Tag Archives: Chinese Zodiac

Year of the Sheep

Chinese New Year moves back up to middle February after starting at the beginning of the month last year. And with a new year comes a new zodiac animal. This year, it is the sheep/ram or goat, depending on where you look. The majority of posts I’ve seen about it seem to use sheep, so I’m going with that.

Fruits Basket 11Fruits Basket – Since this series is about the Chinese Zodiac, it always has an animal to contribute. Hiro Sohma is a 12-year-old boy who rarely smiles except when he is being sarcastic or mischievous. He is the youngest of the cursed family members. He has a crush on Kisa Sohma and can be over protective of her. He is initially jealous of Tohru’s friendship with Kisa, but eventually comes to like her. He is also about the only Zodiac member to have a normal, loving parent in his mother, who loves hugging him in his sheep form. It is out of print but was previously published by Tokyopop.

SPICEMANGA_4Spice and Wolf – In as series where on of the characters is a giant, ancient wolf, it should come as no surprise that there is sheep as well. When Holo and Lawrence have to travel from Lamtra to Ruvinheigen, they hire the Shepherdess Nora to help as guide and to use her sheep to smuggle in gold to get themselves out of a large debt. Nora was a really interesting character with her well-trained sheep dog Enek. Together they keep the sheep safe and together. It is published by Yen Press.

Merry chanMerry-chan to Hitsuji – This series is the only unlicensed title on the list. It is about a little girl, Merry who lives with her uncle after her parents passed away. But her uncle is actually a sheep! But she isn’t alone as her other friends also have animals for relatives such as a panda papa, a fish father and a lion father! The series is a comedy 4koma, and would probably fit in well with sienen titles Azumaga Daio and Yotsuba&!.

pet shop of Horrors 8Pet Shop of Horrors – Count D’s pet shop features all kinds of exotic animals, and Tetsu, or T-chan as he’s often called is one. He is a totetsu, a carnivorous animal that is a distant relative to the goat. He is often testy and likes to annoy Detective Chris, often trying to bite him whenever he comes to the shop. He is very cute in his animal form, looking like a long-haired goat, and in his human form he is a good-looking guy with large, curved ram horns. Either way, he’s a pleasure to look at and usually funny to watch. It is also out of print but was previously published by Tokyopop.

Karneval_TP_1Karneval – This series was licensed by Yen Press last year, with the first volume scheduled to come out next month. It is about two boys, Nai and Gareki who are coerced into joining Circus, the country’s most powerful defense organization. Working for this organization are the Hitsuji, creatures that look like sheep and serve on Circus’ Second Ship defense system. They are very obedient and follow any rule or instruction given them, but are also very strict about what happens on the ship with respect to safety and unauthorized personnel getting on board.

One Piece 5One Piece – The sheep in this series isn’t so much a sheep as he likes to look like them. Merry is the loyal servant and butler to Kaya, the very rich, sick girl in Syrup Village where Usopp also lives. He has curly white hair like a sheep, with small horns sticking out it. He thinks only of Kaya’s well-being, to the point that he tried to stand up to Kuro, the captain of the Black Cat Pirates who wanted to steal Kaya’s wealth. He is also a capable ship designer and designed the Going Merry, the Straw Hat Pirates first and most beloved ship. It is published by Viz Media.

That what I could scrounge up of sheep in manga. Do you know of any titles I may have missed? Leave a comment on this post and let me know!

Sumomomo Momomo Volume 6-12

Having defeated Tenga Koganei of the Tiger clan and recovered from the poison, Koushi and Momoko continue to face challengers to their engagement from other clans. Koushi, seeing how much his friends go through to help, decides to start training seriously. While makes good progress, the Monkey clan makes their move and usurps the Inuzuka claim to lead the Eastern army. Koushi’s only hope to save the clans and regain his engagement to Momoko is to master the Myriad Seal and face Yuusuke in battle to the death.

Sumomomo 6By Shinobu Ohtaka
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action/Comedy
Price: $11.99 ea
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Sumomomo, Momomo was one of the debut titles in Yen Press’ Yen Plus magazine. It was also a title I despised. The art was bad, and the story was worse. I never dreamed I would ever read another chapter of it, but I had these review copies, and no one else seemed interested in reviewing them, so I decided to see if it had improved at all. I will admit, these later volumes weren’t as painful to read as the earlier ones, but the systemic problems of the series kept it from being memorable.

Sumomomo 7There were several things I despised about this series, the chief among was Momoko. I hated her. She was annoying with her obsession with wanting to bed Koushi. Koushi’s pathetic attitude was just as bad. It’s not a good sign when the two main leads are so unlikable. This starts to change by volume 6. Momoko seems to have settled down some what. She still wants to bed Koushi, but it’s not her focus. It’s become something that just comes up every once in a while, with Momoko trying to trick Koushi into agreeing. She is still a gungho fighter, and has no problem with coming to Koushi’s defense.

Sumomomo 8While watching Momoko fight Koganei, Koushi starts to realize he can’t let everyone else fight his own battles, and decides he needs to train seriously. This becomes his main arc to the end. Both his father and friends try to help him, but it’s only once he understands the seal his mother put on him and he trains alone in the jungle that he finally finds his strength. Even before the last volume, I was finding Koushi to be less annoying, as he stopped cowering and starting stepping up to take responsibility for himself.

Ultimately, that was the theme of the story; to make your own decisions and walk your own path. Koushi didn’t become a real fighter until he found his own way, and even in his final battle with Yuusuke, he chose when and how to use the Myriad Seal despite what others thought. He used words first to try to beat this idea into Yuusuke, but in the end his had to use the Seal to end the duel mercifully for both him and Yuusuke. It was actually a decent ending.

Sumomomo 11There were also parts in the middle that were decent. I liked Iroha’s journey to try to resurrect her clan and regain their respect. Despite the betrayals of those she considered closest, she never gave up hope. She continued to fight and help Koushi against the Endou until the very end. I felt sorry for Sanae. Her power was just humiliating, and her grandmother had no sympathy, putting her on parade even to her friends.

And here is where things start to head downhill for me. I didn’t care for the whole love polygon around Koushi that started with Iroha and Sanae, and soon added Shintarou, the daughter of the Inoue clan who was raised as a boy. The dip into harem territory didn’t work for me at all, and actually felt distracting from the growing tension from the Endou clan’s machinations. The humor didn’t do much for me either. The getting into bed, Sanae’s humiliation, the other boys’ jealousy of Koushi, none of these things ever seemed funny to me, and the humor fell flat every time.

Sumomomo 12Sumomomo, Momomo worked best when it was being a martial arts fighting series, and was “meh” at best at being a high school harem comedy. There were some good character arcs, and the final message of putting yourself and your own will ahead of conflicting obligations was a good one. The final volume was the best, with this message and showing how everyone not only went their separate ways, but took paths that they chose on their own. I can’t say I liked Sumomomo, Momomo, or that it was a good series overall. But it did have its moments and an ending worth reading. So borrow this from the library or a friend if you’re curious.

Buy Volume 6                         Buy Volume 7                          Buy Volume 8                          Buy Volume 9

                       Buy Volume 10                        Buy Volume 11                        Buy Volume 12

Review copies provided by publisher.