Magic Touch 7

March 13, 2010

Izumi Tsubaki – Viz – 2010 – 9 volumes

Mmm.  Yosuke’s mysterious past, and the reason he doesn’t like to be touched, are finally revealed in this volume.  I wondered where the last volume was going, and it almost seemed like Chiaki and Yosuke were parting forever, but it’s not so bad.  What happens to Yosuke is pretty disturbing, and since this was almost entirely a flashback, I have to wonder how it’s going to be dealt with in the next volume.  It wasn’t amazing or anything, but it was an interesting plot development that added some (disturbing) insight to the character.  Since I don’t read the series super-regularly, I’m a little afraid to find out whether or not the person in question is now… er, related to Yosuke.

The last third or so of the volume deals with side characters.  The school friends in this series are the least interesting part for me, which is a shame since there are a lot of series that wouldn’t bother to include them at all.  But they’re mostly background fodder, though this story was pretty cute.  The student council president and one of the members of the massage club enter into a cute little romance based on body heat/lack of body heat.

Again, it’s a cute series, and this is probably the best volume so far, but it’s still pretty middle-of-the-road.  I like Chiaki and Yosuke, and most things involving them are cute and pretty interesting, and while massage doesn’t really enter into this volume, I still think that’s a super-interesting hook.  But… you know.  It’s just kind of there, otherwise.  Most shoujo fans will probably find it a pretty fun read, and it’s easy to get into so don’t hesitate if you run across a random volume, but just keep in mind it’s only okay.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Magic Touch 6

January 20, 2010

Izumi Tsubaki – Viz – 2010 – 9 volumes

Reading only even-numbered volumes of this series is a good idea.  It’s okay, but I have a feeling I’d get tired of some of the filler if I read more of the stuff that goes on.  Even in this volume, the first couple chapters build a nice romantic vibe, and that’s immediately thrown off by switching over to minor characters from a different school (I don’t know them, but I think they were a rival massage team that appeared briefly in volumes 3-4) and dealing with a subplot that Chiaki is eventually called upon to solve.  I almost quit when I got to this part, especially since it was a clear diversion to take my mind off of the more serious plot development that had been going on regarding secrets between Chiaki and Yosuke.

More acceptable filler follows towards the end of the book, with a story dealing with graduating seniors in the massage club and some drama involving the club captain, co-captain, and another senior member.  I don’t know these characters that well, but I did like the little romantic triangle they had going on.  Something tells me this won’t be nearly as drama-tastic in the end as the characters are making it right now, but that’s okay.

The better part is at the beginning, which is major relationship development between Chiaki and Yosuke, first while at a camp-out and later while on a nice date at a beach.  It’s implied that both have things that the other would rather not know, but the fact that Yosuke goes AWOL after this is very interesting.  My bets are that he’s some sort of heir that can’t be with Chiaki in the end, but that’s the subplot of the romantic triangle that comes up at the end of the volume, so I can’t imagine it would be used twice.

Again, I’m always kind of sad to see this series badmouthed, because it’s not really that bad.  It is certainly middle ground shoujo, but there are things to like about it, and the theme is unique (no massage happens at all here, but it’s discussed in the sidebars).  It’s kind of like a shoujo version of Gimmick, a shounen series about a boy who makes movie special effects with a similarly half good, half boring plot.  Both have their charms, but neither are really going to rock anyone’s world, even with their unique premises.  Keep that in mind, but you might find it’s a fun read if you’re the kind of person that can’t get enough shoujo romance.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Magic Touch 4

September 3, 2009

Izumi Tsubaki – Viz – 2009 – 9 volumes

This volume may as well have come with a big warning sticker plastered across the front.  The characters are dressed as maids right there.  That never bodes well unless the series is actually about maids.

But that’s getting started on the wrong foot.  This series seems to get a lot of hate and winds up on a lot of “worst of” lists, but from what I can tell, it’s really not that bad.  Maybe I just read the good volumes or something, but for a series to be truly terrible, I feel like it has to fail to appeal to fans of the genre.  Magic Touch is bland, but this volume had a number of really cute romantic scenes that I liked even without knowing much about the characters.  There was a short story that took up the middle of the volume about two side characters that I enjoyed quite a bit despite the fact there wasn’t anything all that terrific or special about it.

The earlier story in the volume didn’t really appeal to me since it was an after-party with a bunch of characters I didn’t recognize from a competition I missed by skipping the third volume.  I have a feeling I wouldn’t have enjoyed this section even if I had read the previous volume, because there’s a lot of character-based humor for these brand new characters, and given the really generic and similar-looking character designs, I have a feeling I would have been confused and still not gotten the jokes even if I had read volume 3.

But the second half of the volume is great.  As I said, the middle is a two-part side story dedicated to the budding relationship between a pair of side characters that was highly enjoyable.  And the story that starts at the end of the volume focuses on the tough, stoic Yosuke.  I’m not entirely clear on his deal, but apparently he hates all women except for Chiaki, and even with her, can’t bear the thought of being touched.  This story promises to look into that a little deeper, and apparently will use the flirty massage teacher from the second volume to needle Yosuke into further action.

Also, after not thinking about Pink Lady for years and years, it’s insane that two different manga volumes would drop a Pink Lady reference within a couple months of me reading them.  Not just a Pink Lady reference, but the characters singing the exact same song.  What are the freaking odds of that?  The boys here match Pinoko’s performance of UFO from volume 5 of Black Jack.

Yeah, Magic Touch is nothing spectacular, but it is a cute romance.  I wouldn’t say it’s the worst of anything, really.  Far from it.

Magic Touch 2

June 1, 2009

Let me tell you, my imagination went wild when I learned that there was a massage-themed shoujo manga.  I mean, think of the steamy possibilities!  Alas, this series ran in, like, Betsuhana or some other magazine where the characters just hold hands and blush.  I wept a little inside at the wasted opportunity.

Not all was lost, though.  Surprisingly, the series has a really strong, flirty couple as of volume two.  Issues like jealousy and accidentally watching the boy change come up, as do things like… well, NOT touching the boy.  The romance is much more involved than a regular shoujo series, which impressed me quite a bit.  I mean, I don’t think the two of them are going to so much as kiss anytime soon, but there’s a lot of other positive stuff going on between them, and series with strong couples tend to be rare.

The premise is that Chiaki is some sort of prodigy when it comes to massage, and in addition to being the most knowledgeable member of her high school’s massage club (!!), she also immediately falls in love with good-looking and popular Yosuke’s back.  Apparently the two of them started going out in volume one, and Chiaki can’t keep her hands off him since she feels compelled to massage him whenever she sees him.

The massage angle actually makes the stories in this volume fairly atypical, but without the spin, they’d be pretty average.  There’s a club training trip where the instructor hits on Chiaki and Yosuke gets jealous, there’s a chapter where Yosuke tells Chiaki have to be apart (because Yosuke tells Chiaki not to massage him, a mystery until the end), there’s a chapter about Chiaki making Yosuke a lunch and some trauma from her childhood, and there’s a story about… I don’t know, Chiaki keeping a secret from Yosuke.  Not the most original fare, but again, the massage angle makes this a fairly interesting read, and both Chiaki and Yosuke are pretty likable, if not at all exceptional.

Hmm.  I’ll keep reading, because, well, massage manga, but I’m willing to bet there won’t be a lot of surprises in store.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.