Tag Archives: shojo

My Little Monster Volume 1-2

Shizuku Mizutani has a goal; to have an annual income of 100 Million Yen. To do that, she has to have perfect grades and is always studying. She doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t think she needs any. Then she meets Haru Yoshida. He is a First Year like her, who should be in the desk next to her, but hasn’t been to school since the first day. She takes some printouts from their home room teacher to him, and he decides they are friends. This starts Shizuku on a path of making friends and maybe even falling in love, as long as they don’t get in the way of her grades.

My Little Monster Volume 1-2
My little Monster 1By Robico
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $10.99USD
Rating: ★★★★☆

My Little Monster sort of sounds like a “good girl falls for the bad boy” story, but it really couldn’t be further from the truth. The characters are more like misfits, damaged from events in their past that have kept them from finding real friendship and relationships, making them much more interesting to watch and their stories more compelling.

The story centers around the relationship of Shizuku and Haru. Neither has any real friends. Shizuku doesn’t because of an incident in elementary school that made it difficult for her to trust other and just rely on herself. Haru got a “bad boy” reputation because of his physical strength, but is really a good guy. Their personalities are somewhat different. Shizuku is straightforward, to the point of being blunt sometimes. She comes off as cold and unemotional, but just doesn’t know how to act around people since she has spent more time studying than interacting. Haru seems scared of the other kids at school, except when someone is being bullied or threatened. He’ll jump right into the fray and start fighting. He is also clueless about how to act around people, but he is more naive than cynical. They are both socially inept be for different reasons.

Their relationship is like a see-saw. When Haru has feelings for Shizuku, she doesn’t for him and visa-verse. Haru confesses first, and then when Shizuku is ready to reciprocate, he just wants to be friends. Then when he comes to realize he might like her as something more, she wants to go back to just being friends. Up and down, up and down. Just like a see-saw. I think that’s what I find most intriguing about their relationship. There aren’t any big dramatic moments that make them change their minds. There are these moments of realization. Haru, when he kisses Shizuku and doesn’t see stars, starts to think he doesn’t like her that way. Shizuku realizes her life has changed, but that she doesn’t have to lose focus of her goal, and can just be friends with Haru. It’s such an unusual take on a teenage romance that it really intrigues me.

My Little Monster 2The cast of supporting characters really helps. Shizuku gets a girl friend in Natsume, a girl with really poor study skills who wants to make friends. She’s really pretty, and can get the boys attention, but the cold shoulder from the other girls. Sasayan is on the baseball team and is just hanging around Haru and Shizuku because he thinks they are interesting. He’s also a regular at the arcade and batting cages owned by Haru’s cousin Mitchan. And then there’s Nagoya, the chicken. Haru found him and started bringing him to school until they got the administration to let him keep it as a school pet. I love the chicken. He doesn’t do anything, but it’s just funny to watch Haru dote over it.

The stories start out like the usual shojo fare, but turn out like anything but. The boys that bullied Haru for money come back to apologize and end up helping to build Nagoya’s henhouse. Haru starts smiling more and girls start to pay attention to him more, but a fight with upperclassmen sends him back. Upperclassman Oshima starts to like Haru, but instead of confessing her feelings, she explains Shizuku’s to Haru. I really enjoy all these twists. It’s great not knowing how things are going to turn out.

My Little Monster is a great read, especially if you are getting a little tired of all the upbeat, perky heroines in shojo. Shizuku’s cynical and analytical view on life is a refreshing change. I am really looking forward to seeing how the see-saw is going to change this time, and really want to find out more about Haru’s and Shizuku’s background. There have been a lot of tantalizing hints dropped, but I really want to see more.

Review copies provided by publisher.

Attack on Titan No Regrets Volume 1

The young Erwin Smith is a rising star in the Survey Corps, humanity’s only hope of defeating the man-eating monsters known as Titans. Ruthless and dispassionate, Erwin’s mind is devoted to strategies and intrigue. But beneath Erwin’s feet is another world, the Underground, where humans are born and die surrounded by the garbage the Capital throws away. Here, the criminal Levi survives on his wits and agility. But when these two ambitious men cross paths, who will prove himself stronger?

