Category Archives: Shojo Beat

Wanted: Manga Movable Feast-Arrr!

Arr, it be that time o’ year again. Aye matey, it be Talk Like o’ Pirate Day! To shiver yer timbers, I be reviewin’ a pirate manga that also be fittin’ in ta da Movable Manga Feast this month. So grab yerself a bottle o’ rum ‘n find out about Wanted Arrrr…

In the Mediterranean at the end of the 17th century, former songstress Armeria disguises herself as a boy and boards the ship of the pirate Skulls–the man who kidnapped Luce, her first love. Captain Skulls is arrogant, violent, and a skirt chaser! And unfortunately for Armeria, he discovers she’s a woman…

By Matsuri Hino
Publisher: Viz Media – Shojo Beat
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $8.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

My introduction to Hino’s work was through the serialization of her most current title Vampire Knight in Shojo Beat. I really didn’t care for it, so when this volume came out, I had little interest in it. But, curiosity got the better of me, and I picked it up. I am slightly surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did, but it is about as different from Vampire Knight as night is to day.

The thing I disliked most about Vampire Knight is the way drama oozed from every pore of every character. The characters in Wanted are the exact opposite. Armeria doesn’t just sit around bemoaning her loss or wait for Luce to come for her. She take the initiative, disguising herself as a man and joins different ships searching for the pirates that kidnapped him eight years ago. Armeria is spunky and headstrong. She is determined to remain on the ship with Skulls until she finds Luce, and she doesn’t let his barbs get her down.

Skulls, the pirate captain, tries to come off as a scoundrel and a ladies man, but he is essentially a good person. He saves Armeria several times, and only robs from nobles who take advantage of the people and then give the wealth back to them. He is like a pirate Robin Hood and his crew are his Merry Men. And it’s a motley crew of merry men at that. They are never formally introduced, but there are a few that are featured in the chapters. His first mate, Second, is a big, shirtless, bald black man who knows his captain all too well. Doc is an older man who like the father figure of the crew, and Fourth and Fifth, crewmen skilled in sailing and swordsmanship. The names aren’t very original, but they are all fun none the less.

There are three chapters about Armeria and Skulls, and a bonus chapter that takes place in Meiji Japan. I really enjoyed the pirate chapters. They were light and fun. There is swashbuckling, raiding, cannon fire, battles with the navy, and secret treasure; everything that makes pirate stories fun. I didn’t care so much for the bonus chapter. It has the same feel as the Wanted chapters, but it just didn’t work as well for me. It moved too fast for me to really believe it, though I did kind of like the characters.

The art is very Hino, with the girls having big eyes and the men all being bishonen. And the hair is everywhere. But I was fine with it in this volume. The characters were different and varied enough that it didn’t get on my nerves. It was to have a beard, dreadlocks and even no hair at all!

Wanted is a fun romp for a romantic pirate adventure. I liked the relationship between Arto (Armeria) and Skulls. I love that they are always at odds. Even though Skulls’ identity was pretty obvious, it’s reveal didn’t ruin the story. So matey, if ye be wantin’ some good pirate romance, be pickin’ up Wanted!

St. Dragon Girl Volumes 1-5: Manga Movable Feast

Momoka Sendou (nicknamed “Dragon Girl”) and Ryuga Kou are childhood friends. Momoka is a martial artist, and Ryuga is a Chinese magic master who banishes demons. In order to increase his power, Ryuga calls on the spirit of a dragon to possess him, but the spirit enters Momoka instead. Now the two must unite forces and fight demons together!

By Natsumi Matsumoto
Publisher: Viz Media – Shojo Beat
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★½

St. Dragon Girl is a title that has two things going for it. Dragons and a couple that denies their feelings for each other. While the second thing is a bit of a trope for shojo titles, I can’t help having a soft spot for their kind of relationship; the childhood friends who tease, bait and strike back.

