Wild Act 10

Rie Takada – Tokyopop – 2006 – 10 volumes

This is a good series that just wasn’t clicking for me in the second half, but for all my minor complaints, the tenth and final volume was more of the same and I literally read it in 20 minutes.  I could not read it fast enough.  What was the deal with both Ryus?  What about that producer?  Yuniko’s mother?

All of it’s here, along with one or two over-the-top action scenes worthy of their Hollywood setting.  It’s completely self-aware, too, and there’s even great scenes where the flying squirrels get to act like heroes and be put in mortal danger and all that.

Romance!  Danger!  Excitement!  This book has them all!  And the answer to the most pressing question of the series is hilariously convoluted and impossible, just like a proper shoujo manga conclusion.

In other words, this final volume was amazing and well worth stumbling through a few slow volumes.  Actually, I liked all the parts that took place in Hollywood.  I liked Ryu and Yuniko.  I liked pretty much everything about this series, save for the incest question.  I loved that Ryu and Yuniko made for such a happy and healthy couple, I loved the ridiculousness of stealing all the actor memorabilia and using it to jog her amnesiac mother’s memory, I loved the sense of humor, I loved the flying squirrels, I just loved how brash and energetic it was in general.  There was very little to dislike in Wild Act.  It’s everything a shoujo manga should be, and it’s a shame I took so long reading it.

If you find it, don’t hesitate to pick it up.  It is completely and 100% worth it to any fan of shoujo.  I think it was popular while it was coming out, but it’s probably slipped under the radar over the years and it’s a definite gem of America’s shoujo near-past.


Wild Act 9

Rie Takada – Tokyopop – 2004 – 10 volumes

Ah… hmm.  Wow.  That was certainly unexpected.  Shoujo manga just doesn’t do that.  It doesn’t throw such a disturbing wrench into the works.

The end of this volume is a mess, and sets up what will certainly be an epic final volume.  The last scene in particular is powerful and disturbing and makes me realize that yeah, this series is pretty amazing in its way.

The rest of the volume went pretty well, too.  Much is said about acting, and I was happy to see the rivalry business settle down for both genders.  Ryu #2 has backed off a considerable amount, and nobody fell for the jealous girl’s plan to take Ryu away from Yuniko.  The acting parts were mostly about getting Yuniko to live up to the legacy of both of her famous parents, so Ryu gets her started and builds her confidence about her acting skills, and she kind of takes off from there.  It’s still not nearly as fun to read as Skip Beat, which is probably the biggest strike against it and the reason I’m not enjoying it way more, but it’s still quite enjoyable, and I really like how Yuniko has picked herself back up and is finding an identity outside of “Ryu’s Girlfriend.”  I was a little worried that’s what the series was going to turn into now that they’ve moved to California.

The other great part of this volume were the little 4-panel strips in the margins of the chapters.  Many of these feature a very realistic frightened Rie Takada face reacting to a variety of scary and vaguely unsettling situations.  Excellent stuff.  Maybe I should read the author commentary in shoujo manga more often.

I am excited and more than excited to read the final volume.  I may just go ahead and do that tonight.


Wild Act 8

Rie Takada – Tokyopop – 2004 – 10 volumes

The story moves to Hollywood and starts with a clean slate, other than the continued trust issues in Yuniko and Ryu’s relationship.  Their bickering might not be as serious as it seems, though, since they seem to alternate between fighting and having a good time.  That’s interesting, and probably a sign of a healthy relationship.  All the same though, Yuniko’s the one who’s secure in her knowledge that Ryu is hers forever, while Ryu is the one who’s worried another guy in America will steal Yuniko away.

At Yuniko and Ryu’s new school, there is another boy named Ryu with ties to Yuniko’s past.  It’s possible he can give Yuniko information about her parents, but he’s also convinced that she’s his soul mate, and is prepared for a long fight to wrestle her away from Ryu Eba.  Of course, Yuniko does very little to dissuade him other than tell him her heart belongs to Ryu Eba while looking all moony-eyed at American Ryu, so you can see where this is going.

