If I had to describe the first volume of Alice the 101st in one word, I'd say it would be cute. It is teeth achiOriginally posted here at Yaoi Radius.
If I had to describe the first volume of Alice the 101st in one word, I'd say it would be cute. It is teeth achingly cute, with its dazzling gorgeous shoujoesque artwork and a main character that makes nearly knocking someone in the head with a violin case look downright adorable. This is not to say the manga is without drama or action - there's loads of that stuff, I assure you - but it seems the overall atmosphere so far is that of a boy born of sunshine and bubbles who refuses to give up without a fight even when people call him by a girl's name on a regular basis or make fun of his admittedly mediocre bow skills. Alice is not always genki-genki, mind you; he has no problem punching someone out if they get in his face and try to start trouble, something very much apparent in the first ten pages or so with his first encounter with the one and only Victor. But he keeps the series fun even when his own character is getting into trouble or feeling down, and that alone is something to praise him for; Alice is a main character I want to spend more time with which is usually the mark of a series' staying power with its readers.
Naturally, a manga centered in a musical academy needs to be all about the music. In this category, Alice the 101st not only doesn't disappoint but excels beyond most musically inclined series I've read so far. You can tell that Kawai put a lot of time and effort into researching what goes into musical training, as evident from Alice's lessons with Professor Dalberto, in which they go into great detail over things like scales and techniques without bogging down each scene in minutiae. The scenes in which they play their respective instruments are also very beautiful; I can imagine someone who is learning to play a string instrument will be relatively pleased at the amount of work Kawai put into to make the world of Mondonveille School true to a real music academy. Well, minus all the heavy boys' love overtones going on in this specific school, naturally (unless there is a school out there in which there is constant yaoi-tinged tensions going on between all the male students, in which case try not to tell all the fujoshi in the area about it, okay?). Any doubt in the readers' mind that this title deserves to be published under the Doki Doki line of books should disappear by the end of chapter one, in which an overactive shipper's brain could make the case for Alice/Victor, Alice/Theo, and Theo/Richard - at least. Even though (with the exception of Victor's constant mooning and teasing of Alice) the series hasn't gone into implicit boys' love mode, you can tell that it is getting very close to doing so. And when it does, it's going to be sweet.
In short, Alice the 101st is a sweet, endearing story about a boy growing up and finding the talents that lie inside of his heart. It sounds corny as heck, but it works splendidly on paper, and you'll be hardpressed not to like (if not love) Alice and his crazy academic exploits. It's a series with heart that looks to be going places, and I can't wait to see what those might be. Volume two can't come out fast enough for me! ...more
Kotoko of Class F has a secret: she's head over heels in love with Naoki of Class A! When she finally summons up the courage to give him a love letterKotoko of Class F has a secret: she's head over heels in love with Naoki of Class A! When she finally summons up the courage to give him a love letter, Naoki doesn't even read it. In fact, he even goes out of his way to tell Kotoko he doesn't like stupid girls. Ouch! It seems like Kotoko's heart has been broken and there's no hope in her and Naoki ever coming together - that is, until a natural disaster of fateful proportions intervenes. When Kotoko's family house is turned into rubble by an earthquake, her father has them all shacking up with an old school friend and his family - and this old friend's son is none other than Naoki! Whether it's trying to get past Naoki's cold demeanor or getting picked on by Naoki's little brother or studying like never before to get into college with her crush, Kotoko's life is harder than ever before. Can living under the same roof as Naoki improve Kotoko's chances of a whirlwind romance - or will Naoki just shoot her down again?
