To the eyes of high school student Chiyo Sakura, classmate Umetarou Nozaki–brawny of build and brusque of tongue–is a dreamboat! When Chiyo finally works up the courage to tell Nozaki how she feels about him, she knows rejection is on the table…but getting recruited as a manga-ka’s assistant?! Never in a million years! But for someone who makes a living drawing sweet girly romances, Nozaki-kun is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to matters of the heart in reality. And so Chiyo’s daily life of manga making and heartache begins!
Teenage manga artist Kanna Tezuka’s series about a high school for Buddhist statues is facing cancellation! Meanwhile, the manga course that’s given her so much free time to draw at school is under threat from a principal taken with the next big thing: light novels! Their teacher’s solution to this existential crisis is an inspiring field trip, but will it be enough to get these dogs to start drawing at last?!
Manga Dogs Volume 3
By Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
I didn’t really care for the first volume of Manga Dogs. The characters weren’t interesting and the stories weren’t funny. But I was given the opportunity to read the final volume, so I decided to give it a try to see if anything had improved. I can safely say, the series didn’t get any worse, but neither did it get any better.
Kanna continues to struggle to keep her series from being canceled. She gets a new editor who believes in her talent, but doesn’t actually do anything to help her improve the story. The boys continue to be delusional, and be more of a hindrance than help to Kanna, until they are given an ultimatum. Produce a manga that will be published or the program will be shut down in favor of a light novel program.
Not much has changed from the first volume, something I shouldn’t be too surprised by after reading Missions of Love a few volumes later. The boys are still lazy and assuming they will be great without doing any work, and are still annoying as all get-out. Kanna at least has grown slightly as a character, and it shows by the end. After a year with the boys, they have grown on her some, and she doesn’t object to spending some time with them.
Most of the chapters didn’t appeal to me again, as they were more of the same, the boys messing things up for Kanna more than helping. They chase away a potential new student while trying to act cool, and answer some interview questions that were for Kanna. I did like the cultural festival chapter, where they do a version of a haunted house, but instead do what it’s like to be a mangaka. Their version is more scary than a haunted house. I also like the pilgrimage their teacher takes them on to all the places where the gods of manga stayed and worked to give the kids inspiration, and also so she could pray to the gods of manga to help save the program.
Overall, I did like this volume a little more than the previous. Kanna’s growth, and some of the humor did work for me, but those things were too few or far between to really make this volume work better. I still spent more time shaking my head than smiling, though I did feel a bit of vindication when it truly sank in how much work the boys would have to do get a story ready for a contest.
As a satire, Manga Dogs does lampoon much of the industry. Editorial gets hit the hardest with Kanna’s editors being ineffectual at best and harmful at worst. The boys are shown to be what most hardworking artists hate most in fans; those who think they can do just as well or better without the work. Even Kanna represents what artists shouldn’t be like by just going along with what other people say than craft a story herself. It might have worked too, if Kanna had been in any way appealing as a character. Manga Dogs had its moments, but there are better manga-about-creating-manga that deserve your money more.
Sachie Wakamura just lost her mother, and her estranged grandfather has shown up to take care of her. The only problem is that Grandpa is the head of a yakuza gang! Sachie tries to continue living her normal life, but she can’t run far since Rakuto, one of the most popular guys in school, is part of her grandfather’s gang and her new protector. Soon, Sachie finds herself falling for her bodyguard. But she’s the granddaughter of Rakuto’s boss, so he can never show his feelings for her. Can Sachie find a way to fit into her new family and seize her chance at romance?
Wild Ones Volume 1-10
By Kiyo Fujiwara
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Price: $8.99-9.99 USD
When I first read the first two volumes of Wild Ones, I liked it. It wasn’t amazing or groundbreaking in any way, but it seemed fun and the characters interesting. Then I binge-read the entire series. It unfortunately lost its charm pretty quickly as it fell into a rut of the same romance clichés and no character building.
Wild Ones follows Sachie Wakamura, the unknowing granddaughter of a Yazuka gang. After her mother dies suddenly, Sachie is thrown into the strange new world of big manly men having no idea how to deal with a girl and her girly things. She is treated like a princess and given a protector, Rakuto, who while being part of her grandfather’s gang is also the prince of her high school. The story follows the high school years of Sachie, Rakuto, and romantic rival Azuma as they try to figure out their feelings for each other while trying to keep their yakuza connection a secret for their school friends.