The female lead of this story, Momoka, has a lot of tomboy traits. Her father is the head of a kenpo dojo, so she is constantly practicing, and is even an instructor. She will take on anyone who threatens her friends, spirits and demons, and even teachers! But she has one weakness; pandas. Ever since she received a stuffed panda as gift from Ryuga, she has loved them, and Ryuga as well. Momoka knows how she feels about Ryuga, but doesn’t want to tell him, thinking he’ll tease her and not return her feelings.

Ryuga, the male lead, comes from a family of Chinese magic masters, and is gifted in the arts as well. He is often being asked to tell fortunes, perform prayers or make charms. Where Momoka is more gung-ho and charging into a situation without thinking, Ryuga is the calm, thoughtful one. He is always having to protect his cousin Shuran, a gifted psychic that demons are always coming after. He comes to Momoka’s rescue as well, usually when her thoughtless gets her in over her head. He is constantly teasing Momoka, which can get him a fist or kick to the face, but he can sometimes counter with his spell Paper Army Formation made up of pandas. Ryuga can be serious at times, letting slip little comments that can be interpreted as his having feelings for Momoka too, but he usually denies them, or changes their meaning by the end of the chapter, to keep her from learning the truth; that he really does love her too.

And since they continue to deny their feelings, this leaves rooms for rivals for their affections to step in. Momoka get the most, starting with Ryuga’s cousin Kouryu, who tries to kidnap Momoka and take her back to China. He’s arrogant and egotistical, and I still didn’t like him ever after the explanation of his back story. Touya is another boy who has a crush on Momoka, but turns out to have a deeper secret. He ends up hanging around though, as thorn in Ryuga side. Even Saint Dragon, the dragon possessing Momoka has him moment of infatuation, but it doesn’t last. It doesn’t stop Ryuga from still feeling jealous.

Ryuga has his suitors as well. Raika is a distant relative of Ryuga’s who wants to be his fiance. She ends up being friends with Momoka after she realizes the truth of Ryuga’s feelings for her. Akira is another new member of the Kendo club. She is a Onmyouji, as well as a competitor for Ryuga’s affections, though he doesn’t really acknowledge her beyond being a friend. She likes to use her magic to take over Momoka’s body and make it move to her will.

While I really like the ensemble of characters that have gathered through these five volumes, it’s the mythical creatures that keep appearing that really won me over. I love the dragons, and they are drawn so gorgeously and with such care! There’s also a phoenix that appears that is cute in human form, and beautiful in bird form, and a mermaid and cat demons. The variety of beasts is great and just as entertaining as the characters!

The stories are mostly stand alone at the beginning, and are fairly light. They mostly involve demons coming after Shuran, or school activities such as Kendo club or the school festival. As the series goes on though, it does start to get more serious and move into longer stories lasting more than one chapter, but Ryuga and Momoka’s relationship remains on the teeter-totter of admitting/denying their feelings.

St. Dragon Girl is a fairly light and fun romance. Matsumoto’s artwork is beautiful to look at (especially the dragons), and she uses a lot of great Chinese costuming, making the series another plus in my book. There is next to no drama, and the comedy is well-timed with the more serious moments. I can’t think of a single complaint I have about this series. Even the constant denial of the leads doesn’t bother me, but they have great chemistry, it wouldn’t matter to me if they ever got together or not. While the series is rated for teens, tweens will enjoy this series as well. Definitely read this series if you get the chance.

Hana-Kimi Volumes 1-3

Mizuki Ashiya is no slouch when it comes to a challenge. She’s a star of track and field at her high school, after all. So When she falls for fellow athlete Izumi Sano, she figures out an ingenious plan to get close to him. Now she’s moved to Japan, enrolled in the all-male high school Sano goes to, and becomes his roommate! How? She’s disguised herself as a boy! Whatever happens next, things are about to get seriously complicated!