Itazura na Kiss (イタズラなKiss/Mischievous Kiss) is Kaoru Tada's most well-known shoujo series from the early nineties that has gained a huge fan following back in Japan and is considered one of the titles in its respective genre as a classic - and after reading DMP's release of the first seven chapters in omnibus format, it's not hard to see why it is so well-loved (or why its English language release was so anticipated by shoujo fanatics). It's a romance story full of drama and humor, all led by the impossible couple that is Kotoko and Naoki. I find myself loving the Kotoko/Naoki dynamic a lot - they squabble all the time and act more like rivals that love interests, but they also genuinely care about each other in the end, once you strip off all the bluster and posturing. Kotoko still is in love with Naoki and Naoki is slowly warming to Kotoko's energy and upbeat spirit. You can clearly see that living under the same roof has changed both characters in notable ways. Could one of those changes in the end be a romantic relationship? It's the slow but involving progress of their unusual high school courtship that will bring readers back to read more of their story together.
Overall, this manga is a welcome throwback to the shoujo era of the late eighties/early nineties, from the artwork down to the old school manga references in text. In a market when a lot of romantic manga is angsty dramatic messes that read like rejected Degrassi scripts, Itazura na Kiss is a lighthearted entry that succeeds in creating a suspenseful "will they or won't they?" style series while still maintaining its good humor. As the heart of the series, Kotoko is a strong-willed young woman who may still be in Class F with the rest of the academic failures but can still work hard when it comes to working to become Naoki's equal. If you enjoy a romantic push and pull story between two people as their feelings turn tender towards each other, you can't go wrong giving this series a go. I am looking forward to reading the next volume featuring those turbulent lovebirds Naoki and Kotoko - and once you finish the first book, I think you will too....more
**spoiler alert** Originally posted here at Anime Radius.
For a while now, the Moon Boy series has been moving along at a rather leisurely clip, focuse**spoiler alert** Originally posted here at Anime Radius.
For a while now, the Moon Boy series has been moving along at a rather leisurely clip, focused more on personal conflict and romantic drama within the main cast on Earth rather than the actual fox-and-rabbit politics that started the whole series to begin with. Luckily, recent events – especially Ya-Ho’s death and Myung-Ee’s actions – have really kicked off a wave of plot advancements that are leading up to an inevitable showdown between the Earth and Moon factions. Characters are stepping up and taking control of the action, making decisions for the good of either the rabbits or the foxes. After all, even though the series is a romance, it is also very much an action series – there’s a war going on, people! And the war between the two sides is becoming more and more evident with Yu-Da’s declaration of his loyalties at the beginning of the book.
The star of this volume is Myung-Ee, and for the first time in so long she isn’t afraid to make decisions on her own. For a character who can be rather brave and bolshy when she wants to, the strong parts of Myung-Ee’s have only recently been shining through. A problem I’ve always found with her is that she has a tendency to let other characters boss her around and tell her what to do, or just lets others walk all over her. She finally starts standing up for herself this volume, which is good as finally the heroine of Moon Boy will have the inner strength needed to carry this series to the finish. There is also her realization of the true nature of her feelings for Yu-Da during the end of the volume that completely changes the game at hand; I won’t spoil it, but needless to say it makes everything different when it comes to the Yu-Da/Myung-Ee/Sa-Eun love triangle that has recently reared its head thanks to Sa-Eun’s confession.
Sadly, these things cannot keep the book afloat as a stellar read like it should; the series seems to be still unsure on how much of it is comedy or serious. The gag scenes in an otherwise serious volume of developments is a major hindering point for the story at large; it is hard to get into a supposedly humorless scene when the manwha-ka insists on throwing in distracting gags and jokes. When a manwha’s story gets sober in tone, especially after a character death, I expect a drop in jokes – and especially jokes that do nothing to alleviate an overly dark atmosphere. Some of the jokes are funny, I won’t argue that, but do they add anything to the story? Do they keep in with the mood of current events? Not really, and while other series can handle juggling light and dark scenes in one book, it seems that Moon Boy is continually falling short on that front.
