Tag Archives: Shojo Beat

Honey Hunt Volume 4

As Yura continues her foray into the glamorous world of acting, she’s starting to learn that success is often marred with setbacks and compromises. Although she fails to land the lead role in a new drama penned by famous screenwriter Maki Todo, she does succeed in getting offered the part of the heroine’s friend. However, her boss Keiichi cautions Yura that her increasing popularity will result in greater scrutiny of her private life by the paparazzi. Can Yura continue growing as an actress while keeping her budding relationships with Q-ta and Haruka in check?

Honey Hunt v4By Miki Aihara
Publisher: Viz Media/Shojo Beat
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Romance/Drama
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆
Buy This Book

The short answer? No. When I started reading Honey Hunt in Shojo Beat magazine, I thought it had a lot of potential. I really enjoyed the first 2 1/2 volumes. They concentrated on the building of Yura’s career and her confidence as an actress, with just bits of budding relationships thrown in here and there. Volume 4 reverses that trend, and not in a good way.

Yura seemed to be on track to start her career. She showed she had guts by telling her parents off on TV, and then decided to be an actress herself despite her shy personality and the sheltered life she lived until then. She had shown she had talent and got the gig to start in a series of ramen noodle commercials. She was finally starting to go somewhere. At the start of this volume, the commercials were successful, and her face was starting to be seen everywhere. She auditioned for a part on a prime time TV drama, and even though she didn’t get the lead, she did get a part, and it’s soon to premiere.

But instead of continuing on the strong career story line, this volume careers off into the relationships with twin bothers Q-ta and Haruka, and then, just for good measure, and because a love triangle isn’t enough, Yura’s boss, Keiichi, is introduced as a possible love interest.  Huh? This comes out of absolutely nowhere. Every scene we’ve seen with Keiichi, is him pushing Yura to concentrate on building her career, but with a few panels, it all gets twisted around, and made to look like his interference with her relationships with the twins is personal. It makes what he’s done seem like petty jealousy. I really didn’t like this twist on Keiichi. He really didn’t deserve it. I became interested in this title to see Yura best her mother, not to her fall for every guy that comes around and visa-versa.

And Yura shows herself to be pretty dumb. This disappoints me too, since I thought she was smart. She gives up her chance to have her first “family” celebration while watching her debut on the prime time TV drama to run off and be with Q-ta, and she lies to do it. Sure, you can chalk it up to her sheltered upbringing, and being naive, but is she serious about her career or just having a boyfriend? I’m getting to like Yura less and less.

I did like the bonus chapter at the end that was the first episode of the drama. In a manga all about making TV shows with scripts and rehearsals that we only get glimpses of, it’s nice to be able to actually see the full story. Aihara’s art has a rather distinct style.  It’s clean and simple. It also appears to be more refined from her previous series Hot Gimmick. I enjoy it more.

Honey Hunt was on a good track, but if it continues in a direction that emphasizes Yura’s relationships over her career, then I’m not interested. She needs to smarten up and fly right, because I want to see her show up her mother on the stage, and not in the bedroom.

Review copy provided by publsher. Images © Viz Media

This Week In Manga 3/6-3/12/10

One Piece Exceeds 3 Million

The print run for the newest volume of One Piece has been reported to be 3 MILLION copies.  That’s right, 3 million.  As the post points out, that’s even more copies than the Japanese edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which previous held the record for largest print run of a first edition.  That’s quite an accomplishment, especially for a comic.  American publishers can only dream of print runs like this.  What’s really sad though, is how under appreciated One Piece is in the US.  It should on the NYT list ever week with Naruto and Bleach!  Viz is doing a good job of making the manga available with their 3-in-1 for the early volumes and the catch-up to the Japanese releases.

