B.O.D.Y. 10

Ao Mimori – Viz – 2010 – 15 volumes

Because Ryoko and Ryu are apart in this volume, it reads more like a regular shoujo manga. Nothing even remotely disturbing happens. It was a nice break after the last creepy volume.

Ryoko decides to give Ryu space, but after he vanishes without a trace, her friends push her into looking for him. She’s not sure how she feels, since he seemed so sure he didn’t want to be with her, but since she still likes him, well… you know. The search continues into the next volume.

The second half looks at Ryu, who now lives with his dad in a remote cabin while he blows off school. His dad wants him to chill out and get himself sorted before he goes back to the city. Ryu’s aunt and cousin come to visit, and a relationship is set up between Ryu and the cousin. The cousin doesn’t like to be touched by boys.

Okay, I lied. It is creepy. But in B.O.D.Y. terms, that cousin could just be the girl next door.

It’s a little easier to like Ryu and Ryoko after this, and Ryoko even stands up for herself a couple times (though she mostly lets herself get pushed around by her friends, who make all the decisions for her). Maybe… maybe they’ll get back together and be normal people. And maybe it’ll be all romantic and nothing else horrible or stupid will happen. Maybe B.O.D.Y. can pull it off.

I feel so bad about hating this, because Ao Mimori seems like a really nice person. Her side notes are entertaining, and they’re easy to follow since she talks about Animal Crossing and American television shows, along with silly things about drawing the manga and talking to Karuho Shiina, the mangaka of Kimi ni Todoke. Her author notes are often the best part, and I normally hate shoujo manga author notes. I just wish her manga were easier to like. It’s just… not. I’m sorry, Ms. Mimori.


B.O.D.Y. 9

Ao Mimori – Viz – 2010 – 15 volumes

Okay, this series is just gross. I’ve been decrying it since the beginning, but mostly for the stupidity of the characters and the frustration of watching them wreck their relationship over and over again. It’s one of the trashiest series I’ve ever read, and I only continue to pick up new volumes out of morbid curiosity.

What do I get here? Fistfights, right at the beginning. Also, some of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever read, where Ryoko is accused of cheating on Ryu with a boy she’d met one time, something that could have been cleared up had she said anything rather than letting Ryu and the boy get into a fight. It still could have been cleared up, but instead neither Ryu nor Ryoko want to listen to reason or trust one another, which is par for the course in this series. A teacher with a crush on Ryu berates Ryoko, telling her she’s being selfish and shouldn’t be with Ryu when someone who cares as much as she does is available. Ryoko believes every word she says. Later, the teacher strips and tearily offers to have sex with a group of high schoolers who find out Ryu is a host, saying she’d do anything to keep that a secret. Ryoko… somehow thinks this is admirable, taking it to heart that the teacher really would do anything for Ryu, and who is she to date him?

Thankfully, the volume ends with one of the club boys telling all three of the characters that there is something wrong with them. Then, Ryoko and Ryu break up. Again.

More than the stupid fights, I cannot deal with these selfish, petty characters. Ryoko can’t stand up for herself and is willing to take verbal abuse from every character to heart, neither she nor Ryu can listen to reason, Ryu is crazy possessive, that teacher is just messed up, and the last straw for me was offering sex to cover up that secret seen as something admirable. I just cannot deal with that. Hot Gimmick was plenty trashy, but even it was less abusive than this is. And while Gakuen Prince has a gross premise, at least it realizes it’s crossing the line and doesn’t take anything seriously. Everything here is portrayed in an earnest and realistic light. Is a girl reading it supposed to put themselves in Ryoko’s shoes? I sure hope not.

Seriously. What is wrong with this series? Do you know how much it takes to get me to cringe at a shoujo manga? Maybe that’s why volume 11 hasn’t been solicited yet. I hate to see a manga series cancelled, especially if it only has five volumes left, but part of me wonders if it crossed some other sick, disturbing line. But how much worse could it get?

Ah, well. The valentines on the back cover are very cute.


B.O.D.Y. 8

Ao Mimori – Viz – 2010 – 15 volumes

Let me say this again: I am a complete and total masochist for reading this series.  It is shoujo crack, certainly, but not the good stuff like Peach Girl or Hot Gimmick or Gakuen Prince, where it’s trashy and you’re kind of ashamed to read it, but it’s so good that you’ll keep reading and not think too hard about it.  B.O.D.Y. is like that.  I have to keep reading.  Except all the drama is literally just misunderstandings between Ryoko and Ryunosuke.  If they talked to each other more, there would be no series.  It’s super-dark too, and I’m just… there’s a voice in my head screaming “broach the subject!” the entire time I’m reading it.  The characters never do, and then they just continue to think that they cheat on each other.  Bah.  Of course, maybe Ryunosuke won’t fall into that trap as quickly as Ryoko, but that’s a cliffhanger for next volume, which I will most certainly pick up.