One other point: the cast. I cannot for the life of me remember half the cast’s names and I’m pretty good with character names. It’s not that they look the same, it’s that it is too big a cast for such a series. Since the focus is mainly on Myung-Ee and Yu-Da only in recent volumes has attention been truly put on other cast members. For example, this book did a marvelous job of putting the spotlight on Ho-Rang and Ya-Ho’s characters. It’s a shame it took killing Ya-Ho to get a more in-depth look at who she is. With the final battle looming on the horizon, we may not get any more chances to get to know our cast any better than we already do, and that may potentially sink any impact the final volume has when it arrives sometime next year. For a manwha intent on relationships, it is rather weak on keeping its cast in the forefront – a crying shame, since what glimpses we’ve had into cast members’ lives makes me think that they could be much more marvelous additions to the story if they had a valid chance to get known. Still, with two more volumes until series’ end, there’s always room for improvement.
Let’s be honest, Moon Boy will not be winning any manwha awards any time soon. But it is entertaining and charming in its own right, with an interesting story and some decent artwork (the chapter pages and characters’ clothes are always a favorite part of the art in each volume for me). Despite the inherent flaws within this seventh volume, fans of the series will no doubt enjoy the upkick in action and the decision to make Myung-Ee a more active part of the plot, not just a girl who happens to be around the other characters. I look forward to reading volume eight come this fall; it is certainly shaping up to becoming an outstanding series before it concludes. I just wish this had all come sooner....more
**spoiler alert** Originally posted here at Anime Radius.
The end of volume seven, which I've also reviewed here, showed an upkick in action and a whol**spoiler alert** Originally posted here at Anime Radius.
The end of volume seven, which I've also reviewed here, showed an upkick in action and a whole lot of Myung-Ee that I think readers have been missing since earlier volumes: someone who was bright and spunky and not afraid to speak her mind or defend her choices. I had hoped that, when volume eight came into my grasp, it would not prove my hopes of the series getting better wrong. They did not. Bless my heart, Moon Boy has finally realized that near the end of its run it should actually make an effort in pulling out all the stops and try to make a finale that will be both memorable and enjoyable. It's doing this by pushing the story to its limits and making things happen - actual plot developments that matter in the long run! Catch me, dear reader, I seem to be falling into a dizzy faint! And to add to this excitement, we finally get something I always crave in these kind of reincarnated fantasy series - backstory! Mainly, backstory for the enigmatic Sa-Eun as well as the past lives of both Myung-Ee and Yu-Da, and these scenes are in no way just window dressing but serve a greater purpose - that is, explaining why the heck current events are happening as they are. These are explanations that are sorely needed and they do not disappoint in their explosive natures, including a brand-new twist on the Myung-Ee/Yu-Da relationship and a fresh insight into Sa-Eun's character. Sa-Eun is fast becoming one of my favorite characters in the series: he's brash and unpredictable and has a complicated and troubled history that this volume draws upon and uses to develop him further in some very satisfying ways - I don't think any fan of his will be disappointed with any of his scenes (and if you like me love you some Yu-Da/Sa-Eun, I know a certain scene that will have you squeeing excitedly in your fujoshi knickers, let me tell you).
Once again, I'm still not sure if Moon Boy knows what it wants to be - and that is dangerous considering the next volume is their last, and not exactly a great time to be on shaky ground in terms of series self-identity. It clumsily shoehorns humorous scenes into more serious sequences and drifting away from what has always been the main focus of the series - that is, Myung-Ee's pursual of Yu-Da and the clash between foxes and rabbits. In fact, until we see Myung-Ee's flashback sequence, it seems like there's more fox in-fighting than any foxes vs rabbits trouble. At least the story is progressing nicely, with many plotlines getting ready to reach their conclusions. I know I'll be looking forward to how the sub-plot between Yu-Da and Ha-Eun, especially given her choice of a new vessel at the end of this volume and how Yu-Da reacts to it. What YoungYou can't get right in terms of a cohesive story, they are certainly getting right in art; the artwork in this book is top-notch, especially during the scenes in the kingdom's past. From the outfits to the gorgeous splash pages, this series continues to be a sight for sore eyes - although I wish the panel structure was cleaner and less cluttered, especially during action scenes when the flow of panels is essential to a scene's impact. I can almost forgive these artistic faults just on the basis of the double-page splash in which YoungYou's love for scenery and era-appropriate costumes really shine through.
