Tag Archives: Shojo Beat

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.

Reaping What You Sow

Warning: The following contain spoilers for Nana Volume 8.

This last week I posted a review at Manga Village of Nana Volume 8. In it, I wrote that I wished Viz had waited until after this volume to move Nana to a Mature rating. The manga started serialization in Shojo Beat, and was rated Older Teen (16 and +) to match the magazine’s rating. After 7 volumes, Nana was “graduated” from Shojo Beat to be published straight to graphic novel with the higher Mature rating. Dirk Deppey of Journalista in his Feb. 8, 2008 blog entry was quick to point to a love scene as the reason, which other than one frame, was identical to every other love scene in the previous 7 volumes. Sorry. That doesn’t cut it for me. There has to be more to it than just one frame. I believe the reasons it was taken out was for the very reasons I think I should have stayed in; the subject matter.

With this volume, Nana starts to get into some serious subjects; pregnancy, abortion, having a child out of wedlock and marriage for convenience instead of love. Everything starts out as usual. NanaK. has broken up with Takumi (in her mind) and is now with Nobu, who genuinely cares about her. Her dream of finding someone who loves her as much as she loves them seems to be finally coming true. But then, NanaK.’s past comes back to haunt her. While preparing for work giving away food samples, she gets nauseous. Going on a nana01.jpghunch it seems, she stops at a pharmacy and gets a pregnancy test. It comes out positive. She doesn’t tell anyone at first, and goes to a clinic where her pregnancy is confirmed, and she is told if she wants to abort, she should decide soon. Because NanaK. hasn’t been answering him, Takumi goes to her apartment (he didn’t believe she’d really broken up with him) and discovers the truth. He locks NanaK. in the bathroom and calls Nobu on NanaK.’s phone and tells him despite her protests. Takumi tells Nobu he’ll take responsibility no matter who’s child it is. Not knowing what else to do now, NanaK. goes to Jun’s apartment and has a frank discussion with her. (Basically Jun tells NanaK. off.) NanaK. decides she wants to keep the baby, with Takumi’s support even if it’s only financial, and she’ll be a single mother. Telling Takumi as much, he offers to marry NanaK., as an illegitimate child would be worse for his and Trapnest’s reputations.

So, after seven volumes of watching NanaK. drift around, jumping from bed, to bed, to bed, with no serious direction in her life, we finally get to see the consequences of her lifestyle, and Viz takes the title out of the magazine. Why? Yes, these are mature issues that NanaK.nana02.jpg has to deal with, but does Viz believe that only adults (18+) will be dealing with them? 16 year olds don’t have to face these problems? Viz made the choice to lower Nana‘s rating to Older Teen so it could get it into Shojo Beat and use it as an anchor to hook readers in. But, just like NanaK., Viz should have to face up to the consequences of their choices. For seven volumes, 16 year old (and possibly/probably younger) readers have been watching NanaK. have bad luck with men, take infatuation for love, and generally be irresponsible. And when that house of cards finally comes crashing down, and we see the consequences of her choices, Viz yanks the title from the magazine. I have no doubt they did this to avoid controversy, but by doing so, they keep these things from the very readers who SHOULD be seeing!

Making choices in life and then facing the consequences of those choices is somethingnana04.jpg everyone must deal with in their life. And the choices that NanaK. has made are the same ones that older teens and adults are making everyday. Whether we as parents and adults like it or not, our children (both boys and girls) are facing issues of sex, pregnancy, and whether to keep or abort a baby. Often, they get into these situations because, like NanaK., they aren’t thinking of the consequences, or they are thinking “It won’t happen to me” (as most teens do). What makes both this volume and the whole series of value is the intelligent and matter-of-way that Ai Yazawa approaches the subjects.

When you start reading this series, you have no idea it’s going to go in this direction. You are just watching two girls who meet on a train to Tokyo with the same name, trying to make the dreams that they are going there for, come true. But, just like real life, things get in the way, and their choices affect their path. The characters and the situations they face are very real, so there’s no feeling of the story being preachy or trying to tell girls “Don’t let this happen to you!”. You see it happen to NanaK., and instinctively you think you don’t want that to be you.

I’m not gonna pretend that this is some kind of solution to the teen sex problems in this country. But we, as a society, have a bad habit of burying our heads in the sand whennana03.jpg it comes to talking to our kids about sex and it’s consequences, and an even harder time getting them to listen. So, if there’s a book, that just shows it to them, and sucks them in before they even realize there’s a message in it for them, then I’m all for them reading it. There are particularly three scenes that I think are powerful and older teens should see; when NanaK. figures out she’s pregnant, her visit to the clinic to confirm it, and Jun having the frank conversation with NanaK. These are the scenes that stand out the most, and really drive the point home. I think could do more than any lecture, public service announcement or “after-school special”.

Viz should have let this play through this volume. It not only gets some poignant issues across, but would have made a better cliff hanger to get people to keep buying the series. If this volume of Nana could get just some teens and young adults to think twice, or at least act responsibly, then it’s worth any controversy that could arise.

Love Bites! The Viz Edition

I’m not much of a shojo/romance kind of gal. My first forays into manga was through the Shonen Jump action titles. When my Animerica subscription got converted (after two issues) to Shojo Beat, I was sure there wasn’t going to be anything in there for me. Almost 2 years later, I’ve changed my tune, but that’s because shojo isn’t afraid to have romantic leads with bite! (And I don’t mean vampires…)

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some shojo manga where the leads are anything but romantic!

Continue reading Love Bites! The Viz Edition

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!