The volume starts off with a simultaneous love confession for both Ryunosuke and Ryoko.  Ryunosuke’s is the one that gets the focus in the first half of the volume, since it involves the former tutor/current teacher that was introduced last volume.  Lots of hand-wringing and ridiculous baiting by the teacher gets Ryoko all worried, but this time, Ryunosuke is indulgent and pretty understanding.  I do like Ryunosuke, since he acts more like a real person than Ryoko, and this particular storyline did raise my opinion of him quite a bit.  I think it’s little scraps like this that keep me coming back and not giving up entirely.  I mean… Ryunosuke’s not all bad, maybe things will get better once he and Ryoko learn to communicate?  Haha.  Ha.  Yeah.

Once that minor fire is extinguished, the boy who confessed to Ryoko takes center stage.  This situation could have been easily avoided if Ryoko had just said something, ANYTHING to Ryunosuke before things snowballed like they did.  Bah.  Then the teacher gets in on it… and I hate this teacher so much.  She just… she would be fired if this was how she actually acted.  Adults just don’t do this type of thing.  Clearly I strive for only the most realistic characters in my manga.

Infuriating as always, but man.  I’ll keep reading.  I mean, Ryunosuke just walked in on a bad situation at the end of this volume, and I have to see how that works out, right?  That probably sounded a bit mean-spirited, but despite how I meant that, the answer is “yes, yes I do need to know how ditzy Ryoko gets pulled out of this sticky situation.”

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


B.O.D.Y. 7

Ao Mimori – Viz – 2009 – 15 volumes

On one hand, this series uses one of my favorite gimmicks, which is the couple that stays together through thick and thin.  As much as I don’t care for a lot of what’s going on, the fact that Ryoko and Ryu have gotten to the point where they talk out misunderstandings and come out on the other side just fine is pretty significant, and I can’t help but like it a little for that.

There’s still a bit of a train wreck going on as far as the story goes, though.  The story with Ryu’s mother peters out lamely early on in the volume with a fake death plot device that I saw through immediately.  And of course the mother starts off by hating Ryoko, then growing to like her at the end.  Bah.  At least she was a good cranky old lady, and the fact that Ryu has such a dysfunctional family is kind of cool.

Next, another shoujo plot device comes off the shelf in the form of the old flame from Ryu’s past.  In this case, the old flame is a tutor who has – gasp! – come to Ryu and Ryoko’s school as a substitute.  Ryu treats her pretty coldly, but of course Ryoko still does a lot of digging until she finds the truth: that Ryu only liked the teacher for, like, a second.

The whole “doing it” thing was pretty insane.  I have no idea how that leap of logic happened, nor did I like what it actually turned out to be in the end.  Just… what the hell, B.O.D.Y.  I know I complain about needing more of that in my shoujo series, but really, that’s not how it’s done.

Also, the last few pages of this book made me cry because it was so obvious where the story is headed next volume.  Literally, the next 200 pages of story flashed through my mind unbidden as yet another shoujo plot device came off the shelf.

I’m always cranky when I finish a volume of this, and yet I keep reading.  I don’t know.  This isn’t even a case of it being a trashy addiction.  It’s just not very good.  I may take a kind of perverse pleasure in seeing how exactly it tops itself every time, though.

This is a review copy provided by Viz.


B.O.D.Y. 6

A Drifting Life was actually the first review I wrote this evening, and I felt like I would follow it with B.O.D.Y. instead of Swan, just as kind of a palate cleanser.  What exactly I’m rinsing my palate with is up for debate, but at least I wasn’t furious at the characters when I finished this volume of B.O.D.Y.

Actually, this volume was a step up, but it’s more a step up from kind of awful to mediocre shoujo.  My tolerance for mediocre shoujo is high, and I’m easy to please when it comes to boyfriends and drama, but my brain just violently rejects this series.  This may just be because I’m getting too old to really enjoy the lower men on the shoujo post, which is a real shame.

In this volume, Asuka finally finds out the truth about Ko, the awful boy who was using Asuka to get some sort of twisted revenge on Ryoko and Ryu.  Despite the fact that Asuka finds out in no uncertain terms that her wonderful boyfriend is a host, doesn’t actually like her/was just using her, and is actually the terrible person that Ryoko has been telling her about all this time, she still loves him.  She still loves him even after he breaks up with her, outright rejects her, and then tells her two separate times that he never wants to see her again.  Now, there are absolutely no redeeming qualities in Ko, and no reason that the reader would want Ko to stick around or Asuka to be with him.  To see this horrible, shallow person pined after so sincerely is infuriating, in a way, but more acceptable that the shenanigans in some of the past volumes of this series.