Moving the characters to America has hilarious results.  Yuniko can’t speak English, and often makes pretty funny mistakes.  One of the first examples was when she was misunderstanding the word “lover” for “Eba” when someone asked about her and Ryu’s relationship, and eventually told the person that they were “sex buddies.”  There are also lots of scenes where she flat-out can’t understand what’s going on, and also a lot of scenes where she and Ryu are speaking Japanese in order to confuse the non-Japanese-speaking students.  It’s interesting, and something you don’t see very often in a manga.  I like it.

My interest is renewed, and while I can’t say I’m looking forward to more relationship troubles between Yuniko and Ryu, I am looking forward to seeing how the series concludes.  And I still like it a lot for the healthy sexual relationship the two share, especially since it’s becoming less and less likely that they’re long-lost siblings.  If that turns out to be the case anyway… um.  Yeah.  I’ll let you know.


Wild Act 7

Rie Takada – Tokyopop – 2004 – 10 volumes

Yay, finally the relationship circles stop and the story advances!  I do like this series a lot, but I was getting tired of the constant soap opera.  There’s only so many times the main couple can break up and get back together before I start suspecting there isn’t much else to the story.

There is quite a bit of relationship-y drama at the beginning of the volume.  The first half involves a rough patch between Yuniko and Ryu and a brief entanglement with Maki.  Later, the volume focuses on Ryu’s trip to Hollywood and how Yuniko copes with that.  Lots of comedy and the quirky, good romance, all things that this series does best.

I don’t actually have that much to say.  I’m just happy that the ridiculous romantic hitches didn’t continue through the rest of the series.  I’m sure there’ll be more later, but boy am I happy to see the characters going for a change of pace.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in Hollywood.


Wild Act 6

Rie Takada – Tokyopop – 2004 – 10 volumes

Sigh.  I took a little break from this series, but I’m still not all that interested in what’s going on, which is a shame after I liked the beginning so much.

To be fair, this volume was better than the past couple.  Yuniko and Ryu finally step things up a little more in their relationship, which is nice to see, and again, I can’t get enough of their dialogue with one another or the sense of humor in this series.  The dialogue is excellent, and I can’t get enough of the strange offhand comments and the barbs the characters make back and forth to one another.  That’s definitely its strong suit, and it’s the only reason I’m still enjoying it as much as I am.

The characters are still, still, still tracking down Akira Nanae stuff.  There’s a boring and completely unsurprising confrontation between Maki and Ryu.  Admittedly, the stealing in this volume is done much differently than it has been in the past, but in the end, it’s still just stealing Akira stuff, and the characters still haven’t learned anything new because of it.  And even with Ryu and Yuniko stepping things up, there’s still fighting between the two, and the volume ends in a bad spot for the pair.  If it actually goes for more than a volume in the direction its indicating, I’ll be surprised, but otherwise, this is a pretty typical shoujo manga rebound scenario, except the rebound character is completely uninteresting and Yuniko is nearly breaking character to be in this spot in the first place.  I’m sure the misunderstanding will be smoothed out, they will make up, and go back to stealing Akira stuff in the next volume.  Sigh.  There was one other major upheval, but it was more a point of contention between the characters rather than a major plot point right now.  I don’t have high hopes for it in the future.

I hope the next volume… I don’t know, is more exciting.  Maybe I’ve just read too much shoujo manga and that’s the reason I’m not enjoying this.  I feel mean for badmouthing it, and I feel like I really should be liking it.  But I just feel like the plot should have moved forward, and I hate seeing the characters getting stuck in ruts that feel like they really should be strong enough to avoid.


Wild Act 5

Rie Takada – Tokyopop – 2004 – 10 volumes

Um.  The plot doesn’t seem to be getting any closer to debunking the theory that Ryu and Yuniko are brother and sister, and the two are starting to lose their resolve not to be all touchy-feely.  Again, I’m never, ever comfortable with the family stuff, and I’m genuinely unsure as to whether or not the two are going to turn out to be unrelated.  There are lots of different places this could go.  Ugh.

