Tag Archives: romance

Missions of Love Volume 9

After coming to the realization that Kirishima-sensei was her first love, Yukina goes to face him on her own to finally know the love that she’s been seeking all this time. Meanwhile, Shigure hears a rumor that reveals Kirishima-sensei’s dark past and rushes off to tell Yukina, but before he can catch up with her, Yukina is whisked away by Kirishima-sensei in his car. Can Shigure reach them in time before Kirishima-sensei repeats an action from his sordid past?

Missions of Love Volume 9
Missions of Love 9By Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I liked the first two volumes of Missions of Love that I read, so when I was given the opportunity to read more, I couldn’t wait. But after two volumes, it seemed that little had changed, and I was bored with seeing Yukina still being completely clueless, Shigure still as cagey about his feelings for her, Akira is still plotting against Shigure and Mami is still holding out hope that Shigure would love her back.

Honestly, I don’t know what exactly I was hoping for, but this volume wasn’t it. I just felt frustrated at the complete lack of movement with the characters. Everything felt the same as it had back in volume 6. I guess I had hoped for something to have changed in those two intervening volumes, but it really felt like nothing had. What frustrated me most was Yukina. She’s had all these “missions” with Shigure and it seems like she hasn’t learned a thing. After eight volumes you would think something would have sunk in, but she’s still as oblivious to feelings of love as she was at the beginning. She makes big proclamations, but when she finally gets some true feelings she still can’t figure it out? Seriously? I also didn’t care for the cheap shot of using her teacher to set up a seduction when all he really wanted was to find out if she was being bullied or abused by Shigure. The set up was too obvious.

Fortunately there was some character development, but it seemed to be all reserved for Shigure. I liked that he was against Yukina going off with Kirishima to learn “what love really is.” Considering his feelings for her, it’s natural that he wanted to be the one to show her that. Akira agreeing to let Yukina go felt fake, like he was trying to rack up points with her. Shigure also took several steps forward in admitting his feelings for her. He told Mami that he could see her as a friend, not a girlfriend, and he told Yukina that for her, he would stop acting fake. It was a relief to see someone in this series acknowledge their changing feelings and actually act on them.

It’s also about time the story looped back around the cell phone novel plot that the whole “missions” are supposed to be helping her with. She’s supposed to be applying what she’s learned to her novels to make them better. Considering her rankings, she hasn’t been doing that, or even writing at all. Hopefully contact from her rival will change that, and that by applying what she’s learned in her novel it will finally get through to her as well.

I started out liking Missions of Love, but too much of the same can really kill the fun. There has to be some development in the characters, otherwise, what’s the point in reading about them? Unless Yukina is revealed to be a robot, I’m having a hard time buying her continued inability to understand the emotion love, especially now that Shigure is stepping up his game. Toyama needs to step her game too, otherwise this title will really stagnate. I’m not looking for the proverbial lightbulb, just a few connecting the dots.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Let’s Dance a Waltz Volume 1

Homely and shy, Himé is burdened by the name her mother gave her, “Princess.” Wanting nothing more than to be unnoticed and live a modest life, Himé gets a jolt of inspiration when she tries a dance class where she meets Tango. her teacher/dance partner, Tango happens to also be her classmate at school. Unfortunately, Tango is desperate to keep his ballroom dancing a secret, believing it will ruin his cool image if anyone at school finds out. Will Tango quit teaching Himé in order to keep his secret or will he be the partner Himé believe he is destined to be?

Let’s Dance a Waltz Volume 1
Let's Dance a Waltz 1By Natsumi Ando
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance/Dance
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

I haven’t read a Natsumi Ando series before. It’s not like I haven’t had the chance. I’ve had her series Zodiac P.I. in a to-read pile for ages, but have always had some reason to pass it up. The start of this new series is the perfect opportunity for me to stop procrastinating and finally read one. Let’s Dance a Waltz is about competitive ballroom dancing, a subject you wouldn’t think would be all that interesting, but Ando makes it so with engaging characters and an almost shonen take on dance.