Attack on Titan: No Regrets Volume 1
Attack On titan no regrets 1Written by Gun Snark (Nitropolis); Art by Hikaru Suruga
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror/Shojo
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★★

I went into this volume with no preconceived notions. I started reading Attack on Titan late in the series, at volume 8, so while I had heard of the characters Erwin and Levi, I didn’t know who they were. I knew they were important leaders in the Survey Corps, and big deals to fans. This story alone was enough to increase the circulation of the magazine it was published by 10 fold. Even though this story is supposed to be about both Erwin and Levi, this volume at least, is really all about Levi.

Levi is the leader of a trio of thieves who use Survey Corps maneuvering gear to get around the Underground where they struggle to survive. Levi is a stoic man of few words. He has perpetual dark circles under his eyes and doesn’t seem capable of smiling. But he cares a lot for his friends Furlan and Isabelle, the only two people in the world he trusts. He will fight and possibly kill for them, and they look up to him as a protector and leader. He is incredibly skilled in using the maneuvering gear, despite having never been taught formally, which is what catches the attention of Squad Leader Erwin Smith.

Erwin is a very earnest member of the Survey Corps, and rather savvy with manipulating the political side of things to get what he wants. He is determined to do anything and everything it takes to build up the Survey Corp. He recognizes the threat the Titans pose, even as the people and politicians grow complacent after so many years without a breach. He is even willing to work with criminals, by bringing in Levi and his group. Erwin isn’t seen much in this volume, but it is obvious he is watching them.

Levi and his friends have some prejudices to get pass after joining the Survey Corps. Some members and the leaders object to people from the Underground being brought with no military training. But, as they train with the other squad members, many of them start to see their strengths. Isabelle has an affinity with animals, which lets her show off her riding skills. Furlan is the calm and sensible one of the three, trying to keep the peace, mostly between Levi and the others. He also has some plan in mind, that somehow involves Erwin, but only hints have been dropped so far. Then there’s Levi. His skills are no illusion as he shows in both training and actual combat. His more unorthodox methods bring down a Titan, and his skills take it out. Levi is almost as awesome in combat as Mikasa!

The art is a well done, looking enough like Isayama’s style while still being good. I love Levi’s fashion sense, both in his civilian clothes and in his Survey Corps uniform. The Ascot is just perfect on him! The action sequences are well done, with lots of lines flying, clouds of smoke from the canisters and swords gliding through the air. There really isn’t a moment of this volume I didn’t enjoy.

Attack on Titan: No Regrets Volume 1 is a great start to a series about some provocative characters. Since this is an origin story, it’s not necessary to have read the main series to enjoy this one, but a basic understanding of the universe would help since there are no explanations. I’m looking forward to volume 2 but not the wait until October. I’m also sad that it will also be the last volume. I wouldn’t mind watching Levi and the gang for another couple of volumes.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Inu x Boku SS Volume 1-3

Ririchiyo Shirakiin is a girl from a family of old money who also has Ayakashi blood as a genetic throw back to a human ancestor who coupled with an Ayakashi. She moves to Maison de Ayakashi because she want to become independent, but every one who moves into the apartment building is assigned a member of it’s secret service. Soushi Miketsukaim is assigned to Ririchiyo, and he is about as devoted and protective as a dog, much to Ririchiyo’s chagrin.

INUxBOKU_SSv1_TPBy Cocoa Fujiwara
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Romance
Price: $11.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I had my doubts about Inu x Boku SS as I started to read the first volume. I wasn’t sure what to make of Ririchiyo at first. Her throwback is to a demon, and in some ways it seems to show. She speaks without thinking and comes off as mean and blunt. But that’s not the real Ririchiyo. After speaking like that, she immediately regrets her words but doesn’t know how to apologize properly. She is very awkward and is sincere in wanting to change. I didn’t like her at first, but as I continued reading, I found her growing on me. I found myself sympathizing with her as bits of her past is revealed. I also found her naiveté endearing, since she isn’t so much clueless as inexperienced with someone having feelings for her.

That someone is Soushi. He is very over the top at first with his devotion to Ririchiyo. He asks her to “dispose” of him when she tells him she doesn’t need him at first. He waits outside her apartment for hours until she comes out. He even overreacts when she just leaves him alone for a few minutes while they are shopping. The devotion does get annoying at times. He uses it to manipulate Ririchiyo, something she realizes after he’s gotten what he wanted. The reason Soushi feels so strongly for Ririchiyo is revealed, and all of his mysterious hints from when they first meet now make sense. Ririchiyo’s interactions with Soushi start to change her, for the better.

