W Juliet 14

March 5, 2007

The timeline for the end of the series is a bit wacky, and the opposition I was hoping for seems to happen after graduation, when I was wishing for everything to be resolved… but oh well.  I still got a pretty satisfactory ending.  The fact that the dad stopped what could have been a foul-up right at graduation with what Emura called psychic powers of some kind was definitely a bonus.  After graduation, there are several more stories about different couples intermixed with  Ito and Mako’s story, but I like how they turn out in the end.

I think I like Ito and Mako a lot as a couple because they stay so true to each other throughout the entire series.  Unlike most other manga like this, where the relationships are rocky and the characters often hop around, the opposition came from other sources and the one constant throughout was that Ito and Mako had each other.  This was adorable, and made even better by the fact that I liked them so much as characters and a lot of the stories served not only to provide cute moments between the two, but also to flesh them out and give them background.

Yes, the series did repeat itself sometimes, and yes, I think it did focus too much on other characters at the end, but I absolutely adored W Juliet for never seriously threatening to separate Ito and Mako from one another.  It was assured that even if they needed to be uprooted from their surroundings or things went bad with either of their families, they would be together despite that.  It was really nice.  I mentioned that I liked the steady couple in Marmalade Boy too, when Miki and Yuu were solid after about four volumes, but the relationship needed to develop first, then it was threatened one or twice after it was established too, so… I liked this better where the relationship was solid from the first volume and only grew from there.

I also mentioned I liked the passage of time, where most other series would let the seasons cycle indefinitely while the characters remained the same age (this one DOES do that in the first year, to be fair), W Juliet has reason to mark off time since the end of the series is something that is a clearly defined event.

Emura’s talks were also something that appealed to me throughout.  I said I liked them better than any other mangaka, and I realized this was because she always talked about her stories and answered questions readers had about the characters instead of video games, going out shopping with friends, or her assistants.  She lost me a bit when an entire volume was dedicated to real-life ghost stories, and another volume was dedicated to assistants, but even when she spent an entire volume on her sister, I was kind of touched since she’d talked so much about her sister up to that point.  She says she just doesn’t have anything else to talk about since the manga rules her life, but I still say she’s one of the more interesting for those side columns.

The one thing that I was totally disappointed about in the end, and THIS IS A HUGE SPOILER SO DON’T READ IT IF YOU DON’T WANNA HEAR, was that Ito and Mako didn’t get married.  I was so sure this was going to happen, and I was really sad that it didn’t.  Emura blamed it on too few pages for the last installment… but now that there’s a W Juliet II, I’d be thrilled if we got it there.

Highly recommended for fans of shoujo monogamy as one of the only representatives in the genre that I can think of.

W Juliet 13

March 5, 2007

This one mostly dealt with an audition that Ito and Mako had with a drama company, and also a trip that Mako took with Ito’s brothers and girlfriends (Chris and Akane) on a skiing trip that turned bad.

The audition was of course complicated by the fact that Ito had a fever, but I really liked the way it was handled, and even the final result.  Again, I would have liked to have seen more opposition than I got, but what I did get was really really good.  Ito is a good action hero, and I liked that we get to see that a lot… Mako usually overshadows her in fights now, which is a bummer.  I also liked that there was one gruff judge we didn’t hear from until the end.  That was a nice touch.  Also… administering medicine mouth to mouth.  Thank you.

The skiing trip… well, yes, it goes bad in the worst way possible for Ito and Mako.  Again, this is another plot point where I desperately wish Ryuya would have stuck to his resolve instead of folding.  Emura does often mention she wishes she could do more but she doesn’t have enough pages or enough for a story… but more drama could have easily been added in this storyline.  It wasn’t.  And I kind of was wishing for another direction from here, but again, relatively smooth sailing.

But you know what we get for the entire volume?  Focus exclusively on Ito and Mako.  YES.

W Juliet 12

March 5, 2007

So we finally get to the cultural festival, which has been building up for several volumes now.  But because you know such an important event can’t pass without much meandering, there’s a big plot that takes up the first half of the volume that involves bank robbers with hearts of gold and the buildup of a relationship between Nobuko and Toki.  URGH.  The fact that I can tolerate these digressions and still suck down five volumes of this series in one day is testament to the fact that I love the characters that much, including a character whose name I didn’t really know until now and a character I don’t really like.  Did we really need to know about Nobuko and Toki?  Well, I guess it is good to know that Toki will leave Ito alone now.

After Tsugumi shows up to see the play, of course she interferes and Ito and Mako wind up handcuffed together, which affects Mako’s performance in front of the drama critics his dad brought.  Somehow, this felt a little artificial too, but it’s good that there was some resistance for the drama critic complication.  I think I was constantly rooting for this series to take a darker turn, like for Mako to be found out and have to flee with Ito, or having the critics grade him badly and needing to take some other course of action, or having some complications with Ito’s family… I think I wanted some real drama, but all I got was the stage stuff.  Good enough for me, because again, I love this couple.  I’ll talk about them in depth in the last volume review.