I wanted to like Wild Ones. I really liked the first volume, and while feeling more luke warm, still liked the second volume. But the further I went into the series, the less I found myself enjoying it. I didn’t mind the clichés at first. I like the “friendly yakuza boss” trope, so I was fine with that. And I don’t mind so much the all the usual shojo tropes that show up in most titles as they can have their uses. Going to the beach, the onsen, the school festival, introducing a romantic rival or character from the past to warn on of the protagonists off, all of these things can be useful in changing and growing the characters and their relationships. The problem with this series is that, they don’t.
The characters never really change throughout this series. Sachie’s and Rakuto’s relationship never goes past the protector/protected stage. After every situation where one would think their relationship should move forward, instead it resets to the status quo. The introduction of Azuma as a rival to Rakuto never really goes anywhere, since Sachie never shows any interest in him other than friendship. He is shown to keep trying, but I kept wondering, what was he trying for? What made him think Sachie would ever look at him differently even if he showed up or pushed Rakuto out of the picture? He was there just for comedy relief/conflict with Rakuto. He never came off as a serious threat to their relationship.
The other story element that just became boring after being played so many times was the trying not to let anyone find out their from a yakuza family. It came up in nearly every volume, from Sachie blurting it out, to her being seen with some of the men, to a former yakuza threatening to expose them, Sachie, Rakuto and Azuma are always on damage control to keep their class mates from finding out. This can be funny one or two times, but it comes out so many times, that the tension is drained, so when it finally does happen, it’s more of a shrug than the deal breaking moment it should have been.
Wild Ones had it entertaining moments. Sachie and Rakuto’s budding relationship did have some sweet scenes. They are a couple you want to see together. Rakuto’s dedication to Sachie is almost envious, and Sachie can be tough but nice without becoming a tsundere. They just couldn’t outweigh all the problems. The art is well done. I liked the character designs even if at times they seemed a little generic. It’s not a title I would strongly recommend, but it’s not a bad way to spend a weekend reading either. It’s best borrowed from a friend or the library.
Some review copies provided by publisher.
Kanna Tezuka is a serious 15-year-old manga artist, already being published as a pro. So when she finds out her high school is starting a manga drawing course, even she gets excited. But it’s a fiasco! The teacher is useless, and the only other students-three pretty-boy artist wannabes-quickly adopt Kanna as their (unwilling) sensei. But they all have ridiculous delusions about being an artist, and if Kanna can’t bring them back down to Earth, she’ll never get any work done!
Manga Dogs Volume 1
By Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Manga Dogs is a manga about being a mangaka, somewhat in the vein of Bakuman. But where Bakuman is a serious take about what it takes to be a successful mangaka, Manga Dogs takes a more satirical route, poking fun at the fans and wanna be creators. It’s only problem is that it’s just not that funny.
The story revolves around Kanna Tezuka, a mangaka who has already debuted in a shojo magazine, but her title just isn’t popular. When her high school starts a manga track, she thinks it’s a way to be able to draw manga at school. Three pretty boys going the class, and latch onto Kanna, calling her sensei, but they are all talk. They think they can become successful without doing any of the work, causing Kanna all kinds of stress.
While this might sound like a funny premise, in practice it fails. The three guys, Fumio Akatsuka, Fujio Fuji and Shota Ishinomori, are lifeless and stale. They are meant to poke fun at readers who think being a mangaka is easy, and have all kinds of delusions of being successful without doing any work. They talk about what they would do with prize money from a contest with no thought of creating anything, and give up immediately when faced with real work. They are the worse kind of fans, and annoyed me to no end.
What was worse was that Kanna was just as uninteresting as the boys. She is the protagonist, but she does nothing but react with shock to the things the boys say and do, and lets her editor, who seems to be just as bad as the boys, push her around. She has no personality and barely speaks to anyone. Almost all of her dialog is internal. Her lack of interaction with anything or anyone gets tedious very quickly.