Four characters make up the core of this first volume. Himé Makimura is the protagonist. She is shy and rather mousey in looks and personality. She comes to the Minami Dance School to try out dancing after the owner encourages her by telling her she could become a princess. Tango Minami is the son of said owner, who used to ballroom dance competitively, but has since given up. He works at the dance studio to make extra money. He prefers dancing on his own, and is considered good-looking and cool at school. Yusei and Sumiré are the star dance couple at the studio. They are also Tango’s childhood friends. They both want Tango to start dancing competitively again, and see Himé as the chance they’ve been waiting for.

I really liked this first volume. I wasn’t too thrilled by the emphasis on body image and conforming to societal expectations, but Himé’s hangup about her looks and living up to what she thinks is her mother’s expectation is completely believable. I actually liked Himé with her round face, and fuller figure. I also liked that other than one jerk boy, no one criticized Himé’s size or appearance. Even Tango was more worried about his reputation being ruined than Himé’s appearance when he first dances with her. Sumiré admired Himé’s muscle structure and both Yusei and Sumiré were supportive of Himé’s abilities with little concern for her weight. This made the reveal at the end more believable and easier to take.

The relationships were handled very well. I especially liked Tango’s and Himé’s up-and-down relationship. Himé just wants to dance with Tango, but he ignores her, for fear their schoolmates will find out, but when she starts avoiding him to keep her practices with Yusei a secret, Tango is suddenly bothered by the loss of her attention. Sumiré was a bit of a trap too. Just when it seems like she might be jealous of Himé, she turns out to actually be very supportive of her wanting to dance, and dance with Tango.

I also liked how Ando portrayed the ballroom dancing. Instead of just showing the couple dancing around a dance floor, she likened Himé’s partners to a different experience. When she first dances with Tango, she feels like she is a princess, but when she dances with Yusei, it is like she at a fancy 8-course dinner. These scenes reminded me a lot of The Drops of God, where wines are described in wild and far out ways. While it’s exciting to see to talented dancer at work, the addition of these other sensations adds to the experience.

Let’s Dance a Waltz Volume 1 was a really fun read. The characters are very engaging and the story has sparked my interest. Ando’s art is superb. The characters are varied in appearance and dress. The dancing was well done as well, with some of the ballroom gowns looking gorgeous. I can’t wait to see what a dance competition will be like, and what new experiences Himé will have on the dance floor.

 

PR: Viz Goes for the Heart with Simultaneous Digital Manga Launch

If you’re like me and have never read the first series, then you should check out the specially priced bundle Viz is running for the first 10 volumes of Boys Over Flowers. I’m interested in reading this new series. I was intrigued by the first chapter of the original, so hopefully this second series will be just as enticing.

Continue reading PR: Viz Goes for the Heart with Simultaneous Digital Manga Launch

Wild Ones Volume 1-10

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
Wild Ones 1By Kiyo Fujiwara
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Price: $8.99-9.99 USD
Rating: ★★½☆☆

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.

Wild Ones 8I 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.

Wild Ones 10The 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.

Viz Licenses Shojo Titles Old and New

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Viz Media has announced several licenses, with a bit of “something old, something new” to them. Three of the titles are Tokyopop rescues for the Viz Select line, and two are brand new licenses from mangaka who have already had titles released in the West to quite a bit of success.

The_One_I_Love_GN1 From Tokyopop, Viz Media continues their CLAMP releases with two of their titles returning; The One I Love and Wish. The One I Love is a one-volume collection of 12 short stories that tell stories about the many sides of love.  All of the stories are told from a woman’s perspective, and deal with the doubts, insecurities and ultimately the joy of love. It sounds like a fun series, though perhaps best taken in smaller doses. The romance may get monotonous, even for romance lovers. It will be released February 10th.

Wish_GN1 Wish is a four volume series that follows Shuichiro, who after saving an angel, Kohaku, from a tree one moonlight night, is offered a wish as a reward. Shuichiro refuses the wish, saying he can get what he wants on his own. But he and the angel soon find out there are some wishes that can not be granted on their own. This series is a typical bitter-sweet romance that has a happy ending of sorts, but the kind that Western readers are used to. The first volume will be released February 17th.

somedaysSomeday Dreamers is a two-volume series, and is not done by CLAMP. It is about Yume, a girl who wants to follow in the footsteps of her mother, and become a magic user. She practices her magic by helping people she finds in need; a struggling soccer player, the wrongly accused, and a student who wants to share a lunar eclipse with his teacher on cloudy night. While the story is about Yume working to be a full mage, there is a current of romance that is left unresolved. The art is as gentle as the story, and is one I’ve considered picking up several times. The first volume will be released February 24th.