In general, this manwha is heading for its conclusion fast and judging by what we see in volume eight, it will be very explosive and exciting in nature. Hopefully this series can keep up this general rise in quality, back to how the manwha was in its early volumes, because I'd hate to see this series end with a whimper and not the pretty bang it deserves. Will Moon Boy actually deliver or will it prove right the haters who claim that Korean comics will never be as good as their Japanese counterparts? Only with the ninth and final volume (to be released this November) will we know for sure. ...more
What a disappointing end to a pretty good series. I've already spent a good half-hour venting about this to my mother, so you will all get the short vWhat a disappointing end to a pretty good series. I've already spent a good half-hour venting about this to my mother, so you will all get the short version (trying not to include spoilers, natch).
A lot of events felt contrived or rushed, the action scenes were clunky, the depiction of Egypt was simplistic and verging on problematic, and the entirety of Biffy's story arc was ridiculous. Also, I felt like the ending was also rushed when it should have been thoroughly explored in the text given how many things happened that were Really Big Deals (especially when related to Ivy, Alexia, Conall, and Biffy). Let's not get into the fact that Lord Akeldama has become a faint, stereotypical shade of his former self who doesn't bat an eye when Biffy . . . well, does what he does. Things just didn't make any sense.
If it weren't for Alexia being Alexia, the characters of Madame Lefoux and Kingair being awesome, and the worldbuilding about the mechanics of steampunk Egypt and England, this would probably be one star. I can only hope Carriger's next series (apparently a prequel set in the same verse) doesn't do the same thing - start out okay, build up potential, and then end with a crash. This book could have easily been expanded into two books and been twice as enjoyable. If only!...more
**spoiler alert** Originally posted here on Anime Radius and here on Yaoi Radius.
The first volume of Flower in a Storm was an introduction into the al**spoiler alert** Originally posted here on Anime Radius and here on Yaoi Radius.
The first volume of Flower in a Storm was an introduction into the always hectic world of one Riko Kunimi, a high school girl who insists she's an average teen when in fact she has the physical skills and stamina of a fleet of ninjas. She never expects to fall in love, especially since her first true love dumped her for being so different. That's when young millionaire heir Ran Tachibana drops like a bomb into her life, telling her that she is now his. Naturally, Ran rebels against this crazy Casanova's advances time after time, always finding herself an unwilling participant in his daily adventures (which more than often involved dodging assassination attempts against his life). Somehow, without seeming rushed in her storytelling, manga-ka Takagi showed Riko slowly falling for Ran's charms in an actual believable way - and now with the second and final volume, we get to see if Riko will actually realize what her feelings mean in time for Ran to hear her. With more death threats and assassins than normal going after Ran, Riko might want to realize it a little sooner though . . .
Ran and Riko seem like an unlikely couple as ever. They are constantly fighting and getting into squabbles; Riko's physical strength and class difference makes her feel estranged from Ran's world and Ran's constant romantic (and yet oddly endearing) advances make him more than just a minor irritant in Riko's daily life. But as the story advances, we see that Ran and Riko is actually not only one of the oddest couples in modern shoujo history but a couple that, after volume two, makes a lot of sense. Riko is a girl struggling to accept herself as someone who is not seen as 'normal' by society; Ran is someone who falls in love with Riko at first sight and thinks her physical feats of strength are beautiful. He accepts and loves Riko for who she is and cannot help but pour his affections on her in the most dorky and extravagant ways. In turn, Riko grows fond of Ran's odd behavior and protective of him when he is threatened by assassins (which is a lot) and her affections soon grow to the point that the idea of living without Ran's vibrant present is too sad to bear. The story of their romance is a delight to read for all shoujo fans and I can't see anyone not falling in love with Riko and Ran by the end of this volume, especially after the short Bonus Storm' chapter, which is simply too darn cute for words.
