While the Shojo Beat imprint has plenty of longer series, for people wanting a quick fix of shojo goodness there’s always a two volume series. Single volumes, unless they are anthology or short story collections, often leave me feeling a bit unsatisfied as a reader. Two volume series give a story a bit more room to breathe, so I thought I’d talk a bit about my two favorite short Shojo Beat manga.
Flower in a Storm Volumes 1 and 2 by Shigeyoshi Takagi
Something that we don’t see too often in shojo manga is super powered heroines. I’m not talking about magical girls, with their accessories and transformations, I mean super powered in the sense that you wouldn’t be surprised to see the character show up at an open house for Xaviers School For Gifted Children. Riko starts out in this manga as the typical girl trying to lead a normal life in high school, but her plans are derailed because she has super-human athletic abilities and the unfortuante attentions of Ran Tachibana, an extraordinarily rich young man. This manga starts of quickly, as Riko’s school day is interrupted when Ran bursts in to propose marriage, accompanied by bodyguards and helicopters. Riko responds to this sudden protestation of love by leaping out a window, and Ran decides to make a bet with her. If Riko can evade him for 25 hours, he’ll stop chasing her. Flower in a Storm is filled with action and comedy scenes as Ran and Riko find themselves navigating their budding relationship while dodging assassins. Takagi’s art is dynamic and stylish. It is easy to believe that Ran is rich purely from the design of his sunglasses and suits. I’d love to see more series by Takagi translated over here.
Suger Princess: Skating to Win by Hisaya Nakajo Volumes 1 and 2
Nakajo is of course the author of the much longer series Hana Kimi. Shojo sports manga doesn’t often get translated over here, so I’m always curious to check it out, but I bought this manga as soon as it was released because I have Hana Kimi fangirl tendencies. Maya takes her younger brother to a skating rink and gets scouted by a coach due to her natural ability. Coach Todo wants to pair her with elite figure skater Shun, but Shun is determined to only skate singles and Maya doesn’t even know the basics yet. Shun’s a bit standoffish, and when Todo assigns him to coach Maya he’s even a bit harsh. But Maya sees figure skating as unique opportunity to learn how to excel at something and she throws herself into her practice. The obstacles the pair face along the way are very typical, there’s the threat that their skating rink might get shut down, and they have to deal with missing music when they perform in a competition. Even though the plotline isn’t very unique, Nakajo’s passion for figure skating is evident in the careful and realistic way she draws all of the skating action. This is a sweet story, even if it is a bit predictable. It is rated all ages, and would be a good manga choice for younger readers.