By Hisaya Nakajo
Publisher: Viz Media – Shojo Beat
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romantic comedy
Price: $14.99
Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve tended to avoid gender-bending, or cross-dressing titles, because on the whole, they haven’t sounded interesting to me. A girl dressing up as a boy to go to the all-male school where her ideal mate goes seems prime for lots of comedy and hi-jinx, just not the type that I enjoy. Hana-Kimi really surprised me. It plays the comedy aspect well, but it’s not the focus of the story. It’s really about the characters and the love triangle the is created by Mizuki’s presence.

I really liked the characters in this story. Mizuki Ashiya is very earnest about just wanting to see Izumi Sano do the high jump in person. She isn’t clumsy or dizty, though she does get a little emotional for the boy she’s supposed to be. I liked that she didn’t go into this already having feelings for Sano, and that her feelings grow slowly from wanting to be friends with him to wanting to always be with him. It was a very natural progression. It’s obvious that Mizuki thought things through before coming to the school and had reasons why she couldn’t do some things, like swimming, so her excuses didn’t sound half-hazard or unlikely.

Izumi Sano is the sullen, quiet type. It takes some time for him to warm up to Mizuki, and then he figures out she’s a girl, and things take a turn for him. He doesn’t turn her in, but instead starts to work at doing the high jump again. He almost never lets on to her that he knows, but he becomes very protective of her. I like how he continues to relate to her like she’s a boy, but inside has to struggle with his own growing feelings for her. Shoichi Nakatsu is very much the comedy relief and third side to this love triangle, even if he doesn’t completely realize it yet. He was immediately attracted to Mizuki, but has not idea that “he” is a she. He feels a lot of confusion over it, and even starts to wonder if he might not be gay. This struggle is handled humorously, and made more funny to the reader because we know he’s not.

Rounding out the supporting cast is Doctor Umeda, who works in the school infirmary and really is a gay man. He knows Mizuki’s secret, as does his sister, Io, both of whom have promised to keep it. Minami Nanba, Mizuki’s Dorm R.A., is Umeda’s nephew and a ladies man who doesn’t know her secret. Kagurazaka is Sano’s rival in the high jump, and starts out being very obnoxious, but turns out to be not so bad, just very needling. I really like the entire cast of the series. They are all fun and interesting to follow.

The many of the stories are typical of a cross-dressing and high school title. Mizuki is constantly getting into situations where she could be found out, such as with Doctor Umeda and her brother coming to visit her. She is bullied for becoming the school’s new “idol”, and is asked for advise by a potential rival for Sano’s affection. But despite how common place a lot of the story lines have become, they didn’t feel that way here. I enjoyed all of the chapters, probably because there isn’t a lot going that seems unreasonable or over the top. So many of the characters reactions seem plausible and reasonable that it’s easy to believe they could happen. Nakatsu thinking he gay for being attracted to Mizuki, other people thinking Sano is gay for his overprotectiveness towards Mizuki after he learns her secret. Io pointing out to Mizuki she’s not going to be able to keep the charade for long as body matures. These things gave the story a ring of reality to it, making it so much more enjoy.

I found Hana-Kimi to a charming series so far. I really enjoyed the characters and the stories were fun, and for the most part, light. It does have its serious moments, and towards the end the of third volume it got a little dramatic, but not enough to change the tone of the series. The humor still prevails overall. I also liked how the issues of homosexuality were used and portrayed. It isn’t ignored or glossed over. Mizuki gets very upset when some boys say Sano must be for like her, and Dr. Umeda is very open and honest about his preference. The characters reactions rang true to me. I hope Viz continues to put out these omnibus editions. It was easy to hold and read and it a great price point. I can’t wait for the next volume!

Manga Wrap Up Week Twelve: Honey and Clover Volume 9-10

I’m working to get back on schedule after my 2 week manga break. I decided to take it easy and finish up a couple of Shojo Beat titles that I’ve only have the last few volumes left to read. Honey and Clover and Sand Chronicles are two titles I associate together, since they started in Shojo Beat very close together. I enjoyed reading both in the magazine, and decided to continue getting the volumes after the Shojo Beat was canceled. They both went 10 volumes, but I only have the ones starting after the end of the magazine. I’m only going to talk about Honey and Clover here, and will give Sand Chronicles its own review, for reasons that should become clear.

