High school student, Asuka, is a man's man except that he has a secret: he actually really likes girly things like sewing, cooking, and *gasp* shoujoHigh school student, Asuka, is a man's man except that he has a secret: he actually really likes girly things like sewing, cooking, and *gasp* shoujo manga.
While exploring traditional gender roles is nothing new in manga, I wasn't sure where Otomen fit in. It seemed to be trying too hard to be taken seriously, there being a lot of parody elements reminiscent of other parody manga such as Ouran High School Host Club. Yet, there are times in this series where the parody drops away and we really do explore what it means to be a man or a woman in society, what is socially acceptable, what is expected.
I've read through the first 12 volumes of this series, and around volume 5, I found myself becoming more invested in the story than from the start, which was a little slow for me. While I do enjoy Asuka, and Ryo is a perfect foil for him, Juta's the character that steals the show for me. *Love* him! ...more
This volume arrived in my mailbox yesterday afternoon. Since I am in the middle of three other books right now, I had planned to put this latest volumThis volume arrived in my mailbox yesterday afternoon. Since I am in the middle of three other books right now, I had planned to put this latest volume of Pandora Hearts on the bookshelf along with the other 6 volumes of new manga that have come this month that I haven't had a chance to read yet (just wait - November is looking to be rich in reading manga! I can't wait).
But, Xerxes Break was calling my name and I just had to see what was going to happen next, both with Break and his current predicament, and of course with the main storyline and this incredibly intriguing Headhunter Arc we're in.
The art is really fantastic in this series. Every time I read this series, I am struck by how detailed and gorgeous the artwork is. I always feel transported into the rich gothic world of Pandora Hearts.
I have been too generous with this series. A four star series it is not (as I have rated it in past volumes), or at least, not anymore. The artwork asI have been too generous with this series. A four star series it is not (as I have rated it in past volumes), or at least, not anymore. The artwork aside, which has been a consistent weakness though not a deal breaker in the series, the story is, simply put, floundering.
What was charming in the beginning - a girl with no talent in music suddenly thrust into the spotlight as a competitor in a school-wide music competition, her learning how to play the violin with supernatural aid, her feeling guilty because she hasn't done all this on her own, and thus she becomes determined to really learn how to play the instrument - is all lost in the story now. Instead, we have our heroine, Kahoko, pining after the violin prodigy, Len. Pining so much so that she loses her focus on her performance to ridiculous levels.
Now, I like a good romance. But, I also like a smart romance. This is neither.
To top it off, about of third of this volume is dedicated once again to a side-story or spin-off or whatever that the mangaka is trying to promote. La Corda d'Oro should have wrapped up volumes ago. Instead, we have one more to go. sigh.
I made a friend with a manga blogger when she criticized Nanami's character in Kamisama Kiss. She felt that Nanami's character had not grown, that theI made a friend with a manga blogger when she criticized Nanami's character in Kamisama Kiss. She felt that Nanami's character had not grown, that there was no direction for the story, and that the relationship between Nananmi and Tomoe had fallen into a predictable holding pattern. I made my case to her that it was the opposite of what she argued, and while I probably didn't change her perception much of the story, it made me more aware of what she found concerning in this series.
Which is why when I see Nanami continue to grow as a kami, I can't help but feel a little vindicated in my position. Nanami still feels inadequate, and she has a lot to learn about the world of the ayakashi, but she holds her own. Time after time, Tomoe dashes in to "save" her only to find that she has saved herself without needing his aid, this being the case yet again in volume 11.
Nanami really shines in this volume. After Mizuki's back story, and most recently, Kurama's back story, we finally get to learn about Nanami's history. For me, it served to make her character even more endearing, if that's possible. If I had one real concern with this series, it was that I wasn't really sure of what made Nanami Nanami. That concern has been laid to rest in the first three chapters of this volume. It even made me want to cry at one point. Aw.
Plot is moving along nicely. While we do have interlude chapters that develop the characters, we are also seeing things slowly come together with the over-arching plot with Akura-Oh. The only character whose background still holds a lot of mystery is Tomoe's, but it's obvious it's integrated fully with the over-arching plot that that will come in time.