qq-sweeperThe two brand new titles have not gone completely unnoticed. The first title, QQ Sweeper, is by Kyousuke Motomi, the creator of Dengeki Daisy. It was almost exactly a year ago when this new title was announced in Shogakukan’s Betsucomi magazine. The cleaning and sweeping of the series’ title seems to have a supernatural bend. Kyutaro Horikita is the cleaning expert of Kurokado High. The tall, dark, and handsome cleaner meets transfer student Fumi Nishioka, where he shows her how to clean the spirits from the school and also maybe her heart. I was already interested in this series because it was from Motomi, but the addition of a supernatural element only makes it more appealing to me. The first volume will be released in October.

idreamIdol Dreams is by Arina Tanemura, a very popular shojo artist. Viz Media has already published at least 7 of her titles. This series turns the premise of some old school magical girls on their ear. Chikage Deguchi is a 31-year-old office worker who feels she’s missed out on her chances for love and success. She wishes she could go back to a time when she was young and popular, and is given that chance when she takes an experimental drug that changes her appearance to that of a 15-year-old. She takes the opportunity to re-do things in her life, including becoming and idol. Besides changing up the old school magical girl formula, Idol Dreams appears to borrow from Case Closed, though that series doesn’t hold the license on getting younger, it’s just the first thing that comes to mind. I’ll check out this first volume if I get a chance when it comes out in November.

These were some good titles for Viz to pick up. I’m happy to see the new Motomi title. I was really hoping it would get picked up. Idol Dreams is new to me, and has my attention by starting the series with a mature woman as the lead. It will be interesting to see how her older self deals with the younger problems of a new generation. I’m looking forward to this round.

 

PR: Shojo Beat Love for February From Viz Media

February is the month to celebrate your relationship or singleness, which ever you embrace. Viz Media is sharing in that celebration with lot of new titles and offers from their Vizmanga digital site. What is especially enticing are the Shojo bundles. Three titles of 10 volumes each for $40.00. And they are really good titles too. Honey & Clover, Sand Chronicles and Strobe Edge. All three are amazing titles in their own way. If you haven’t read any of them, this is the perfect opportunity to get them all at a great price.

Continue reading PR: Shojo Beat Love for February From Viz Media

Urameshiya Volume 1-3

In Edo, there is a woman with incredible supernatural powers known as Oyou, the Urameshiya. She is able to banish spirits haunting humans. But her power is a double-edged sword as she is feared by the same people who ask for her help, except for the outcast pickpocket, Saji. After a chance meeting, Saji is attracted to both her beauty and ability, and together they take on the supernatural in Edo.

Urameshiya Volume 1-3
34 ur1By Makiko
Publisher: Jmanga.com/Futabasha Publishers
Age Rating: Mature
Genre: Supernatural/Mystery
Price: $4.99/OOP
Rating: ★★★★½

Urameshiya was among the first selections available when Jmanga went live. I had seen it recommended by fellow bloggers, but its mature rating left me with some trepidation. I put off reading it until Jmanga released their Android reader app. My misgivings were completely unfounded, as I started reading the first volume, and worked obsessively through to the third, with little desire to put my tablet down. This title combines complex characters in realistic relationships with well told tales of the supernatural to create a very entertaining manga.

Oyou, the protagonist of this title, is an outcast from society. Her strong powers make her someone people fear to anger, but at the same time do not want around. She has no family and few if any friends to speak of. Because of her circumstances, she has little use of the niceties of society. She direct, and often blunt when dealing with people, wielding her sharp tongue will little what other will think. No one will want her around or stay with her, so why bother trying to make friends? Even with this attitude, Oyou still helps when she is asked, and sometimes even when she isn’t. She doesn’t tend to take payment for her services, as she doesn’t want to profit from her powers. She believes she will always be alone until she meets Saji.

Urameshiya 2 Saji is also an outcast. He works as a pickpocket at the beginning, which is how he first meets Oyou. He tries to steal her purse, but she catches him. They end up spending the night together. Afterwards, he seeks her help avenging his friend who was killed by a ghost. While Saji is spooked by Oyou at first, he is able to see Oyou for who she is, not what she can do, and promptly moves in with her. Over the three volumes, Saji shows himself to actually be a good-hearted man, taking on more legitimate work, and even takes over a food stand to help out a friend when he gets sick. His devotion to Oyou is unquestioning, though he does get frustrated with her attitude and secrets about her past.

