Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: ANDROMEDA STORIES

Well, at long last we reach the end of the month.  After all of these books, I want to end things on a high note.  As such, I decided to go back to the early days of shoujo itself for something special.

ANDROMEDA STORIES (Andoromeda Sutorizu), written by Ryu Mitsuse and art by Keiko Takemiya.  First published in 1980 and first published in North America in 2007.


Deep within the Andromeda Galaxy on the planet of Astralis, the people are celebrating the marriage of Princess Lilia of Ayodoyo and Prince Ithaca of Cosmoralia.  All seems joyous on their world until a bright star appears in an unfavorable position that soon falls upon Astralis and brings doom upon the royal house.  In the midst of this disaster, another ill omen occurs: the queen gives birth to twin boys.  The queen's nurse spirits one of the children away to be cared for by a gruff gladiator, unaware that this child may just be in fact the savior of prophecy who will save Astralis.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: SHINOBI LIFE

How do you combine family drama, ninjas, time travel and romance in a way that isn't completely ridiculous? Well, I don't know if today's selection is the perfect way to do so, but it's certainly a good start.

SHINOBI LIFE (Shinobi Raifu), by Shoko Conami.  First published in 2006 and first published in North America in 2008.


Hundreds of years ago, Kagetora was a loyal ninja serving Princess Beni.  During an attack on her home, the two are separated by an explosion and Kagetora finds himself flung through time and right onto another, modern day Beni.  She's a rich girl with a seething hatred of her greedy stepfather and she sees Kagetora as a new way to spite him.  Soon enough, she comes to care for him, but helping Kagetora won't be as simple as just taking him back to his time.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND

I'm beginning to think that the taste of Yuu Watase fans is not to be trusted.  They still believe Fushigi Yuugi is a classic and today's selection is one of her worst.  I've made my thoughts plain on Fushigi Yuugi, while this series thus is...OK, I guess?

ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND (Zettai Kareshi), by Yuu Watase.  First published in 2003 and first published in North America in 2006.


Riiko Izawa wants a boyfriend more than anything.  So far, every boy she's asked out has turned her down.  The only consistent guy in her life is her next-door neighbor/childhood friend Soshi, and he spends his time taking care of her in lieu of her parents or fighting with her.  While lamenting her latest strike-out, Riiko meets a strange man with an even stranger offer: a website where she can order the man of her dreams.  Riiko expects to be nothing but a scam, but soon enough there's a package on her doorstep containing a life-sized, attractive, and extremely nude android boy ready to fulfill her every need.  Of course, there's always a catch.  If she doesn't return her new boytoy after the trial period, she'll be stuck with a seven-figure bill.  It turns out that the perfect man may sound like a great deal on paper, but maintaining one is a lot more work than Riiko expected.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: TENSHI JA NAI!!

Last month I ranted about how awful Maria Holic is.  What I didn't know at the time is that there was another variation on the same idea that was done more in a shoujo vein, and that it was just as unlikable as that previous series.

TENSHI JA NAI!! (I'm No Angel), by Takako Shigematsu.  First published in 2003 and first published in North America in 2005.


Hikaru just wants to be left alone.  She modeled briefly as a child and all she got out of it was a lot of attention from bullies.  Ever since, Hikaru has done her best to coast through her school years without attracting any sort of attention.  Her plans go to hell when her new all-girls' school decides to have her room with Izumi Kido, a popular actress and idol singer.  Hikaru soon learns Izumi's secret: he's a man who only poses as a woman.  Both Izumi and his manager Yasukuni are determined to keep this secret at any cost, and they are not above blackmailing Hikaru to achieve this. It seems that between this, jealous classmates, and some family secrets of her own, Hikaru is going to need to make some all-new plans if she's going to survive.

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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: GRAND GUIGNOL ORCHESTRA

Can you believe that it's been five years and I still haven't covered a single Kaori Yuki manga?  That's kind of remarkable considering she's got just as many works in print here as someone like Arina Tanemura.  She's certainly worthy of's just a shame I have to start with this one.

GRAND GUIGNOL ORCHESTRA (Guignol Kyutei Gakudan), by Kaori Yuki.  First published in 2008 and first published in North America in 2010.


