Wild Ones 9

February 23, 2010

Kiyo Fujiwara – Viz – 2010 – 10 volumes

EDIT: I wrote this review thinking this was the last volume.  There is one more, but the story does come to a pretty solid conclusion in this volume, as far as I can tell.  So even though I talk a lot about this being the end, there’s at least one more volume.

This was the last volume.  I came in about halfway through and never really fell in love with it, but shoujo manga endings always make me happy, regardless of how much of the series I’ve read.

Most everything you’d expect happens here.  Rakuto and Azuma’s rivalry climaxes, and the two bump heads in a tennis match over the methods each is using to win over Sachie.  Sachie, meanwhile, remains completely oblivious until one takes definitive steps to win her favor, and she spends the rest of the volume wondering what exactly a special person is.

The subplot with Rakuto’s dad is also resolved, and it goes… well, again, exactly how you think it will.  It’s left alone at first, but I knew it would come up again, and it came up exactly how I thought it would.

The last page is all hugs and pledged love and whatnot.  Cute stuff.  Exactly how a shoujo manga should end.

This was, in the end, a little too silly for my tastes, and I never really got into the characters.  They are who they are, and I would say they don’t have much depth, but it’s a romantic comedy, so they aren’t really supposed to have a lot of depth.  There’s not a lot of serious stuff to flesh them out, at least in the second half, and it suits the series quite well.  Again, it wasn’t really my cup of tea, and it was pretty middle-of-the-road, but I’m sure it will find its share of fans among those who read it.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Wild Ones 8

November 24, 2009

Kiyo Fujiwara – Viz – 2009 – 10 volumes

I do like this series more and more with each volume I read.  I still don’t think it’ll ever be one of my favorites since I just can’t get into the characters, but it helps that it hasn’t gone back to the boring filler that I hopped in on.

This volume had a cute side story about Azuma, Sachie’s other suitor, and a little girl he meets at the hospital.  The little girl is in a similar situation with her grandmother that Azuma finds himself in with his grandfather (ie, both are loved, but both grandparents might not have much time left), and he takes the little girl under his wing in a rather sweet chapter that has bonding in every possible way it can.  In the next chapter, the same little girl takes a trip with Sachie, Azuma, and Rakuto to the zoo.

Things are still weird between Sachie and Rokuto after she let her feelings slip while they were doing the servant business, but apparently the slip was subconscious, because she spends the entire volume wondering “what’s wrong with me?”  These types of stalls are my least favorite, because… come on, what teenage girl is going to be this clueless about her feelings?  Whatever.

There’s lots of cute stuff between Sachie and Rokuto, however.  There’s a short school subplot about Sachie getting bad grades, and then everyone winds up on a trip to Hawaii (? it was sort of a budget trip, it may not be Hawaii) that segues into a story about Rokuto’s past.

I’m not as curious to read the next volume as I was this one, but I have a feeling I’ll probably like it a little more when Rokuto gets more character development.  We’ll see.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Wild Ones 7

November 23, 2009

Kyo Fujiwara – Viz – 2009 – 10 volumes

I did like this volume better than the last, but this series still isn’t making much of an impression on me.  I do like the fact that Sachie is a sjoujo yakuza heiress with a bodyguard, but it’s a little more goofy and off-the-wall than I like.  It’s good to see that this volume focused a lot more on the main characters than the previous one did, though.

There was a story at the beginning where both Sachie and Rakuto muse on their future after high school, though nothing much comes of that.  The rest of the volume focuses on developing the relationship between Rakuto and Sachie little by little, though I hated the sometimes inconclusive ways the chapters would cut off and go back to square one.  Little hints are dropped that Rakuto’s feelings are getting through to Sachie, but for the most part, Sachie is completely oblivious to much of anything until the last chapter in the volume.  I was surprised by how much happened there, and how it differed from the average shoujo plot devices.  Normally a female rival is introduced in these situations to make the heroine come around and realize her feelings, but in this case, when the rival is introduced and starts hanging all over Rakuto, Sachie seems more concerned that Rakuto is being made uncomfortable than that the rival will steal him away.  The end of the volume comes about in a different way.

I also have to admit that I was sometimes very puzzled about what was going on in action scenes.  Most of the time, it really didn’t matter, so I would usually stop and move on in the one or two instances where I had to stop and try to figure out the art.  However, I re-read the introduction to the rival several times before I understood what was happening and why the rival challenged her to a battle.  The sense of place in this series just isn’t very good.

There is quite a cliffhanger here.  I wasn’t really hooked or interested in this volume, but I did think it was a huge improvement over the last, and I have one more to read after this, so I’ll see if things keep getting better.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Wild Ones 6

August 25, 2009

Kiyo Fujiwara – Viz – 2009 – 10 volumes

I haven’t read this series before, but like I said, it’s a little easier jumping into shoujo series than shounen.  This one wasn’t an exception, as all the situations and character dynamics were pretty clear even at the beginning of the book.  The premise is that Sachie now lives with her yakuza family and has to keep it a secret from her friends at school.  The main romantic interest is her “caretaker,” a bodyguard named Rakuto that follows her everywhere.  The romantic rival is a boy named Azuma, who needs to find the courage to confess his feelings for Sachie.

The character types were pretty fun.  Sachie is a very strong girl, and tends to be the pillar of support when everyone else around her goes weak-willed.  Azuma is something of a smooth talker and pretty boy, but a nice guy through and through.  Unusually, Rakuto, the main romantic interest is very quiet and doesn’t like to be directly involved with things.  That might just be because most of the focus this time around was on Azuma, though.

There doesn’t seem to be an overarching plot, and this volume had three different one-shot stories.  The first was about one of Sachie’s childhood friends coming back and setting himself on outing Sachie’s yakuza connections to ruin her life, the same way she outed his years ago and ruined his.  This was the Rakuto-centric parts, since Rakuto is the one who is trying to defend her honor.  Sachie does not approve, and defends her honor herself, with some support from Rakuto.  The second story is about a former member of the yakuza gang in need of help, since loan sharks are about to close down his restaurant.  Sachie rallies everyone around her to get the money he needs and help him turn his place into a presentable and delicious restaurant.  This was an Azuma story, since Azuma is the one urging Sachie through all this and decides that he will admit his feelings to her when the debt is all paid off.  Rakuto does not approve, but does little to stop the situation.  Mostly he just blushes and keeps to himself.

The third story was also an Azuma story, but dealt more with a past love than with his relationship with Sachie.  I actually liked this story the best, since the character development for Azuma came from a very unexpected and unusually cheery place.

But overall, I was not very much taken in by the series.  I liked pretty much everything about it, but there wasn’t anything outstanding or terribly addictive in this volume.  The stories themselves were okay, but not really… well, worth reading.  Their one-shot nature worked against them, too.  Since they didn’t appear to be contributing to a central plot, they seemed kind of pointless in addition to being bland.  It was also surprisingly romance-lite, something that never earns shoujo series a place in my good books.  For having two boys after her, Sachie seems to express no preference and nothing terribly interesting happens between them.  Maybe I’ve just gotten a particularly unromantic volume.  I’ve got one more volume here, so I’m willing to give it another try.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.