Skip Beat 34

June 28, 2015

Yoshiki Nakamura – Viz – 2015 – 34+ volumes

I got this in the mail yesterday (4/7, because I’m posting this, like, 3 months later) and read it immediately.

I’m pretty sure everyone in the surrounding three midwestern states heard me shriek during one of the key scenes.  That’s Skip Beat’s power.  It makes even old ladies like me squeal with joy.

Seriously, this volume is something else.  There’s an excruciating scene at the beginning where both the reader and Kyoko think that Lory will drop the hammer down on her.  Which, admittedly, isn’t really Lory’s style, but it’s hard to predict him.  It turns absolutely wretched and heartbreaking just as everything clears up, and then gets a little creepy as Lory tells Kyoko to “use everything for acting.”  Ugh.

Later, there’s Corn.  We haven’t really seen him yet.  This scene is amazing, and makes you realize that he may be more like Kyoko than it seems.

I’m not saying much about this scene so as not to spoil it, but I was actually laughing and yelling out loud while I was reading this.  I don’t do that.  It’s pretty much the best thing the series has offered us so far, and there are a lot of good things in this series.

Anyway.  This is a perfect opportunity for the two of them to come clean with one another.  If this doesn’t lead to heartfelt confession and romance, I’m going to lose faith in shoujo manga.

I see that there are two (!!!) volumes out in Japan.  I’ll wait patiently.

Demon Love Spell 2

June 28, 2015

Mayu Shinjo  – Viz – 2013 – 6 volumes

Finding and reading the last volume of Sensual Phrase put me in the mood for more Mayu Shinjo.  I’m further along in Ai Ore, but a story about an incubus appeals to the large part of me that loves dirty shoujo manga as well as demons.

The first story in the volume is actually rather heartbreaking.  Miko encounters a fox demon while on a school trip, and the fox demon confuses her with a priestess he used to know.  Kagura gets jealous, meanwhile the fox spirit turns into a fox-boy and is kind to the students on the trip, all while earnestly trying to convince Miko that he is the one for her.  He is adorable, and the end to this story is touching in a way that I was not expecting from Demon Love Spell.  It was an awesome story.

The second story in the volume is more what I imagined.  To keep Kagura from groping her and entering her dreams, she makes him promise to not touch her for a month, and in return he can do whatever he wants on “lovey dovey day” that isn’t sex.  Meanwhile, a small demon tries to rescue his kidnapped sister by stealing Kagura’s powers, and he eats Miko’s soul to get at him.

Actually, that story was kind of touching as well.  The brother demon was adorable.

Demon Love Spell isn’t quite as… heartfelt as Sensual Phrase.  Little is.  But it mostly scratches the itch, and I was pleased with how much I enjoyed both of these stories.

Mayu Shinjo’s author notes were a little depressing here.  In one, she says she always uses up all her ideas for a series in each volume, because she never knows when it will be the last.  Then she has to think of more, and that’s just her job.  Later, there are several anecdotes about how popular the fox spirit was, and how she had to be really adamant about how the story had to end.  There’s even a little strip at the end where she has to explain to her editor over and over again what has to happen with the fox spirit.  Another talks about how busy she is all the time.

These are a far cry from the gushy music fan notes in Sensual Phrase.  I’ve been noticing this more and more lately… on one hand, I know these ladies are aging right along with me, but on the other hand, the recent author notes from Mayu Shinjo and Chika Shiomi depress me more because they reveal just a little bit more of what a hard, horrible grind their job really is, and the toll that has probably taken on them in the last 20+ years.

I… see that Mayu Shinjo only draws BL comics now?  While a series called “A Teacher’s Innocence, a Student’s Lust” doesn’t really sound like something I’d be into, I still have high hopes.

Citrus 1

June 28, 2015

Saburouta – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2014 – 3+ volumes

Shoujo ai!  I’m glad this is easier to come by, now.  I was torn between this volume and Whispered Words, but this came recently and was on top, so I tried this one out first.

