April 6, 2013
Yuriko Matsukawa – DMP/DMG – 2012 – 1 volume
I haven’t tried a DMG title in a while! This one’s up over at eManga, of course, but I actually bought it to try out Comixology on my Kindle. I wanted a non-BL title, and this one’s description included a line about how it was a classic work from 1989. I’m sold.
Buuuuut… it’s not so hot. While I enjoyed the 80s art style, it’s mostly just a collection of lukewarm stories. The first, Not For a Student, was the most bizarre. Miki can’t get her foot in the door as a photographer, so she falls back on teaching instead. She starts off doing well as a student teacher, but soon is undermined by a student named Takase, who has poor attendance and doesn’t respond well to Miki’s concern. Miki begins following Takase around to find out what his deal is, and learns he has a strictly not allowed job at a club at night. Before she can blackmail him into good behavior, she nods off while talking to him at his apartment, and he takes photos of the two of them sleeping together. Miki is on extremely thin ice, but something about Takase’s apartment brings her back. She finds out he is keeping his baby brother behind a false wall, and he and members of the class are taking turns watching the baby throughout the day, which explains his poor attendance. He’s kidnapped his brother from his mother, who is a famous actress and he finds to be an unfit parent. Right when Miki finds this out, his mother shows up at school to reclaim the baby, and Miki and the other students send the officials on a merry chase, baby in arms, to keep him safe.
This was… just a weird story that didn’t make much sense. I didn’t really wind up sympathizing with any of the characters, and its initial bland flavor wasn’t much improved the weirder it got. While I hate teacher/student relationships, this probably would have been much improved if the obvious relationship between Miki and Takase had ever taken off, but it didn’t. I’m still not quite sure why, perhaps that sort of thing wasn’t common back then? I hate to say I’m more interested if there’s a romance involved… but the truth is, I am.
Aim for Acclaim, My Beautiful Hostess! was a weird, but somewhat better, short story about a girl struggling to keep her family’s hot spring/bath house open in downtown Tokyo. Her clientele is old and dying off, and she can’t seem to generate enough business to keep her creditors away. A mysterious novelist shows up one day and offers her a huge sum to keep the creditors at bay temporarily, and the young woman soon suspects the novelist’s secret identity is the wealthy heir of a big business empire. Just kidding! It’s his twin brother! Save The Business hijinx ensue when both brothers and their inheritance woes get tied up in the hot spring. This story was somewhat better, and it had a light romance element, but it was still a bit low-key compared to modern shoujo stories. The pace was slower, the characters were a bit shallower, and the story didn’t have the quirky twists and turns or the loving detail needed to avoid them.
Put Your Right Foot Forward is a cute story about a girl that learns to love to dance when she sees two boys performing on the street one day. The school’s drama club gets caught up in the dancing fever. Again, a light romance element, some comedy, and the dancing subject matter makes it an interesting read, but it has similar pacing problems, and the characters weren’t interesting enough to really grab me.
The fourth and final story, White Rose Village, is a very short but cute love story involving two younger children and a promise made over a four leaf clover. I liked it a lot despite its length, and I suspect it wouldn’t have been as good had it been longer.
Overall… hm. As much as I love older shoujo, and I do want to recommend it, it… was just a bit too lukewarm. It wasn’t terrible. It was okay. Perhaps I was just in the wrong mood when I read it. I did like most of the stories well enough, and perhaps that first story is crazy enough to warrant the price of admission for many. The rest are mostly just cute, somewhat longer slice-of-life/light romance stories. It might be a good boredom buster… but honestly, there are a lot of other things on eManga, too.