I had previously reviewed Volume 8, which I really liked. The unicorns that stood guard over Yamada’s virginity were hilarious! And that was one of the things I really liked about Honey and Clover; it had its share of drama, punctuated with moments of humor. A lot of that light-heartedness disappears in these last two volumes. An event at the beginning of volume 9 really changes the tone, and most of the rest of the chapters revolve around resolving this one event. There is some tying up of loose ends. It’s finally revealed why Morita needed all that money. Hagu finally resolves the Morita and Takemoto triangle by turning it into a polygon, and like most of the characters, I didn’t see that turn coming.

I wouldn’t say the story ended with a happy ending, but it was satisfying enough. I didn’t feel cheated or that anything was left hanging. Relationships were resolved, or left unresolved as the case may be, as were the character’s personal stories. This is the end of the a chapter in this particular group’s life, and it made sense to end the series here as well. After following these characters for 8 volumes, you would think the coming end would elicit some sort of emotional response though the last two.

But to be honest, I didn’t really feel anything. As I read through these last two volumes, I felt kind of “So, this is the end.” After caring about these characters and following their stories for so long, I’m not sure why I felt so little about them going their separate ways. I think maybe it’s because so much of the last two volumes focused on Morita and Hagu and not so much on the others. It was the ensemble cast that I really liked about this series, and not the individuals so much. When that interaction was lost, so was my interest. It was a good closing chapter on the lives of these young people. It just didn’t affect me much. Would it also be heartless to say the whole situation with Hagu didn’t really upset me? The whole thing felt contrived, and may have contributed to my lack of feeling.

Sand Chronicles is a completely different story. For good or for ill, that story has stuck with me much more than Honey and Clover. It has made me cry on more than one occasion, and for all that I decry melodrama, this is one melodrama that I will read again. This is why the final three volumes need a post of their own.

My next series will be Antique Gift Shop, a manwha from Ice Kiun/Yen Press. It’s ten volumes and will free up a lot of space on my bookshelf, which I desperately need. I also have to find some time to read for the next MMF, which as just been decided to be on the SigIkki line from Viz. I have several volumes from that line that I’ve been meaning to read/review, and this is the perfect motivation to get me to do so.

  • Honey and Clover Volume 9-10
  • Sand Chronicles Volume 8-10
  • Yen Plus March 2012

Shojo Beat – The Final 2

June and July 2009 mark the end of a four year run of Shojo Beat magazine.  Not that you could tell by reading them.  These last two issues feature more great previews, features and of course, chapters of manga.  Though nothing is said explicitly, there does appear to be some indication that the magazine was ending, but you wouldn’t know it if you weren’t really paying attention.

Continue reading Shojo Beat – The Final 2

Eulogy for Shojo Beat

The rumors started yesterday, but David Welsh of Comics Reporter  confirmed it today with Viz’s Evelyn Dubocq via Twitter that the rumors were trueShojo Beat is being cancelled.

sbcover01The manga magazine that started in 2005, about 2 years after it’s older brother Shonen Jump, took over from another Viz publication, Animerica.  I know this very well, since I had just subscribed to Animerica after taking a hard look at the anime/manga magazines at the time.  One month after my first issue, I got the news that it was switching to Shojo Beat.

At the time, I wasn’t reading any shojo.  I think the only shojo series I had read any of was Ceres Celestial Legend.  I’m not into too many chick things, and being told my magazine of choice was going to be replaced with one about “fashion, cooking and beauty” didn’t make me too happy.  I thought I would hate the magazine.  But I decided to get the first issue and check it out.  Much to my surprise, I actually liked the titles that premiered.  Godchild and Nana sucked me in.  Kaze Hikaru and Baby and Me entertained, while Crimson Hero and Absolute Boyfriend passed the time.

sbcover47Over the last 4 years, Shojo Beat has changed it’s titles a few times, some for better (Sand Chronicles, Honey & Clover), some not so better (Vampire Knight), but it was always a fun read.  Even some of the articles were interesting.  The Video games and the DIY crafts usually caught my eye.  I couldn’t see trying to cook, let alone eat some of the recipes, but then, I’m not very adventurous with food.  The manga spotlights were good too, as there was a lot of shojo I hadn’t read.  The previews that they ran also got me into other titles like La Corda d’Oro.

