Cosplay Basics

Cosplay Basics by by Yuki Takasou, Rumine, and Kashiko Kurobuchi

This is an English translation of a Japanese book that provides an introduction to cosplay with chapters on tips, shopping, and costume construction, interspersed with short manga chapters showing a seasoned cosplayer showing a newbie the ropes. A magical girl character is used as the focus for the whole book, so this will be most useful for folks who are interested in feminine cosplay.

I don’t think anyone would really be able to construct a costume from start to finish with only the information given in this book, as there’s not enough detailed information given about measuring yourself, making patterns, adjusting fit, etc. There are several sections with step-by-step instructions, but I think someone making pattern pieces based on the information in the book would need to do a bit of experimenting on their own to come up with something usable. But like the title suggests, it does provide a basic overview of the topic, and a reader would be able to take the terminology in the book and then look up a more detailed youtube tutorial about placing darts, for example. There are sections dedicated to cosplay specific topics like wig styling, photographing etiquette, posing like your character, and now to retouch your own photos of your cosplay before you post them online.

Cosplay Basics would be a good addition to library collections for libraries that have active anime clubs or other similar programming like ToshoCons. If I had a young teen newbie cosplayer to hand a book to, I would probably combine this volume with another book that had more of a general focus on sewing and construction principles. The short chapters combined with manga make it easy to dip in and out of the book while exploring different aspects of cosplay.

Kiss of the Rose Princess, Vol. 5

Kiss of the Rose Princess Volume 5 by Aya Shouto

I find myself enjoying this series more and more, mostly because with each new volume my suspension of disbelief grows, and I just kick back and enjoy the ridiculousness of this reverse harem fantasy manga. This volume did a good job balancing out which knights were featured, with a bit more attention given to Tenjo the White Rose Knight. As ever, Kaede the Red Rose Knight lurks around and smolders in a few panels for each chapter.

The first part of this volume picks up at an area that is fraught with terror in most shoujo manga – an amusement park. Meek classmate Mikage with her overwhelming crush on Kaede has been hiding an even worse secret. Even more fake Rose Knights appear, leading to an excess of flower avatar people everywhere! Anise powers up a bit, triggering an awakening in Tenjo the White Rose that allows him to deal with their enemies easily. This throws off the balance of power and changes the dynamics in the group a little bit.

The fake rose idols Rhodecia make a brief appearance again, and there’s an extended comedy bit when Anise, Kaede, and Seiran dress as servants in an attempt to infiltrate Tenjo’s mansion to check up on him. There are plenty of gags involving both maid costumes and the odd decorating habits of the rich. One of the things I enjoy about the series is the way it switches back and forth between more lighthearted scenes and hints of upcoming ominous events. Shouoto’s dramatic art has plenty of flourishes that suit the dramatic and silly situations the protagonists find themselves in. Even though evil fake roses keep popping up, the mystery around Anise’s diabolical father is still touched on briefly with each volume, hinting at larger issues Anise is going to confront eventually. With the Black Rose Mutsuki seeming to take center stage at the end of this volume and I’m assuming the start of the next, it looks like there’s going to be more grim vampirific backstory to look forward to.

Spell of Desire Vol. 5

Spell of Desire Volume 5 by Tomu Ohmi

It is the final volume of Spell of Desire! What’s happening in the conclusion of this paranormal romance series?

Throughout Spell of Desire Kaoruko has been heading towards a confrontation with her mother, the mysterious Witch Queen. She finds out that her mother sealed herself away as part of a spell to balance out the positive and negative energy that was building up in the world. The Witch Queen emerges, and Kaname confesses that he’s no longer able to serve as the Witch Queen’s knight due to his love for Kaoruko. The Witch Queen promptly wins an award for worst mother of the year when she announces that she’s going to curse her daughter’s boyfriend by taking all of his senses away, followed by taking his memories of Kaoruko away too. Kaname is blinded, and he slowly becomes more and more debilitated.

This curse presents quite the conundrum, and Kaoruko is determined to harness her power for once and for all in order to save Kaname. She’s been slowly inching towards claiming her power, so it was great to see her finally take charge and do something. She’s aided by an elderly black witch who shows up and indulges in a great deal of exposition as the volume wraps up.

