Archives for January 2016

Requiem of the Rose King, Vol 3

Requiem of the Rose King Volume 3 by Aya Kanno

This manga just keeps getting better and better as Kanno adds even more royal intrigue to her unique story of Richard III and the Wars of the Roses.

The second volume closed with Richard embodying a demonic spirit of vengeance when he discovered that his father was killed. The third volume opens with Richard’s older brother Edward, the new king, making questionable decisions about women. Edward is utterly captivated by the widow Elizabeth Woodville, who secretly detests the House of York. She maintains Edward’s interest by continually refusing him until he is desperate enough to make her his queen, going against the other alliances his court is arranging for him. Richard proves to be an unenthusiastic ally in Edward’s courtship, going along with his brother on hunting trips to provide cover for Edward’s visits to Elizabeth. When Edward is staying in a hunting cabin, he again meets the wayward Lancaster King Henry. Richard and Henry are drawn to each other, without fully knowing who each other are.

Henry’s dreamy outlook on life has made him one of the few people who relates to Richard as just Richard, without the “demon child” legend that has poisoned everyone against him. But Henry’s distance from his own family ensures that when his son Edward discovers the men together, his jealousy over his father’s relationship with Richard looks like it is going to have horrible consequences.

Kanno’s art continues to be both dark and lavish, fitting the settings and themes of this tragic story excellently. I’m always in awe of her facility with facial expressions and how it contributes so well to character development. Just a couple panels of Elizabeth Woodville’s gleefully staring eyes as she contemplates her plans for Edward establish that she’s up to no good. Henry’s abstracted expression show him to not fully live in the world, while Richard’s sensitivity and hesitancy in trusting Henry is clearly portrayed. This continues to be such a standout title in Viz’s current publishing lineup.


Honey So Sweet, Vol. 1

Honey So Sweet Volume 1 by Amu Meguro

I always look forward to checking out new Shojo Beat series, but I was wondering before I picked up this title if it would be a bit TOO sweet. Once the characters and backstory got set up, I enjoyed this volume.

The volume opens up with a flashback scene of Nao Kogure walking away from a boy recovering from a beating in the rain, saying that people might consider her helpless, but she doesn’t want to get involved with delinquents. The delinquent in question is Taiga Onise, nicknamed Oni at his school. He promptly announces to Nao that they need to talk, and when she follows him he presents her with a bouquet of roses and asks her if she’ll “date him with marriage in mind.” Nao is so intimidated by her suitor that she accepts immediately because she’s afraid of retaliation.

Nao discusses the situation at home with her guardian, her Uncle Sou. He points out that judging Onise by his outward appearance is unfair and she should get to know him first. The next day at school she sees Onise doing chores, helping teachers, and he makes an incredibly cute bento for them to share at lunch. One of the most annoying thing about this manga in the early chapters was Nao’s fear of Onise, long after the point where it should be clear to everybody that dyed hair and random piercings aside, he’s an absolute sweetheart. The other thing that has Nao hesitating about getting involved with her first boyfriend is that she’s decided she’s in love with her Uncle.

Nao and Onise continue their friendship, and one of the things I enjoyed very much about this series were cute details that showcase their personalities, like Onise’s tendency to write elaborately formal text messages when he’s nervous. Nao has her own trauma to deal with due to being an orphan, and she finds it difficult to get close to people. Much of the plot centers around some typical shoujo set pieces like a class trip, but Nao and Onise gradually start collecting a small group of misfit friends, and the series is so genuinely warm-hearted, it is hard to resist.

I found myself enjoying Meguro’s art style very much. So much shoujo manga art tends to be overly polished, but Meguro uses thin whispy lines that make the illustrations in Honey So Sweet seem delicate and not overworked. The storylines centered on friendship, combined with Nao’s psychological issues reminded me a bit of some of the old Banri Hidaka series published by CMX. This first volume was mostly set-up, so I’m curious to find out what happens next in this series.