I absolutely love this series. Smart writing, solid artwork, delightful characters, hilarious comedy (ah, Mizuki, I love you!), and a sweet romance slowly developing is what I live for when it comes to shoujo series. Add some beautiful Japanese folklore, and it's even better. Highly recommended. ...more
Volume 8 is another solid installment for The Story of Saiunkoku. What is not to love about Shurei? She's intelligent, she's loyal, she's strong, andVolume 8 is another solid installment for The Story of Saiunkoku. What is not to love about Shurei? She's intelligent, she's loyal, she's strong, and she knows what she wants to do with her life. Recommended....more
Bakuman is plateauing. There's no longer any real sense of urgency in our heroes' quest to become successful mangaka. Even the silly plot d3 1/2 stars
Bakuman is plateauing. There's no longer any real sense of urgency in our heroes' quest to become successful mangaka. Even the silly plot device that Mashiro and Azuki will not get married until their dreams come true has degenerated into something that I really could not care less about. I think it would be much more interesting to see whether Takagi and Kaya's marriage can withstand the stress of Takagi's profession. And, I thought we might be getting some of that introspection...but no, instead we see Kaya dutifully submit to Takagi's decisions even though she questions them. This would have been a good opportunity to develop their relationship, but then I have to remind myself that the focus on shounen stories is not on relationships, so I really can't be disappointed when opportunities to develop a relationship aren't capitalized on. It's simply not the genre.
So, what should the focus be on? Well, hopefully not on gimmicks, but the last couple of volumes have had plenty of those. I had to slog through the romance one-shot competition in the last volume. And in this volume? We're introduced to the ultimate calculator for success in the industry. We've already seen that Takagi and Mashiro are the calculating types - figuring out what will appeal the most while sticking to their own style. But, this new character takes it to a whole new level such that I wonder where he finds any time to draw at all, and even more importantly, why he even cares.
And, perhaps that's my biggest issue with the status of the series at this point in time. There is no passion. Where did the passion go for Takagi and Mashiro to be the best? If they don't really care anymore, why should I? If Mashiro and Azuki are fine with never getting married (such a hair-brained idea in the first place to put off being with the one you love until you *both* achieve difficult dreams is just stupid to me...it's true, I've never liked this hook in the story), why should I care?
Bleh. I hope this story picks up soon. After I had put this volume down my husband gave me one look and said to me, "So...are we just collecting this series for me now?" Ha. Maybe, my dear, maybe we are just collecting Bakuman for you....more
In this volume of Bunny Drop, Rin becomes curious about what a mother is, which thus leads to her tracking down her birth mother.
This is a very delicaIn this volume of Bunny Drop, Rin becomes curious about what a mother is, which thus leads to her tracking down her birth mother.
This is a very delicate topic to cover in any story, and mangaka Yumi Unita pulls it off quite well. There's a vulnerable authenticity to Rin in these chapters, but there's also a strength and solid foundation that Daikichi has provided for her though he doubts he made the right decision to adopt her. He muses about whether Rin would have been better off if she had had a mother in her life instead of a single father. I think Rin's stability is both a tribute to the life that Daikichi has provided for her, but also a tribute to her own person and the sweet young woman that she is becoming.
Don't let the image of the sweet smiling girl on the cover of volume 13 fool you. This is Lily, and she's a mass murderer. She's also incredibly naiveDon't let the image of the sweet smiling girl on the cover of volume 13 fool you. This is Lily, and she's a mass murderer. She's also incredibly naive and childlike. And thus she follows right in step with the insanity within Pandora Hearts. And as insane as this story can get, especially the characters, the more compelling it continues to become.
In this volume, Oz's society debut is well underway, and so is the investigation to find one of the seals. It's a race to see who can find the seal first - our heroes or the Baskervilles. But wait, there seems to be a third player in all this, and this third player may also be the head-hunter that has been alluded to since way back in volume 2? Sign me up! I can't wait to see where this is going to go.
Um, Jun Mochizuki has no problem killing off characters. It's kind of thrilling to read a story where you don't know who is going to live and who isn't going to live (do I sound morbid or what? but truly, if there are no stakes in the matter, why should I care? if there's no risk, is anything ever gained in a story?). At the same time, I am almost certainly positive that one particular character is still alive. If this wasn't the case, I think there would have been absolute mayhem from a certain other character at the end of the volume instead of the intense anger that we see.
