Yuri fans, rejoice—it's time to clear some space on those shelves for a sweet, honest, and down-right ad...moreCheck out more reviews at Across the Litoverse
Yuri fans, rejoice—it's time to clear some space on those shelves for a sweet, honest, and down-right adorable depiction of two girls falling in love. For starters, I found the evolution of Mariko and Akiko's relationship had a natural pace to it, and the two girls played their doubts and insecurities off one another well. In the first collection, Mariko's narrative takes the lead, and we see how her admiration of Akiko becomes infatuation, which then matures into Mariko's first love. Throughout this section, readers follow the small, faltering steps Mariko takes before she's able to name her feelings for her best friend, and we're given a view of the unwitting attraction and initial self-denial that accompanies the first crush of an LGBTQ kid.
I also appreciated that Girl Friends doesn't follow a standard coming-out narrative. While the main audience of Girl Friends will likely be younger, queer-identified readers who might find themselves in the same situations as Mariko and Akiko, Morinaga doesn't turn the work into a Coming Out event. In the second collection, Mariko and Akiko do discuss their future, and the girls dream of a time when they'll share their relationship with family and friends—but for now, while the girls are still in high school, they choose to enjoy their time together.
Definitely a welcome addition to any yuri collection!
Ideal for: Yuri fans and queer-identified readers; Manga fans who like a well-crafted romance and the high school drama inherent to falling for a close friend; Folks who liked Sasameki Koto and Aoi Hana in particular.(less)
So, I must add my voice to the deafening praise surrounding The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Highlights i...moreCheck out more reviews at Across the Litoverse
So, I must add my voice to the deafening praise surrounding The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Highlights include: the charming, self-aware narrator (who just happens to be Death); Zusak's insistence that the reader knows the fate of each character long before the ending of the novel; Hans Hubermann's quiet heroism and his dedication to his foster daughter; and the reclamation of books for new purposes (e.g. Max's use of Hitler's Mein Kampf to write his own memoirs).
Also, be prepared to cry for the last section of this book.
Desperate to win his lover's hand in marriage, a young man named Heinz appeals to the gods—of cour...moreCheck out more manga reviews on Across the Litoverse
Desperate to win his lover's hand in marriage, a young man named Heinz appeals to the gods—of course, he hadn't planned to be taken captive, mid-prayer, by a beautiful, fiery god…
Apollo, the god of the sun, spirits Heinz away to a miniature garden hidden in the realm of the Gods. Here, the constellations remain fixed, and an endless field of white flowers bloom underfoot. Time cannot be measured in this place, and eternal life will be given to all who enter. Apollo promises to grant Heinz his wish on one condition: Heinz must convince the garden's sole inhabitant that he can escape from this world. A simple premise, but the gods are a fickle lot…
From there, Heinz meets Ganymede, the youngest prince of Troy, who was imprisoned in Apollo's garden hundreds of years ago. After repeated attempts to find the cliff at the end of this realm, Ganymede succumbed to his own self-doubt and despair. Heinz is young by comparison, and he's still blinded by ambition, love, and, worst of all, hope. Can Ganymede free himself from the snares in his mind? Is escape even possible at this point? Or is this a new torment fine-tuned for Apollo's amusement?
Oh, the artwork of Olympos. The ethereal qualities of the ill-fated garden, and the detail behind the gods' character designs, made for a stunning reading experience. I don't often get lost in the art of a manga collection, but Aki creates such beautiful, hypnotic dreamscapes—how could a reader ever avoid the same traps Ganymede fell into?
While I did love the artwork, I found the narrative was rather circular at times. Olympos offers a "philosophical-lite" approach to Greek mythology, and tussles with issues ranging from truth and deception to self-imprisonment and the limits of freedom; however, I realized the manga fell into a pattern of talking heads (à la Socrates and co.) with little action taking place. Granted, our main setting is Ganymede's infinite prison, so there's only so much room to explore—but I often find idea-driven work hard to stick with, especially when the characters are gorgeous and, well, lounging for the most part.
Overall, I'd advise fans of Greek mythology and Western philosophers to proceed with caution, but art aficionados should definitely check out Olympos for a drool-worthy manga experience.
Ideal for: Josei fans feeling underrepresented in the manga marketplace; North American readers who need a lesson on the artistry inherent to manga; Folks with a weaker background in Greek mythology and philosophy, and a strong interest in gorgeous character designs. (less)