Everyone’s Getting Married, Vol. 2

Everyone’s Getting Married, Volume 2 by Izumi Miyazono

I’m always a happy camper when Viz is putting out a josei title, and with two volumes so far in the Everyone’s Getting Married series, I’m very much enjoying a periodic escape into adult romance trials and tribulations as a nice contrast from all the shoujo I usually read.

One of the things I liked very much about the first volume was that the main couple Asuka and Ryu are so clearly attracted to each other and yet their respective goals of becoming a housewife and never getting married are clearly going to come into conflict. Even when they might have attempted to avoid each other, they find themselves getting closer and closer and in a relationship that is going to have a sudden expiration date if neither of them are going to change.

While Asuka and Ryu are more emotionally connected than ever, they find that their hectic work schedules prevents them from seeing each other very often, causing a bit of tension. Ryu also finds himself enjoying some of the extra homemaker type things that Asuka does a little too much, as she’s able to whip up dinner at short notice and do some extra things to help him through an extra demanding time with his news anchor job.

They manage to navigate their first big fight and end up stronger than ever, but one of the things that I enjoy about this manga is that both characters are sympathetic, their points of view about life are intrinsically opposed, and I’m left rooting for a solution but I can’t picture how they’re going to pull it off. This ends up amping up my curiosity about what is going to happen in the story quite a bit, so I’m eager to see how everything progresses.

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Everyone’s Getting Married, Vol. 1

Everyone’s Getting Married Volume 1 by Izumi Miyazono

As far as I’m concerned, Shojo Beat’s recent practice of releasing the occasional josei title is one of the best things ever. Manga featuring non-highschoolers is still not so easy to find, so I was looking forward to Everyone’s Getting Married. At the same time, just based on the title I was a bit concerned that this would be a josei version of The Rules or something that would involve trapping a man into marriage. I was really happy to discover that I enjoyed the personalities and relationship dynamic between the main couple in this manga.

Asuka Takahashi is a successful real estate agent, but her main ambition in life is to get married and become a homemaker. Asuka takes the idea of being a housewife very seriously, mainly due to the fact that she has strong childhood memories of the type of home her mother provided for her as a child. She’s thwarted in her goal in the first chapter when her long term boyfriend breaks up with her. Asuka has a brief encounter with Ryu Nanami when she’s attending a wedding. He’s a newscaster who is determined to never settle down. Asuka and Ryu have an unusually frank exchange about their incompatible goals in life and then part, fully expecting to never see each other again. He tells her “You seem like a great woman, but it would never work out between us,” and she thinks “This man…is not at all what I am looking for.”

Of course, they get thrown together over and over again, because Ryu is the roommate of Asuka’s co-worker Ono. Ryu and Asuka start getting to know each other better, unconstrained by the possibility of a romantic relationship since they’ve mutually ruled each other out. Asuka sees that Ryu is much more of an ordinary person than he appears to be based on his TV persona. He sees that she’s genuinely kind, and he respects the work that goes into keeping a household running even though he has no desire for a wife. They both begin to fall a little in love with each other, but their goals in life for a family and future remain absolutely different. Miyazono’s art is pretty to look at and easy to follow, even though her style isn’t particularly unique.

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Asuka and Ryu end up both being sympathetic and quirky enough to make me wonder which way this story is going to go, even though I’m totally expecting a happy ending. They’re also balanced out a bit by secondary couple Ono and Rio, who have the opposite relationship dynamic where Ono wants to settle down and Rio is determined to keep dating. Overall, this first volume seems like a great addition to the under the radar josei titles coming out under the Shojo Beat line.

Spell of Desire Vol 3

Spell of Desire Volume 3 by Tomu Ohmi

Well, there have been plenty of suggestive scenes in the first couple volumes of Spell of Desire, but finally in the third volume accidental witch Kaoruko and her mother’s favored protector Kaname get it on, due to witchy aphrodisiacs, necessary spell casting, and their growing yet not fully acknowledged feelings for each other! What more would a reader want in a josei paranormal romance?

Kaoruko has been delivered to the coven, and they decide it is necessary for her to fully become a black witch in order for her to gain some control over her powers. Black witches can’t be virgins, so they’ve decided to set Kaoruko up with an incubus in order for her to start down the path towards black magic. Kaoruko is drugged into compliance, but she’s still not cool with the idea of being with anyone but Kaname, and fortunately her knight protector decides to intervene in the ritual deflowering, breaking several rules in the process.

Kaname and Kaoruko end up seeking refuge in a house in the woods owned by an impressive looking white wolf (this is a crossover appearance with a character from a series that hasn’t been translated into English yet), and Kaoruko learns a bit more about Kaname’s background and why he’s so devoted to her mother. As always in this series, Kaname’s commitment to the Witch Queen causes Kaoruko to have doubts about their future. When the couple return to the coven, Kaoruko meets more of her mother’s knights, and Kaname is punished horribly. Kaoruko is determined to learn more about witchcraft so she can protect him.

A bunch of new characters get introduced in this volume, and the plot grows more complex as Kaoruko starts to learn more about the differences between white and black magic. It’ll be interesting to see what she can accomplish once she’s fully in command of her powers. I continue to enjoy Ohmi’s art, and I enjoy the way Kaoruko’s power still manifests as vine-like tendrils that curve around the panels of the manga. This series is only 5 volumes long, and this volume served as an effective middle volume, showing Kaoruko about to start gathering more knowledge and power. I recommend this series for any fans of paranormal romance manga!