The art isn't the great highlight of Flower in a Storm, although it can be very pretty at times and very effective during the more flashy scenes between Ran and Riko. What is this volume's greatest highlights are the action and the humor. There are guns and helicopters and explosions and motorcycles and ninjas and fist fights and lots of other exciting things, including a very dramatic life-and-death struggle involving Riko and Ran and the latest psychotic rich man trying to kill him this time. Plus, there's more of everyone's favorite arrogant ginger gunman - who still doesn't get a proper name, arrgh! Not only is this a shoujo brimming with excitement, it also contains much needed moments of levity (especially considering how the series dances dangerously close to a tragic romantic series in the vein of Sand Chronicles or We Were There). As usual, Ran's constant showering of outlandish gifts upon the unfortunate and unreceptive Riko is always a source for smiles while reading. Then there is the end of the Ran's Fiancee 'Arc' in which Riko takes down the malicious Rinko in her own typical reckless manner - and with a spectacular jump from a high-up open school window.
As the two volume Flower in a Storm winds to an end, I think many if not most of its fans will be pleased by the way it concludes. It is a perfect hybrid of romance and drama that is pretty astonishing to see in a series so short. Takagi really needs more of her manga available to the English language audience, if this is any testament to her skills as a shoujo manga-ka. This manga is one that definitely deserves a place on any fan's bookshelves. ...more
So cute! Had more fun reading this than I thought I would, and the romance is so great! Even the extra story was pretty good. Looking forward to gettiSo cute! Had more fun reading this than I thought I would, and the romance is so great! Even the extra story was pretty good. Looking forward to getting my fangirly hands on the second (and sadly last!) volume of this series :)...more
**spoiler alert** Originally posted here at Anime Radius.
For the past eight volumes, Shugo Chara! has been stressing to its readers that the inner hea**spoiler alert** Originally posted here at Anime Radius.
For the past eight volumes, Shugo Chara! has been stressing to its readers that the inner heart is what matters and that a person's strength will overcome any obstacle - and they have managed to keep emphasizing these healthy goals without blowing them out of proportion or sounding like an after school program. These issues have been best showcased in our heroine of the series, Amu Hinamori, who started out as someone with low self-esteem who tried to match her outwardly cheerful persona with the painfully awkward person that lay inside herself, who has for lack of a more appropos term transformed into someone who is confident and strong and able to stand up with the other Guardians on equal ground - and in volume nine, we see Amu's journey to become a better person reach its cresting point with the unlocking of the Humpty Lock via the Dumpty Key and why she was chosen to be a Guardian in the first place.
Another person besides Amu who is rising to the challenge of character development is Yaya Yuiki, the Ace Chair and youngest member of the Guardians. Once seen as pretty much the crybaby immature member of the team, Yaya comes into her own during the fight against the - err - evil possessed dog. Let us not dwell too long over the fact that a dog, even if possessed by the power of an X Egg, could easily beat up so many magic-using Guardians before Yaya and Utau work together, or we'll start to wonder why Peach-Pit couldn't have come up with a more convincing mini-boss for Yaya to beat. Still, seeing Yaya stand up to protect her friends with her own magic and proving that even little kids can sometimes take on burdens further highlights the importance of inner strength in people - and also adds a much needed element of humor to the events leading up to the Ikuto/Tadase/Amu fight at the top. Seeing Tadase and Ikuto battle it out is the near-height of action in the ninth volume until the sudden plot twist at the end, and it will certainly not disappoint anyone interested in seeing them fight and how their respective abilities clash. Add to that all the new insight into the Hoshina family and any Ikuto fan would be hard pressed not to love this latest volume.
