Late Sunday Final Round-Up

It is the last round-up post of the Shojo Beat Manga Moveable feast! Thanks to everyone who participated!

Manga Xanadu looks at the first five volumes of gender-based comedy series Otomen. Lori thinks the series is enjoyable due to the cast of characters, especially the male lead Asuka, “I really enjoy the role reversal that Kanno has created with Asuka. He is very much the shojo lead, as all his inner thoughts and turmoil are shared with the reader. He even blushes a lot like most shojo leads. I really love Asuka’s dichotomy of still being a man while having all of these traditionally female hobbies. If only more men could be like him.”

Otaku Ohana examines an author we haven’t seen reviewed during this particular feast yet – Kaori Yuki. He looks at Grand Guignol Orchestra, even including a handy visual comparison with other Shojo Beat titles. He writes of this manga, “If it was an actual person, it would have a dark cloud hovering over it at all times, sulking off in the corner with Depeche Mode playing on the stereo.”

I continue my Arina Tanemura binge and read the first four volumes of Full Moon O Sagashite, which pulls off the feat of featuring a story about a dying heroine without getting on my nerves for being too sentimental.

October’s feast will be hosted by Chic Pixel and will focus on the thematically appropriate topic of Vampire manga!

Full Moon O Sagashite Volumes 1-4 by Arina Tanemura

This is a series that perhaps requires a larger than normal suspension of disbelief. For example, the reader must buy into the idea that teen suicides are turned into shinigami and assigned to a special Death Pediatrics Division. While they run around collecting souls, they deal with their romantic entanglements, while wearing fabulous outfits and occasionally manifesting as cute animal mascots. In Full Moon, the heroine is a 12-year-old terminal cancer case who gains the ability to transform into a 16-year-old idol singer. In the world of Full Moon, it is entirely probable that a pediatric oncologist is the former member of a famous boy band who still does music producing jobs on the side! There’s something delightfully loopy about Full Moon O Sagashite, and it is a very entertaining series simply because Arina Tanemura manages to pull of a funny and touching story about divine intervention in the life of a dying girl without making the story too sentimental to stomach.

Mitsuki is the heroine with a severe tumor in her throat. She’s an orphan, living with her strict grandmother. Her only dream is to sing and become famous enough that her long-lost friend Eichi will her of her where he is in America. Mitsuki is visited by shinigami or death spirits who take the form of a cat-boy named Takuto and a bunny girl named Meroko. They are on earth to stop Mitsuki from meeting someone who would prevent her death, but Takuto finds himself oddly drawn to Mitsuki and he helps her transform into a cancer-free 16-year-old so she can attend an audition. Mitsuki’s singing career as “Fullmoon” is launched. The thing that keeps Full Moon from being overly sweet is Mitsuki’s attitude towards her impending death. Wanting to sing to reach an old friend is a very romantic goal, but Mitsuki is almost bizarrely matter of fact in the way she refers to her upcoming demise. She’s not tearful or prone to emotion about it, but refers to death the way other people might talk about going to the grocery store the day after tomorrow. Mitsuki is passionate about her goal of becoming a singer, but the blase attitude that she demonstrates towards her terminal condition ensures that the manga remains intriguing.

As the plot develops over the first four volumes, Mitsuki starts seeing some progress towards her goal of becoming a singer. Meroko nurses her hapless love towards Takuto, while he seems to be falling in love with Mitsuki. The fact that Takuto and Meroko are the spirits of people who committed suicide adds an additional complication when they intervene in Mitsuki’s life, and events are derailed further when a rival shinigami named Jonathan shows up and tries to derail Takuto. Mitsuki’s doctor suddenly becomes her record producer and she sees an entirely new side of him. Takuto learns that Mitsuki’s love towards her lost Eichi might be less romantic and more pathological. Tanemura is always very good at juggling a variety of side plots. While Mitsuki is the focus, the characters’ concern over what might happent to Takuto if he doesn’t manage to collect Mitsuki’s soul is also explored, as is Meroko’s unrequited love and the mysterious past of Mitsuki’s doctor.

There’s plenty of humor in Full Moon as well and that also keeps the title from becoming overly sentimental. The shnigami have a habit of announcing themselves as if they are a bizarre comedy team, and Fullmoon’s manager is a drunk, which causes quite a few problems in business situations. Tanemura’s attention to detail is evident in the costume design and execution of all the characters. I enjoyed reading the first four volumes of this series very much, and I’m sort of kicking myself for not reading them earlier! I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

Friday Evening Shojo Beat Roundup

What are your weekend manga reading plans? I’m going to see if I can get through the entire Full Moon series. We’ll see if that happens. Here are some end of the week Shojo Beat reviews and commentary.

Chic Pixel writes about one of her favorite overlooked series, Meru Puri. She says, “in all honestly, MeruPuri is simply very appealing fluff.” There’s nothing wrong with appealing fluff!