Inu x boku ss 2And it’s not just Soushi that helps her change. Interacting with the other tenants of the building help her as well. Sorinozuka is Ririchiyo’s childhood friend, and isn’t fazed by her personality. He has ittan-momen blood in him, and spends as much time as a bolt of cloth as he does a human. Roromiya, a SS and Watanuki, a tenant, go to the same school as Ririchiyo, and they become friends, despite Watanuki’s continued claim that he is a delinquent. Watanuki has tanuki blood, but is a smaller type, and usually ends up as comedy relief. Zange is Watanuki’s SS, and he is rather mysterious and meddlesome. He helps Ririchiyo reach out to others and make friends. He also has a second sight that bode ominous things in the volumes to come.

Sadly, not all of the characters are likeable. After the first volume, I though Yukino, Sorinozuka’s SS was the most annoying with her yuri inclinations and shouts of “smexy” at Rirchiyo and Roromiya. And then Kagerou Shoukiin was introduced. He is a tenant of the building, and Roromiya is his SS. He is always traveling and isn’t at the building much. He is also a sadist, always wearing a masking and calling people “trollop” and “sow”. He labels everything as a “S” or a “M”. I dislike him, and can’t decide if he’s supposed to be funny or menacing. Either way, I can’t take anything he says or does seriously.

Inu x Boku SS 3Overall, I do like the direction of the story. While Ririchiyo and Soushi are the main couple, I like that the other tenants aren’t just there to support them. Watanuki gets a nice chapter that explains his obsession with being seen as a delinquent. Even the staff at the apartment building get some page time. After everyone is introduced, they continue to show up, such as cook Kawasumi and his son, and Concierge, the scary-looking nekomata throwback that is more pussycat than lion.

Zange’s premonition at the end seems to predict something dark on the horizon for Inu x Boku SS. As much as I’ve enjoyed these volume and their slice of life stories so far, these characters have ayakashi blood in them. There have only been short moments of action with them turning into their throwback forms. I’m looking forward to more of this, along with all the relationship development we’ve seen so far.  If you like supernatural romances or stories about yokai and ayakashi, definitely pick this series up.

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Buy Volume 2
Buy Volume 3

Review copies provided by publisher.

Black Bird Volume 16

Misao has made the choice to forego college and a normal human life in order to be Kyo’s wife and mother to the demon child she carries. But her pregnancy is unusual, even for the demon world. The last pages of the Senka Roku will reveal the truth of the matter, but now that Kyo has it in his hands, does he really want to know…?

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By Kanoko Sakurakouji
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Black Bird for a while now. I found Kyo’s skeeviness annoying, as well as Misao’s submissiveness. A lot of that changes with this volume. After defeating his older brother Sho, Kyo has learned the final fate of the Senka Maiden, and it doesn’t bode well for Misao. Kyo sets the Daitengu to work trying to find a way to keep both mother and baby alive. A single clue left by Sho and some information from the Senka Roku just might hold the answer.

There are a lot of emotions flying around this volume. Misao is faced with the prospect of either she dying or her baby. Neither are acceptable to her. But there are a lot of tearful moments as she faces Kyo and the Daitengu about not only what will happen to her and Kyo, but also the others. It’s kind of sad that it’s surprising that she figures it out on her own. Misao would be a much better character if she wasn’t played to be so dumb.

Kyo’s internal dialog was the big draw of this volume. Now that Kyo and Misao are married, all the skeevy scenes are done and gone. Kyo is serious about his love for Misao and is desperate to find a way to keep her alive. This volume is probably the most convincing he’s been about his feelings for her. He isn’t leading her own or playing around. Everything he says and does is all for her, and it shows.

Kyo’s observations about Misao and the changes he sees in her were the most interesting parts. He doesn’t know what a pregnant human female is like, so he doesn’t connect the changes at first. But as he starts to make the connections with the Senka Roku, and some of Misao own behaviors change, it really becomes clear that what she’s going through is different. I do wonder if Misao’s fear of Kyo isn’t in some way an extension of the baby she’s carrying. The change of perspective definitely makes these revelations more interesting, and Kyo into more of a detective as he works to solve the mystery of the Senka Maiden.