Unfortunately, Ko has a change of heart after being relentlessly pursued by Asuka, and he may be sticking around.  The 180 on his part is unnatural and badly executed… but again, it fits in a shoujo series like this one.

There wasn’t a lot of Ryu and Ryoko in this volume.  I hope this wasn’t the reason I enjoyed this volume more/wasn’t overcome by rage when I finished it.  I’m not sure why, but part of me takes a perverse and masochistic pleasure in reading this series, and Ryoko is probably a big part of that.  I hope she’s back next volume.


B.O.D.Y. 5

This series is honestly infuriating.  I want to take Ryoko, slap her a bunch of times, shake her, and then do the same to all her friends.  What they do just doesn’t make any sense.  Why isn’t she just honest with her boyfriend?  Why is it so hard?  Ryunosuke knows that the guy was a total creep, so why would it be her fault that he kissed her?  Why is this something she agonizes over?  Why do both of them keep these annoying, inconsequential secrets from each other?

Every single one of these stories is like watching a train wreck.  You can see it coming a mile away.  It comes on slowly.  But there’s nothing you can do to intervene while the characters carry on down their extremely obvious and ultimately disasterous collision course.  And as I said, it is infuriating.

Remember how I was glad all that Host Club stuff was cleared up?  Somehow Kousuke is way more annoying than any of that stuff ever was.  Everything that he does, every sentence out of his mouth, is just… you want to punch him in the face.

Why am I still reading this?  Clearly I’m just getting worked up even thinking about the volume after I’m done.  I don’t think I’ve been this angry while writing one of these in awhile.  But there is something mildly addictive about trashy manga that’s done well, and while I wouldn’t say this is among the better of that genre, it’s certainly got whatever it needs to keep me coming back to these aggrivating characters and situations.  I hate myself a little for being so weak.  God dammit.  I need a drink or something.

Let’s see… something positive… well, the copy on the back cover is written out in rhyme in a little valentine or something.  I thought that was pretty cute, and the slightly different design to call attention to it was appreciated.  I don’t really read the author commentaries for a lot of shoujo series anymore, and I skipped over almost all of the plentiful bonus material in this volume, but several things caught my eye.  One of the 4-panel comics she has in the back talks about a reader that wrote in about a sign she saw at a bookstore that said something like “B.O.D.Y.! Cult hit with fangirls!  Future popularity not guaranteed!  Pay special attention to the bonus stuff, it’s almost paralyzingly funny!”  I really wish more bookstores paid backhanded compliments with signage.  Also notable was in the last page of the bonus content where the author talks about all the manga series she reads.  She lists 20 or so titles, and maybe three of them are not available in the US.  THREE OF THEM.  We’ve come a long way, friends.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


B.O.D.Y. 4

This volume was a little better, but I still felt like shaking the heroine hard many times.  Ryu picks up a creepy stalker at one point.  I’m not sure what is up with this series and these mildly sinister scenarios.  I know they won’t go THAT badly, but they create quite a sense of foreboding.

Anyway, the stalker turns out to be a royal jerk, and he starts dating Ryoko’s friend.  Ryoko tries to warn her about the boy, and then she goes out with him anyway.  Ryoko then warns her several more times, but without explaining why she was suspicious.  Things go badly for her, but it’s very clear at the end of the volume that the stalker is a huge jerk and that the friend is kind of a jerk for not paying more attention to Ryoko, who is clearly trying to help.  It’s a classic “bros before hos”-type situation, except with girls.

This may be the same friend that suggests to Ryoko that Ryu might be “blue balling” it.  This is not something I would ever expect to come out of any character’s mouth in a shoujo series with little more than hand holding.  I did a double-take when I saw it.  Awesome use of slang.

And on a final note, this volume has one of the most unintentionally hilarious letters pages I’ve ever seen in a manga, ever.  This is mostly because the series is called B.O.D.Y., so seeing that every time the title is brought up helps make the boring letters far more entertaining.  I will post a photo of it this weekend, because it is definitely worth sharing.

I’m glad the series recovered after that last volume.  It’s fun shoujo, and I think if it gets much better, it has the potentially to be very, very addictive.  Like Hot Gimmick addictive.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


B.O.D.Y. 3

Oh man, is this series ever silly.  That can be the point in a shoujo series like this, and it is a fun kind of silly, but the heroine here is getting into some ridiculous stuff.