Lori writes about newer title Jiu Jiu over at Manga Village, concluding “While I didn’t really care for Jiu Jiu on the first read, a second read for this review has made me think I should give it a second chance. With all the reflection over (hopefully), and Takamichi, Snow and Night now a team, there can be some actual story going forward.”

Manga Therapy ponders the eternal debate “Are cats better than dogs?” in a Natsume’s Book of Friends post.

Kelakgandy writes about Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden Volume 10, paying particular attention to the excellent female characters in the manga.

Kelakgandy also shares a Shojo Beat license request list with a variety of interesting choices. I will always vote for more Demon Sacred!

I take a look at my two favorite two volume Shojo Beat series, Flower in a Storm and Sugar Princess: Skating to Win.

Shojo Corner posts an appreciation of the main couple from Lovely Complex, Risa and Otani.

I’ve been happy to see participation from some blogs I wasn’t terribly familiar with before! I think I’m all caught up on round-up posts, but please let me know if I forgot to include anything.

Shojo Beat When It’s Short and Sweet

While the Shojo Beat imprint has plenty of longer series, for people wanting a quick fix of shojo goodness there’s always a two volume series. Single volumes, unless they are anthology or short story collections, often leave me feeling a bit unsatisfied as a reader. Two volume series give a story a bit more room to breathe, so I thought I’d talk a bit about my two favorite short Shojo Beat manga.

Flower in a Storm Volumes 1 and 2 by Shigeyoshi Takagi

Something that we don’t see too often in shojo manga is super powered heroines. I’m not talking about magical girls, with their accessories and transformations, I mean super powered in the sense that you wouldn’t be surprised to see the character show up at an open house for Xaviers School For Gifted Children. Riko starts out in this manga as the typical girl trying to lead a normal life in high school, but her plans are derailed because she has super-human athletic abilities and the unfortuante attentions of Ran Tachibana, an extraordinarily rich young man. This manga starts of quickly, as Riko’s school day is interrupted when Ran bursts in to propose marriage, accompanied by bodyguards and helicopters. Riko responds to this sudden protestation of love by leaping out a window, and Ran decides to make a bet with her. If Riko can evade him for 25 hours, he’ll stop chasing her. Flower in a Storm is filled with action and comedy scenes as Ran and Riko find themselves navigating their budding relationship while dodging assassins. Takagi’s art is dynamic and stylish. It is easy to believe that Ran is rich purely from the design of his sunglasses and suits. I’d love to see more series by Takagi translated over here.

Suger Princess: Skating to Win by Hisaya Nakajo Volumes 1 and 2

Nakajo is of course the author of the much longer series Hana Kimi. Shojo sports manga doesn’t often get translated over here, so I’m always curious to check it out, but I bought this manga as soon as it was released because I have Hana Kimi fangirl tendencies. Maya takes her younger brother to a skating rink and gets scouted by a coach due to her natural ability. Coach Todo wants to pair her with elite figure skater Shun, but Shun is determined to only skate singles and Maya doesn’t even know the basics yet. Shun’s a bit standoffish, and when Todo assigns him to coach Maya he’s even a bit harsh. But Maya sees figure skating as unique opportunity to learn how to excel at something and she throws herself into her practice. The obstacles the pair face along the way are very typical, there’s the threat that their skating rink might get shut down, and they have to deal with missing music when they perform in a competition. Even though the plotline isn’t very unique, Nakajo’s passion for figure skating is evident in the careful and realistic way she draws all of the skating action. This is a sweet story, even if it is a bit predictable. It is rated all ages, and would be a good manga choice for younger readers.

Wednesday Evening Shojo Beat Round-up

I started off my day with a discussion with fellow bloggers from Manga Xanadu and Heart of Manga!

Anna from Tokyojupiter was prompted to write a response post about a Shojo Beat title she doesn’t really care for, Honey Hunt, saying “In Honey Hunt, Aihara has managed to write a story where I found myself not caring about any of the characters. With Hot Gimmick, I still cared about whom Hatsumi ended up with, not so with Yura. All of Yura’s choices seemed equally awful to me, especially since none of them were really concerned about her as a person, but what she represented and what she could do for them.”

There’s a review of A Devil and Her Love Song on Good Comics for Kids from Lori, “A Devil and Her Love Song pairs up two tropes of shojo manga, the new girl who tries hard to make friends and the girl who’s sharp-tongued and difficult to get along with, and does so surprisingly well.”

Also, check out Manga Critic’s take on volume 4 of A Devil and Her Love Song!

Lori reviews Wanted Volume 1 at Manga Xanadu for Talk Like a Pirate day!

Experiments in Manga explores the melancholic Sand Chronicles.

Organization ASG explores Skip Beat Volume 3.

I reviewed the first four volumes of Gentlemen’s Alliance +

That’s it for Wednesday!!!