As usual, Peach-Pit brings their usual art style to the world of Shugo Chara!, improving upon the usual tropish hallmarks of magical girl manga with flashy fight scenes and cool fashion, especially when it comes to the numerous Character Transformations - like Amu's final CT thanks to the lock-and-key combination. With the reveal of the Embryo and its inevitable capture (which felt slightly underwhelming in context, given how flashy everything else was), it's clear that Shugo Chara! is gearing up for the big finale - the Guardians versus Easter Corporation, with the literal hearts and minds of the people of the world at stake. Can Peach-Pit possibly wrap everything up in the next two volumes in a way that will please all of their fans? Possibly, although knowing PP it won't really be the end (they have a history of continuing series in separate 'sequel' series', as they did with Rozen Maiden). Still, for a series on the edge of ending, volume nine has all the action and intrigue of its predecessors that it will leave readers looking forward to the release of volume ten early next year - and I think it will be worth the wait. ...more
By all means, Voiceful is a story that shouldn’t work based on its premise and cast of characters alone. The maiOriginally posted here at Yaoi Radius.
By all means, Voiceful is a story that shouldn’t work based on its premise and cast of characters alone. The main protaganist, Kanae, is a socially inverted girl who rarely steps outside the walls of her own bedroom, much less her house. In turn, Hina is a singer who only releases her music on the Internet and has her own personal issues that shine through her voice when she sings. The whole story relies on the coincidental meet-up of a lonely fangirl on one of her rare outside strolls and her virtual idol in real life, and the fact that they keep meeting up afterwards despite their different personalities and lifestyles. And yet, despite the odds being against it, this self-contained volume is an unlikely winner in every conceivable field. It is charming and heartwarming and yet has enough drama and emotional tension to make the reader really care about Kanae and Hina and hope their growing friendship will keep on growing into something beautiful (this is a yuri manga, after all). As far as entry-level yuri goes, you can’t go wrong with Voiceful as a personal introduction into the sweet world of girls’ love.
Anyone who has connected emotionally with a distant media idol will certainly understand Kanae’s story. When your real life sucks, sometimes you can find solace in the work and actions of someone famous who you will probably never meet or truly know – but what if you did meet them one day, and you became friends with them? That is Kanae’s unusual predicament when she meets Hina by chance one morning and the series handles tricky and sensitive issues – fan worship and the relationship between fans and their idols – with a light hand and much class. It also helps that Hina, although popular enough among her fan base, is not in such a lofty position of fame that she would realistically shun any of her fans during off time. To watch Hina and Kanae connect with each other – first as singer and listener, and then as two young women on equal ground – and feel good about their future together at the end is a sign of good, progressive development in a story; such successful character development, slow but steady, is always welcome when it is in a story with limited pages.
If there is one thing manga-ka Nawoko certainly excels at it is storytelling, something that shines through in both the main story for Voiceful as well as the extra one-shots at the end of the book. In the case of Voiceful, Nawoko has managed to create a subtle love story that is also a story of self-realization and also personal progress in both the shy distant Kanae and the lost lonely Hina, two people who have experienced deep losses in life and can find in each other the strength to move on. The short one-shot A Special Person in turn is extremely short and difficult to judge, but based on the few pages that makes it up, its story is not nearly as layered and intricate as the main story; it ends abruptly and doesn’t seem like a very good addition to the graphic novel as a whole. Following that is Opening, a sweet story that feels like it would deserve its own volume rather than being shoehorned into one-shot status. For people who enjoy some off-kilter student/teacher relationships, Opening is certainly a welcome addition to the genre with its pseudo-coupling of Onuki and Miss Kojima, but you have to wonder how the story would have continued had it been further developed on its own.
