Sunday, August 9, 2009

One-Shot Review: Escape

This isn’t your most conventional style OR genre of yaoi manga. Some of you may criticize me for this, just as this manga has been criticized, but there’s a strangeness to this manga that I find attractive. Moreover, I think its awkward and slightly disturbing elements make it high on the list for me.

Backtrack a little bit, though. I’m not saying I agree with the violent nature of this manga, but it’s a passion that I can’t ignore. Therefore, you can’t ignore it either. Because I said so. And why should you agree with me? Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you?

Because of the somewhat controversial nature of this manga, I’m not going to vote it as One-Shot of the Week (It’s a bit early for that too, although I always like to write in advance). Even as an afterword, the mangaka apologized for spewing out domestic violence straight off the bat.

Alright, I’ve been building on it for long enough. Once I get into the review you’ll realize all that hype is for nothing. Well… almost nothing. There is violence in this manga, but not to the extreme limits you’d think. It’s still violence as a product of aggressive anger, and that’s what puts the shock in it.

Shouta is your average college student, working part-time at a video store and as gay as can be (did I mention this was yaoi?) for one of the costumers. He spends the first couple of pages fawning over this older guy who comes into the store in his business suit and his glasses and his cute smile – oh it’s wonderful.

By the way, this is my random paragraph to go off-track and mention little tidbits about the artwork. Starting… NOW! Okay, I have to say, I really like the way this guy dresses. I’m not very girly and I’d dress like that. Casual and comfortable with random accessories (headband/scarf/bracelet) to add a nice touch. It looks like you have good taste but because it’s so relaxed and easygoing, it looks effortless. However, I can’t understand why he’d be required to wear an apron at a video store. It’s not like he’s going to be serving DVDs with some tartar sauce on the side. *sigh* This isn’t a fashion blog. I’ll move on to REALLY talking about the artwork now.

This is a really attractive style to me. I’ve noticed – especially with yaoi – that this is the new face of manga. It’s not the traditional ones where the eyes are really larger than life, the hair is elaborate and the expressions are drastic and dramatic. Maybe it’s because it’s targeted towards males. Manga evolves and you can already pick up on different styles, and this is a look that you can notice as being less whimsical and more focused. The lines are hard, sharp and clean. No screwing around. It makes it seem less flimsy and more… well, let’s admit it. More manly. I’d have to say, I like the yaoi style like this much more than shoujo. However, girls don’t really look that good drawn like this most of the time, which is why this is a style that is usually set aside for the good ol’ man-to-man.

Back to the story! :D Although Shouta’s totally hot for this guy, Shiraishi, there’s little to gained from his side. Ah, unrequited love. Hurts like a bitch. But Shouta’s not lacking in the sex department. Oh noooo. Enter Kuraki, Shouta’s… friend with benefits – if we’re going to put this delicately.

Oh wait, this is Mho-Shoujo. When have I ever been delicate? Screw that, they’re fuck-buddies. That’s what FB really stands for. Not Friends with Benefits. Not facebook. Shouta goes over to Kuraki’s and they do the nasty. As soon as you see Kuraki, you already know who’s on top. Besides, Shouta looked terrified as he was about to go in. The room. Go in the room, okay? GOD, you’re all a bunch of perverts.

Anyway, they get busy, Kuraki has a smoke, Shouta falls asleep. Silly little boy, he mumbles Shiraishi’s name in his sleep. Kuraki hears it. The thing about Kuraki is that he’s one of those squinty characters. He’s constantly got his eyes narrowed – giving everyone the most evil look his muster. Like “I hate you all” So at this moment, he turns to Shouta’s sweet sleeping face, gives him that look, and looks away.

At this point, you’re thinking ‘Uh-oh’ because you can tell nothing good’s going to come of it. And you’re probably right. The next time Shouta goes over to Kuraki’s to get some (Just SOME. You know?), Kuraki’s waiting to confront him. Actually, you wouldn’t call it confronting; Kuraki doesn’t even want to hear what Shouta has to say. So after taunting him, cornering him, threatening him with cigarette burns and a bit of yelling, Kuraki knocks Shouta to the ground.

Whoops, we have a bleeder.