Continue reading This Week In Manga 3/6-3/12/10

Honey and Clover Volume 8

Ayu still can’t give up on her love for Mayama, even though his relationship with Rika seems to be deepening.  Nomiya’s growing interest in Ayu might be a balm to her broken heart, but he’s moving to Tottori for six months! Is Ayu cursed to suffer hopeless love affairs forever?

By Chica Umino
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★

This volume is all about the love polygon of Mayama, Ayu, Rika and Nomiya.  Ayu seems to be deliberately torturing herself by working with Mayama and Rika, and seeing their relationship grow.  Rika is preparing for the Valencia Art Museum Annex, a project she and her late husband submitted for and won, and seems prepared to also make it her last, something Mayama’s not prepared to let Rika do.  And Nomiya, the player, finds himself doing something he never thought he would, falling for Ayu.

There’s a lot of drama going on in this volume, especially with Rika.  She still haven’t been able to get over her husband’s death, no matter what kind of face she puts on.  A flashback from Hanamoto shows what a difficult time she had after the accident, and how she became a ghost of herself, like part of her was lost with Harada.  Mayama seems to sense that too, as he watches over Rika, even to the point of invading her privacy by reading her emails.  But it doesn’t feel like he’s trying to be controlling or possessive.  He senses that she doesn’t want to keep living and fights to keep her alive, despite her.  It’s this that seems to make a stronger impression on her than his feelings for her.

Ayu’s drama isn’t any less than Rika, but it isn’t quite as serious either.  Her problems are dealt with a lighter tone.  Though we see her suffering, her way of dealing with it is by eating.  A lot.  And when Nomiya gets involved, the humor really ramps up, as Ayu is shown to be surrounded by unicorns, intent on protecting Ayu’s virtue.  Very aggressive and mouthy unicorns.  It’s a really good balance of humor to the some of the tenser moments in the volume.  The unicorn appearances are my favorite scenes.

Honey and Clover continues to be a good romance that balances the drama without going over the melodramatic cliff, and makes a really good read for older audiences.  The relationships are realistic, making you want to laugh and cry.  This volume picks up right where Shojo Beat left off, so if you were following it in the magazine, this is a must have.  Even if you weren’t, Honey & Clover is a title anyone who loves a good story should be reading.

Review: Heaven's Will

Heaven’s Will
By Satoru Takmiya
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Romance
Price: $8.99
Rating: ★★★★½

Sudou Mikuzu has a very special talent – she can see ghosts.  And because of this predisposition, she’ become a magnet for all sorts of unwelcome monsters.  Luckily for her she’s just met Seto, a friendly, cross-dressing young exorcist.  Sudou needs protection from all the creepy phantoms bugging her, and Seto needs to practice his exorcism skills.  consequently, the pair decides to team up and help each other.  In return, Sudou promises to back a cake every time a ghost gets zapped!

At first glance, Heaven’s Will appears to be a typical supernatural romance title with a cross-dressing twist.  Once you start reading though, you’ll find that it’s actually the start of an interesting that should have been given more of a chance to develop.  The characters really grown on you, and the story, which has some sad twists to set it up, could have gone on to do so much more.

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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

More Wishful Thinking

The sudden loss of Shojo Beat has left a real void in my manga reading.  Even if I didn’t get to read it as soon as it arrived, I knew it was there, and had it to look forward to.  Why Shojo Beat was canceled is still a bit of a mystery, since, for me at least, it did exactly what it was meant to do.  Get me to read more Viz titles.  While I didn’t love all the titles in Shojo Beat, I enjoyed most of them, and through previews found titles I wanted, or wanted to avoid.  It really was a great marketing tool, since I could sample a lot of different titles for a low cost.  Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to do that electronically (and legally)?