Across the realm of Queen Gemsilica, a dread plague runs rampant.  It turns people into Guignols, foul beings that are like a cross between zombies and porcelain dolls.  The only thing that can defeat the Guignols are the royal orchestras, as their music stops the Guignols in their tracks and even work some miracles.  There are two orchestras in the land, one official and one unofficial.  Our story concerns the unofficial one and its leader Lucille.  Through the eyes of their newest member, Enes, we learn some of the secrets behind the orchestras and the Guignols.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: LOVE AT FOURTEEN

I've been focusing so much on Viz and a handful of old publishers that I've been neglecting some of the other, modern publishers who are putting out shoujo, starting with the behemoth that is Yen Press.

LOVE AT FOURTEEN (14-sai no Koi), by Fuka Mizutani.  First published in 2010 and first published in North America in 2014.


Kanata Tanaka and Kazuki Yoshikawa are both seen by their classmates as cool and mature.  None of them would suspect that the two are old friends who revert to giddier, more childish versions of themselves when alone.  Lately, though, the two can’t help but notice how attractive the other has gotten.  As the two start to fall in love, they find themselves straining even harder to keep up their cool facades while finding opportunities to enjoy some quiet, tender moments together.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: BOUND BEAUTY

Go!Comi had a particular fondness for Mick Takeuchi.  Who is she?  No one but people who pick up out-of-print shoujo release like me remembers, but the folks at Go!Comi were so fond of her that they licensed not one, not two, but three of her manga.  Luckily, we're looking at what is the most recent and (arguably) the best of the lot today.

BOUND BEAUTY (Shibariya Komachi), by Mick Takeuchi.  First published in 2006 and first published in North America in 2006.


Chiyako has a talent.  She calls it 'fortunetelling,' but in truth it's more like she can see the red strings of fate that tie people together.  She's used it to great effect and modest profit, funds she hopes to use to get away from her loutish father.  Then one day she follows her school's calligraphy master to a strange mansion and stumbles upon a great secret.  It seems her teacher is teaming up with the scholarly Aya and the hot-headed Hirotsuna to master the various strings of fate.  An accident leaves Chiyako in a child's body but grants her the ability the manipulate fate herself and thus join the team.  Now she must learn to adapt to her new teammates of Tyers and control her powers if she is ever going to be able to return to normal.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: STROBE EDGE

I've made it obvious some of the things I don't like in shoujo.  I don't like abusive relationships, I don't like romances with little kids, and I don't like crappy art.  Something else that's less obvious is my dislike of indecisive heroines, much like the one in today's review.

STROBE EDGE (Sutorobo Ejji), by Io Sakisaka.  First published in 2007 and first published in North America in 2012.

Ninako has never been the kind of girl who knows her own thoughts.  She's more the sort of person to go with the flow and agree with whatever ideas her friends might suggest.  So when her girlfriends say that she MUST be in love with her old friend Daiki, well then surely she must be!  She believes this until she starts to get to know Ren, the class idol.  Bit by bit they start to open up to one another and Ninako starts to truly understand what being in love actually is like.  Just as she comes to this realization, Daiki blindsides her with a couple of confessions of his own and Ninako finds herself more confused than ever.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: KODOCHA

It's time to take some of my older readers down nostalgia lane with one of the many 90s shoujo series Tokyopop picked up in their glory days.

KODOCHA: SANA'S STAGE (Kodomo no Omocha, "Child's Toy"), by Miho Obana.  First published in 1994 and first published in North America in 2002.


Sana is a popular child actress with a larger-than-life personality and a pressing need to help the people around her.  Her first project is to stop a gang of rowdy boys from tormenting her homeroom teacher and disrupting class.  Sana eventually confronts their leader, Akito, and wins.  In the process, though, she learns that he's dealing with much heavier matters at home and Sana may be the only one able to help him.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: HARUKA: BEYOND THE STREAM OF TIME

What happens when you take a derivative otome game from the PS1 and try to turn it into a manga?  You get a really incoherent mess, if this thing is any indication.

HARUKA: BEYOND THE STREAM OF TIME (Hanukanaru Toki no Naka De ~Hachiyou Shou), based on the video game by Ruby Part & illustrated by Tohko Mizuno.  First published in 1999 and first published in North America in 2008.