Most of the plot this time around involves trying to locate and steal a dress belonging to Yuniko’s mom from Maki’s mother.  The problem being, of course, that Maki is a paparazz0 and wants any speck of dirt on the two in order to sell to the tabloids.  For some reason, I can deal with absolutely everything the series throws at me – the fact that Yuniko is the daughter of two popular actors, that she successfully steals memorabilia related to her favorite dead actor, that she winds up hooking up with the hottest new actor around, that the two might actually be siblings – but I have a hard time swallowing that Maki is so thoroughly on top of everything that Yuniko and Ryo do that he manages to photograph and record every single movement, no matter how private the conversation or how insane it is that he would know about it in advance.  I guess I can’t swallow it simply because it’s working against the main characters and is totally ridiculous.  But anyway, there’s a lot of Maki and his insane hidden cameras in this volume.

The storyline doesn’t actually advance that far, and the pair isn’t any closer to proving they aren’t related… but it’s still a pretty fun ride, and I got a big kick out of the thieving and how in love Yuniko and Ryu are.  It really is one of the cutest and most romantic manga I’ve read, I just wish the brother/sister ick wasnt haging over everything.


Wild Act 4

Rie Takada – Tokyopop – 2004 – 10 volumes

So.  Something that this book made me think about.  A plot device that has fallen out of favor, but I believe was very prevalent in 90s manga, was twisting the story so that the main couple were somehow siblings.  Normally, this only applied to crazy marriage between parents and having the main couple be step-siblings (ie Marmalade Boy), and I don’t think very many of these made it into English, but even without blood relations between the characters, I still hate this plot device.

It snuck into Wild Act, which I adored for the chemistry and healthy sexual attitudes between the two main characters (“healthy” in the sense that they are frank about their desires, not because they do it all the time).  Now… ugh.  I want it not to be true, and I hope desperately that it is not, but I also don’t want to sit through several volumes of uncertainty.  On one hand, the plot is moving much faster than I thought it would (the whole thing with Akira Nanae was cleared up within 4 volumes, the couple has hooked up, et cetera), but on the other hand, I’m not exactly sure where the plot will head for the other six volumes if it doesn’t linger on the question of “Are they are aren’t they?”

To be fair, I saw this coming during the second volume.  It was pretty obvious that was where the story was headed in volume three.  All the same, I was hoping I was wrong.

Bah.  But it’s still pretty addictive, so I’m sure I’ll see it through to the end unless it handles the whole incest thing with less tact than I hope.


Wild Act 3

Rie Takada – Tokyopop – 2003 – 10 volumes

Reading further into this series, while I still love the sense of humor and the characters, it’s getting harder not to notice the really common plot devices it relies on.  I like the mechanics of it, but I kind of wish that both Yuniko’s parents weren’t legendary actors, along with her boyfriend, and the hokey feel-good situations between Yuniko and Ryu and Yuniko and her mother feel a little tired by the end of the volume.  As much as I like the couple, there’s only so much support I can watch Ryu give in one volume.

On the other hand, I still like the little quips and jokes that go along with the hokey lines.  Usually such jokes will come immediately before and after a cheesy love scene.  I also have to admit I kind of like these love scenes, and I like the fact that Ryu and Yukino are such a happy and healthy couple.  Their misunderstandings are brief and both are willing to forgive and forget in small matters, which makes this infinitely more readable than a lot of other things.

The bawdiness and sex jokes continue, with lots of dancing around thei issue without an actual consummation of the act.  Again, I get a real kick out of this since it’s such a taboo subject in other shoujo manga.  To see Yukino and Ryu discussing their (made-up) sex life with themselves and others is pretty comical and incredible in its own way, and it makes me wonder why the cavalier, yet responsible, attitude doesn’t appear in other series.

…Oooh, I see.  It ran in Sho-Comi, which had those problems about the sexual content a few years back.  Apparently Wild Act isn’t alone in its endeavors.  And yikes, 25% of the magazine’s readership are 13-year-olds reading Mayu Shinjo?


Wild Act 2

Rie Takada – Tokyopop – 2003 – 10 volumes

I finally got the rest of this, so I’m going to go ahead and start reading it.  As of volume two, I couldn’t be more pleased with the direction the series is taking.