I enjoyed the relationship between Oyou and Saji. It came off feeling very realistic. After a lifetime of being rejected because of her powers, it is difficult for Oyou to let Saji in. Why bother when he is just going to end up leaving her. But Saji is persistent, and doesn’t let her push him away. His frustration with her is understandable, since she can be inscrutable at times, leaving him in the dark about her feelings for him. This forces him into some bad situations, such as trying to make Oyou jealous by sleeping with a promiscuous daughter of a well-off business owner, but he really is devoted to her. Oyou shows her feeling for him too, in her own way, though she is still loathed to admit them.

Urameshiya 3The supernatural side of the series is just as interesting as the characters. Most of the stories feature someone coming to Oyou for her help, or Oyou and Saji stumbling on a problem that Oyou’s powers can solve. They confront ghosts, yokai, and curses that coast the edgy side, such as the girl who is curse with vagina dentata. That was a hard chapter to forget. While some of the hauntings were by spirits wronged in life, not all of them were ghosts looking to be avenged. Some, like the fallen God of Spring were just plain malicious, and maybe the scariest of them all. By the second volume they are joined by Touka, a fox spirit, who wishes to win Oyou away from Saji by hook or by crook. He becomes a sort of sidekick, helping Oyou out when he can. While I enjoyed all of the chapters in these volumes, I most enjoyed the stories based in more traditional Japanese horror, such as the Yuki-Onna, and the 100 Ghost Stories chapter.

The art of Urameshiya isn’t perfect, but it’s serviceable. Because I love the characters and enjoy the stories so much, I can forgive most of its imperfections. The title is rated mature and for good reason. There are plenty of sexual situations, but they aren’t gratuitous or graphic. They are what you would expect to appeal to older women, which makes me the ideal audience.

The biggest problem I have with Urameshiya is that we only got 3 volumes. The series is currently at 19, and unless Crunchyroll decides to pick it up, There is probably very little chance we will ever see this series again, print or digital. But if Crunchyroll wanted a way to get my money, licensing Urameshiya is one sure way to get it.

 

The Earl and the Fairy Volume 1-4

Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, one of the few people with the ability to see the magical creatures who share our world. During one of her rare trips to London to visit her father, Lydia’s quiet life is suddenly transformed when she is rescued by kidnappers by a mysterious young man! Edgar Ashenbert claims to be descended from the human ruler of the fairy kingdom, and he urgently needs Lydia’s help to find and claim his birthright, the legendary sword of the Blue Knight Earl. Things will never be the same for Lydia as she is pulled into a dangerous quest against dark forces!

Earl and Fairy 1
Buy Volume 1

By Ayuko; Original concept by Mizue Tani
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★½

The Earl and the Fairy is a title I enjoyed the first volume of, but fell behind as subsequent volumes came out. I still collected the volumes and they have been sitting on my self until I realized the series would make a good addition to my St. Patrick’s Day themed manga. With only four volumes, it would be quick read too. It was easy to get back into the flow of the story and characters, for whom my love of only grew with each subsequent volume.

Earl and Fairy 2
Buy Volume 2

The story follows Lydia Carlton, a young woman trying to make it as a Fairy Doctor, a person knowledgeable in the ways of fairies and magical folk and tries to help humans and fairies live in harmony. I loved Lydia right from the beginning. She is determined and strong-willed. She doesn’t let what people think or say about her deter her. She accepts Edgar’s challenge to find the Treasure Sword more because of her pride than any desire to help him. She is soft-hearted, sometimes to a fault, but will always help other in need, both fairy and human. I liked that she isn’t drawn as some bishojo. She wears plain clothes and her hair is usually an unruly mess. She complains that it looks like the color of rust.

Edgar Ashenbert seems to be the opposite of Lydia. He has the air of a noble and is able to easily fool people. He can be manipulative and seemingly cruel, but underneath his cool facade, is the heart of one who cares about his friends and will do anything for them, including lie or kill. He has a tragic past, but his deceptive nature makes it hard to tell if he should be believed or not. Traveling with him are his two servants, Raven and Ermine, half-brother and sister. They are completely loyal to Edgar, and have been through many of the trials he has. Their shared ordeals has created a strong bond between them. It is for them, the last of his comrades, that Edgar continues the quest for the Treasure Sword.

