I just finished watching the animated version of the series. It is about a girl who forgets relationships she made at the beginning of every week, and...moreI just finished watching the animated version of the series. It is about a girl who forgets relationships she made at the beginning of every week, and a boy who is determined to rekindle their friendship week after week despite this hurdle. I wanted to really love this original source as much as I loved the anime, but I didn't. I ended up only mostly loving it. The art is adorable, and I admire how expressive the simplistic faces are. That takes a great deal of talent. However, Hazuki Maccha has chosen to interrupt the flow of the story by inserting yonkoma into every chapter.
Yonkoma are Japanese comic strips very much like those seen by western audiences in newspapers, although they are generally four (yon) panels on top of each other. Imagine a Batman comic suddenly switching to comic strip format in the middle of the story, then switching back to comic format. The comic strips may be funny, but they would interrupt the flow of the drama. Since this is the format the mangaka has selected to tell her story, I must accept it, but I strongly feel that the anime did a better job of weaving drama with comedy without a jarring narrative experience. That being said, it is a novel and original way to tell a tale, and I eventually became used to the rhythm.
So why did I mostly love this manga? Despite the format choice, the art and characters won me over. Maccha's faces are very cartoony with a mere dot for a nose placed higher than noses usually go, but her characters felt real and authentic. Her art style is distinct in a sea of "moe" sameness, and her narrative voice is strong. In the end, this was a good story with great characters. As implausible as it is for a person to forget only certain people every Sunday night, Maccha makes the scenario work in a plausible way. I can't wait to read more.(less)
Overall, I enjoyed this final book in the Dark Divine series, but I had problems with the first 2/5ths. Something about the voice and narrative felt o...moreOverall, I enjoyed this final book in the Dark Divine series, but I had problems with the first 2/5ths. Something about the voice and narrative felt off to me. Hurried, maybe, or perfunctory. There were good scenes, like when Gabriel and Grace discussed how Grace blamed God, but there were other scenes where new werewolf details would be suddenly introduced and explained with an "oh, yeah. I had heard/read about this before" kind of exposition. Also, there may have been too many lose ends from the 2nd book that were tied up in the beginning of this book. Over all, the story and writing were slow to find their stride in the beginning.
Once Grace rescued Daniel and they had that certain conversation with Grace's sister, Charity, Despain seemed to find her story's voice again. It began to feel like the sequel I had looked forward to with Despain's sensual descriptions and witty conversations. In fact, from that point on there was an excellent balance between conversation and action. Truthfully, the story didn't work well with Grace and the White Wolf. Grace and Despain needed Daniel as a human. Grace & Daniel weren't just a cute couple; they were the core of the story. They worked and flirted together. They worried and felt pain together. They plotted and schemed together. They as a unit moved the story forward.
Once the story was moving, I found more and more passages of delightful writing. Passages like these:
“I breathed in again, and caught another now-familiar, underlying scent in the air—that of a dog who’s been lying out in the sun, mixed with the distinct scent of boy.”
“He leaned in and kissed me in a way that reminded me of dark chocolate—both bittersweet and delicious, leaving me wanting more.”
I also enjoyed the use of religion as a positive force. I am weary of stereotypical religious hypocrites being the sole representative of religion in fiction these days. Grace used religion and worship as her center without the story being preachy. As Hound of Heavens one would expect prayer to be critical to their spirituality. I have to caution readers, however, that the idea of Grace and Daniel as angels of mercy is often compromised by their language. This installation in the series seemed more vulgar in that regard than the others.
Several reviewers here didn't care for this story much. I believe they had a hard time with the beginning of the book as I did. However, by the time I reached the satisfying end, I felt the story more than deserved a ★★★★☆ rating. Even at its worst this story wasn't bad, and I would still recommend it to others. It was a fun series.(less)
This was an uneven compilation. The first half of the book was filled with quaint, but slight fairytales with an over-reliance on deus ex machine endi...moreThis was an uneven compilation. The first half of the book was filled with quaint, but slight fairytales with an over-reliance on deus ex machine endings. The second half of modern day tales was much more satisfying. The art style was very rough as many of these stories are from early in Masami Tsuda's career. In fact, there is an editorial cartoon at the end of the book where Tsuda draws herself ashamed over the crudeness of her earlier efforts. However, we all have to start somewhere, therefor this compilation is invaluable for fans of her most renown series, Kare Kano.
