Archives for December 2015

Boys Over Flowers: Season 2

Boys Over Flowers Season 2 by Yoko Kamio

Boys Over Flowers Season 2 is available for free on a chapter by chapter basis on the Viz Manga app, Comixology, and on the Kindle.

I was a little hesitant about starting this series, which is a bit odd, because I absolutely adore Boys Over Flowers. I’ve collected the manga, and watched many of the tv adaptations of the property. I was worried that a return to Eitoku Academy would feel a bit stale. While this series doesn’t exactly feel fresh and new, Kamino is such an assured creator, it mostly won me over.


The social gap that was caused by the departure of the F4 has been filled by a new gang of students – the Correct 5. They are but a pale imitation of the F4, and they are lead by Haruto, a short boy with a penchant for superstition and ordering random quack objects out of the back of magazines. Haruto is joined in his misadventures by his right hand man Kaito, who seems reasonable and sane. There are two other male members, Sugimaru (the strong one), and Issa (mostly invisible). The Correct 5 is rounded out by Airi, a girl who you can tell is evil due to her curly pigtails.

The not-Tsukushi main female character is Oto, who is attending Eitoku while working a variety of side jobs. She used to be rich, but her family has fallen on hard times. She’s keeping up the pretense that she can actually afford to go to Eitoku, but the Correct 5 are determined to drive any poor students out of school, in order to try to better its standing. It seems like when the F4 left, much of the glamour that attracted students went too, and the school is struggling especially when compared to upstart Momonozono Academy.

Oto and Haruto meet when he isn’t able to send his butler in to the convenience store where she works to pick up his bizarre mail order packages. Haruto is worried about his secret being uncovered, and Oto isn’t afraid to try to blackmail him in order to keep her status as a student. One of the things I appreciated about Oto was her guarded personality. The first Boys Over Flowers was a bit more dynamic because Tsukushi was always so vocal, but Oto is doing her best to stay under the radar, to the point where she’s actually repressing her impulses.


Haruto is an absolute idiot, but he’s somewhat adorable in his lavish lifestyle, slavish devotion to the memory of Tsukasa, and bumbling reactions to Oto as he begins to realize that he has a crush on her. One of the things that I didn’t like much about the chapters that have been released so far, is that the rest of the Correct 5 haven’t really had their personalities filled in yet. I thought that the first Boys Over Flowers did a better job balancing out and introducing the cast of characters and giving everyone a chance to develop. To be fair, Kamino does realize this, there’s a side story about Issa making the point that he never actually shows up in the manga, so I’m hoping that there will be more plot development later on.

Kamio’s art is great – she has a facility with facial expressions that make the funny scenes teeter on the edge of caricature while still seeming fully human. Really, my main quibble with this series is that it does suffer in comparison with the original. It was a bit telling that one of the most exciting moments in this series was when one of the original members of the F4 popped back for a very brief cameo. There are cliffhangers at the end of every chapter, and it did want to keep reading once I got going. I appreciate that Viz is experimenting with a free, digital release for Boys Over Flowers Season 2 and I hope it leads to more digital shoujo!

Black Rose Alice, Vol 6

Black Rose Alice Volume 6 by Setona Mizushiro

I was disappointed when I realized a couple volumes in to this series that it was on hiatus in Japan. But by that time I was thoroughly won over by Mizushiro’s surreal and unique take on vampires and the tragic tone of the manga in general. It turns out that I shouldn’t have been worried too much, because while this volume doesn’t wrap up all the possible loose ends in the series, it does provide a satisfying conclusion.

Dimitri is away, and Alice and the twins are living in the house, dealing with the aftermath of Leo’s death. The twins’ backstory is told through flashbacks, and it is just as dark as one might expect from this series. Neither twin seemed like particularly great humans, but Kai’s actions are particularly despicable, making his current more winning personalty stand out in contrast to his past actions. There’s a moment of levity injected into the household when Dimitri returns home with a human woman who he once saved from a horrible assault, promising to make her his vampire bride. Now Akari is all grown up, and determined to experience the most cliched date possible with Dimitri by her side. This prompts feelings of jealousy in Alice, and an emotional confrontation.

As far as endings go, this volume concludes with one that is about as happy as it is possible to get, considering that everyone is doomed. Black Rose Alice is such a delightfully odd series, one that doesn’t turn aside from the darkness in human (or vampire) nature. It is a more mature, and quirky addition to the Shojo Beat family. I highly recommend it. This is one of those series that I’ll take down from the bookshelf and reread every few years.


Bloody Mary, Vol 1

Bloody Mary Volume 1 by Akaza Samamiya

Vampires! There have been plenty of options available for the manga fan who enjoys vampires, and these series are obviously popular, because it seems like most publishers have at least one or two current series featuring those who walk the night. How is Bloody Mary different from all the other shoujo vampire series out there?

Bloody Mary is a bit different because there are no clumsy high school girls who unwittingly find themselves the target of a vampire’s affections. Instead in this series the reader gets a cranky and mysterious priest and a vampire with a death wish. Mary is a vampire who has been on a quest to find a priest who can actually kill him. Maria is a priest who is the target of vampires due to his family’s position as prominent exorcists. Maria knows how to brandish a mystical cross, but he doesn’t yet have the ability to combat vampires the same way his ancestors did.

Mary rescues Maria from a vampire attack and brings him home to the church. Maria promptly kicks him out, because he’s tired of vampires constantly showing up and demanding his delicious blood. Mary explains that he only wants Maria to kill him. Eventually the duo strike up an uneasy truce – Maria will give Mary blood, in return for protection against vampire attacks. When Maria is able to gain his true powers as an exorcist, he promises to put Mary out of his misery. While Mary is over 400 years old, he’s drawn as a mischievous teenager, skulking around in a cat-head hoodie. Maria is tall, blond, imposing, and has attitude issues. There are plenty of opportunities for odd couple shenanigans ahead.

There’s also plenty of mystery to explore. Mary has amnesia issues. He’s probably the vampire boogieman known as Bloody Mary, but he seems to have patchy memories of his past. He doesn’t have the same vulnerabilities that other vampires do. On Maria’s side, his lack of access to his family’s traditional power, and the knowledge that his hidden from him hint that he has the potential to become a destructive force in his own right as well.


This first volume packs a bunch of story elements in to just a few chapters, as Mary and Maria’s relationship is established, hints of everyone’s secret past are alluded to, and Maria also has to deal with a handsome student council president who knows more about exorcism than he initially lets on. The character designs are attractive, and the fatalistic humor combined with plenty of vampire angst makes Bloody Mary a solid addition to the Shojo Beat lineup.