Earl and Fairy 3
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The Earl and the Fairy is based on a light novel series that is currently at 33 volumes, but the manga only went four. Two volumes tell a complete story, no doubt making one volume of the light novels. The story for the first two volumes involves a lot of chasing and a treasure hunt that reminds me of National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code with the clues to be unraveled and the treasure, the Sword, to be found at the end. The second story has Edgar now officially recognized as the Earl Ibrazel and Lydia employed as his Fairy Doctor. More of Edgar’s past is explored as is the possible attraction between Edgar and Lydia, in the midst of finding a kidnapper and stopping an evil fairy.

One of the best elements of this series is Edgar and Lydia’s relationship. It’s hard to tell when Edgar is being serious about his attentions toward Lydia, and his deceptive nature makes it difficult for her to believe him even when he is being sincere. Their relationship is complicated at best. Edgar tries to only use Lydia, and she knows it, but either seems unable to give up on the other. Watching them maneuver and try to figure out what the other is thinking is a lot of fun.

Earl and Fairy 4
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Also a lot of fun is all the creatures that appear in the series. Nico is Lydia’s friend, a fairy that looks like a cat. He talks, and is very particular about his clothes, food and drink. He is suspicious of Edgar right from the start, constantly warning Lydia to get away from him. Though he doesn’t object when he receives new fineries from Edgar after Lydia comes under his employ. Brownies make several appearances in the first story, and the end takes place in the fairy realm, in a merrow town. The second story has an evil fairy known as the Fogman, and his servant, a Bogey-beast, using a nouveau noble girl to release him. It takes a group of Sylphs to truly defeat them.

The Earl and the Fairy was a really fun series, and I enjoyed reading it a lot. The biggest problem I have is that there are no more volumes to come. I want to keep reading about these characters and learn more about this world. I love all the bits with the fairies, and with 33 novels available, there is a lot more to learn. I guess I will have to be happy I got these volumes and that the anime was released here as well. It goes further than the manga in its short 12 episodes. It’s too bad it never got another series, or that the light novels will ever be licensed. Still, it’s a great series, and I highly recommend it.

Sickness Unto Death Volume 1-2

When college freshman and future psychotherapist Kazuma Futaba responds to a curious call for a room to let, he ends up living in a mansion owned by Emiru, a frail beauty his own age. Although neighborhood kids call the place haunted, if anything the young mistress nurses a darker affliction. Kazuma learns that his young landlord and love isn’t who he thought she was. Aided by Danish thinker Kierkegaard’s titular proto-existentialist treatise, the future counselor finds a way forward.

Sickness Unto Death 1Story by Hikaru Asada; Art by Takahiro Seguchi
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romance/Psychological drama
Price: $11.95
[Rating4.5]

Sickness Unto Death starts out by misleading the reader into thinking the story has a supernatural spin, but turns it back around with a compelling and completely natural twist. While the psychological drama dominates the story, at it’s core, it’s really a tragic love story.

The story starts with Futaba, a practicing psychotherapist and instructor, visiting a grave with no name or inscription. He is found by a student, Minami, and proceeds to tell the story of Emiru, a young woman he met when he first started college, who is slowly wasting away due to some great despair that plagues her. In the first volume, there is a sense that something supernatural is going on. Emiru speaks of a ghost living in the house and being responsible for drawing on her bedroom wall. Combined with the grave at the opening and it’s easy to assume that there’s a supernatural element to the story.

Sickness Unto Death 2The second volume plays on this and throws out a twist that not only makes perfect sense, puts everything in the first volume into perspective. It’s an explanation that shows not just how fragile the human psyche can be, but how desperate we can be to be to want to live and remembered. I was riveted by this part of the story. The whole psychology and how it played with the title and Kierkegaard’s treatise was fascinating.

Tied in with all of this was the love story between Futaba and Emiru. She was his first love, and it appears to be one he has not gotten over. Their feelings for each other go beyond the physical, though they do enjoy each other’s company a lot. But there is a quiet desperation to their time together, especially from Emiru. As the truth is revealed, the tragedy of their love just becomes more heart-breaking as Futaba becomes more desperate for it not to end while Emiru becomes more resigned.

