Requiem of the Rose King Vol 2

Requiem of the Rose King Volume 2 by Aya Kanno

This has been one of the manga series that I’ve been anticipating very impatiently, I enjoyed the first volume very much, and was eager to see how the story would develop in the second volume. Kanno is still in the initial stages of developing the story, but this volume provides more insight into the psychological pressures afflicting the people who rule during the Wars of the Roses.

If Richard didn’t have enough to deal with in the first volume, his situation grows even more unbearable when his beloved father is captured by the House of Lancaster and tortured horribly. Richard is left behind by his family’s army, left alone to deal with the torment of knowing his father has been captured. He crosses a line when he realizes that murder is the only way for him to gain the disguise and weapons he needs to journey behind enemy lines. Richard encounters Henry again when he’s struggling with the emotional aftermath of his actions. While Richard deals with his problems by enduring horrible visions and taking violent action, Henry’s passivity and desire to escape his responsibilities serves as a strong contrast to Richard’s more decisive nature. While Richard is clearly heading down a path of madness and despair, it also seems like his actions are going to have a strong impact on the world around him. Henry just wants to withdraw and allow his insane wife Margaret to make all his decisions for him.


When Richard discovers his father’s fate, Kanno’s paneling decisions underscore the emotional impact. Richard’s face is shown with a blank expression with his eyes hidden to underscore the shock he initially feels, followed by single panels showing his whole face, zooming in on his surprised eyes and clenched mouth as he confronts his father’s death. Richard begins a transformation into the monster that people have labeled him as before, as he’s absolutely consumed by the need for vengeance. As the events later in the volume unfold, Richard is portrayed in a more and more stylized fashion, becoming a living embodiment of a curse and less like the tortured human the reader encountered in the first volume.

The emotional stakes have certainly been raised in this volume, and Kanno’s illustration style is really stretched way beyond what I expected from the author of Otomen. There’s certainly more and more tragedy ahead, but Kanno’s take on the story of Richard the Third is a fresh and incredibly interesting adaptation. The tragedy and emotional trauma feels entirely justified and in service to the plot Kanno is developing. If you haven’t checked out this series yet, now is a great time to jump on and read two volumes with no waiting.

So Cute it Hurts!! Vol. 2

My biggest complaint with the first volume of So Cute it Hurts!! was that I thought it focused a bit too much on boy twin Mitsuru’s adventures cross-dressing as a girl, without as much character development or action for his sister Megumu pretending to be her brother at a school largely populated by juvenile delinquents. I was happy to see that in the second volume Megumu gets a larger chunk of the story.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed in Ikeyamada’s series so far is that the plot moves fairly fast. Developments that might take at least a two volumes to be explored in another series are quickly resolved, only for even more complications to pop up. Also, many of the issues that the characters have are so ridiculous, I find it extremely entertaining. Megumu pretending to be her brother grows closer and closer to head one-eyed delinquent Aoi Sanada, who turns out to have a deadly Achilles heel involving female company. If he so much as touches a girl, he immediately feels faint and sick. It is to Megumu’s credit that as soon as she finds this out after indulging in fantasies about revealing her true gender and confessing her love to Aoi, she vows to just remain at his side as a male because she doesn’t want to burden him by making him deal with her as a girl.

In the first volume there’s a hint that the deaf girl that Mitsuru likes, Shino and Aoi know each other. This is promptly explored in the second volume, continuing with the plot moving along quickly. Most of this volume will be very familiar to Hana Kimi fans, as Megumu’s natural cuteness shines through her boyish disguise, causing her classmates and Aoi in particular to experience odd feelings. Even though the romances in So Cute it Hurts!! are absolutely silly, there are a few sweet moments where it is clear that twins really do care about the objects of their affection. Overall, I was happy to see the additional character development I was hoping for and while So Cute it Hurts!! is not in any way profound, it is a nice brain candy type manga series.

Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 12

Dengeki Daisy Volume 12 by Kyousuke Motomi

It occurred to me as I was reading volume 12 of Dengeki Daisy that more shoujo titles should feature yacht kidnappings as standard plot points. Think about it! Instead of evil male models, frenemies, and surprise fiances, there would be random kidnappings taking place on luxurious ships! Wouldn’t it lend a bit of excitement and suspense to most manga?

I enjoy Dengeki Daisy so much because it portrays a slightly unconventional romance with some elements of techno thriller action. As you might guess, volume 12 features a yacht kidnapping, as Teru and her hacker/school janitor/almost boyfriend Kurosaki team up with the rest of the Scooby Gang to rescue Rena from her evil fiance Morizono. They storm the party in a variety of disguises. Kurosaki pretends to be a clueless foreigner. Teru gets all dolled up and stages an elaborate and hilarious distraction by pretending to be Morizono’s spurned lover. Hasegawa disguises himself as a waiter. As the group secures Rena, Kurosaki stumbles across yet another hacking conspiracy. Akira’s presence is almost negligible, as Kurosaki works to foil the plan to sell the Jack Frost virus and encounters someone else from his past – a person who started the tragic actions that lead to the creation of the Jack Frost virus in the first place and the death of Teru’s brother.