Akane was just a normal girl enjoying the walk to school with her friends Tenma and Shimon. As the cherry blossom petals swirl around her, Akane finds herself and her friends transported to Heian-era Japan.  It seems that Akane is an incarnation of the Priestess of the Dragon God.  This power grants her eight stones which embed themselves in her selected guardians, stones which grant them great spiritual power.  That power will be needed as the kingdom is under threat from the alluring yet dangerous Akram, who wishes to destroy everything.  Will Akane be able to gather her guardians and save her past, or will she fall for Akram's honeyed words?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: MY LITTLE MONSTER

Since Robico is getting another work licensed here (albeit digitally), it's a good time to look back at her previous shoujo series.

MY LITTLE MONSTER (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun), by Robico.  First published in 2008 and first published in North America in 2014.


Shizuku Mizutani is a girl with a mission.  She is determined to study her way towards a high-paying career and regards anything outside of that goal as a distraction.  Her homeroom teacher bribes her with the promise of study guides if she will take some back assignments to Haru Yoshida, whom everyone believes is a terrible, violent monster of a boy who doesn't come to school.  Haru falls for Shizuku almost immediately.  Meanwhile, she's just annoyed that she has to deal with this weirdo and all the other weirdos he seems to attract.  She just wants to study - she doesn't have time for things like "friendship" or "love"!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS

So you know how I mentioned a couple of days ago how Ouran ruined me for reverse harem manga forever?  Well, that's only partially true.  It's true that most of them can't compare to the humor and character writing there, but it's also true that a lot of them are simply mediocre like today's selection.

KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS (Barajo no Kiss), by Aya Shouto.  First published in 2008 and first published in North America in 2014.


Ever since she was little, Anise Yamamoto had to obey one rule above all: she must never remove her rose choker or else she will face a terrible punishment.  Then one day a strange bat falls from the sky and snatches it right off her throat, leaving behind four mysterious cards. Anise discovers that with a kiss, she can use these cards to summon four magical knights to serve her.  It's a neat trick, but what is Anise meant to do with this power?  More importantly, how is Anise going to get her choker back before her father comes back home?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: LIFE

I feel like making this part of a Merry Month of Manga is a little weird because today's review deals with some very serious and sad material.  Those triggered by talk of self-harm should take heed before reading this.

LIFE (Raifu), by Keiko Suenobu.  First published in 2002 and first published in North America in 2006.


Ayumu is struggling with her junior high school exams like a lot of girls her age.  She enlists the help of her best friend Shinosuke, and it works beautifully – Ayumu passes and gets into Minami High School!  Unfortunately Shinosuke does not, and this results in a big fight and the end of their friendship.  Ayumu feels so guilty over the whole thing that she begins to cut herself as a way of coping with her pain.  At Minami, things don’t really get better.  Sure, she makes a new friend named Manami, but Manami is snobby and shallow and makes Ayumu feel worse.  Now Ayumu is torn between her dependence on cutting to deal with her emotions , fear of others discovering evidence of her cutting, and the self-loathing  and the insecurities that drive her to cut.

Merry Month of Manga Review: BEHIND THE SCENES!!

I've always been fond of Ouran High School Host Club.  The anime was the first one I ever watched ( least, the first I watched knowing it was anime) and the manga remains my favorite of all reverse harem manga.  It seems, though, that not only has Ouran ruined me for other reverse harems, but it might have ruined me for other Bisco Hatori works as well.

BEHIND THE SCENES!! (Urakata!!), by Bisco Hatori.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2016.


Ranmaru has spent his whole life presuming that he's a disaster.  He's no good at fishing like the rest of his family, he's torn apart every club he's ever joined, and he's convinced that college will be no better.  Then he stumbles across The Art Squad, a rag-tag team of art students who supply everything from model to costumes to SFX for the school movie clubs.  They see great potential in Ranmaru's eye for detail, but can they get past Ranmaru's persistent pessimism to convince him?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: THE DEVIL WITHIN

I can't believe that I found ANOTHER shoujo manga with a shota complex.  How the hell does this keep happening?

THE DEVIL WITHIN (Tenshi no Naka ni Akuma Ari), by Ryo Takagi.  First published in 2003 and first published in North America in 2007.