Sickness Unto Death is a powerful story about love and accepting ourselves, both the bad and the good. Part of that is being accepted by those around us and more importantly, that we won’t be forgotten after we are gone. While the love story has a tragic ending, the story as a whole is inspiring and ultimately uplifting. I highly recommend this title.

 

Missions of Love Volume 5-6

Yukina is running into some trouble with rivals. Mami is a childhood friend of Shigure’s who has feeling for him, but hasn’t been able to tell him. She instead tries to trick or chase away any girls who might get close to him. Then there’s Akira, her cousin, who is now trying to be in serious competition with Shigure to win Yukina’s feelings. In the middle of these battles, Yukina and Shigure are trying to figure out their own feelings for each other. How much of it is real, and how much is still a game?

Missions of Love 5
Buy Volume 5

By Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★½

I read the first chapter of Missions of Love in Kodansha’s sampler Real and really enjoyed it. I initially had doubts about it from just the series description, but the first chapter was enough to convince me otherwise. Despite being 4 volumes behind, I had little trouble getting into these two volumes and continuing Yukina and Shigure’s competition to see who would fall for who first.

What initially attracted me to Missions of Love was the friction between the two protagonists, Yukina and Shigure. Neither really liked the other much; Yukina for Shigure’s shallowness and Shigure for Yukina’s cold reputation. By these volumes those feeling are still there, but there is a lot more sexual tension now between them. Yukina is starting to think about how Shigure feels about her, but she doesn’t seem to understand why. She doesn’t recognize that the reason she’s bothered by Shigure spending time with Mami is because she’s starting to have feeling for him. Shigure is just as bothered by the attention Yukina gets from Akira, but he isn’t as oblivious as to the reason why. He’s just in denial. They are both trying to keep their relationship to be game, but the feelings are growing, and it isn’t just for fun anymore.

Missions of Love 6
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Akira and Mami stepping up their game to get their respective crushes to notice them doesn’t help matters much. Mami’s tricks only gets Yukina thinking more about what her relationship with Shigure is rather than pushing her away. Akira’s attempts to make Shigure jealous by spending time with Mami only helps him to let her go. Akira thinks he’s gotten a step on Shigure when he notices Yukina is sick and stays the night to take care of her, but what’s going through Yukina’s mind isn’t what he thinks it is.

These complications affect the missions. There aren’t as many in these volumes as more attention is put on the growing relationships. Yukina throws a few out at Shigure and Akira, but they are minor, and all come out of Yukina’s attempts to figure out her own feelings. She pushes for more compromising situations such as her mission to seduce Shigure, and for Akira to forcefully kiss her.

Overall, I enjoyed these two volumes of Missions of Love. While I don’t generally like clueless characters, Yukina is different. She’s not dumb, just inexperienced, and she’s trying to change that with the missions. She is very logical in her thought processes about love, which is probably why she is slow in understanding. I like that. So many shojo protagonists are overly emotional and think they know all about love. Yukina is trying to work it out herself. While she claims it’s for her writing, it is affecting her own emotional growth, in a good way. Missions of Love is a fun romance that I can’t wait to read more!

Manga License Mania

It started with Kodansha announcing they licensed Sherdock, and then the unconfirmed (but hopefully true) license by Seven Seas of Dictatorial Grimoire. But starting on Valentines Day, February 14, it started to rain manga licenses from Viz Media and Seven Seas Entertainment (officially).

yoroshiku-master-1Viz announced at total of 5 titles, 4 shojo/josei and one shonen. The two shojo titles are by creators who have already been published in the US. Yoroshiku Master, or Sweet Rein as Viz is calling it, is by Sakura Tsukuba. Two of her titles, Land of the Blindfolded and Penguin Revolution were originally published by CMX. It’s a 3 volume title about a girl and boy who bump into each other and become bound together, and the boy tells the girl, Kurumi, that is a Santa Claus and his master. This one looks a little shaky for my taste. I don’t quite get the obsession the Japanese seem to have to make Santa Claus a cute girl, so this one will have to get a “wait and see.”  This title will be available in November. Seems appropriate to come out right before Christmas.