Manga Dogs wasn’t all bad. I liked the use of manga history, with the characters last names being well known mangaka, and the name of the school is the same as the apartment building where Osamu Tezuka and several other famous mangaka lived and worked for many years. I also liked most of the chapter where Kanna is taking pictures of her school for research. It the only time where she has an expression other than blank or shocked.
I wanted to like Manga Dogs. I was really hoping for a title that would make me laugh and would have some clever satire about the manga industry. Instead it is filled with boring characters and situations that are anything but funny. The satire wasn’t so much funny as sad since a lot of it was so true. Maybe it will get better, but there are a lot better titles out there to put your money on.
Volume 1 Summary:
Mamoru Kagemori is a dull high school boy who’s not handsome, athletic or intelligent. but things aren’t always what they appear. He’s actually the eldest son of a 400-year-old Ninja clan that specializes in protecting their neighbors, the Konnyakus. And the object of Mamoru’s protection is none other than their only daughter, Yuna Konnyaku, a natural-born troublemaker. Mamoru must continue to protect her to carry out his duty, no matter what adversaries strong, bizarre or stupid. And will Yuna ever learn who her protector is?
Volume 2 Summary:
When Yuna enters an idol contest and makes it to the finals, despite her hilariously bizarre performance. Mamoru has to go all out with his ninja skills in order to fend off perverted judges and crazed fans! But if Yuna becomes an idol will Mamoru still be able to protect her?
Mamoru: The Shadow Protector is a lot like it’s main character. It starts out showing you a fun-filled romantic comedy, heavy on the comedy, but then like a ninja, tries to switch out into a harem comedy, where the laughs fall flatter than a dull shuriken.
Being carried around everywhere and having handsome Megumi act like a slave may seem ideal, but Suzuka just wishes he would stop. Can anything be done about Megumi’s captive state? Or is Megumi doomed to see Suzuka as his master…forever?
Captive Hearts Volume 1
By Matsuri Hino
Publisher: Viz Media – Shojo Beat
Age Rating: Teen (13+)
Long ago, a thief named Kuroneko-maru stole a family heirloom of a samurai family, the “Scroll of the Rising Dragon”. When he tried to read it, the guardian dragon appeared and cursed Kuroneko and all of his descendants to a life of servitude to the Kogami family. Megumi Kuroishi, a descendant of Kuroneko, has lived most of his life not knowing about the curse, as the Kogami family was believed dead in China while on a trip. But, the daughter of the Kogami, Suzuka, appears and returns, and the curse kicks in, making for much comedy and the stirrings of some romance…maybe?
Captive Hearts is first and foremost a comedy. Megumi’s sudden “Manservant fits” can be funny, hitting him suddenly, and making him obsess over Suzuka even when he’s not with her. Reverting him back to normal usually takes some kind of violence. So the comedy is mostly physical, and works pretty well. But this can only last so long. There are only so many times Megumi can sweep Suzuka off her feet or burst through her classroom window to protect her before it get old. So, let’s through some romance into the mix.
When I say romance, I’m being kind. There really isn’t any setup for Megumi and Suzuka. Megumi spends most of his time struggling with the curse, so there’s little indication that he has any feelings for her until the end of the first chapter when he goes to China to bring Suzuka back because he “wanted” to. But doubt lingers, and Suzuka spends most of the volume fretting over this to the point of trying to jump off a building in hopes of breaking the curse and freeing Megumi. This is melodrama taken way too far, and really feels forced.
Another problem I have with this volume is that the main story only takes up half the volume. The rest is filled with short stories by Hino. One is about a middle school girl student who is in love with her teacher and the other is about two siblings trapped in a snow storm waiting for a bus. This second story is very angsty, reminding me of Vampire Knight. This was a real disappointment for a first volume. I can understand wanting to pad a volume at the end of a series, or after a big story arc, but just as the story is beginning? This doesn’t bode well for the rest of the series.
The art isn’t as polished as other Hino titles, but that’s not bad. There is just enough detail to look good without being overwhelming. Characters faces are actually visible, and not hidden until long, scraggly locks.
Captive Hearts started out with a lot of potential. The balance of comedy to romantic elements seemed even, with the melodrama nowhere near the levels of a series like Vampire Knight. If the title can keep this balance, it will definitely be worth following.