Yuzu’s mom just remarried, which means Yuzu has moved and is at a new school.  It’s a fairly classy all-girls school, with a strict dress code that doesn’t agree with the girly Yuzu.  No cellphones, makeup, no dyed hair, no accessories, no jewelry, no altered uniform, no clothing other than uniform clothing, et cetera.  The Student Council President, Mei, gets on Yuzu the first day at school.  Steamed about all the regulations, Yuzu goes home… to learn that Mei is her new step-sister.  Worse yet, Mei kisses her.  Yuzu spends the rest of the volume trying to figure that out.

Yuzu is outspoken and a little ditzy, Mei seems cold and unfeeling.  The chapters each have their own story… in one, Yuzu stands up for Mei and tries to get her and her skeevy fiancee broken up.  In another, Mei meets Yuzu’s grandfather, the chairman of the school, and gets herself expelled and her new family broken up.  Most of the romance consists of Mei doing something out of character and Yuzu getting confused.  At one point while apologizing, Yuzu’s shirt flies open, which I thought was funny.

I haaaaaaaate that they are sisters (seriously, the step-sibling romance plot is one of my least favorite), and I’m not that into the romance yet.  But this series seems pretty highly regarded, so I’m going to keep reading.

Satoru Kannagi – DMP/June – 2006 – 5 volumes
this is a novel

I’m a sucker for these BL novels.  I’m sorry they weren’t more popular, because I inhale them like peanuts.  There are still a few I haven’t read, but this is probably the most well-known of all the June BL novels, so I thought I’d give this a try.

Wataru hooks up with Yuichi, the most talented and good-looking guy at his school.  Unusually, the story is told from Wataru’s point of view, but Yuichi is the one who nursed the crush longest.  The first half of the novel is the story of those two hooking up.  Admittedly, it didn’t make much sense, since Yuichi was terrible to Wataru (presumably to mask how he felt), but Wataru fell for him anyway, and everything worked out in the end.  The second half of the novel is set a little later, and is about a bet between the two of them about their relationship crossing physical barriers if Yuichi can rank on a national exam.  While Yuichi is studying, a girl tricks Wataru and it looks like the two are dating.  Also somewhat unusual is the fact that Yuichi is more mad that he isn’t spending time with Wataru than he is about the rumors of Wataru dating the girl.  He knows they aren’t true.

The titular theme of rings is very prominent.  Weirdly so.  It’s a thing at their school for couples to share rings.  Wataru wears a ring because he likes it, not because he’s a couple with anyone.  Yuichi steals it one day and has a copy made, but because they’re in different years, nobody notices they wear the same ring.  When Wataru nearly finds out, Yuichi picks a fight and is generally terrible to him for a couple weeks, until they hook up.  Where either boy wears the ring (on their ring fingers, versus their middle fingers) is the subject of much rumor and speculation.  Before they start dating, Yuichi is forced to call attention to the fact they have the same ring in front of several people, which is the subject of much speculation.  And the whole second story is about a girl stealing Wataru’s ring, and Wataru not wanting Yuichi finding out because he knows Yuichi will be really upset that the symbol of their love has been tampered with.  It’s a little weird.

Overall, this novel was… okay.  It was pretty straightforward, the characters were pretty regular guys, but mostly likable.  I have a low threshold of quality for these, so I liked it well enough to continue the series.  But DMP has better novels… my favorite is probably still Lonely Egotist, but if you’re looking for a cute, earnest relationship with a couple of nice boys, Only the Ring Finger Knows is pretty great.

And Yuichi has the same birthday as me.  That never happens!

Also, like Lonely Egotist, this book has awesome spot illustrations.  Lonely Egotist had illustrations by Masara Minase (I LOVE HER), but Ring Finger is illustrated by Hotaru Odagiri.  She’s more famous for The Betrayal Knows My Name.  Her art is very good, and a lot like having CLAMP illustrate your BL novel.  Realizing she did the illustrations was what put me over the edge for buying the series.  A small detail, but still.