Rion knows two things for certain: grown men are nothing but devils, while young boys are nothing but pure, beautiful angels.  A childhood trauma led her to this conclusion, and ever since she can only find herself attracted to pre-pubescent boys. This throws a wrench in her father's business plans, as he's determined to marry her to one of three teenaged heirs for his benefit.  Neither the boys nor Rion's father care about getting her consent on the matter - they're just determined to profit from the connections.  All the while, Rion pines for the angelic-looking boy in the apartment below hers even as he abuses her verbally at every turn.  Soon Rion discovers that there's more than just a business deal at stake with her choice of husband and that her choices may have divine implications.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: DAWN OF THE ARCANA

You know, there are plenty of manga about princesses out there, but there aren't many out there like today's selection, where the role of a princess is less fanciful and romantic and more political and serious.

DAWN OF THE ARCANA (Reimei no Arukana), by Rei Tomi.  First published in 2003 and first published in North America in 2011.


Senan and Belquat are two halves of the same island that have been at war with one another for ages.  The two sides hope to forge a peace accord (no matter how temporary) by uniting the handsome Prince Caesar of Belquat with the spirited, red-headed Princess Nakaba of Senan.  From the moment the two are wed, Caesar makes it clear that Nakaba is his property to command and berate at his will.  Nakaba does her best to hold her own against him, but when her loyal servant Loki turns upon the king of Belquat she finds herself having to make a deal with her unpleasant new husband.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: THE EARL AND THE FAIRY

If my love of The Ancient Magus' Bride didn't give it away, I have a particular fondness for shoujo series that get particularly whimsical with their fantasy settings.  That's what drew me to today's selection.  It's just a shame that it doesn't quite live up to that premise.

THE EARL AND THE FAIRY (Hakushaku to Yosei), adapted from the light novels by Mizue Tani & art by Ayuko.  First published in 2008 and first published in North America in 2012.


Lynda Carlton knows one thing to be true: that fairies do exist in this world.  Only her and her late mother could see them, and thus most people presume that Lynda is a bit mad.  Nonetheless, she is determined to carry on her mother's work as a fairy doctor to bring aid to human and fairy alike.  A trip to visit her researcher father leads to Lynda getting kidnapped, but it also leads her to cross paths with a man claiming to be Edgar Ashenbert, also known as Lord Ibrazel and a descendent of the mythical Blue Knight Earl.  Edgar needs Lynda's help to find his ancestor's mythical sword, and thus Lynda finds herself swiftly swept up in an adventure she could have never imagined.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: CANTARELLA

It's rare to find historical shoujo that isn't about a romance, but leave it to Go!Comi to deliver one of the better ones I've ever found.

CANTARELLA (Kantarera), by You Higuri.  First published in 2001 and first published in North America in 2005.


The Borgias are one of history's most notorious families, accused of every crime and sin imaginable.  This is especially true for the scion of the famile, Cesare Borgia.  In this version, Cesare is cursed from birth, as his father literally sells Cesare's soul to the devil so he can become Pope.  As the young boy grows up, he finds few allies save for his innocent younger sister Lucrezia and his first mother Vannozza.  As he grows into a young man, he hardens his heart against the world so that he may strike out at those who oppose him.  What is unknown is if he is already an irredeemable monster or if even he has a chance at salvation.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: KAMISAMA KISS

These days, shoujo heroines falling in love with gods/yokai/etc. are all the rage.  I think it's time to look back at the series that most recently popularized the idea.

KAMISAMA KISS (Kamisama Hajimemashita), by Juliette Suzuki.  First published in 2008 and first published in North America in 2010.


Nanami Momozono is an extraordinarily unlucky girl.  She's barely getting along as things are, but after her father runs off to escape gambling debts she finds herself alone, homeless, and penniless.  A kindly old man takes pity on her, offering her a place to stay and a kiss on the forehead.  Nanami couldn't have known that the old man was a stray Shinto god and that his offer was in fact a transfer of his powers and temple to her.  Now Nanami is responsible for fulfilling the prayers of strangers along with a fox familiar who is as handsome as he is grumpy and who resents the new management.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: STEPPING ON ROSES

Normally I don't bring too much of the real world into this blog but anyone who followed the news today knows that today was a bad day...a terrible, no-good, infuriating sort of day.  So I'm going to take this opportunity to vent some frustration by getting around to a series I've been meaning to rant about for a while.

STEPPING ON ROSES (Hadashi de Bara o Fume), by Rinko Ueda.  First published in 2007 and first published in North America in 2010.