Of the fantasy stories, "Castle of Dreams" was the best with better fleshed out characters, a deeper storyline, and a more logical use of the wizard character. Of the stories based in our world, "I Won't Go" with it's sophisticated story about a young girl who finds herself falling in love with another boy despite having a long distance boyfriend, seems like a romance at first blush, but instead is a story about the complicated choices we make in life and how those choices affect others. There was also a theme about being true to oneself while being honest in relationships. Of the lot, it was the best story (★★★★½). A not-so-distant second place was “The Room Where an Angel Lives”. It was told mostly as a first person narrative and was about a proud young man surviving in industrial England. He found a young child abandoned by a river and even though orphaned and struggling, he took her in. This act gave him purpose as he embraced the responsibility of raising her. I found the heartwarming, though the story stumbled a bit towards the end (★★★★☆).
Fantasy doesn't seem to be the forte of Masami Tsuda. There needs to be a logic to the fantasy tale even if there is magic. Pulling endings out of hats is a cheat. Fortunately, the stories based in our reality were better told. Overall, this was a good collection, but not a strong one. ★★★☆☆
At first, the friendships continue to build from leadership camp. The camaraderie of Futaba, Kou, Yuuri, Shuuko, a...moreChapters 8-11
Art: ★★★★★ Story: ★★★☆☆
At first, the friendships continue to build from leadership camp. The camaraderie of Futaba, Kou, Yuuri, Shuuko, and Aya feels relaxed and realistic. Unfortunately, Futaba sets up the next major conflict by telling Yuuri that she doesn't like Kou. Now she has to keep her attraction a secret. The problem is that she has a strong rapport with Kou which only further moves their relationship forward in scene after scene after scene. I found the scene where Futaba tries to ditch Kou on their walk home in order to be loyal to Yuuri very entertaining as well as romantic.
Although the main conflict and drama of this volume is between Futaba and Yuuri, the story has some genuinely funny moments, especially when the friends decide to torture Kou with a study group held at his apartment. Unfortunately, one scene in chapter ten bothered me. Futaba stalks Kou again to his hang out in the public square with the other delinquents. Kou is upset, but not for being stalked. He is upset that Futaba endangered herself. In fact, he is irritated that Futabe makes him care, so what better way to teach her a lesson than to mock rape her⸮
The scene gives us close-ups and starry eyes and gorgeous profiles; we have our two romantic leads in a sexual position; and it feels all wrong. I don't know any girl that would have remained interested in me had I pulled such a stunt in high school. There was no violence, but it was still an awkward excuse to entangle their legs.
When Kou states "When you start to care about something it will wear you out in many ways," we know that there is a story to be told there, but we'll have to wait to hear it until the next volume. (less)
New year; new class. Futaba wants to make a change in her personality. She wants a different experience with her cla...moreChapters 4-7
Art: ★★★★★ Story: ★★★★☆
New year; new class. Futaba wants to make a change in her personality. She wants a different experience with her classmates. Thanks to Kou's glib inspiration, Futaba decides to be class representative. Before she knows it, Kou has volunteered to be the boys' rep, then Yuuri & Shuuko follow suit. Is Futaba effecting more positive change in her classroom than she realizes? With the addition of Aya, a boy whose only fault seems to be a crush on the unresponsive Shuuko, the new class reps head off to a leadership weekend. Can they overcome their individual hangups to work as a team?
This volume is more about friendship building than teamwork. Although Futaba is the main focus for growth, we learn a little bit more about Kou & Shuuko as well. It is clear that Kou likes Futaba, but something holds him back from admitting it. Meanwhile, Shuuko has it hot for the teacher, Kou's brother.