The art of Voiceful manages to be extremely pretty without being precocious and uses the difference between larger and smaller panels to its advantage; more dramatic scenes benefit from not being crowded into a smaller number of pages. That is something you can say about the book as a whole as well; despite being a single volume, it allows itself to flow and flower freely among its limited space and yet does not end awkwardly or non-conclude. It has an open ending, but any reader can hazard a guess as to how the Hina/Kanae relationship will hopefully progress after the author stops telling their story. The fact that I as a reader occasionally do wonder about how Hina and Kanae are doing post-book ending is a testament to the staying power of their tale. For those who love a sweet dollop of yuri in their everyday life, or are just dipping their toes into the girls’ love pool, Voiceful is an entry-level manga that will certainly snag more readers into the yuri genre of manga....more
**spoiler alert** Originally posted here at Anime Radius.
A lot of expectations and preconceived notions naturally follow any manga series published un**spoiler alert** Originally posted here at Anime Radius.
A lot of expectations and preconceived notions naturally follow any manga series published under the Shojo Beat banner: a dramatically told love story that is heavy on the romance and drama and told from the female perspective specifically for the female gaze. Seiho Boys High School!, as it stands right now in its premiere volume, is really none of those things. Sure, it has some dramatic moments and the purpose of the series is so its cast can one day find romance, but it's a series about horny teen boys on a secluded high school who see more girls in the pages of magazines than in real life. Hell, at one point two boys end up fighting over the rights to read a pile of porno mags; they are not exactly the dreamy mature lads from series like Hana-Kimi or Boys Over Flowers, not by a long shot - which is good, because I honestly think this series would be dead boring if they were.
Boys like Nogami and Maki don't really live in the world of reverse harems seen in Ouran, and you'd do well to not categorize Seiho Boys High School! as a reverse harem manga: even if the ratio of boys to girls is overwhelming based on premise alone, it's not about which boy will which girl hook up with in the end or even about the girls at all. This series consciously decides to not view the boys' school for a female gaze, showing all of the gross and unkempt things that naturally arise from a ton of adolescent males living in dorms and rejects romanticizing their lives in favor of showing what happens when boys who don't talk to the opposite sex on a regular basis cope when meeting one after a long girl-less dry spell (hint: it is not pretty for anyone involved, as poor Ayako found out the hard way in her respective chapter).
Despite it having a lot of things going for it in terms of being out of the ordinary, Seiho Boys High School! somehow manages to stumble over the starting line by committing a terrible fallacy often seen in series that want to be unique by doing half the work required: it tries to pander to the same characteristics found in so many shojo manga before it, from the fireworks at the beach to stealing a bike and riding off into the sunset with someone else's girlfriend. There's even a smattering of sister complexes that would seem by-the-number if it weren't for the actual characters involved. In the process of embracing some tired tropes, the series self-consciously laughs them all off and occasionally subverts them to humorous effect, but even this can't hide the self-doubt it has in its own message: a manga series about boys for girls that isn't bishonen city 24/7. Sadly, this self-esteem problem routinely manifests itself from the mouth of the manga-ka herself; Izumi doesn't seem very confident in her work, comparing it at one moment to a weed in a bookstore and practically begging her readers to buy her work. This kind of humble-is-me pandering is usually typical in manga-ka's side notes, but coupled with the in-story issues the series already suffers from, perhaps it would not have hurt Izumi to show a little more faith in her own work's strengths.
What exactly are Seiho Boys High School!'s strengths? For one thing, it is wickedly funny, especially the blue humor that shows up during the scenes in the boys' dorms, whether they be fighting over porny mags or yelling at a certain "butt-scratching prince". The artwork works hand-in-hand with Izumi's own sense of comedy, especially when it comes to facial expressions (it seems that the usually low-key Maki gets to wear the best of these, followed by the always overly dramatic Nogami). It takes its time setting up what will probably be the series' usual cast of characters, but there are hints galore that now it is more comfortable in its setting and story foundation, the only direction that Seiho Boys High School! can possibly go is up - and with it, the size of its readership. Only the release of the second volume will truly tell, and hopefully enough people will hang around for it to see how this manga stands on its own two feet. ...more
If this book doesn't make you angry at what this family - and most importantly that boy forced to live as a girl - went through, you didn't read it riIf this book doesn't make you angry at what this family - and most importantly that boy forced to live as a girl - went through, you didn't read it right. A startling effective account of a true story that should not be forgotten....more
An insightful and mostly unbiased look into President Obama's first year leading the country. I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone who waAn insightful and mostly unbiased look into President Obama's first year leading the country. I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone who wants an all-angles account of recent history, especially if they enjoy the occasional anecdote of life inside the White House. (Naturally, my favorite chapter was number ten - 'Rahmbo'.)...more
Yen Press, in my mind, has always stood for quality works: Zombie-Loan; Time and Again; Black Butler – and nowOriginally posted here at Anime Radius.