Overall, I thought the pacing of this series was a bit off. I enjoyed the world building and character introductions in the first couple volumes a great deal, but the rest of the series felt like it was just marking time until the big witch battle happened in the final volume. Kaoruko’s rise to self-assurance and command of her power felt a bit rushed, but I still appreciate that by the end of the series she was making her own decisions and acting heroically in order to create her own happy ending. While Spell of Desire wasn’t the best example of paranormal romance, Ohmi’s clear visual storytelling made it easy to read.

I see that this manga hasn’t sold as well as Ohmi’s other series to be translated into English, Midnight Secretary. This is a bit of a shame, because I was hoping that Viz would bring out her earlier series Kindan no Koi de Ikou, since there is such a dearth of werewolf manga romance being translated into English. We have all the vampires we need, what about some werewolves for a change? I’d still recommend Spell of Desire and Midnight Secretary to romance manga fans, and I hope more of Ohmi’s work gets translated here.

So Cute it Hurts!! Vol. 2

My biggest complaint with the first volume of So Cute it Hurts!! was that I thought it focused a bit too much on boy twin Mitsuru’s adventures cross-dressing as a girl, without as much character development or action for his sister Megumu pretending to be her brother at a school largely populated by juvenile delinquents. I was happy to see that in the second volume Megumu gets a larger chunk of the story.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed in Ikeyamada’s series so far is that the plot moves fairly fast. Developments that might take at least a two volumes to be explored in another series are quickly resolved, only for even more complications to pop up. Also, many of the issues that the characters have are so ridiculous, I find it extremely entertaining. Megumu pretending to be her brother grows closer and closer to head one-eyed delinquent Aoi Sanada, who turns out to have a deadly Achilles heel involving female company. If he so much as touches a girl, he immediately feels faint and sick. It is to Megumu’s credit that as soon as she finds this out after indulging in fantasies about revealing her true gender and confessing her love to Aoi, she vows to just remain at his side as a male because she doesn’t want to burden him by making him deal with her as a girl.

In the first volume there’s a hint that the deaf girl that Mitsuru likes, Shino and Aoi know each other. This is promptly explored in the second volume, continuing with the plot moving along quickly. Most of this volume will be very familiar to Hana Kimi fans, as Megumu’s natural cuteness shines through her boyish disguise, causing her classmates and Aoi in particular to experience odd feelings. Even though the romances in So Cute it Hurts!! are absolutely silly, there are a few sweet moments where it is clear that twins really do care about the objects of their affection. Overall, I was happy to see the additional character development I was hoping for and while So Cute it Hurts!! is not in any way profound, it is a nice brain candy type manga series.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 1: Phantom Blood, Vol 2

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 1, Phantom Blood, Volume 2 by Hirohiko Araki

I enjoyed the first volume of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and I was looking forward to see if the second volume continued with the unrelenting manliness and general crazy action. I wasn’t disappointed.

The second volume continues with the battle between Jonathan Joestar and Dio, who has completely been taken over by the evil stone mask. Dio can suck the life force out of people to heal his wounds, and the corpses become zombies, which can certainly be a problem for anyone trying to take Dio down. Jonathan is determined to destroy the monster who killed his father, and fights back through impossible odds, burning down his own mansion and fighting through the pain as Dio breaks both his arms. I continue to be delighted by the character of Robert Edward O. Speedwagon, mostly because I find it amusing when Jonathan yells “Get out of the way Speedwagon!” during battle. Also, Speedwagon’s tendency to stay on the sidelines while injured allows him to provide running commentary on all the battles.

With the Joestar mansion being burned down, and Dio both impaled on a statue and crushed beneath a pillar, one might think that Jonathan’s battle was done, but this is not the case. He meets his long-lost love Erina again as she tends his wounds, and once he is somewhat healed he meets a strange mentor named Baron Zeppeli, who decides to teach Jonathan the ways of mastering Hamon energy to become even more powerful.

In the meantime, Dio has pulled himself out of the wreckage and continue to grow more and more powerful, aided by some additional evil allies. Jonathan and Zeppeli go to confront Dio, but will his vampirific power overcome their new martial arts discipline?

It is a bit unusual for me to be truly surprised by action scenes in a manga, but JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure really does deliver on this front, with surprising plot twists and innovative ways for everybody to power up. The stakes grow higher and the battles grow more impressive as both Jonathan and Dio gain power. The art is still a bit on the crude side, but undeniably energetic. Some of the fights take place against the backdrop of a low-hanging moon, which just makes everything look even more epic. What random character named after a rock band will appear next? I’m looking forward to the third volume to find out.