Once the story gets past all the drama and emotion between Kyo and Misao, the volume of Black Bird become what I’ve been waiting for all this time. Finally, the mystery of the Senka Maiden is being delved into. While there are no answers now, with this being solidly in the final arc, those answer will be coming soon, making the final two volumes must reads. I’m actually looking forward to them now.

Sailor Moon Short Stories Volume 2

This second collection of short stories is really one long story and two ones. First Luna, Usagi’s cat falls head over feet for a human astrophysicist whose discovery of a new comet also heralds new doom from an old enemy for the Earth. Then some of Rei’s backstory is revealed is a tale of reflection and revenge, and finally in an undisclosed future, the children of Usagi and the other Sailor Scouts prove they don’t fall very far from the tree.

Sailor Moon Short Stories 2
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By Naoko Takeuchi
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I have limited experience with Sailor Moon, but I know just enough to know who everyone is and what is going on. The stories in this volume, while not all short, are still fairly entertaining, even if all them don’t quite hit their intended mark.

There are three stories in this volume, “Princess Kaguya’s Lover”, “Casa Blanca Memory”, and “Parallel Sailor Moon.” Of these three, “Princess Kaguya’s Lover” is the longest, and features the strange love triangle of Luna the cat, Kakeru Ohzora, an astrophysicist, and his childhood friend Himeko Nayotake. There were a lot of things I liked about this story. Luna getting to be the center of attention was a nice change, but I really loved the villain, Princess Snow Kaguya. She was supposed to rule over the solar system but was banished 4.5 Billion years ago, but has returned to reclaim reign. I liked that she wasn’t after any of the sailor scouts, or to take the Earth specifically, but to rule over the whole solar system. It wasn’t people that banished her, but the spirits of the planets, and that just appealed to me. The love triangle didn’t so much, since it was obvious that Luna didn’t have a chance as a cat, but the Christmas gift the other give her was very sweet.

I liked “Casa Blanca Memory” much more. It has a more traditional villain, but I liked that the weapon was memories and sentimentality. It’s so easy for people to fall under the spell of these things, including the rather unromantic Rei. It makes a good vehicle to explore Rei’s past and possible love interest without feeling forced. The seemingly never-ending rain adds to the atmosphere, drawing the reader into the melancholy mood of the story. Rei breaks out of the spell of course, because of her vow to never reflect on the past or fall in love. If anything, this episode only reinforces Rei’s personal beliefs, which is rather refreshing.

The last story, “Parallel Sailor Moon” takes place several years in the future, where the sailor scouts are married and have children. The kids run off for their own adventure, with Usagi’s youngest daughter Ko-Usagi stepping into her mother’s shoes, cat and all. I didn’t care for this story as much as the other two. It was supposed to be more humorous, but most of it fell flat for me. I just didn’t care for the other girls trying to lose Ko-Usagi for most of the story, though I can see that happening in real life. The threat they have to defeat is a herd of rabbits which was cute, but overall, it didn’t appeal to me.

What I really enjoyed about these stories, especially the first two, is the way Takeuchi incorporated antiques into the stories. Princess Kaguya was based on an Art Deco piece called Salome and her Snow Dancers were based on a porcelain piece called the Dancer. She wove these two pieces beautifully into the story and really gave those characters a unique appearance. I also loved the Art Deco lamp that became the basis of the Rain Tree. It looked like water cascading and made for a wonderful effect.

Overall, Sailor Moon Short Stories Volume 2 has some good stories with some solid moments. Takeuchi incorporates the holidays of Christmas and Chinese New Year without it being overt and creates some fun stories from objects you wouldn’t normally expect to be used as models for a manga. Even through this is called a volume 2 the stories stand alone, and only basic knowledge of Sailor Moon is needed to enjoy them.

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
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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
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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.

Oresama Teacher Volume 13

So far ever Student Council member who has gone up against Mafuyu has fallen to the team’s superior friendship skills. But Kanon Nonoguchi has a plan to turn their strengths against them! She’s spreading rumors that Midorigaoka girls are in danger and counting on Super Bun to run to the rescue…and right into her trap!