Yen Press, in my mind, has always stood for quality works: Zombie-Loan; Time and Again; Black Butler – and now this, Nightschool, an OEL manga by Svetlana Chmakova in which magic and dark mischief rule the day – err, night. When the sun goes down, that’s when the real fun starts – but in the series, that’s when all the troubles start too, especially for our heroine Alex who is forced to infiltrate the spookiest school on the planet to save her vanished sibling from disappearing completely. The Nightschool is certainly no Hogwarts or even Jordan College from the His Dark Material series of novels; it’s an odd and twisted place where there’s the occasional forest and pond and the layout of the building shifts as day turns to night – and the staff is a bunch of oddballs themselves who are perfectly fitted to work in a place like the Nightschool. But as we follow Alex into her first adventures in the Nightschool, we find out that this school is holding a whole world of secrets and even Alex doesn’t know the half of it. All of the layers of intrigue and secrecy and twists are slowly coming to the surface and it’s hard to stop reading when you’re so invested in finding out what exactly is going on. Spoiler: you won’t find out in this volume . . . but you will certainly be clamoring to get the third volume after reading the last handful of pages. Cliffhangers ahoy!
The Nightschool atmosphere – a mixture of strangely beautiful things and darkly threatening things – is pretty much made by Chmakova’s outstanding artwork. In this volume, there are plenty of delicious scenes featuring the magic spells and unusual happenings that are hallmarks of the series, and it is in these scenes that Chmavoka’s skills truly shine through. For example, look at the scene in which Alex and the head of the student council meet for the first time. It is certainly an explosive occurence, as the air between them literally bursts open with uncontrolled magic – and the visions that had been seen in the graveyard by the Hunters’ seer. Is it classically beautiful? No. But is it extremely eye-catching and inventive? Yes, and I’d rather have Chmavoka’s inventive and creative artwork which keeps the attention drawn to each panel than the dull boring artwork that follows the classical aesthetic seen in some manga.
One of the interesting things about Nightschool so far is that it hasn’t really explained any of the mysteries that run through its main story. There are a lot of questions and practically no answers, and this is something not often seen in an OEL manga. After all, looking at series like Queenie Chan’s The Dreaming or even Chmakova’s own earlier work with Tokyopop, Dramacon: series like those tended to wrap up their main conflict and storylines in 2-3 volumes; rarely does an OEL manga break the five volume mark. There’s Bizenghast and to a certain extent Princess Ai, plus series like Megatokyo which were originally web comics . . . and that’s pretty much it, until now. It looks like Nightschool is aiming for a high mark for many series: keeping the mystery going strong and interesting and being able to extend it through multiple books. Does it have the staying power to do so? If the second volume is any true indication of where this series is going, then it is a definite yes. It is a series any fan of atypical fantasy series would be well advised to keep an eye on; Miss Chmakova is doing amazing things and deserves a large audience of content readers....more
This might just be my favorite Discworld novel so far (or at least second to The Light Fantastic). I hope Mort shows up in further volumes, he was myThis might just be my favorite Discworld novel so far (or at least second to The Light Fantastic). I hope Mort shows up in further volumes, he was my favorite character in the book. Plus, WHO DOESN'T LOVE A CAPSLOCK DEATH FIGURE WITH A DRY WIT AND A LARGE SCYTHE. I know I do ♥...more