Seiyuu Academy 1Voice Over! Seiyuu Academy has a little more appeal to me. This 11 volume shojo series was created by Maki Minami who created Special A, which I wasn’t impressed with, so I’m hoping this one is better. The subject matter is already more appealing. It’s about a girl, Hime Kino who enrolls in Hiiragi Academy to follow her dream to become a voice actress. Stories that go behind the scenes of anime and manga creation interest me, so this one will be one I “can’t wait to read!” This title will be out in October.

Midnight_Secretary_vol01Midnight Secretary is one of the josei titles. It’s release will be the debut of its creator Tomu Ohmi. It’s a 7 volume supernatural series about an excellent secretary, Kaya Satozuka, who is assigned to be the personal secretary to the difficult managing director of Touma Foods, Kyohei Touma. Being the professional that she is, Kaya takes Kyohei’s attitude in stride, and soon learns the reason for it; he’s a vampire. I like the sound of the premise of this series, and that it’s in a more professional environment appeals to my aging side. This is another “can’t wait.”

happy-marriageHappy Marriage sounds like something out of a Harlequin romance, so I have my reservations about it. This 10 volume series is by Maki Enjoji, another new creator to US audiences. Chiwa Takanashi agrees to an arranged marriage to company president Hokuto Mamiya, a man she doesn’t even know, in order to save her father from debt. Chiwa doesn’t think the arrangement is binding, but Hokuto seems to think otherwise. I find Harlequin-esque romances to be a guilty pleasure at best, so I don’t hold a lot of hope for this one. I also find it going 10 volumes a little hard to believe, so it gets a “wait and see.” It comes out in August.

MagiCover01Also coming out in August is a new Shonen Sunday title, something we sadly haven’t seen for a while. Magi is ongoing with its 16th volume having just come out a week ago. It’s by Shinobu Ohtaka whose previous series Sumomomo Momomo was published complete by Yen Press. Magi is based on characters from One Thousand and One Nights, and re-imagines them for a new adventure. Aladdin is searching for the Dungeon, a place where untold riches are told to be kept. With his genie Hugo, and his friend Ali Baba, he sets out into the desert to find his fortune. This is a good title for Viz to bring out, as it currently has an anime that is streaming here, and is getting a lot of good word-of-mouth about it. My only worry is that, I really didn’t like Sumomomo Momomo. I hope she learned her lessons from that, and judging by the good things I’ve heard about Magi, she just might have. This is another “can’t wait.”

A-Centaurs-Worries-1-JPSeven Seas Entertainment also announced three new titles with a romantic theme. All three feature creators that haven’t been published in the US yet and all have a supernatural bent. A Centaur’s Life is a slice-of-life comedy series about a centaur girl Himeno, her dragon-winged friend Nozomi, and spiral-horned Kyoko dealing with the issues of life and love in a high school setting. It’s an ongoing series by creator Kei Murayama, with 3 volumes out and will be released in November. Of the three Seven Seas titles, this is the one I am most interested in. It at least seems the least scary. I like mythical creatures, and slice-of-life stories, so this one gets a “can’t wait.”

Love-in-Hell-1-JPLove in Hell is also an ongoing series with only 2 volumes out so far. It’s by Reiji Suzumaru and will come out in October. It’s about regular guy Rintaro Senkawa who gets himself kills after drinking too much. He gets sent to hell and into the hands of sexy succubus Koyori, who acts as his guide. Rintaro must either repent the sins of his past, or spend the rest of his afterlife eternally tormented and teased by a scantily clad devil with a spiked club. Yeah, I don’t see this one leaping to the top of my reading pile any time soon. Comedy and spiked clubs don’t make good bed partners as far as I’m concerned. This one gets a “wait and see.”

Monster-Musume-1-JPMonster Musume is ongoing and also at 2 volumes so far. It’s by Okayado and will also be coming out in October. It’s about teenager Kurusu Kimihito who is “volunteered” in the government exchange program for mythical creatures after they are discovered to be real. The snake woman Miia is sent to live with Kurusu, and it’s his job to take care of her and help integrate her into society. Only problem; she’s hot and there is a strict rule against inter-species breeding. Add a flirtatious harpy and ravishing centaur, and you’ve got the makings of a harem comedy. The first thing that tells me this isn’t a series for me, besides the word harem, is the size of the girl’s breasts. This is definitely meant to cater to a male audience. I’ll give this series a “wait and see, bordering on hell no!”