So, it is with great sadness that I bid farewell to Shojo Beat.  I never regretted reading any of it’s titles even if not all of them thrilled me.  The magazine opened me up to a whole new world of manga that I probably wouldn’t have taken a chance on before.  So thanks Shojo Beat for all the girly stuff you brought into my life.  You will be sorely missed.

October Viz Previews

I’m almost caught up with reading my back issues of Shonen Jump.  I started reading October last night.  Both October issues of Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat had previews for new manga, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on them.

In Shonen Jump, the preview was for Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom.  I wasn’t sure what to make of this title when it was first announced, and when I started reading it, the first thing that came to mind was that it seemed like a cross between Inuyasha and Death Note.  We have a demon who can take the shape of a dog (or hell hound) that needs to be controlled.  He is sent to the human realm and put in the hands of human high school student who is successful at everything and bored.  I was thinking the “demon animal under human control” was also a genre that was getting old.  Inuyasha, Her Majesty’s Dog, and Mugen Spiral (from Tokyopop), had all done it before, so I really wondered if this series could do anything better.  By the end of the preview chapter, I was actually liking it!  It doesn’t do anything new.  But for some reason, I found myself liking Nora and Kazuma, and their very antagonistic relationship.  I’m going to read the first volume of this title for sure.

Shojo Beat previewed a new Matsuri Hino title, Captive Hearts.  I had no hope whatsoever for this title.  I haven’t liked any of the other titles by her that I’ve read/previewed, so I didn’t think this one would be any different.  The whole premise of a boy being controlled by a girl because of a curse sent up all kinds of red flags, and I imagined the worst.  But, when I started reading it, it turned out to be the complete opposite of what I had thought.  What’s more, I actually liked it!  Megumi was very funny as he started to feel the effects of the curse, and Suzuka was just cute.  The art is nice too.  There are a lot of light moments that seem to set his manga up for some fun.  I’d definitely consider buying this title.

J-Pop goes Shojo Beat!

The January issue of Shojo Beat wasn’t really anything exciting. The preview of Be WithShojo Beat Jan 2008 You didn’t do anything for me. Haruka felt kind of disjointed, like panels were missing as the characters made huge leaps in time and space. On the plus side, Absolute Boyfriend is on it’s last chapters, so with the end of that comes some relief. But I am still stuck with Vampire Knight, which was as predictable as ever. I’m liking Crimson Hero as long as they say on the game and Norbara’s continued development. Honey and Clover had the obligatory Christmas chapters, and Sand Chronicles didn’t make me cry this time. I did like the fortune telling feature. That was fun to check out. And the featurette on Japanese disaster movies. I really like those kinds of movies, and will have to try and find some of them such as the new Japan Sinks!

The February issue was a lot better. I loved the preview of Monkey High! Give me those snarky shojo protagonists! I liked Haruna, and Macharu is cute. I can’t wait to read the whole volume!

Shojo Beat Feb 2008

My faith in Haruka is restored after a moment of doubt with the last chapter. Lots of demon-y evil and priestess purity may get Akane to stop the swooning over the demon, especially since she’s got some many bishonen surrounding her.

The waffling still isn’t over with Absolute Boyfriend. Even after making her choice, Riiko can’t stop being selfish and wanting both. I am so glad next issue is this title’s last.

After some more good game play with Nobara and Ryo face off against two foreign Pro players, she seems to have finally found her groove in Crimson Hero. But it looks like the drama’s coming back with the boys team. It seems they all missed Nobara will she was gone. Oh well, I guess it couldn’t last forever.