Gasp!  This has gone through three printings!  That’s almost unheard-of from DMP!

QuinRose / Sia Asai – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2013 – 3 volumes

Ooh, I like this one!  It’s a whole lot more serious and less silly than the others.

Lots of complications, most of which we’ve already seen.  But they have much more gravity in this series.  Alice is initially avoiding Ace since Peter tried to talk her into confessing her feelings, and she couldn’t.  Elliot, who is quite earnestly (and adorably) in love with her steps in and honestly tries to date her, but her heart isn’t in it, and she feels bad for leading Elliot on.  Later, she and Ace make up, but the morose, sad, smiling Ace in this world is continuously too much for Alice, and her feelings make her sad.  At one point, he appears to drive her away to the point that Boris has to step in and save her.

Later, Peter mentions that if she were truly happy giving her heart to Ace, she would smile more and be less sad.  An unusually great line from these books.

This also dwells more on “Where do you want to go” and “what is a role,” though… not a lot of serious attempts are made to answer these questions.  Possibly because there aren’t answers, but that’s not super-satisfying in a series like this.  Other than re-treading previous Clover ground, and angsting and going back and forth about a relationship with Ace, there’s not… a whole lot else to wrap up here?  I’ll be interested to see if they make a happy ending out of this story, or if there’s a conclusion to the “storyline” in the next volume that wraps up more than just the relationship.

Mostly, I wish volume 4 of Cheshire Cat Waltz wasn’t taking so long to arrive, because I really, reeeeeally want to read that one, which has a less angsty relationship and seems to be going through the Clover storyline nice and slow.

Hiroaki Samura – Dark Horse – 2014 – 31 volumes

Ugh, this volume was ROUGH.  Again, I am not that interested in side characters.  But side characters are what we get here.  Most of the volume is a fight that Giichi is having.  It is intense in a way that few series other than Blade of the Immortal can pull off.  His opponent is missing an arm, and instead has two weighted chains.  The way he swings these around makes it impossible for Giichi to go in at close range.  Body parts go flying, et cetera.  In the first half of the book, we also get to see Hyakurin fight and nearly violated again.

In the middle… there’s another fight.  It’s suitably epic, and at one point involves a giant man with a giant sword wiping out a whole group of people, after a bunch of build-up from the members along the lines of “we’ve trained hard enough, we can do it!”  And that was cool.  But man.  I don’t care who the giant man was, nor did I care about the people he was wiping out.  I also didn’t care about any of the other people in the middle of the book, because they were not Rin or Manji.

Better luck next time, I guess.  Maybe Rin and Manji will be back on the trail of Anotsu.  I… really don’t care about the rest of the plot at this point.

We Were There 16

June 28, 2015

Yuuki Obata – Viz – 2013 – 16 volumes

Yay, it’s always so satisfying to read the ending of a shoujo series.  Well, usually.  This ended how I thought it would, so it was nice to see the story wrapped up so nicely and sentimentally.  I’ve held a grudge against Yano for the past several volumes, but I loved seeing Nanami and Yano so happy here.

There’s not much I can say about this.  It ends just about how you would expect it to.  Yano drags his feet about getting back in touch with Nanami, circumstances intervene, a tragedy happens, then things wrap up.

Worth the emotional misery of the last few volumes:  the scene at the end in the field.  It was ADORABLE.  And all the talk between the two about making up for five years of being apart.

Again, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the last several volumes, and I’m still not sure I like Yano, but man, this series is a classic.  Read it with Honey and Clover, Sand Chronicles, Hot Gimmick, Peach Girl, Seiho Boy’s High School, and Paradise Kiss if you want to have your contemporary shoujo socks knocked off.

Please don’t remind me that Peach Girl is old enough to drive.  I will cry.

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