The plot itself isn’t really the draw.  It’s not bad, and I like the quirkiness of the Yuniko, who is a thief stealing the possessions of her favorite deceased actor and slowly falling for the token bishounen, himself a very popular actor.  In this volume, she struggles with family things, like having to deal with her mother’s hospitalization and coming to terms with a shocking surprise about her father that is not at all shocking to the attentive reader.  With the plot alone, it’s a decent series.

It’s the sense of humor (helped immensely by the translation, I think) and the characters themselves that pull the series into fantastic shoujo territory.  While they are a pretty stereotypical couple, Yuniko and Ryu stand out because of the banter they pass back and forth.  They flirt with each other humorously, and not with overt gags where one overreacts or gets too shy like a normal shoujo series.  A lot of the flirting is loaded with sexual innuendo, and they and the other characters in the series talk and joke about sex frequently.  It’s not terribly naughty, and they don’t talk about actually having sex more than once, really, but a lot of the jokes just use sort of childish innuendo that you just don’t see in a series like this.  Sex is treated like the bubonic plague in these series, except here there is very nearly a sex scene about a quarter of the way into volume two.  Of course it is stopped, and Very Important Issues are worked out first, but the fact that this cheerful mood between Yuniko and Ryo and pretty much every other incidental character in the series is reflected in this healthy (and not terribly out-of-place) joking make the characters a notch or two more natural than what you would normally find, which is pretty incredible considering one is a talented thief and the other a hot celebrity.  It takes a lot to humanize characters like that.

Yuniko and Ryu also act like real people.  They have their tiffs, mostly surrounding the fact that Ryu thinks he’s just a substitute for the dead actor Yuniko likes, but misunderstandings are dealt with and forgiven, and you can’t help but smile when something happens like Ryu showing up at just the right moment and hiding himself from the cops by pretending that he and Yuniko are smooching country lovers.  There’s lots of cool stuff like that, and it’s even better that something like that can happen without Yuniko smacking Ryu upside the head and yelling at him.  In fact, they get a cute, real kiss immediately after that scene is over.

It’s just incredible how much of a breath of fresh air Wild Act is.  I can’t wait to keep reading, though again, I’m not really looking forward to this whole Yuniko’s dad business.  Oh well.


Wild Act 1

I picked this up for a dollar.  I heard a bunch of people raving about it on a message board years ago when it ended, and I always kind of wanted to try it.  Let’s see how successful I am at skimming it out of the used comic bins.

It’s hard for me to believe this only dates back to 1998.  Shoujo art has changed so much since then!  I would have guessed it was early to mid 90s, actually.  The sad thing is that this looks dated, and I was actually into manga when it was first coming out in Japan.  I don’t like to think enough time has passed since then that something can look dated.

Anyway.  I was surprised at how much I liked the story.  This is yet another shoujo series about acting, except, refreshingly, the heroine isn’t all that interested in being an actress despite being the daughter of a famous actress, being raised by a notable acting group, and being the object of desire for the hottest young actor around.  No, she’s really more into an actor who died before she was born.  So into him, in fact, that she goes around stealing his former possessions from people, which may or may not involve tiny pocket robots and beating up various perverts.

I was kind of surprised how quickly the relationship developed between the main couple.  They both seem to be into each other, and it’s mutually understood by the end of the volume, so I’m kind of wondering where else that’s going.  It’s still got a step or two before they officially become a couple, but they get over some drama pretty quickly and I can’t imagine it will take that long for them to be “official.”  Of course, it will be nice to read a series where the main couple stays together for the duration, because those are kind of rare.  And admittedly, as of the first volume, the romance is the least interesting thing about this series.  It’s a great romance, but the plot is just inherently weird and more awesome.  I mean… she breaks in and steals stuff that belonged to a movie actor that died 15 years ago.  That’s really good enough for me.

Plus, bonus points for the pet flying squirrel.  My friend has one that she carries around in a little pouch around her neck wherever she goes.  It is literally the cutest thing I have ever seen.  I like to imagine Yukino here doing the same thing with Kamui.

So yeah.  A search is in order for the rest of this, I think.


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