And Takashi comes in for one last go-around with Mako.  Finally his sister slaps him silly though, and we never hear from them again.

W Juliet 11

March 5, 2007

There’s a really, REALLY cute story at the beginning of this volume that was a relief after having to sit through stories about other people’s relationships, some comedy relief, and that long training camp arc where Mako and Ito didn’t get much of a chance to hang out.  This one was about Ito making Mako flan caramel for his birthday and not knowing it was the only sweet he couldn’t stand.  It was adorable.

Unfortunately, it’s followed by a story about Tatsuyoshi and his girlfriend.  Thankfully, it’s only one chapter long.  Unfortunately, it’s followed by a chapter about Yuto and Akane, then another chapter about Sakura and the Narita father.  Then a chapter about Yoshiro and Misaki.  Bleagh.  Again, I like all these characters (the chapter about Yoshiro and Misaki was especially cute), but MORE MAKO.

We also get a boring chapter at the end where Takashi tries to sabotage the drama club one last time.  He gets one more go around in the end, but this is the last instance of drama club interference.  These plots have gotten tiresome… Takashi was a great villian at the beginning, but these have repeated themselves so many times that he no longer poses a threat.  Go make sure your sister doesn’t pass out, instead.

So we get a grand total of one Mako/Ito chapter.  Urgh.  One chapter, a handful of cute moments, and a cute note at the end where Ito says she’s growing out her hair for a gankake.  Cute, but I want more because I like both those characters, and they are THE MAIN COUPLE thank you very much.

W Juliet 10

March 5, 2007

There’s an intolerably stupid story at the end of this volume where Ito gets kidnapped by Toki, Tsugumi, and Sakamoto simultaneously, then gets saved by Mako.  Ugh.

The first half of the volume is focused on a kind of mediocre training camp arc which introduces a new character named Jotaro, notable only for his name similarity to Jotaro Kujo.  He was someone from Ito’s past who shows up as sort of a love interest, and it doesn’t create friction between her and Mako… it doesn’t do much of anything… it was kind of sweet, but mostly boring.  The notable part of the training camp story was when the big-name director had a contest at the end where the loser student from each school had to read a private wish out loud that they were tricked into privately writing right before.  One loser was clear, because he needed to have something aired out.  The loser from their school was between Ito and Yoshiro.  Of course Ito wrote down that she wants to live with Mako, and Yoshiro wrote that he loves Misaki.  That part of the story was awesome.

The middle of the volume sets up a girlfriend for Ryuya named Chris, who’s American.  Again, I liked both Chris and Ryuya (they’re my favorite secondary characters, actually), but stories like these were kind of a weakness of the latter half of the series, because there were SO MANY of them it felt like the series could’ve ended several volumes sooner if we didn’t have to hear from all the secondary characters.

Chris is also an American character that shames you a bit until you realize that the only reason you know about Dogeza is because you read about it in Eyeshield 21.  Or maybe that’s just me.

W Juliet 9

March 5, 2007

The scene in the pool blew my mind a little.  What gratuitous, yet harmless, girl fanservice.  Ito and Mako really are great characters, and it’s nice that we get treated to so many close moments between the two throughout the course of the series.  Though admittedly, none were ever quite as close as this.

Much of the beginning of the volume is dedicated once again to Akane and Yuto.  While I like almost all the side characters in this series (which is an extremely rare thing), I don’t want to hear about the relationships as extensively as this.  I would much rather be reading about Mako and Ito.

There was a new stipulation thrown into the deal with Mako and his dad, and that was to wow some drama judges his father arranged to show up at the Cultural Festival.  Takayo also uses this as a deal to hinge how their engagement goes.  This just kind of adds fuel to the fire story-wise, but wasn’t something I got fired up about.  However, this also helps focus on the passage of time, which is something else I thought this series does really well, or perhaps I was just more aware of it because I read all the volumes in 5 days.

What I DID get fired up about was Ito’s dad catching her with Mako and overhearing them talk about… you know, whatever deep stuff they talk about.  THAT made for an entertaining read.  Thank you, Ito’s dad, for being a hilarious character.

W Juliet 8

March 5, 2007

Are you guys ready for the second half of W Juliet?  I read it all in the past two days, which blows my mind.

This answered the question right away about what Ito’s brothers would do when she was out all night unexpectedly, then out for another day while skipping school after that.  I’m glad that wasn’t ignored completely.

A lot of this volume was about Ito’s brother Yuto and Mako’s sister Akane meeting, ruining an arranged marriage, then getting together.  I kinda didn’t see that one coming, it’s a little weird, but being the only two normal characters in the series, I suppose they’re well-suited to each other.  But how weird to have two people marry into the same family.  I’m sure it’s not unheard of, though.  It did cut into my Mako/Ito cute moments though, which is a big shame.

I cried a little bit on the Kohei chapter, which is the only part in this series that got me a little weepy.  It was very good and very well-done.

I didn’t so much like the story about the vengeful mermaid at the end though… much like the time-slip story, it felt a little out of place.  But I’m all about Mako rescuing Ito.