My one complaint about this volume is that Futaba became the helpless maiden in distress as part of the story's resolution. The team gets lost in the woods during an activity and Futaba twists her ankle. This was the pivotal moment for the team. Everybody began to care for her to help her get out of the woods, and Kou revealed his affection by carrying her on his back, dismissing all of Aya's offers to help. Futaba & Kou's relationship moved forward, but not in a romantic way. It worked, but felt typical. Japanese heroines are always hurting their ankles and shins to be rescued by boys. Just once I'd like to see a manga girl be irritated or angry instead of coyly embarrassed when the boy she loves has to cart her around. It is clear I am impatient with Futaba's slow growth as an independent and strong character.
I wonder how well I would like this story if I wasn't so enamored with Sakisaka's artwork. She helps me care about her characters because they are not just beautiful, but seem real and full of expression. Then again, her sequential storytelling ability awes me. The scene with the exhausted Futaba & Kou at the end of volume 5 is a perfect example. It was an inventive and romantic moment that was expertly paced. I am a constant admirer of her work.(less)
I'm a big fan of Io Sakisaka's work. I love her characters and her art style. Ao Haru Ride is her latest work and I'm rereading it to analyze it bette...moreI'm a big fan of Io Sakisaka's work. I love her characters and her art style. Ao Haru Ride is her latest work and I'm rereading it to analyze it better. I wanted to understand why I don't enjoy it as much as Strobe Edge.
Certainly, the art is still top notch. I give ★★★★☆ just for the art alone. Even though the artwork is less experimental (something that she saves now for shorter pieces), Sakisaka's command of expression is masterful. She also draws the most handsome men in shoujo I have seen (I am not usually a fan of how shoujo men are rendered) and I am eternally jealous of how well she renders hair.
My problem is with the main characters. Futaba and Kou are caught in turmoil—their feelings conflicted—and both are still finding themselves. Consequently, I find their characters less appealing because they tend to allow events to control them despite their imposing fronts. Insecurity in one; self doubt in another. It's not a riveting romantic combo. This is a story that will slowly develop like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. The pacing is so slow, in fact, that with the sporadic release of fan scanlations, I find myself lost as to what is happening in the story. An author of a series will want to spread pivotal relationship events out between volumes to entice readers to buy the next volume, but I wonder if events are spread too thin in this case. The main leads seem so indecisive. Futaba's friends are far more decisive than she is, which serves to inspire her, but even their strong characters become weakened by romance after a while. It seems that Love is the enemy in this series that everyone's life revolves around and is destroyed by.
I still enjoy the story and characters, and perhaps I will enjoy it more in this retread without the long gaps between chapters. (less)
Linda's secrets anger Banri now, as does Kōko's selfishness. His memories begin to manifest themselves as hallucinations. Banri can't go on like this,...moreLinda's secrets anger Banri now, as does Kōko's selfishness. His memories begin to manifest themselves as hallucinations. Banri can't go on like this, but why worry? There's a big night of drinking ahead of them.
I can't say I liked the weak "cliffhanger", but I still enjoyed this series and would read it again.(less)
I continue to enjoy this series. I'm quite enamored with Kōko's character design. Umechazuke has a great command of gesturing, even if the characters,...moreI continue to enjoy this series. I'm quite enamored with Kōko's character design. Umechazuke has a great command of gesturing, even if the characters, including the boys, tend to be moe. I don't enjoy all the drinking in the series, but then I don't drink so others may not mind. As much of a drama queen as Kōko can be, I find her antics amusing, though I find Banri's wishy-washy qualities not as endearing. (less)
Cons: Mild fanservice. Character designs are more sexy than cute. Main character, Banri Tada, is a bit of a milksop who doesn't deserve the attention...moreCons: Mild fanservice. Character designs are more sexy than cute. Main character, Banri Tada, is a bit of a milksop who doesn't deserve the attention he receives.
Pros: Delightful character designs. Expressive faces. Fun characters, especially Kōko Kaga. She is not a main character, but her personality is so flamboyant & commanding that she is the sun that Banri & others rotate around.