After this landslide of manga, Seven Seas World War Blue 1announced one more license. World War Blue is a 9 volume fantasy manga. It’s by Crimson and Anastasia Shestakova and re-imagines the video game console wars in a fantasy world. In the land of Consume, the kingdoms of Segua and Ninteruda fight for dominance. Ninteruda, led by their Emperor Marcus on his dinosaur steed are pushing Segua back, until a boy named Gear, who brags of his great speed appears and starts to turn the tide. The first volume will come out in July with subsequent volumes coming out in August and November. Included in the volumes will be extras such as color maps and features on video game history. While it can often come off silly to make inanimate objects into people, I like this concept. We have a lot of video games and consoles, and opinions on which are the best to match. This definitely gets a “can’t wait!”

Kingyo Used Books 1With some much new manga coming out in the last half of the year, it’s sad to also have to say goodbye to another series. Kingyo Used Books has been cancelled in English. The series, which started serialization online as part of the SigIkki experiment by Viz Media, was like a primer in manga history, as it covered different titles through the people who came through a used manga bookstore. While the title no doubt had low sales, it was licensing difficulties that ultimately did the title in, as reported by Shaneon Garrity in a series review she did recently. This saddens me, as I really enjoyed the series. I loved learning about the different manga, and really enjoyed the stories where people’s love of their favorite manga was rekindled. And I would LOVE to have the underground storage to store all my manga!

 

Strobe Edge Volume 1

What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world. Ninako’s friend Daiki throws her for a loop when he expresses romantic interest in her. She cares for him, but can she return his feeling? As she tries to short out her confusion, Ninako realizes that there are many different facets of love–strange and wonderful sides…

By Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

Falling in love for the first time is a strange, wonderful and sad feeling all at the same time. Watching Ninako slowly realize that the feelings she’s starting to experience are those of first love was a fun and delightful experience.

Strobe Edge starts out seeming like the typical love triangle. Ninako is a first year in high school, and a little gullible. She is also completely clueless about the feeling of her best friend since elementary school, Daiki. Her chance encounter with the school’s “idol prince”, Ren, seems innocent at first. But, as she gets to know him, and sees the real him outside of school, it’s hard for her not to have feelings for him, even knowing he already has a girlfriend, or Daiki’s true feelings, doesn’t chance her mind.

And I really can’t blame her, since Ren does seem to be a really good guy. He buys Ninako a new cell phone charm when he accidentally steps on it. He helps her on the train when she is being harassed by another passenger, and misses his stop and walks her home after she has hurt her ankle at school. He even gives up his seat on the train for a pregnant woman, telling he’s about to get off even though his stop is still a ways away. Daiki doesn’t seem like a bad guy either though. He’s the loyal best friend who waited too long to tell Ninako how he felt, though it might not have mattered, since Ninako just doesn’t feel the same way.

I really enjoyed watching Ninako change little by little. Her starting to appreciate girly things, like the butterfly charm Ren gets her, and just thinking about painting her nails and being glad they looked nice as Ren helped her home. I also liked how her feelings for Ren grew slowly and weren’t the usual instant love that so many romance manga like to do. She starts out just wanting to show her friends that they take the same train, but her awkwardness endears her to him and she is even graced with a smile that he never seems to have at school. Even her stalker-ish behavior when she waits at the train station to see if he really has a girlfriend wasn’t creepy. She just had to know, and even knowing doesn’t change her.

The fact that she doesn’t change fundamentally is what really makes her a good character. She doesn’t try to be someone else for Ren. Her changes come from her feelings. The volume had a nice twist at the end with Daiki, and Ninako reaching out to Ren even though she knows what his answer will be was a really sweet moment. You really can’t help but root for Ninako and that is what really made me like this title. I cared about Ninako, and what happened to her, especially since she knows this is just her first love and wants to cherish the feeling even if it means breaking heart as well.

Strobe Edge is starting out to be a sweet romance. While I do hope that the triangle between Ninako, Ren and Daiki continues, I really just want to follow Ninako on her journey of discovering love. I actually think following all of them would be interesting. The art is well done, and different enough from a lot the other romance titles that it should stick out in a good way. I really looking forward to more volumes of this series. If you are a fan of love and not just romance, you should too.

Review copy provided by publisher.