Highlights include Elliot and Leo's shouting match, complete with table tossing, chair throwing, and vase breaking. It's a wonderful scene. From there we get some much anticipated back story to Leo and how he became Elliot's valet. We also get the most fabulous line from Break to the whiny Gil: "You're a spoiled brat who can't do anything unless Oz-kun is around. You shouldn't have such a high opinion of yourself...!" You tell him, Break. If there is one single character that I can't stand in this series it is Gilbert. That Gil is emo and mopey beyond comprehension is an understatement. He's important, so of course he's not going anywhere, but oh, I wish he would. I'll settle for Break chewing him out any day, though.
The drawback to this series is primarily the question: where is Alice in all this? She should be central to the story, right? She's Oz's chain. She's connected, if not central, to the tragedy 100 years ago. She's the twin of the Intention of the Abyss. And yet, in recent volumes, she continues to have a very minor role. I hope to see this change. Some of the most compelling moments in this story have been when she has been most vulnerable, opening up to her fears and her worries about regaining her memories and trying to figure out who she is now. I'd like to see us get back to that, and I hope after the next volume, which I think may wrap up this current arc, we will. ...more
In this current arc, the focus in on Ren. He's accepted a role that may bring back memories of his past, which we see a little bit of in this volume.In this current arc, the focus in on Ren. He's accepted a role that may bring back memories of his past, which we see a little bit of in this volume. He's kept his history under lock and key, but it's about time that we learn a little more about him.
Yeah, yeah, Skip Beat! is one of those series where the cover art isn't indicative of the actual story. This is about as much romance as we're going tYeah, yeah, Skip Beat! is one of those series where the cover art isn't indicative of the actual story. This is about as much romance as we're going to get.
Misleading covers aside, Dark Moon is wrapping up, after-party and all, and now it's time for Ren's role as Black Jack to start. Ren's worried that he'll lose himself to the darkness that used to be part of his past. Kyoko has other worries on her mind, including trying to keep a lock on her heart.
Even after 29 volumes, this series is still going on strong. In fact, this is the only manga series that is going to go beyond 30 volumes that I am determined to keep reading. I drop most series by this time because I tend to get bored of the serialized feel, but Skip Beat! manages to still feel fresh and fun. I do have my issues, however, the art style being chief among them. I know it's the style, but at times, the disproportions get to me a little (this coming from a CLAMP fan where they seem to specialize in disproportions!).
Looking forward to the next volume once my library acquires it (though my husband keeps trying to talk me into just buying this series ourselves...but if it keeps at this pace, we'll be reading this well into the 50's or 60's and I don't think I can take that plunge in buying that many volumes, no I don't think I can, ha). ...more
Zombie Loan ran in Monthly GFantasy, a magazine that supports shounen series that tend to have fantasy settings and supernatural elements. I've read tZombie Loan ran in Monthly GFantasy, a magazine that supports shounen series that tend to have fantasy settings and supernatural elements. I've read two other series that run in this magazine - Pandora Hearts (one of - if not - my favorite shounen series of all-time) and Black Butler (which was incredibly meh to me so I dropped it after a good solid try). I've seen all these series described as being appealing to woman (such as the beautiful character designs and sweeping costuming in Pandora Hearts) even though they are written for a shounen demographic...so, I decided to give Zombie Loan a chance (because usually when it comes to shounen, I don't give it a second glance).
The premise of Zombie Loan starts out with Michiru Kita, who is able to see when people are about to die. She notices that two of her classmates - Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana - have the telltale signs of impending death, so she decides to warn them. As it turns out, however, these two boys are already dead, having died in an accident six months prior to the start of the story. They are now zombies who have taken out loans for a second chance at life, which loans involve dispatching 'illegal' zombies as part of their payment.
I've never read about zombies before, nor have I ever really been all that inclined to start. But, my library happened to have the complete series of Zombie Loan, and having some background on the details of this series' publication, I decided to check it out.
In the past week, I've marathoned all 13 volumes of the series. The end result is a mostly cohesive story that took about three or four volumes to get its feet under it, a strong middle, and then two or three volumes to kind of peter out at the end (existentialism overload). The series got rather messy at times with an at-times rambling plot. There was more language than I'd like (being Yen Press, which I've read several other series from with quality translations, I'm really not sure if the language was there to begin with or if it was added in during translation in order to convey the rudeness of speech), and I could have done without the innuendo, which was more prevalent in the initial volumes and all but gone by the time the series really picked up. The art improved significantly from start to finish.
Zombie Loan was a fun series to read. I think it could have used more polish to make it really stellar, but as is, it's not bad. Certainly worth the marathon read. :)