I would rather the story revolved around their studies more than their club activities and parties, but the story is still engaging and I enjoyed reading it. The author is a female, and the artist seems male, so one would think that the tale is balanced, but it seems more geared towards guys than girls. The side plot of the cult abduction was strange and a bit of a distraction, IMO. If the author needed to give Banri and Kōko time alone, there may have been other, more entertaining ways to do it. (less)
“That's the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt.”
I came across this book because of a photo a K-pop...more“That's the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt.”
I came across this book because of a photo a K-pop celebrity posted on Twitter of the above text. There was no attribution. Just a photo filled with that delicious quote. I follow that celebrity because she is only five months older than my oldest daughter, and like my daughter, is trilingual and brilliant. She lets me peek ahead of the curve of time to see what my own daughter's life might be like. Her snapshots are mostly of behind the scenes or selfies. In many ways, she is unremarkable from any other 21 year old on Twitter. Yet that day she shared a quote of a book that grabbed at her, and consequently grabbed at me. I searched online for that quote and discovered John Green.
John Green's writing is like that. He creates common ground for people from diverse places and ages to meet in because he taps into our universal feelings of insecurity, loneliness, and pain. His characters often speak with a core of realistic dialog, but honed with sparkling wit in the way we often wish we could speak. They are clever where we are numb, and wise where we feel foolish, yet because they have connected to our hearts we do not feel inferior, but thankful. His characters look at life and say the words we are unable to utter because we are too busy reeling and feeling.
I have never lost a child to cancer, though I have lost relatives to it, but I am familiar with the heartache of loss because I have survived two brothers. Reading this book was not an easy experience, but it was a beautiful one. Green dealt with the inevitable approach of death in the lives of cancer patients with grace and sensitivity without being maudlin. His story was filled with little surprises that closely mimicked life and avoided the soapbox approach many writers succumb to. The gallows humor of his Hazel, Augustus & Isaac helped with this. Their harsh commentary on the ultimate futility of their life was brutal at times, yet refreshingly honest, and allowed for the characters of the parents to represent the social norms and platitudes we use when dealing with death. The teenagers rebellion against social propriety was a metaphor for their battle with death and strangely appropriate despite its shocking nature. I cannot recommend this book more highly.
In the end, I found my own set of quotes that gripped me, but none stood out more than this:
“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”
Green through Augustus put into words how my mind feels daily. That his characters connected with me so deeply and that he inspired me to be a better writer is why I give this book all five stars of my approval.
Bittersweet volume. I feel the conflict between Kazehaya & Sawako was lost amidst all the other subplots, but this volume brought many of those su...moreBittersweet volume. I feel the conflict between Kazehaya & Sawako was lost amidst all the other subplots, but this volume brought many of those subplots to a resolution. In that way, it was an important volume. As for Kazehaya & Sawako, there was a nice resolution for them as well, but I can't help but think that they have become bystanders in their own story. Three stars for the story, an extra star for such lovely artwork. (less)
I gave this story an extra star because the art was so nice, but the story was not as nice. Yoshizumi seems to be driven to counter her popular manga...moreI gave this story an extra star because the art was so nice, but the story was not as nice. Yoshizumi seems to be driven to counter her popular manga with these tragic tales with adult themes.
Ari & Sousuke decide to live together for convenience, shock Ari's family, procrastinate marriage, then run into trouble: Sousuke has an affair. In many ways this is a morality tale. Ari trusts her lover to one day pop the question, but once he has her he doesn't need to marry her. Heck, he doesn't even help around the apartment with the chores. Because he doesn't respect Ari, he steps out on her. Ari is left devastated, the relationship ends, and Ari takes time to heal. It's a slice of life manga that drives home the point that a girl needs to stand up for herself or a guy will take advantage of her. Unfortunately, Ari's character was very passive. She didn't steer her ship as much as she wrung her hands on deck while hoping it wouldn't crash. She recovered from Sousuke's betrayal, but we were never shown that she learned a lesson, or that she became stronger. She just sorta survived. Not very inspiring. Not an upbeat tale. But it wasn't a bad read. (less)