Heiress and the Chauffeur 2 and Shuriken and Pleats Vol 2

Short manga series can be a bit troublesome at times. Sometimes they are short because they obviously weren’t all that popular, or because it seems like the premise for the series isn’t enough to stand up to multiple volumes. Sometimes two volume manga series really deliver on a a good short story, and here we have examples of one good and one not so great two volume series.

Shuriken and Pleats Volume 2 by Matsuri Hino

Matsuri Hino’s art is always gorgeous, and I enjoyed the first volume of this series mostly because I liked the concept of an overly serious ninja girl being forced to be a regular highschooler. The second volume of this series fell apart, although there were a few hints of humor along the way that I appreciated. First, I was totally confused because I remember putting down the first volume thinking that the heroine, Mikage, was an orphan. Imagine my surprise when Mikage’s mother shows up to visit her daughter, stands in the doorway and has a brief conversation with her and then promptly leaves. And it turns out that her mother has no idea that she’s a ninja, while Mikage’s father is actually running the ninja organization that Mikage used to work for.

The confusion continued as random scenes of high school life were interspersed with the conspiracy about seeds that was explored in the first volume, but the main thing that remained constant was Mikage being attracted to much older men with her feelings unreciprocated, while other much older men continue to find her adorable. The only part I found somewhat amusing about this volume was Mikage’s tendency to reach for ninja weapons and when called on her actions, proclaim that she was just holding a pen. The pretty art wasn’t enough to compensate for an incoherent storyline, and it is perplexing because Hino is capable of so much better.

The Heiress and the Chauffeur Volume 2 by Keiko Ishihara

Two volumes is probably just the right amount of length for this story about a Taisho Era heiress who is in love with her childhood companion and chauffeur. Sakaya is unusually forthright and straightforward about facing her problems, and she exhibits a great deal of resilience considering some difficult life circumstances that she’s dealing with. She has a lame foot which sometimes causes her pain, and her father is off overseas working. Her protector is Shinobu, a chauffeur who she persists in seeing as an older brother even though he is clearly in love with her.

A suitor for Sakaya shows up in this volume, and continues to meet with her even while telling her that he has business that is 10 times more important than socializing with her. Sakaya’s father is pushing for the match, so this ends up being a test for Sakaya in standing up to family pressure. This causes Sakaya and Shinobu to become a bit more honest with themselves about their feelings for each other, even going as far as stealing away with each other briefly. Like many short series that get pressured to wrap up quickly, the pacing of the story was a little bit rushed, and the authors’ notes contain some hints at stories she would have incorporated if she had more time. Still, this was a satisfying conclusion to this short series, and I enjoyed both the clarity of the art and the historical setting. I’d definitely be on the lookout for a longer series from Ishihara if Viz finds another one to put out under the Shojo Beat imprint.

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