume, as far as Demon Love Spell goes. Since it didn’t have an overarching plot, there wasn’t a whole lot to wrap up. This volume contains two stories, both are good versions of the types of things I like about this series.
In the first, Kagura and Miko have to save a cherry tree inhabited by a spirit that a developer wants cut down. The developer hires the pair to banish the “demon” that prevents them from cutting down the tree, but a little girl implores them to save the nice old man she talks with. Killing the spirit doesn’t sit right with Kagura (even though the spirit wants to die), and he sort-of bullies Miko into a solution that works for everyone. The spirit has tearful reunions with all those he’s encountered over the years, there’s a nice festival, it’s very sweet.
The second story brings up more trust issues between Kagura and Miko. Kagura just isn’t getting enough energy to stay alive, and he passes out after seeing Miko off to school one day. Another priestess finds him, and says if she takes her priestess powers (she doesn’t want them), he will remove the seal that Miko’s father put on him. He shows up unsealed and full of power, and… yeah. You know where this is going. The actual resolution is way more over-the-top and nonsensical than you would have thought, but the series ends just like you think it will.
So yeah, there are definitely way better series out there, and there’s even way better smut. But Mayu Shinjo is good for scratching the shoujo itch, and if you’re into demons, priestesses, and guilty pleasures, give this a try. It does pretty much everything you think it will.
August 23, 2015
Youka Nitta – SuBLime – 2014 – 14 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 3-4
Hm. I read the first half of this book, and it didn’t really click with me, so I waited a week or two to give the second half a try. It still didn’t click. I’m not sure why, I loved the first one to pieces. I found it to be incredibly romantic. But this one felt like straight-up drama.
In the first half, the main plot point is that Iwaki and Katou are moving, and then they visit Iwaki’s family, who are homophobic and had previously disowned him when he started his career as an adult actor. The second half has more short stories, but hanging over the whole of it is a rather ugly plot point involving Iwaki’s new manager attempting to sabotage their relationship.
What did this volume lack that the first one had? Well, I really liked watching the two of them fall in love, and struggle to become legitimate actors. I thought that made for a great story. But here? They… aren’t really struggling for anything. They’re both incredibly famous. They are together. Each chapter has some sort of petty fight where one earnestly yells at the other over something silly, like not spending enough time together, being worried about the other’s mood, or whether the manager is trying to get in between them. But there’s no real drama, because there’s never any doubt that the two love each other. The fights become annoying and repetitive, and just read like drama drama drama without much substance. The content of volume three was a bit more interesting… it did feel like the two were coming up against something serious when Iwaki struggled with the relationships in his family. And there were some cute stories when the two moved, like when Katou found the box of Iwaki’s old adult films.
Part of my reservation is that I still have the content of volume 4 lingering in my memory, which is mostly just short stories that feature conflict without a serious ground. The final story was interesting, since it was about the author of Embracing Love from volume one, and about how he turned from being an in-the-closet police officer to the feminine writer he is today (I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be transgender, the story has implied both genders at different points). But it was condensed in one chapter. It would have been better if it had been longer so we could learn to like him more. It would have also been better if I never found out his lover was his younger nephew.
The key to a drama-filled series like this is that the drama has to feel like it’s actually affecting the lives of the characters, not that one misunderstood how much the other loved him. Something tells me if someone threatened their relationship, one or both of these men would lose their minds. So that would be intriguing if it was a real threat. There’s also the old stand-bys for a series like this – career ending drama, major physical accidents (if you’re Zetsuai, you alternate between those two), family drama (which Kizuna does correctly)… and you’ve basically passed all the “how does he feel, I don’t know” drama you’re going to get out of Embracing Love.
It’s not like I’m ever going to stop reading. At one volume a year, this doesn’t come out often enough to grow tiresome. And it’s still pretty high-quality drama, which I like in BL. So, after all that, really, I can’t wait for the third omnibus. If only because there’s a shriveled black part of my heart waiting for their lives to crash and burn somewhere over the next ten volumes.
edit: I waited long enough to post this review! Volume three came out a week or two ago. I wrote this up in… May?
August 23, 2015
Kotaro Isaka / Megumi Osuga – Viz – 2012 – 10 volumes
Okay, so the last volume of this series was AWESOME. There’s a face-off with Fraulein. The son of the leader sends a group of crazy hobbyist murderers after Junya’s friends. Junya has to protect them, somehow stop Fraulein, and also somehow have his hands in the major speech Inukai is giving at the same time.
It is incredibly messed-up, violent, shocking, and awesome. I was blown away by the number of little twists and details that went into the anti-Fraulein plan. That was some powerful stuff. It’s kind of what this whole series is about, and that was one of its finest moments. Really. It’s why this series is worth reading.