Oresama Teacher 13By Izumi Tsubaki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

Oresama Teacher has fallen into a bit of a rut as this volumes continues the Public Morals Club’s battle with the Student Council, just as the previous 3 volumes have. This time they are up against man-hating Kanon Nonoguchi, who leads the special all girls class at the school. But the possible monotony this could get into is kept at bay by less Mafuyu and Takaoka, and more Natsuo and Bancho Okegawa, making this fun read after all.

The story starts out typically with Kanon trying to figure out who Natsuo and Super Bun, the “secret” members of the Public Morals Club, really are. Her plans are foiled by Mafuyu’s clumsy and clueless nature, and Akki’s willingness to cross dress. But it quickly turns from this into Kanon’s story as her background is revealed, both her men-hating and her admiration of the Student Council President. I liked this switch up in the story. It kept the volume from becoming a “Student Council Member of the Week” volume into a more interesting story. I don’t blame Kanon for her dislike of boys considering what happened to her. Boys teasing girls they like is one thing, but things really got out of hand with Kanon.

I loved that Natsuo, Mafuyu’s boy disguise, got to feature so prominently in this volume. I like him better, both personality and appearance wise. I know Natsuo and Mafuyu are the same person, but I just really prefer Natsuo, so seeing him instead of Mafuyu made this a much better volume. The confusion Natsuo caused Kanon was more entertaining because the reader knows he’s really a she. I also enjoyed the return of Okegawa, the cute-animal-loving former bancho of Midorigaoka. He’s been a favorite of mine since his appearance in the second volume, so not only getting more of him, but also possibly getting him into the Public Morals Club just makes me more happy. The surprise appearance by Ayabe at the end was cool too.

I still can’t say Oresama Teacher is a title I really like, but I’d be lying if I said there I didn’t enjoy it. Parts of it anyway. I wouldn’t mind continuing to check out the random volume. It’s good for borrowing but It’s still not making it onto my permanent print or digital bookshelf.

 

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
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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!

Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Volume 1

Hime Kino’s dream is to one day do voice acting like her hero Sakura Aoyama from the Lovely♥Blazer anime, and getting accepted to the prestigious Holly Academy’s voice actor department is the first step in the right direction! But Hime’s gruff voice has earned her the scorn of teachers and students alike. Hime will not let that stand unchallenged. She’ll show everyone that she is too a voice acting princess, whether they like it or not!!

To make matters worse, Sakura’s grouchy son, Senri, is in Hime’s class, and he seems determined to stomp on her dreams. He even has the nerve to call Lovely♥Blazer stupid! But Hime won’t be deterred by naysayers, her new nickname (“Gorilla Princess”), or even getting demoted to the Stragglers group. She’s ready to shine, and nothing is going to stand in her way!

Voice Over_01By Maki Minami
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

Voice acting has always interested me, and after ready Koetama on Jmanga, I became interested in reading manga about it. So when Viz announced this series, I was happy to finally have a series I could own about it. The only downside was that I hadn’t enjoyed Minami’s previous series SA, so I didn’t know which side would win out. Fortunately, I ended up liking this series much more than SA. The female protagonist didn’t come off dumber than bricks, which helped a lot.

The protagonist of the series, Hime, is anything but a princess, despite how desperately she want to sound like one. She isn’t cute and girlish like her younger sister, who is constantly reminding her and the reader of that fact. Her voice is rough and gravelly. Her attempts to sound feminine end in people imagining old women or effeminate men. She isn’t a princess at all. But she’s not willing to give up. When she finally does find her niche, it isn’t what she thinks is should be and doesn’t accept it. It’s not that she can’t accept it, she won’t because it goes against her dreams. I liked that about her. I don’t think she’s ever going to reach her dream of having a princessy voice, but that her journey is the accept and appreciate what she does have.

Hime’s rival and potential love interest is Senri Kudo, the son of Hime’s favorite voice actress who is already landing parts and becoming successful while still in high school. He comes off cold and uncaring, until he is shown to have a soft spot of small animals, but mostly cats. That put him in a new light for me. Anyone who loves and rescues cats can’t be a bad person. Senri won’t acknowledge Hime at first, until he hears her potential. In some ways she also reminds him of a stray cat, causing his soft spot to kick in. Right now, I like them more as rivals than a couple, but that could change.

