Monday, April 23, 2018

Review: FLOWERS & BEES

Today's title might sound like another story of transformation and romance, but it's got a cynical edge that could only come from the pen of noted josei mangaka and Test Drive favorite Moyoco Anno.

FLOWERS & BEES (Hana to Mitsubachi), by Moyoco Anno.  First published in 2000 and first published in North America in 2003.



PLOT:

Mosau Komatsu is a sloppy loser of a high-school student, and all he wants is a girlfriend.  In desperation, he tries a makeover at a salon called The World of Beautiful Men.  It seems to work, so Mosau keeps coming back for more.  From that point on, he becomes the pet project for sisters and co-owners Kiyoko and Harumi.  Through their patented system of fashion, style, and verbal abuse, they are determined to turn Mosau into a (reasonably) confident and attractive man of the world.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: HOUSE OF FLOWERS

Flowers can serve as metaphors for all sorts of things in manga: romance, joy, sadness, transformation, etc.  So why not review a manga that seems to contain all that and more?

HOUSE OF FLOWERS (Hana no Ie), by Mako Takami.  First published in 2003 and first published in North America in 2017.



PLOT:

Acclaimed kabuki actor Kaoru Fujita is finally taking a wife...but on the day of the wedding his bride runs away.  His little sister Hiyori convinces a friend from art school named Nakai to pose as her publicly, and the ruse succeeds beyond anyone's expectations.  Nakai agrees to stay on for half a year until they can fake a divorce, but in the process he discovers some family secrets, his love for Hiyori, and a desire to become a kabuki actor himself.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Review: KABUKI: FLOWER

There are loads of BL manga with flowers in their title, just in case that you might miss that these are manga targeted towards women.  This particular one brings in a reincarnation angle, but is it truly timeless or not?

KABUKI: FLOWER (Kabuki - Hana no Shou), by Yukari Hashida.  First published in 2004 and first published in North America in 2008.



PLOT:

Over 500 years ago, the young lord Kounosuke and his page Kagaya took their lives in ritual suicide instead of surrender.  Before they died, they vowed to find one another in another life, no matter how long it took.  Kounosuke awakens afterwards in the modern day, the scion of a wealthy family who was recently orphaned in a fire.  He sees signs of his beloved Kagaya in three generations of his servants, but which one is the reincarnation of his true Kagaya?  Can he find him before forces beyond his control kill him a second time?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Review: BUTTERFLIES, FLOWERS

April showers are bringing forth a month of manga with flowery titles, starting with one of Viz's first forays into the world of josei.

BUTTERFLIES, FLOWERS (Cho yo Hana yo), by Yuki Yoshihara.  First published in 2006 and first published in North America in 2009.



PLOT:

Choko Kuze is the daughter of an old-money family that's fallen on hard times.  They've lost their fortune, their mansion, and even their servants, and Choko is the only one willing to support them by taking on an office job at a notable real-estate agency.  She could have never expected that boss who harasses her with awkward questions and tyrannical demands was also her family's former butler.  Domoto has never forgotten her family's kindness nor the little girl he used to protect, and when he's off the clock he reverts to the fond, deferential young man he once was.  Can Choko learn to look past Domoto's harshness to the sweet man within or will she always be stymied by his hot-and-cold treatment?

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Review: GIANT KILLING

Kodansha's recent push into digital-exclusive manga has been a boon to many genres of manga, including sports manga.  There was plenty of titles I could have chosen from, focus on sports ranging from baseball to MMA fighting.  In the end, I chose the most unique title of them all; one that wasn't focused on playing a game, but instead on coaching.

GIANT KILLING (Jaianto Kiringu), written by Masaya Tsunamoto & art by Tsujitomo.  First published in 2007 and first published in North America in 2017.



PLOT:

Tatsumi Takeshi was once the star player for the East Tokyo United team, but he wanted a challenge and decided to leave and coach an amateur team in England.  Years later, ETU is in danger of losing their place in both the local league and the hearts of the locals.  The staff eventually convince Tatsumi to come back, but it's going to take a lot more than a change of coaches to win over both the fans and the remaining team members.  Tatsumi's not worried, though.  His attitude may be eccentric, but there's no one better around at turning underdog players into a giant-killing team.