Dengeki Daisy always manages to cover a wide variety of emotional scenes in an effortless way. There’s the fun caper of the team storming the yacht where Rena is held captive, followed by a celebration afterwards where Rena and Hasegawa start inching towards the development of a new relationship. Nothing is ever simply happy in Dengeki Daisy for long though, as Kurosaki is horribly affected with his encounter with the mysterious new hacker. Kurosaki is in many ways the exact opposite of the cool shoujo hero, and the level of vulnerability he displays to Teru shows the reader just how traumatized he is as well as how much he trusts her. They’re one of my favorite shoujo manga couples of all time, and each volume of the series tends to show a new aspect of their relationship. Even though each conspiracy tends to lead to yet another conspiracy and I am wondering why every hacker that shows up in this manga has long bangs, after twelve volumes of Dengeki Daisy I’m still looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Shojo Beat Quick Takes – Oresama Teacher #10 and A Devil and Her Love Song #4

Oresama Teacher #10 by Izumi Tsubaki

Oresama Teacher has settled into a bit of a predictable formula, but Tsubaki’s particular brand of ridiculous idiocy never fails to cheer me up. This volume focuses on Yui, the ninja and erstwhile spy on the Public Morals Club for the fiendish school council. He decides that Mafuyu and Hayasaka have to endure his particular brand of ninja training, with hilarious results as his modern substitutes for traditional ninja training apparatus never seem to quite work out. Mafuyu has to struggle to get certification for the Public Morals Club, which involves tangling with Hojo, a student council lackey with a major crush on Yui. It is amusing, because while Mafuyu is incredibly dense when it comes to her own feelings, she quickly figures out the undercurrents between Hojo and Yui while Yui remains absolutely oblivious. Deranged ninja antics are always good for a laugh, and while it was nice to have the focus of this volume on a different character, I’m hoping that the next volume swings back to feature more scenes with Hayasaka and Takaomi. I’d also like to see some more scenes that show Mafuyu’s emotional development as she works through her issues with juvenile delinquency. Also, I feel like there was less face-punching in this volume than I’ve come to expect from Oresama Teacher.

A Devil and Her Love Song #4 by Miyoshi Tomori

Ordinarily I would start to get a little frustrated with a series where characters spend a large chunk of time discussing their feelings and interactions, but in A Devil and Her Love Song Maria’s forthright pronouncements and abrasive personality put her into some interesting situations. I might not feel as much of an emotional connection to this story as compared to some of my other favorite shoujo manga, but I do enjoy seeing how Maria’s presence seems to force the people around her to change and grow. In this volume, we are still dealing with the Machiavellian shenanigans around a school concert that the media is about to film. Maria’s evil teacher is planning on using her alleged “reformation” as a way of bringing favorable publicity to the school, and Hana is going along with the plan so she can show herself as a saintly angel of forgiveness. The only problem is that Maria is totally aware of the plan and decides to participate willingly just due to her desire to sing with her classmates. Maria encourages her previous bully Ayu to express her true feelings, with the result that the entire set-up gets derailed when Ayu can’t stand the blatant hypocrisy and lies around her. Maria faces even more obstacles, but she ends up putting “a lovely spin” on the whole situation, managing to salvage the concert. It’ll be interesting to see the fallout resulting from this volume, since various classmates have had emotional breakthroughs and learned more about themselves. I’m predicting that Maria will never be popular, but I’m guessing that her circle of friends will grow a bit and she’s going to treasure the loyalty of the people who actually appreciate her forthright yet slightly odd personality. Overall, this was yet another strong volume for this series.

Review copies provided by the publisher.

A Devil and Her Love Song Volume 3

I have to say, the cover for the third volume of A Devil and Her Love Song is one of my favorite recent manga covers. It does a great job portraying the characters’ personalities as Maria is calmly holding her necklace while Shin looks all flustered by the attention of being on a manga cover, throwing up his hand as if he is fending off paparazzi. Like Dawn of the Arcana, A Devil and Her Love Song is one of those shoujo titles that keeps getting better with each subsequent volume. The first two volumes grabbed my attention with the novelty of Maria’s personality but there were still occasionally some awkward transitions and exposition that sometimes took me out of the story. Volume 3 dives into a common situation in shoujo manga, the mean nice girl, but it does it in a very entertaining way that is made more interesting by Maria’s reactions to her new “frenemy.”

Hana is a returning student who has been absent for Maria’s arrival due to illness. When she meets with her teacher she comments on Maria’s confiscated necklace and receives it as a gift. All the mean girls welcome Hana back, and when she’s introduced to Maria Hana manages to call attention to Maria’s facial expressions by immediately bowing and apologizing because she thinks Maria is mad at her. When Maria asks Yasuke about Hana, he comments “She’s a nice girl” but Maria notices that his expression looks forced. When Hana notices that the class is divided over the upcoming choral competition she exclaims “We should be doing this together!” Maria thinks that Hana is the exact opposite of her. Where Maria comes out and says exactly what she’s thinking, Hana gets her way with passive-aggressive niceness and faux apologies. Maria thinks that even though Hana says nice things, she feels uneasy. Hana’s true motivations come out when she sees how close Hana is to Yasuke, and Hana ends up making things even worse for Maria by playing the victim whenever she has an audience. Maria struggles to hold together her choral rehearsals and her new core group of friends continues to encourage her. It was nice to see that Shin had more of a role in this volume after the Yasuke-centric volume 2.

A Devil and Her Love Song
is turning into a very entertaining soapy manga. There’s plenty of underhanded plots to be found with the teachers and students that target Maria, but the fact that her reactions are almost the exact opposite of what the reader would expect from a more typical shoujo heroine makes this manga seem fresh. All the Machiavellian plots are balanced out by the slowly growing friendships that Maria has with Yasuke, Shin, and Tomoyo. There’s a core element of sweetness that balances out the fact that Maria is navigating in a very cynical world. I’m looking forward to volume 4 to see if Maria’s unique solution is going to save her concert and repair some of the toxic relationships in her school.