Most of this volume features her intervening on behalf of the president of the host club.  That’s right, the same person that told her she’d have to sell herself if she wanted her boyfriend to stop dating other people for money.  He’s a bad guy.  Ryu tells her to stop hanging out with him and interfering with his business.  She doesn’t listen.  She actually keeps doing exactly the opposite of everything anyone tells her here, except in the doormat heroine kind of way where she weakly tries at something, then someone swoops in to save her and help her succeed.

Somehow, she infiltrates a huge corporation and happens to run into the wife of the president while dodging security for five floors.  The wife listens when she tells her she shouldn’t have dumped her old boyfriend.  Huh.  This scene is also far lamer than I have made it sound, since literally Ryoko and Ryu just bolt for the inside door after bungling security and vaguely run around a little before happening upon the person they’re looking for.

While I do like the characters, this volume was just too ridiculous even by shoujo standards.  The story wraps up at the end and we are promised new and better things not involving host clubs next time, so I’m pretty open to whatever direction it wants to take from here.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


B.O.D.Y. 2

I need to fill my quota for contemporary shoujo romance, stat!  B.O.D.Y. does the trick, and is actually a cute story to boot.

I don’t have that much to say about this volume, actually.  It’s sort of got a Peach Girl/Hot Gimmick thing going where a ton of stuff happens in one volume that’s tied so tightly together that it feels like nothing really happens, yet you’ve read 200 pages of story.  This is a very good thing, because it marks a truly addictive series.  B.O.D.Y. hasn’t addicted me quite yet, but I’ve got two more volumes sitting here, so it’s still got a good chance.

Surprisingly, this is the type of series where the boy and girl get together very early on.  I tend to like these series better since there’s far less plot about whether or not the two will hold hands, and the story moves on to other things.

The host thing is working out to be far more interesting than I thought it would.  Already, one of Ryu’s clients goes creepy-stalker on Ryu and Ryoko.  I’m not sure if she’s down for the count, but I doubt she’ll be the last of the psychos melting out of the woodwork.  Even better is the president of the host service, who puts a challenge to Ryoko that Ryoko takes up.  I’m not sure how this will work out, but it’s gone into some pretty creepy territory so far.

The volume leaves off on a wicked cliffhanger, and I’ll probably be sampling the other two volumes later this week.  It’s got a lot going for it right now, so I’m pretty optimistic about it being something I’ll be hooked on before too long.


B.O.D.Y. 1

I’ve read a few series lately which can only be described as… well… “OMG I NEED A BOYFRIEND!”-type series.  The girls in the main roles seem to be interested in little else.  This series falls into that category, as does Gaba Kawa, which I’m going to write about next, and Venus in Love, which I read recently, also qualifies.  I would expect not to like something that doesn’t even try to have another plot element going for it.  I mean, I know that’s the plot of every shoujo series ever, but I like to have at least a little disguise so that I can pretend that’s not all there is.  Surprisingly, I’ve liked all three of the above-mentioned series.  I would never have read them had you told me about the main characters beforehand, but running across them in their element seems to do wonders for my appreciation of them.

Anyway.  Enough about my finicky taste.  This volume starts off with the main character, Ryoko, oogling a quiet boy that everyone else sees as standoffish.  Turns out the main character likes him because she can project all sorts of ideals on him since he’s quiet and nobody knows anything about his personality.  Before too long, she finds out about the real Ryu, and not only is he not the quiet boy she had been dreaming of, he actually works at a Host Club and is kind of a player.  Exactly the type of boy she does NOT like, so at this point it switches to a “OMG I DO NOT NEED A BOYFRIEND”-type series.  But even though she decides to give up, Ryu decides to try for her, and much of the volume is spent with the two of them see-sawing back and forth in a love-hate relationship, Ryu trying to win over Ryoko and she not sure whether or not he’s being sincere.

Aside from what you might expect (some flirting and embarassing moments, a good chunk of which take place in and around an all-school marathon of some sort), the later part of the volume switches to another boy who actually IS Ryoko’s ideal guy.  He basically fits all of Ryoko’s perfect guy ideals, and of course Ryu tries to intervene before things get too far/too weird between them.  There are a couple places a plot like this can go, but this takes a sharp right turn and does none of them, and I liked the curveball.  I don’t want to say too much else other than that, but I was actually kind of impressed with this part of the story.

Aside from the above, everything else about the series is meeting the status quo so far.  It’s pretty fun and energetic enough to elevate it to a better-than-average standing after the first volume.  Ryoko struck me initially as sort of shallow, as most characters who are guy-crazy do, but she hasn’t fallen flat or gotten annoying yet, and that’s something.  I’m pretty optimistic about the second volume, and I’m hoping this… series? relationship?…develops further.  No real overarching plot has emerged quite yet, but I’m looking forward to when it does.


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