Archives for February 2018

Takane & Hana, Vol 1

Takane & Hana Volume 1 by Yuki Shiwasu

This month has been crazy busy for me, so I haven’t had as much time to read manga as I would like. But there’s nothing like the first volume of a new shoujo series to break me out of a reading slump! Originally I was a tiny bit skeptical about the couple featured in this manga, because it features a high school girl and a businessman. But if Dengeki Daisy can easily convince me that the best companion for a young orphan is an older emotionally damaged janitor/hacker, Takane & Hana can certainly do the same for its unconventional couple.

As I started reading the first few pages of this manga, I was impressed at how many awesome facial expressions and comedic situations Shiwasu was able to pack into the first few pages. Hana is being dragged to a marriage meeting with the heir of a business empire because the chairman happened to catch a glimpse of her older sister while he was visiting her father’s struggling subsidiary company. Hana and her dad look incredibly stressed, and they have an amusing exchange where she wonders “What’s the plan for if he falls in love with me?” and he reassures her, “You don’t really have the looks to make that happen.”

Takane Saibara shows up and turns out to be incredibly good-looking, but not so wonderful with social skills, commenting that he doesn’t like all the makeup Hana is wearing to disguise her age. She jumps up, throws her wig in his face, and stalks off yelling that she isn’t interested in him. Takane ends up deciding to spend more time with Hana, showing up at her house with an oversized bouquet of roses and pointing at her while declaring “I’ve taken an interest in you!” Takane attempts to sweep Hana off her feet by bullying her into wearing a designer dress and taking her out to an expensive restaurant, expecting her to be impressed by his display of wealth. There’s a great one-panel sequence where Hana calmly tears Takane to shreds by psychoanalyzing him, saying that he isn’t charming enough to attract anyone but gold-diggers who dump him quickly, but he doesn’t want to face reality so he just goes around saying that he hates women all the time. Takane actually manages to apologize to Hana for his remarks, but it seems like it is the first time he’s actually said “I’m sorry.” to a girl.

The dynamic between Takane and Hana is what I absolutely loved, as he’s emotionally stunted, and she’s incredibly insightful and self-assured. He doesn’t pursue anything physical with Hana, seeming content to show up with ever more elaborate bouquets and gifts, while she manages to get him to agree to a date where he cosplays as a commoner. Their odd encounters actually force them to get to know each other as people, and Hana finds herself unexpectedly jealous when she contemplates the idea of Takane dating another woman. The first volume of Takane & Hana packed in a surprising amount of emotional development and funny moments in just a few chapters. It might not be as overly sweet and over the top as My Love Story!!, but if you’re looking for a funny new shoujo series to add to your manga collection, Takane & Hana definitely delivers.

The Manga Guide to Microprocessors

The Manga Guide to Microprocessors by Michio Shibuya,‎ Takashi Tonagi, and Office Sawa

I’ve always been interested in didactic manga, back to the time when Japan Inc (remember that?) was one of the few manga volumes available back in the late 80s. I’ve seen the No Starch Press booth from a distance at library conferences, but I haven’t tried out one of their manga guides before.

The Manga Guide to Microprocessors starts out with a framing story to ease the reader into an introduction to foundational computer science concepts. Ayumi is a champion shogi player who agrees to take on a computerized version of the game programmed by Yuu. She’s beaten by the machine and is determined to learn everything she can about computers so she can redeem herself. Crazy computer genius Yuu then starts taking Ayumi through everything she (and the reader) need to know about the guts and internal logic of computers.

One thing I appreciated about this book was the varied visual layouts for each chapter. There are several pages of story/manga as some foundational concepts are introduced, a few pages of text, broken up by small graphics and illustrations, and occasionally pages of text dialog between both characters as they explore different concepts together. There’s always something visually interesting to look at, which is important if you don’t naturally find discussions of floating point arithmetic super compelling. The illustrations are serviceable, without a whole lot of style, but fabulous art isn’t really the reason why anyone would read a book like this. Throughout the book Ayumi and Yuu gradually become more friendly, although their tendency to fight livens up the explanations.

Overall, I thought this was a good introduction to the subject, and I plan on checking out the Manga Guide to Statistics next, because I feel like I could use some basic knowledge of that topic.