Saturday, May 27, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: KIMI NI TODOKE

After all the drama I've had to read this month, it's nice to come back to a simple shoujo story.  The sort of story that's just about a girl and a boy and a chronic lack of communication.

KIMI NI TODOKE ("Reaching You"), by Karuho Shiina.  First published in 2006 and first published in North America in 2009.


Sawako Kuronuma is a sweet and painfully shy young woman, but to her classmates she comes off as creepy.  It's bad enough that her awkwardness and long black hair have earned her the nickname "Sadako," after the character from The Ring.  The only person who is willing to give Sawako a chance is Kazehiya, a class representative and all-around nice guy.  Sawako is utterly smitten with him, even if she's completely oblivious to the nature of her feelings.  With his encouragement, she starts reaching out to her classmates and making some friends, even as their own burgeoning friendship is slowly but surely turning into a burgeoning romance.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: THE EMPTY EMPIRE

Once again, we're looking at another oddball shoujo title from CMX.  This one is a bit more divisive for me.  In some ways, it's much better than Two Flowers For the Dragon, but it's worse in some ways.

THE EMPTY EMPIRE (Kara no Teikoku), by Naoe Kita.  First published in 1993 and first published in North America in 2006.


The Emperor Idea once ruled the world through a combination of incredible powers and indominatable charisma.  Then the emperor suddenly died and the world was thrown into chaos.  In the midst of this chaos, a stray duke and a whip-wielding girl from the streets find a boy that looks just like the late emperor.  He's a rejected clone that was left without any memories and bearing a rose-shaped scar on his forehead.  They bring him to the palace to teach the boy what he needs to know to survive, but there are many people who both adored and despised Idea and are determined to dispose of this doppelganger by any means.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: PEACH HEAVEN

Kodansha has been a licensing spree lately, adding all sorts of digital-only shoujo titles to their collection.  I figured that since I had enjoyed the josei titles they had picked up so much, surely I would have just as much luck with their new shoujo titles!

Oh how wrong I was.

PEACH HEAVEN (Momoiro Heaven!), by Mari Yoshino.  First published in 2007 and first published in North America in 2017.


Ever since her father died, Momoko Shino has had to help support her family by taking up her father's penname and writing erotic romance novels in his stead.  None of her classmates have any idea that "George Aihara" is just unassuming (if somewhat exhausted) girl...that is, until she stumbles upon class idol Ranmaru Inui having sex with their English teacher.  She uses the encounter for her next book and Ranmaru finds out her secret.  He eventually agrees to keep it on one condition: that Momoka become his slave.  After all, how can a teenage girl who has never so much as kissed a boy write good erotica unless someone teaches her the ways of romance?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Merry Month of Manga: SHUGO CHARA!

I can't let this month pass without covering at least one magical girl series.  After all, shoujo as a whole in the US got its start thanks to the likes of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.  That being said, the genre has never really been able to reclaim those heights ever since and I can't help but wonder if mediocre works like today's offering are part of the reason for that.

SHUGO CHARA! (Shugo Kyara!), by Peach Pit.  First published in 2006 and first published in North America in 2007.


Amu has a reputation for being a cool, badass sort of girl, but Amu has no idea where it came from.  She doesn't see herself as cool and aloof, but instead as painfully shy.  She wants to be more assertive with people, particularly where the handsome class president Hotori Tadase is concerned.  Her salvation comes in the form of three magical eggs, with each containing a doll-like creature known as a Guardian Character.  Under their influence, Amu finds she can do anything and discovers that she is not the only one to possess Guardian Characters.  She also soon learns that there are others who covet the Characters and their powers for themselves and that she must fight to protect them from these mysterious (and sometimes cat-eared) figures.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: YUKARISM

Most isekai-style shoujo stories are about girls getting sucked into alternate fantasy worlds.  Far less common are ones about time-travel, and rarer still are ones about guys.  This might be the only one I've seen that combines the two.

YUKARISM, by Chiaki Shiomi.  First published in 2010 and first published in North America in 2014.


Yukari Kobayashi is a bestselling author of historical fiction at the tender age of 17.  When his classmate and super-fan Makoto comes to his home to deliver some assignments, she discovers the secret to Yukari's success.  Yukari's books are so lifelike because he's drawing from his own past memories as a Edo-era oiran.  The more Yukari draws on his past, the more the boundaries between the present and past blur.  Stranger still, Yukari starts recognizing other figures from his current life in the past, and they all seem to be connected to a mysterious fire that killed his past self hundreds of years ago.