Sumi Kitamura is a poor yet noble young girl growing up in the midst of the Meiji era.  Her parents are dead, her brother is a hopeless gambler who keeps leaving foster kids with her, but despite her crushing poverty and large number of dependents she remains hopeful.  She eventually gets so desperate that she decides to prostitute herself.  Sumi is eventually 'bought' by Soichiro Ashida, who wants to marry her in the hopes of appeasing his dying grandfather to inherit a fortune.  Now Sumi is bound to this cruel, demanding, arrogant young man all while she struggles to find a place in a social world far above her own.  Will Sumi ever adapt to her surroundings?  Will Soichiro ever come to love her?  And will she ever find the mystery man who helped her in her time of need?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: JULINE

Tokyopop famously made their fortunes on the back of shoujo manga back when they were still Mixx (...or sometimes Chix Comix.  It took them a while to settle on Tokyopop).  Of course, for every Sailor Moon they picked up, there were more obscure works like today's selection.

JULINE (Kakuto Komusume Juline), by Narumi Kakinouchi.  First published in 1997 and first published in North America in 2001.


Juline is the heiress to the Kenga clan of ninjas, but she's more concerned with winner her handsome guardian's heart than any outside threat.  Then a mysterious new clan called the Black Pearl starts stealing their members, a clan connected to both a mysterious, androgynous leader and the princely new girl at school.  To discover the truth, Juline must team up with the other clans in town to investigate...presuming that they survive.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: TWO FLOWERS FOR THE DRAGON

Now we're going from one of the classics of shoujo to one of my favorite sub-sub-sub categories: weird shoujo series from CMX!  They picked up all sorts of weird little gems during their brief time that are remembered mostly by manga bloggers like myself, including (but not limited to) today's selection.

TWO FLOWERS FOR THE DRAGON (Ryu no Hanawazurai), by Nari Kusakawa.  First published in 2005 and first published in North America in 2008.


Shayuka is the heiress to the dragon clan.  This grants her the ability to control water, to transform into a dragon and to someday rule over the desert oasis kingdom she calls home.  As a child, she was engaged to her friend Lucien, but he disappeared in the desert.  These days, she's set to marry Kuwan, the captain of the guard, but those plans go awry after Lucien reappears.  Shayuka can only marry one, so the matter will be settled through Shayuka's enchanted engagement tattoos.  One hand bears the rose of Lucien; the other has the bellflower of Kuwan.  As her love for one or the other grows, their respective flowers will grow and bud, and whomever has the most in a year's time wins her hand.  Shayuka is confident that her love for Kuwan will win out, but will Lucien's newfound strength and flirtatiousness even the odds?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: NANA

Five years.

Can you believe it?  It's been five years since I first put together this humble little BlogSpot to start putting up reviews.  It was meant to just be a hobby, a way to pass the time on my own in my quiet little rental room during a period of extended unemployment. 

Five years later I'm now a married woman with shelves full of manga, and what started as a hobby is growing into something more.  Writing here has given me the confidence to try writing on other topics at other places.  Not only do I now have some regular features on Infinite Rainy Day, but also recently made my debut as a contributing writer for Anime Feminist.  I've dabbled in podcasting, and I hope to someday return to it. I've even started to make a little income off of this humble little hobby of mine.  It's been a hell of a ride, even if I admit that I'm not always the most consistent about it.

As we do every May, I plan on reviewing an entire month's worth of manga.  This year, I'm shaking things up yet again with a new theme: shoujo manga.  I'll be doing 31 days' worth of shoujo manga reviews, as I try to cover books old and new, good and bad, and all points in between.  Of course, we have to kick off such a momentous anniversary with a review of an equally momentous series.

NANA, by Ai Yazawa.  First published in 2000 and first published in North America in 2005.


This is the story of two young women, both named Nana.

Nana Komatsu is a frantic young woman who is always unlucky in love (mostly because she tends to choose bad, douchey partners).  Her latest relationship with a married, older businessman is no exception to this.  She decides to follow her best friend Jun to art college in hopes of turning her life around…and she pretty much fails at that.  Instead, she ends up latching onto and falling for a mutual friend, Shoji, and decides to follow him to Tokyo.

Nana Osaki is cool and confident, a troubled kid who grew up to be the lead singer for her boyfriend’s punk band, Blast.  Unfortunately, he’s decided to move on to a new up-and-coming band and now she has to decide whether to try and make things work with Ren or to head to Tokyo with her remaining bandmates to try and break out.