Archives for May 2016

Kamisama Kiss, Vol 20

Kamisama Kiss Volume 20 by Julietta Suzuki

This volume starts dealing more with the issues that inevitably arise when a human and an immortal start developing romantic feelings for each other. It starts out with a conclusion of the class trip storyline, as Tomoe is able to observe what Nanami is like when hanging out with other human girls. When he goes on an errand to an island where he met a human kami many years before, he gets a vivid reminder of how short Nanami’s lifespan is.

Tomoe decides that he has to become human, and he wants that transformation to happen immediately. Nanami thinks that it is good that Tomoe is trying to get closer to humanity through some excessive studying, but she thinks that it won’t happen for several more years. When Tomoe gets his hands on some medicine that might have the power to transform him, she’s worried that he’ll die in a normal human lifespan, but he doesn’t want to remain immortal and watch her age and die. They fight a bit about this, and Tomoe goes off with his usual impulsive nature and takes the medicine, only to turn into a fox instead of a human.

This funny and sad situation brought on by mystical forces is the type of plot that Kamisama Kiss excels at, because it is hilarious to see Tomoe’s body language and cranky attitude manifest while in the form of an adorable fox, but it is also quite distressing that Nanami and Tomoe are being kept apart again. The appearance of Kirihito towards the end of the volume points out that there are going to be even more struggles ahead for the couple.


One of the things I like most about this series are the quiet moments of character interactions, when Tomoe contrasts his memories the human kami he met as a little girl with the old woman she’s become, she mentions that the day she spent with him was one of her fondest memories. Nanami can’t help herself from hugging Tomoe when he’s in fox form, but she’s struck by his body language showing that he’s incredibly unhappy with his unexpected transformation. These types of moments give Kamisama Kiss more depth than the typical shoujo series, and have me happily reading every volume.

Requiem of the Rose King, Vol. 4

Requiem of the Rose King Volume 4 by Aya Kanno

This series continues to impress me, as with each volume Kanno capably delivers a larger cast of characters and more intricate plots centered around the succession to the English throne. While many of the earlier volumes served to establish the motivations of many of the characters, this volume moved into more political plotting, especially as the Earl of Warwick decides to play kingmaker.

I found myself struck by all the ways that Kanno’s art signals character in elegant ways. Richard has a vision of his father as an avenging angel with dark wings, and the swooping black feathers bordering the panels serve to show how isolated Richard is in his inner world. Warwick is often drawn with areas of his face shown in stark shadow, which suits his manipulative personality.

This volume focuses on the fall of Edward, his manipulative wife, and the possible rise of middle brother George. Richard is still an object of desire to Edward, who willingly travels to meet Anne to explore a possible engagement once he knows that Richard is also visiting. For a brief time Richard is able to deepen his friendship with Anne, and he finds some solace in a new friend who lets him be completely himself. This being a tragedy, Richard’s brief period of peace is quickly destroyed, and he has to head back into battle again where he thinks he’s going to find a different kind of escape.

As Warwick’s plots fall into place, Buckingham is determined to provide a different king for the nation and goes off in search of Richard. There are too many kings and would-be kings wandering around England! But it is clear that while they all may be trying to gain the throne, so much of the real power is in the hands of the nobles trying to manipulate all the political uncertainty.

Requiem of the Rose King continues to be a favorite series. The art is absolutely top notch, and the combination of Richard’s surreal visions and complicated inner life against the backdrop of the political struggles for the English crown makes it incredibly compelling.


The Heiress and the Chauffeur, Vol 1

The Heiress and the Chauffeur, Volume 1 by Keiko Ishihara

It is interesting that there are a couple new two volume series (Shuriken and Pleats being the first) coming out from Shojo Beat now. I feel like publishes backed off super-short shoujo for a little bit in favor of mid-range 5 or 6 volume series. Heiress and the Chauffeur is a conventional shoujo series with attractive art that is livened up by a historical setting.

The heiress in question is Sayaka Yoshimura, who is the daughter of a wealthy family. Her chauffeur is Shinobu Narataki, and they were raised closely together as children, resulting in a friendship that is entirely unconventional for a mistress and her servant. Sayaka has to deal with the behavioral rules and rumors swirling at her all-girls school, while running a gauntlet of all her admiring classmates who enjoy staring at Shinobu while he patiently waits to pick her up. Sayaka has a bright, spunky personality and she isn’t afraid to stick up for Shinobu when his habit of barging in to rescue her gets them both in trouble with the school authorities.


I enjoyed the historical aspect of the manga, and seeing the life of an heiress in the Taisho era portrayed, because that’s a type of setting that I don’t usually see in shoujo manga. I was a bit worried that each chapter would be a replay of the dynamic where Sayaka gets in trouble, Shinobu rescues her, and they have to find their way out of the aftermath, but towards the end of the volume it is made clear that their odd friendship has given Sayaka the tools to stand up for herself independently. That being said, overall the manga was a little bit dull. The art is pretty, but not terribly distinctive, and while the premise and setting is interesting, there isn’t much to distinguish the main characters from any other shoujo series. This is Isihara’s first series though, and it certainly is well executed enough that I’m curious to see what she could do given a bit more space to develop a manga. I think younger teens would enjoy The Heiress and the Chauffeur in particular.