But then… I didn’t like the weak stance the story took on Junya/Inukai at the last moment. I was actually fairly unclear what most of the epilogue was about. And the ending. That was disappointing.
Part of that may have to do with the adaptation? I either forgot or never knew that this was based on a novel. It has actually flowed quite smoothly, despite that. I often dislike adaptations. Perhaps the ending just didn’t translate well into a manga? That was very disappointing. This series was great, and fairly smart. That the first half of this volume was so good made my hopes for the ending skyrocket. It’s a shame it didn’t happen as good as I imagined.
But don’t get me wrong, this series is still worth reading. At 10 volumes, it’s not much of a commitment, and it’s a mystery series nobody read as it was coming out. The ending fizzled, but the rest of it was fast-paced, strange, and very much a compelling read. It had fantastic artwork as well. Very dark, detailed backgrounds, odd character designs, deranged-looking facial expressions, and great fashion sense. Give it a try, if you are so inclined.
August 23, 2015
Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2013 – 16 volumes
While this is more of the same from the past several volumes, there were two things that made this one better.
One was the number of not-quite-intimate scenes between Kurosaki and Teru. They didn’t kiss, nor did they… really talk about their feelings or anything. But they came close, and it was adorable. Normally I’d be throwing the book across the room in frustration, but somehow, it fits the characters nicely. Besides, if I was really such a huge opponent of relationship progress, I’d have set fire to my Skip Beat volumes long ago.
The second was the last two chapters, which was a really silly, nonsensical gauntlet put together by Teru’s brother Soichiro right before he died. Admittedly, when I say nonsensical, I mean this challenge makes very little sense in the context of the story. Why did Soichiro make this? How did he know absolutely everything that would go on? How did everyone else know how to respond? Why would you do that if you were hiding a CD?
All the same, it was terribly entertaining, and it felt nice to enjoy a volume of this series so thoroughly once again. Kurosaki’s “Teru Quiz Challenge” was the absolute best.
I also liked that in one of the asks, someone asked about Teru’s income. One of the options they came up with was “Don’t think too hard about it. Like why men dressed in black are riding a roller coaster before a business deal.” Not only did I get that reference (Detective Conan) creepily fast, I had to do a double-take. Why were they?! Motomi says that’s explained (it probably was, and I just forgot), but it still made me laugh really hard. Oddly, Conan’s title is pseudo-censored, but I’m not sure why. Dengeki Daisy and Detective Conan are published by the same company, here and in Japan.
I hope there’s more cute stuff sprinkled throughout the last story arc. The first half of this volume really was all doom and gloom, and I’m just not feeling this whole “M’s Last Testament” thing. But again, Dengeki Daisy has always had power to charm, and I want to see the ending of the series.
August 23, 2015
QuinRose / Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2013 – 7 volumes
Hmm. The story is picking up here… actually, by quite a bit. But this series has a maddening habit of letting a lot of stuff happen without explaining it. It was one of the things I liked best about the original, but I’m finding it frustrating here… especially since there’s some elements of the Clover setting I still don’t understand.
So… so far the Joker setting seems to be about suppressing unpleasant memories, both in Wonderland and in her old life. Joker seems to think this makes her a liar. Nightmare… and Peter might have something to do with keeping the cap on her bad memories, since this seems to repel the Joker, although the Joker also implies this makes her a liar? He also implied last volume that it was somehow disingenuous that she stayed behind because she didn’t feel worthy of her sister’s affection. Not sure what that’s about.
The Joker also has a split form, the nastier side runs a prison. It’s not clear what that prison is for, yet. He’s trying to catch Alice in it.
It’s also not clear why all the residents of this setting seem so against Alice meeting Joker by herself. He gave her something that unlocked her memories, and Peter saved her at the last minute. Being around Peter seems to be good for Alice here… as he is “Sunday Afternoon.” This is never adequately explained in Clover… it’s usually a bad thing. Maybe because being around Peter makes her remember spending time with her sister, which strengthens her ties to her home world. Here, it brings forth the good memories (and apparently keeps the bad at bay), so it’s a good thing. I guess.
Because Peter and Joker are actively protecting Alice, and because Peter winds up being her personal escort with Joker, as of volume two it appears she is closest with Peter. He’s so crazy, I’ve thus far only read a short story where Peter was the preferred companion. None of the spinoffs have been Peter-centric so far.
Anyway, it’s intriguing, though I liked Cheshire Cat Waltz better. There’s no solid romance here, which gives me something to root for while the plot is being all cryptic. And what’s an Alice series without the romance? But maybe that will pick up next volume.