Spell of Desire, Vol. 2

Spell of Desire Volume 2 by Tomu Ohmi

This series is rapidly becoming my favorite josei masked as shoujo series released on the Shojo Beat imprint. When I picked up the second volume, I was expecting a bit of filler with a few more episodes of Kaoruko’s runaway witch powers manifesting, with the obligatory makeout sessions with Kaname in order to keep her powers under control. While this certainly happened, Ohmi also went full speed ahead with plot development, introducing us to more backstory, evil covens, and Kaname actually admitting he has feelings for the young witch he has sworn to protect.

The sensual nature of Kaoruko’s magic ensures that she’s going to be an object of attraction to men, and Kaname is struggling with this himself. She wants to be able to control her magical abilities, but the fact is that having her mother’s power sealed inside her, in addition to her own magic has made her a bit of a danger to herself. Kaname returns to the coven, leaving one of his mystical animal sidekicks behind for Karuoku’s protection. In his dealings with the coven we see how Kaname is struggling with wanting what is best for his charge as person, in contrast to the way the coven views her as a valuable pawn. He wants to protect her freedom as much as possible, but the powerful witches he reports to might make this difficult.

Kaoruko’s neighbor Yu finds himself irresistibly attracted to her when her magic spirals out of control, but fortunately Unicorn delays things a bit. When some additional witches show up at Kaoruko’s house, she’s almost attacked again, but Kaname returns just in time to save her. Towards the end of the volume, Kaoruko makes a fateful decision to protect Kaname herself. While she’s been a bit passive so far due to reacting to her out of control powers, Kaoruko shows that she has plenty of willpower when someone she cares about is threatened.

I still really enjoy the way Ohmi portrays Kaoruko’s powers as black vines becoming entwined around the panels of the manga, it’s a visual device that is both pretty and ominous at the same time. I was happy that by the second volume, both Kaoruko and Kaname are clear that they love each other, even if they aren’t clear yet that their feelings are reciprocated. I think there will be interesting times ahead if Kaoruko is able to control her own powers and doesn’t need Kaname’s protection as much. I highly recommend this series if you enjoy paranormal romance manga.

07 Ghost, Vol. 1

07 Ghost, Vol. 1 by Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara

I’m always a little curious about license rescues, and I hadn’t read 07 Ghost when it was released earlier by GoComi. I was even more interested when I saw that in Japan the series ran in Monthly Comic Zero Sum, the same magazine that features Saiyuki Reload and Loveless. In manga genre terms, I suppose that 07 Ghost is josei, although it would be a bit hard to tell from the trade dressing that Viz provided, as it isn’t released under any of the Viz sub-imprints and it is labeled as being for teen readers. 07 Ghost is one of those titles that I can see appealing to a wide variety of readers, as it features a nice combination of world-building, a solid protagonist, magical battle scenes, and perky nuns.

Teito Klein is an orphan going to school in an militarized area. Teito and his fellow students are trained in a form of magical combat called Zaiphon, which uses hand gestures to evoke energy. Teito’s acerbic nature and favored status by one of his instructors ensures that he’s just about the least popular student at the Barsburg Military Academy, but he does have a best friend named Mikage whose sunny disposition contrasts with Teito’s more brooding personality. Teito is An Orphan With A Forgotten Past, and when he starts getting flashbacks to memories from his previous life he begins to think that Barsburg isn’t the right place for him anymore. He confronts Aya, who he suddenly remembers as having killed his father. Aya says that Teito is a “slave from Raggs” and puts him in chains. Teito manages a daring escape and winds up in District 7, the City of God. District 7 is filled with handsome priests and pretty but interchangeable nuns. Teito starts to adjust to a different way of life.

There’s a ton of plot explored in this first volume, but overall I thought that the pacing and world building aspects of 07 Ghost were handled very well. Teito’s journey serves as a way to introduce the tricky geopolitical issues of his world, and the fantasy and action aspects of the manga are visually striking. In District 7, the religious order believes in seven ghosts that serve as guardians against evil. The guardians are depicted as hooded figures with dramatic scythes inscribed with runes. When the unconventional priests battle their spells are also depicted as sweeping scythes that cut across the panels of the manga. This results in some action scenes that are a bit more pretty than coherent, but it was still not to hard to follow what was going on. A large cast of characters are introduced but aside from Teito and Mikage the most prominent person from District 7 is Frau, the cynical priest who rescues Teito and sticks around to make sarcastic comments and protect him occasionally. There’s a bit of a Saiyuki vibe with Frau and Teito’s relationship, which makes sense given the source magazine for the manga.

When I finished 07 Ghost I wanted to see what would happen next with Teito’s story. While Teito’s amnesias-orphan status isn’t particularly novel, I enjoyed seeing the world he lives in and it was fun to read a fast-paced fantasy manga. I feel like many of the series I’ve been reading recently develop much more slowly, so 07 Ghost‘s storytelling pace was a nice contrast. The attractive art, fighting priests, and hints of a larger magic/spiritual system to explore all have me looking forward to the next volume. I can see why Viz chose to put out this series again. It has plenty of commercial appeal, but is still quirky enough to be genuinely intriguing.

Review copy provided by the publisher