Continue reading More Wishful Thinking

Getting Their Feet Wet

viz_media_logoA lot has been going on at Viz Media recently.  First, back in April, Viz started running Rumiko Takahashi’s new manga, Rin-Ne, concurrent with it’s Japanese release online for American fans to read.  A first for legal simultaneous manga releases.  Next, Viz quietly announced that they would be releasing up-to-date One Piece chapters in Shonen Jump.  Then they confirmed that they were discontinuing it’s manga magazine for girls, Shojo Beat.  This was a major disappointment to many people (myself included).  But, right on the heels of that, as if to try to make amends, Viz then announces the start of a new manga magazine.  Online.  Ikki is a Japanese manga magazine that specializes in seinen, or young men’s manga.

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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.

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Eighth Day

“On the Eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,”

Akane Motomiya is walking to school, when she hears a voice calling to her from an old well.  When she goes to investigate, she is sucked into the well by Akuram, the oni leader who wants to control Akane and take over Kyou, a land that greatly resembles Kyoto of the Heian period.  Akane, it seems, is meant to be the Priestess of the Dragon God, and is given powers and eight Guardians to protect her.  Along with two her friends Shimon and Tenma, who were sucked in as well, she must protect Kyou from Akuma and his oni before they can return to their time.

Yes, Haruka, Beyond the Stream of Time, another Shojo Beat title.  I really like this title, mostly because it happens in the Heian period.  I love the history and the costumes.  It also has dragons and other legendary creatures, which is another thing I love.  This title has gotten a lot of flack for being so derivative of Fushigi Yuugi, the title that originated the “girl goes back in time and is surrounded by a ton of bishonen”, but that didn’t affect me when I first read it, since I haven’t read Fushigi Yuugi.  The characters are a little one dimensional, and Akane seems rather useless other than to constantly need saving, but I’ve still enjoyed the stories as a guity pleasure.  It’s one of many I read.

Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Sibling Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Fourth Day

“On the Fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Four Friends in Winter,”

Ann Uekusa and her mother move back to her mother’s home town Shimane from Tokyo.  Her parents have divorced, and they have returned to live with Ann’s grandparents.  They arrive in the winter, before Christmas.  Ann becomes close friends with 3 kids; Daigo, Fuji, and Shiika.  Not long after returning, Ann’s mother commits suicide, leaving Ann with her grandparents.  Ann makes a life for herself in Shimane, and she and Daigo become a couple.  Then her father comes back from Tokyo offering to take Ann back to Tokyo.

Sand Chronicles is another series I started reading through Shojo Beat.  I don’t think I was hooked instantly, but it certainly didn’t take long for it grow on me.  Sand Chronicles also holds the special honor for making me cry not once, not twice, but three times over the same scene!  It’s rare that a title can do that to me.  Once maybe, but hardly ever twice.  So much care is put into the characters that the dramatic scenes with them hit that much harder.  Most of the story so far has been following Ann’s teen years, when things are the most melodramatic, but it isn’t annoying, which is what I find most teen shojo manga to be.  Sand Chronicles seems to avoid it by being more rooted in reality.  The difficulty of long distance relationships, holding on the first love, balancing family with friends, these are all things anyone can relate to.  And that just makes it easier to get to you emotionally.  This is definitely a “chick” manga, but I love it!

“Three Siblings Cards
Two Girls named Nana
And a One Piece for the Pirate King”

Review: Nana the Movie

From: Viz Pictures
Directed by Kentaro Otani
Running Time: 114 min
Rating: Not Rated/PG suggested
Japanese Language/English Subtitles

Rating: ★★★★½

Based on the popular manga by Ai Yazawa, NANA follows the adventures of two girls both named Nana. While they share the same name, they couldn’t be more different. Nana “Hachi” Komatsu follows her boyfriend to Tokyo in the hopes of making a new start, while Nana Osaki, who arrives in the city at the same time, is a punk rock beauty who has the ambition of making it big in the world of rock and roll. Although these two young women come from different backgrounds, they quickly become best friends while chasing their happiness and dreams.

I wasn’t feeling well last Friday, and took a rare day off from work. Fortunately for me, I had received the Nana the Movie DVD just a few days before, so I had something to help while away the time between medicines. Review after the cut.

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