Crossroad 7

February 5, 2008

I was sort of disappointed with this series.  All the dramatic conclusions, showdowns, and points of contention I was expecting did not happen.  What did happen was pretty… well, normal, I suppose, and I liked the way everyone’s emotions were played out so honestly… but boo, I want my drama.  One situation I was expecting to blow up this entire series (someone finding out about Akai-sensei) never happened, and there was a lot of other stuff that could have happened… but I suppose the safe, mushy, family fun route is probably what I should have expected.

A high point in the series was the love letter Natsu wrote to Kajitsu that made up the narration for the final chapter.  It was some seriously shoujo prose.

We do get a “here’s what’s happening a few years down the line” peek, and while I could have gone for an entire long chapter about that, mostly with just Kajitsu, I appreciate everything that was going on there.  They showed all the characters, how they were getting along, what their jobs were, and just some really fun stuff.  I thought the character development has been top notch all along, even for minor characters, so it’s nice to have some icing on the cake at the end.

There’s another, unrelated story at the end of the book that was pretty cute, too.  Any story involving the second button of a school uniform tends to shoot to the top of my list.

So yes.  It had a pretty addictive storyline and excellent characters. It had a slow start, but I forgive it that since it was building up its characters, and it really got going in the third volume, so it sort of paid off.  I can pay it a high compliment when I say that all the characters in it act like you would expect normal people to act (at least most of the main characters do, anyway).  I tore through all seven volumes once I started reading it again, but I was totally bummed by the somewhat dull, but happy, conclusion.  It is sort of notable as being one of the cleanest, well-written serious shoujo series I’ve read in awhile.  I feel like there are definitely better things to read, but I did love its vanilla flavor.

Crossroad 6

February 4, 2008

One thing I forgot to mention last time is that not only does this series win out over my general dislike of sibling relationships (even between step-siblings), it also wins out over my dislike for teacher-student relationships.  Because Kajitsu and Akai have such a friendly, not-quite-romantic relationship, it’s easier to swallow, and it’s hard not to like it when the two of them tease each other almost constantly.  Neither one ever takes advantage of the other, even when they live with each other briefly, and I really respected that.  I can’t really decide which of the guys I prefer for Kajitsu, Natsu or Akai.

But things are once again moving towards Natsu.  Actually, this volume had an element of almost total finality to it, but there’s still a chance that either Taro or Akai will interrupt the somewhat smooth flow things have taken.  A lot of time is also spent on Natsu and Erica’s relationship, which I still can’t really figure out.  It’s explained much more loosely than the other relationships in the series, so… well, I don’t know.

But yes, the next volume will wrap things up.  There’s still a couple things that could happen and a couple alternate matches that could be made, so I can’t wait to see how things wind up.

Crossroad 5

February 3, 2008

Though I didn’t hate this series like I did Ouran, I figured it would be sorta disappointing. Similar to Ouran, I’ve become totally won over by Crossroad.

There’s not much to say about this volume that isn’t a spoiler. The teacher and Kajitsu get a lot closer, but it may not be the most romantic relationship ever, especially on Kajitsu’s end. She’s basically heartbroken because of things Natsu’s doing. You know how that goes. Natsu feels bad, I think, but there’s not much he can do about it. Stupid Taro.

I’m a little sad that the heroine, who is usually a pretty strong person, is being a little bit of a weepy doormat as far as the teacher goes. I guess it’s to show that even she has weak moments.

Crossroad 4

February 3, 2008

So, even though Kajitsu and Natsu love each other, and aren’t really related at all, they can’t really start dating because Taro would never forgive them and it would break up the family.  How’s that for a complication?  Normally stepsibling relationships are a really big no-no for me, but since this family is composed entirely of an eclectic mix of people thrown together by a series of divorces and remarriages, they seem less like a family and more like a group of kids looking for a family, so it’s easier to overlook.

Because this is a shoujo manga, there’s not just one love interest for either Natsu or Kajitsu.  Kajitsu still has Akai, and that relationship seems to be getting weirdly hot and heavy really fast.  And there’s a bratty girl who wants to go out with Natsu.  I’m not sure what either of them are going to get from that relationship since Natsu doesn’t really want Erica and Erica’s one and only is her best friend, but I’m willing to see where that goes.

More focus goes to Taro, the bread winner of the family, which is nice.  After revealing all his secrets and some of his background, it makes it more heartwrenching when you realize Natsu and Kajitsu don’t want to hurt Taro’s feelings.

So yes, I’m totally addicted to this series now.  The mediocre, somewhat complicated and boring setup for the series is saved further in by the delicate way relationships are handled.  The short length means I’ll probably get paid off well for following it too, so I’m probably going to devour the last three volumes tomorrow.

Crossroad 3

February 2, 2008

The relationship between Natsu and Kajitsu gets going!  Hooray!  It’s got a long ways to go, but at least something is sort of being acknowledged by both characters at this point.  Not much is being acknowledged, mind you, but there was a handful of cute moments.