It’s melodrama overload in Vampire Knight, with twins Zero and Ichi now becoming sworn enemies, Yuki *still* trying to save the worthless Zero, and Kaname has a “heart wrenching” talk with Shizuka. Why is this so popular again?

Honey and Clover focuses on Mayama’s unrequited love for and Hanamoto’s past with Rika, while the rest of the gang is up to their usual antics at a hot spring and the zoo. The story of Hanamoto and Rika’s past was especially good. It was very touching.

In Sand Chronicles, Ann learns the difficulty of long distance relationships, as she and Daigo try to keep in touch. Ann meets up with her friends from before going to Shimane and Fuji. With her birthday coming up, everyone is asking what she wants, and all she really wants is to she Daigo. While not enough to bring me to tears, these chapters are still very good, and the Fuji subplot is starting to go somewhere.

The February issue’s focus was on J-pop, a style of music I’ve only just gotten into over the last few years. While I would listen to the openings and endings of anime shows, I never really paid attention to the who the artists were. It was the attention that Puffy Ami Yumi got for doing the Teen Titans theme that made me start looking deeper. So, of course Puffy is now one of the groups I like. They remind me of Ushiroyubi Sasaregumi, who did most of the opening and endings for an anime called High School Kimengumi (very funny, will never be licensed).

The first opening for the Bleach anime, * Asterisk by Orange Range got me interested in them. I still haven’t gotten tired of listening to that song, so to me that says good things about them. I’ve also checked out High and Mighty Color and Uverworld, who also did Bleach openings. But, if I had to choose a band that consistently puts out songs, anime related or not, that I really like, it would be L’Arc en Ciel.

I didn’t really take notice of this group until they did the 2nd opening for Full Metal Alchemist, Ready, Steady, Go. After becoming addict to the song, I started looking into their discography. They’ve been around for over 10 years, so there were a lot of albums available. The lead singer, Hyde, seems to be a big draw, and I will admit I do love his vocals. It’s part of the reason I enjoy their music so much. They also get around quite a bit. As well as FMA, they have done the themes for the FMA Movie (Lost Heaven is my favorite), an ending for Rurouni Kenshin, the opening to Seirei no Morobito (Shine. Why won’t they put out a single for this?!?!?), and the first opening to the current Mobile Suit Gundam 00 anime, Daybreak’s Bell. There’s just something about the music and vocals, and the way they come together, that I can listen to their songs over and over, and never get tired of them. They definitely get my vote for best group. Ever.

Shojo Beat Finds Its Groove

Shojo Beat, the sister anthology magazine to Shonen Jump has been going through a lot ofsbcover30.jpg changes lately. Of the six manga that started the magazine, only two remain. The rest were graduated out for one reason or another. But, with the line up they’ve got now, I think the magazine has finally found a good balance of titles that really make it shine.

To start off the December issue of Shojo Beat, we are treated to a preview of a new manga; High School Debut. Reading the short description didn’t enthuse me to the title. A girl just starting in high school wants to get a boyfriend, so she finds another guy to coach her. Blah. I really wasn’t interested in another “girl wants boyfriend like in manga” story. But, as usual, I read the preview anyway, and was pleasantly surprised. Haruna, the heroine, wasn’t too annoying in her pursuit to bag a boy. But it was Yoh, the boy who knows just what a boy will like in a girl, that really endeared me to this preview. He has a sharp tongue and really doesn’t care what people think. He reminds me a lot of Kiri from Beauty Pop, another character that I just love. I think if I didn’t already have so many titles to read this would be a good one to pick up.

