January 11, 2012
Aya Kanno – Viz – 2010 – 13+ volumes
I do love this series, and every time I read a new volume it cracks me up, but on the other hand… it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere, which is a shame. I do like that it introduces new characters and twists on being otomen, and it’s always funny, but… man is it episodic. I was almost fooled here, when the beginning of the volume made it seem like Asuka and Ryo were breaking up, then left the situation for a couple chapters, but not even that stuck around very long.
There are some heavy plots here, chief among them the fact that Ryo decides to go live with her sick grandpa and move away, leaving Asuka and the others in the lurch. This leaves Juta with half his muse missing, and paves the way for a nice story where all the characters get together and do things that are both true to their character (a weird concert from Ariake, a horticultural event from Kurokawa, et cetera) and nice group activities, leaving everyone with happy memories with Ryo. Later, there’s a chapter where Asuka goes and visits Ryo, whose grandfather is trying to throw her out. She’s terrible at cooking and housekeeping, so taking care of him isn’t really working out. Asuka helps her out in secret, but it doesn’t escape the notice of the grandfather. I’ll give you three guesses why that is. Asuka and grandpa might share… common interests.
There’s a Tonomine story mixed in there somewhere. He and Juta are my favorites, and I especially love his stories, where he simultaneously resists and embraces his love of cosmetology. In this story, he helps a young girl who his hilariously bad at applying makeup.
Later in the volume, Asuka’s mother walks in on a rather boisterous otomen party (Tonimine’s unaffected response was the best in this scene), and as the director of Asuka’s high school, begins to crack down and enforce gender-specific behavior, with particularly harsh penalties for guys who like to do girly things. I love that all the characters are so comfortable with their hobbies now that they sit around and sew/garden/whatever in clubrooms, just waiting to be caught.
While the Ryo storyline was unusually dramatic, and the school storyline does appear to be going somewhere, once again, this volume was episodic stories. Again, they’re funny, and there are few series that can make me laugh as hard as Otomen (I still crack up whenever I think of the Jewel Sachihana awards ceremony a few volumes back), I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve experienced pretty much everything it has to offer, and there’s not a whole lot that keeps me reaching for the next volume. I’m not giving up on it, not by any stretch, but… I wish it threw a little variety in every once in awhile.