The creepy teacher relationship persists, too.  It’s hard to tell if the teacher is just playing with Kajitsu or not, but he alternates between sort of joking and sort of dramatic.  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.

Two side characters get their subplot sorted out.  I like that the main character has friends at school who aren’t part of her family, and there’s not 500 of them, all on the student council.  It’s nice to see a happy medium sometimes.

What I like the most about this series so far is the subtlety of emotion.  Nobody is really “in love” with someone else.  There are friendships, family relationships, and slightly romantic relationships.  Kajitsu doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry to find her one true love, and neither are any of the other characters.  While there are some of the same plot devices  you’d find in an angsty relationship manga (Natsu gets mad at Kajitsu because she’s out on a date, Kajitsu gets mad at girls who have a crush on Natsu, both say it’s a sibling kind of thing, and maybe it is) , this one is a lot quieter and more laid back because it cuts back on some of that noise.

Crossroad 2

February 1, 2008

For some reason, while I can’t forgive shounen romance for its genre conventions, I still find myself ensnared in some pretty average shoujo fare. I can’t remember why I stopped reading this at volume one, but it may have been a combination of it not really grabbing me and not having enough money at the time to continue. So here we go.

The second volume is still kinda… eh. The premise of the series is that there are four siblings living together who aren’t really related more or less because their mother ran off. Well, their mother comes back in this volume, and sticks around. She’s funny, but I wasn’t sure why she was brought back in. It’s not even really a spoiler, it’s the first thing that happens in the volume.

Predictably, romantic entanglements develop. There isn’t much going on between the main character and her brother, Natsu, though it looks like things may be headed there eventually. There’s actually a weird friendship-kinda thing that develops between the main character and one of the teachers.

The story introduces a pair of teachers who are sort of coupley. I think they’re both supposed to be straight, but at least one is very touchy-feely with the other, and I can see their friendship/relationship possibly serving up some drama down the line. I liked these two teachers a lot. They work pretty well as a bit of comic relief, but they’re also sort of evil and twisted in their own way, too. It’s one of these gentlemen who winds up bonding with the main character. The teacher isn’t even really a teacher, he apparently is a counselor of sorts, and the main character sort of starts taking her problems at home to him throughout the volume.

Natsu’s past also takes up a significant portion of the volume, and we learn about the aunt and uncle he was staying with, along with one of his other stepbrothers and why he wears long sleeves all the time. I can’t quite get a bead on his personality, he’s really standoffish and seems to do things without thought, so I want to see how he develops feelings throughout the course of the story. He can be a little annoying in his perfection at the moment, so I’m sort of leaning towards hating him.

Despite the fact I’m complaining a lot, like I said at the beginning, I was totally hooked when I finished the volume despite all the familiar plot devices. I don’t know if the story will wind up going anyplace good or interesting, but it did promise some spice and a really messed up, ill-advised couple, so I’m ready to take the plunge into the rest of the series.

Crossroad 1

November 6, 2005

Go!Comi’s giving me real problems, and they’re not even a month old. Already I want every single one of their launch titles. I’m pretty sure. After reading Mirror, Mirror and hearing the only problem with Cantarella (a You Higuri series!) was the confusing historical stuff, I’m all over that one. Her Majesty’s Dog is about a magic/psychic girl and a guardian boy, which sounds mildly interesting if done right and I’ve heard it’s awesome, and Tenshi Ja Nai has genderbending, which I’m generally all over, but after W Juliet, I may flip through that one in the store before I get it. But Crossroad and Cantarella, yes please.

I actually didn’t really fall in love with this series until the last chapter. The main character isn’t all that likable because she loses her temper a lot and you don’t really see her react to her grandma’s death (the first thing that happens in the series) until much later. I heard a comparison made to Hot Gimmick, but there really isn’t… they aren’t similar. At all. This one’s really serious-minded. It’s about orphans who’s parents have ditched them entirely and who have exhausted all their other family members to the point where they either can’t live with them anymore or the other family members are dead. Their “mom” reappeared briefly after the kids were reunited after their grandma’s death, but she ran off and left three older kids with yet another sibling, a six-year-old who she told would be right back… and she actually ran off with a man to Venesuela.

Yes. Very heavy.

It follows a 15-year-old girl who’s cranky, irritable, and fights with the 20-year-old brother who wound up being everyone’s legal guardian CONSTANTLY. I didn’t like the older brother and I didn’t like how she constantly fought with him, and I also hated how she insisted on being alone at school. Things were starting to get going a little bit between her brother (who’s not really her brother) and her too… which I don’t think I was okay with… she kept having flashbacks to a sweet, younger version of said brother I liked, but current brother is also an asshole.

So, yeah… I don’t really like either brothers at this point, but she has an adorable little sister, and though she’s sort of an asshole, the last chapter really develops her and brings her around. Definitely a new series for me.

Damn, the art looks like Megatokyo though.