Haruka – Beyond the Stream of Time – This is chapter 3. I wanted to give it a couple of chapters before making a judgment. After this chapter though, I definitely like it. I love stories set in the past, and this one is in the Heian period. Akane and two of her male friends, Shimon and Tenma have been pulled back in time by a demon, Akram. It seems Akane is the chosen Priestess of the Dragon God, and must lead the people in this ancient time against the Demon Clan that wishes to destroy them. This is a shojo with a lot of bishonen surrounding one girl, though not necessarily because they are infatuated by her. This series is based on a computer game and is part of a genre called Neo Romance. La Corda d’Oro is also from this genre, another series I really like. So, I’m expecting good things from this. The art is nice, and the guys are hot, always a good combination.

Honey and Clover – I heard good things about this series for a while now. Those lucky enough to be able to read Japanese had lots of praise for it. It’s a slice of life mixed with romance. The main characters are all art students at an art college. It begins by introducing a Yuta Takemoto, a sophomore architectural student new to the dorm as well as Hagumi Hanamoto, the cousin of Professor Hanamoto, who is friends with the members of the dorm. Yuta is immediately taken by the small Hagumi, but so is Shinobu Morita, a senior who’s been at the college for 6 years, and still seems no closer to graduating. This story is intended for an older audience, so there isn’t any angsty drama going on. It’s college students dealing with college type problems; classes, homework, work, money, food, and relationships. It’s a good cast, giving a variety of situations. There’s no saving the world or anything. Just a nice slow pace to watch the world go by. I really enjoy this one too.

Sand Chronicles – This series won the 2005 Shogakukan Manga Award for Shojo, so you would have high expectations for it. So far, it’s been living up to that expectation. It’s about a girl named Ann uekusa. The story is told like a flashback, as she is remembering this time in her life. Her father left her and her mother after acumulating a large debt, so they are forced to return to Ann’s grandmother’s home. Ann’s mother, unable to take the pressure of living there and with her mother commits suicide and leaves Ann in her grandmother’s care. Ann, a city girl, now has to get used to life in the country, where everyone knows everything about everyone, and things are done very differently. Like Nana, which is told in the same narrative voice, it’s easy to get sucked into this story. The mangaka really knows how to pull the reader’s emotional strings, making you really start to care about the characters, and feel what they feel. As much as I hate to be seen crying over a manga, this one has succeeded to get some tears out of me so far. It’s a great story.

Of the remaining ongoing titles, only Crimson Hero still holds some interest for me. As much as I don’t care for sports manga or high school dramas, this one is able to balance the two to such a point that I don’t mind reading it and sometimes actually enjoy it. You can check out my review of volume 7 here. Nobara has gone off to learn from Ryo, who she believes is on Central Sokai’s volleyball team. It turns out he’s been playing beach volleyball, but he still takes Nobara in and tries to help her get better. But it’s not her technique that’s the problem. She’s got some heavy emotional baggage that’s keeping her down… Vampire Knight started out a mess and hasn’t improved with time. Intrigues are abound now with Yuki being sucked in (literally some times). Everyone has a chess board and Yuki is their favorite pawn. And now the story ends with a surprise that really anyone could have seen coming from miles away. Read at your own risk. Absolute Boyfriend, besides Crimson Hero, is the only other title left from Shojo Beat‘s debut. This six volume story could have, and should have been told in just 3. Riiko is annoying and wishy-washy. I didn’t like her from the start, and nothing’s changed. She’s finally chosen who she’s in love with (after 30 chapters) and it’s the wrong choice (imho). But, of course, Kronos Heaven has to continue to interfere and try and take Night back. Thankfully, this series is nearly over. Volume 5 is out in January, and Volume 6 will be out in May. Hopefully, this spot will be filled with a decent series that won’t make me go “uhg”. Shojo Beat has been doing good so far, I hope they keep up the trend.

I don’t read a lot of the articles in the magazine, because they aren’t aimed at me. They are aimed at a much younger audience. There’s the occasional article on culture that will catch my interest, or some of the manga spotlights I’ll like. But I really read it for the manga. Being an anthology means there’s going to be some titles I like less than others, but on the whole, Shojo Beat is a great buy. And you never know, you be surprised that something you thought you wouldn’t like actually turns out to be your new favorite!