Hime is surrounded by quite a cast of characters. She becomes part of the “Straggler” group when she can’t keep up with the lessons and is joined by the soft-spoken Tsukino, who becomes her friend. Sho, who acts more like an underboss than actor and Mitchy, who is full of himself, but gets stage fright. I loved Sho with his short temper and ready to lend a fist when one of his fellow “Stragglers” is threatened. Two more characters that become part of Hime’s circle are Mizuki and Shuma, the boy idol group Aqua. Hime borrows Mizuki’s closes to help Tsukino out of difficult situation and gains the ire of Shuma. His attempt at revenge on Hime is devious, but she is able to turn the tables on him, as well as feeling the ire of MIzuki. It was a great scene at the end.

This first volume of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy is a good foundation for the series. It sets up the characters well, as well as Hime’s problems and potential without beating the reader over the head about it. I thought the scout was a little harsh with Hime by calling her unsuitable when it was obvious she wasn’t, but she can’t start recording yet. I did like that Hime not only didn’t become depressed over her “failure”, but that she accepted the extra work she was given for if. She wouldn’t accept help from Tsukino and took responsibility for it herself. It’s a good example for anyone to follow.

I’m giving away a copy of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy volume 1 to one random reader. Leave a comment on this post about whether you prefer subs or dubs in anime to be entered to win. US residents only please.

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 22: Alice in the Country of Hearts

Manga Dome header

This week I check out a new manga kickstarter from Manga Reborn, what’s up at Vizmanga, and review the last two volumes of Alice in the Country of Hearts.

Continue reading Manga Dome Podcast Episode 22: Alice in the Country of Hearts

Paradise Kiss Volume 3

As the much-anticipated Yaza Arts fashion show gears up, an unexpected visitor from George’s past makes an appearance. Yukari’s modeling career heats up just as George makes an announcement that shocks the ParaKiss group to the core. George is hearing the siren call of the City of Lights, but where does that leave Yukari? Will she find the key to Paradise?

Paradise Kiss 3By Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fashion
Price: $19.95
Rating: ★★★★★

In this final volume of Paradise Kiss, fashion takes a back seat to all the relationship drama that is going on. George and Yukari’s relationship remain turbulent and with the introduction of Kaori Aso, an important female friend of George’s, things just go to an 8 on the Richter scale. The reason behind the complex relationship between Miwako, Arashi and Tokumori is finally revealed, as is Isabelle’s past. The series ends with everyone having to make choices about their future, the biggest in question being George and Yukari’s; do they have one together?

While fashion was a backdrop, the focus of this series has always been on George and Yukari, and with the fashion over, that focus just intensifies. Yukari, who wants to be the center of George’s universe gets booted out of the limelight as Kaori Aso, a close friend of George’s, comes back to Japan to see the fashion show, but more importantly, to try to convince George to continue designing. Yukari gets a lot of shocks during this meeting, as she learns George has shared many things with Kaori that he didn’t with her. The realization she comes to from this is harsh but true; she more of a dress-up doll for George than an equal partner in their relationship. I was disappointed when even after realizing this, she was still willing to go along as long as she was with him. I really expected better from Yukari.

The Miwako-Arashi-Tokumori relationship finally gets some attention in this last third as the root of Arashi’s jealously is revealed to both Arashi and the audience. Tokumori is a great character, the only real voice of reason in all the madness. Even though he has been Arashi’s rival for Miwako, he gives Arashi the pep talk he needs to accept Miwako’s feelings. Their talk is one of my favorite scenes of the volume. I also really enjoyed finally seeing more of Isabelle outside of the atelier, and seeing how she became the person she is now.

The big question of the volume, and really the whole series, is, will Yukari and George stay together? Yukari and George are fine together as friends. Yukari was a muse for George, inspiring him to create some great things. George also helped Yukari get out of her rut of being a student and find something she could enjoy and be passionate about. But as a couple, I never liked them together. They didn’t fit well for me. There was a lot of passion, both in their feelings and their interests, but I didn’t feel any love between them. If Yukari were to follow George, I think she would suffocate in that relationship, and George wouldn’t really be happy with Yukari not taking advantage of her full potential. The way Yazawa ended the story was just right. Everyone ends up with just who they should.

Paradise Kiss is a great story filled with rich and colorful characters. It’s fashions are outrageous but fun, and the drama of the relationships are a bit over the top, but just realistic enough to ring true. This is a series that should not be passed up, especially since readers have been given a second chance with it. Do regret not picking it up. This title is a Buy It Now.