Shojo Beat Aug-Sept 2008

The August and September issues of Shojo Beat had a lot going on  preview-wise.  August gave us looks at Mixed Vegetables and Wanted, and we said goodbye to Gaba Kawa.  September let us preview Blank Slate and we were introduced to the new series Honey Hunt.  I just wanted to make a comments about these.

Mixed Vegetables starts out the August issue, with the first and cover page in color.  And that’s about all the good I can say about this title.  It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just not good.  The story of a pastry chef’s daughter wanting to marry into a sushi shop family sounds really boring, which is exactly what I thought of the preview.  The characters are bland and stereotypical for this kind of shojo.  The leads bicker in an annoying rather than amusing way.  The whole premise just didn’t grab me.  I’ve giving this series a pass.

Wanted is by Matsuri Hino, the creator of the very popular, but I don’t see why series Vampire Knight.  Set in the 17th century, it’s about a girl, Armeria, who as a child had a crush on the governor of the island she lived on, Luce.  One day Luce is kidnapped by pirates.  Eight years later Armeria disguises herself as a cabin boy so she can join the pirate crew that took her beloved Luce.  She’s not very good at it though, as on the first night, her cover is blown.  This title has what I dislike most in a lot of shojo manga – a stupid lead.  Here is this girl, on a ship full of men, and she’s singing in her very female voice for anyone to stumble upon her (quite literally in this case).  This feels like more Vampire Knight, with pirates instead of Vampires.  Matsuri Hino fails to impress me for a second time.  Complete pass.

Gaba Kawa came to an end, not with a bang, but with a whimper.  This story read like a demon version of The Little Mermaid, with Rara vanishing if she is unable to kill Retsu, which of course she can’t.  This title was the biggest waste of print I’ve ever read in Shojo Beat.  Rara was never likable.  Retsu had potential, but it got wasted on Rara.  The end would have gotten a better reaction of there was anything redeeming about Rara, but, there wasn’t.  Give this title a WIDE bearth.

Blank Slate is a curious creature.  It’s got the pretty boys and drama girls love, but a lot of action and blood that they usually don’t.  This was also a difficult title to figure out from the first chapter.  Even through I got the ending, everything inbetween was kind of lost on me.  The story’s supposed to be about Zen, a man who’s lost his memory and isn’t sure if he’s a killer or a hero.  But this whole first chapter is more about Russo, who falls under Zen’s charms, and joins him instead of bringing him in like he originally planned.  It almost feels like Russo’s fallen in love with Zen, giving this story a very YAOI feel to it.  I…just didn’t like this story.  All the killing and anarchic rhetoric just completely turned me off.  I wasn’t interested in finding out more about Zen.  I wanted to get away from him.  I’m giving this title another pass.

Honey Hunt has been hyped for a while, being from the creator of Hot Gimmick.  I saw no appeal for that title, and after reading the various descriptions of Honey Hunt available on the web, I didn’t think I would like this one either.  And at the beginning, I didn’t really.  Yura was too wishy-washy for my liking.  She lets everyone push her around at school, and won’t stand up for herself because she’s afraid of rejection.  I was about ready to write this title off until the end when she told the world exactly how she felt.  That scene turned me around.  I’m going to give this series a shot.  I wasn’t impressed with the whole “daughter’s going to show up her mother by becoming a star too” description”, but this first chapter really made an impression, and that ‘s what a first chapter needs to do.  It’s got to hook you in from the beginning, or it’s not going to survive.  This one gets a read!

There’s a reason I read more shonen than shojo, and this list of titles give a good example why.  That’s not to say I don’t like shojo.  There are a lot of series’ I’ve gotten hooked on, mainly because of Shojo BeatNana, Godchild, Honey & Clover, and Sand Chronicles are must reads, as well as the neo romances of Haruka and La Corda d’ Oro.  But there are just as many titles, if not more, that I just want to avoid.  I’m nost sorry for reading these previews, because now I know.

And knowing is half the battle.

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