By this time, the scene is getting a bit grim. Major non-con starts happening, Shouta’s freaking terrified and sporting a pretty bad nosebleed. If the bleeding didn’t get to you, the thrusting will. The blood on the floor, the sweat, the sound effects are pretty disturbing. This is borderline rape, and you’re reading this not sure of whether you’re supposed to be enjoying it or be shocked. I said ‘borderline’ because at that point, Shouta has a sort of epiphany – if you want to call it that. In the heat of the moment, he can’t remember Shiraishi’s face. He then turns around and sees Kuraki with almost a tender look on his face.

Now, all the while Kuraki had been shouting at Shouta. Yelling that Shouta likes it rough, will never be satisfied with anyone else – and you can understand why a few minutes later, he has that expression on his face. If Kuraki was the heartless bastard we would normally make him out to be, he wouldn’t have been provoked (and even threatened) by Shouta’s mentioning of someone else – even if it was in his sleep. This is the passion I was talking about in the intro. You can tell Kuraki genuinely cares, and I think the anger and the acting out stemmed from fear. I think Kuraki actually freaks out at the thought that Shouta would want someone other than him. It’s a crime of passion! Literally! See? You’d have to learn to appreciate the more odd ways of showing someone you care about them. Like I said in my disclaimer – here on Mho-Shoujo, we don’t discriminate :3

How Shouta reciprocates Kuraki’s actions is sweet. The ending, to me, was perfect by one-shot standards. A lot of people say that in situations like this they feel dissatisfied with what they call ‘open endings’. It’s true that it’s open, but in the sense that it says “What happens, happens! This is the story, there is a future, and we’ll leave it up to you to interpret what you think will happen!” A lot of people don’t understand that concept of ending one-shots. It’s a standalone chapter for God’s sake. It’s supposed to leave it at a point you can call the end, but not say “Yay! Happy ending!” but more like “Yay! Wish them luck for the future!” I mean, you don’t say “Happy birthday!” to someone and that’s it, they die. Noooo, it’s “Happy birthday and many years to come!”

See? I love putting things into perspective.

So, kidlets, if you’re not easily shocked, don’t feel bad about a bit of blood (it wasn’t THAT much), into a bit of rough sex, then pick up this one-shot and find out about it’s ending ;)


(Image © Kyuugou. None of these images belong to me)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Manga of the Month: Mars

Okay kidlets, it’s time for one of the best (and lengthiest written) features of this blog – Manga of the Month! This is one of the best mangas I’ve ever read. It’s up there on my all-time favourites, and because I’ve been more in touch with it recently, mostly because of Laura’s review on her blog, Heart of Manga (Which you can check out here) It’s an excellent review and I suggest you give it a read, really, because I really love the way she structures her reviews, gives different ratings and generally puts it all together.

When I read her review, I sat there thinking ‘I’ve seen this before – this is all way too familiar’. Once I got over my ditzy moment, I remembered that I’d already started reading this manga. I also remembered that I had adored it. I think this manga should be (and probably is) a shoujo classic. I suggest you read Laura’s review first. Tell you why… Her review is a REAL review. She summarizes the events and the feel of the manga wonderfully, giving you a synopsis and review separately. However, since this is Manga of the Month, what I’m doing is gushing about it – like the shoujo fangirl that I really am. So what are you waiting for! Click the link! :D

As for my bit, there’s more than enough gentleness, drama and passion put into this manga enough to develop into something amazing. I’d have to say, I’m quite biased when it comes to older manga. I’m not TOO fond of the art and usually shoujo back then was quite different. HOWEVER (and that’s a big however – even bigger than capital letters) I decided to stick it out, and once I got past the first couple of pages, I couldn’t care less. In fact, I enjoyed the wispy light feel that this manga has. I’m still not entirely happy with the artwork – sometimes Kira (the main character)’s eyes seem to be too big. Her expression in the first few chapters seemed pained – ALL THE TIME. It bugged me.

Wait, wait, wait. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ‘This is gushing?’ WELL, I’m taking my time. Working from the bottom up. I have a tendency to complain, remember? I’ll save what’s left of it for the next Ugly. This manga’s role as Manga of the Month will not fall short, trust me. By the way, what’s up with my unbearably long intros? I end up ranting about the manga without even talking about it properly. Isn’t that stupid? See? I’m doing it right now, too! I should shut up.

So on to the fawning over this excellent manga. This is four chapters of shoujo goodness, and a whole lot of drama. Something I loved was that the tension and suspense built up beautifully in this manga. It rises and falls, and there are moments that make you hold you breath.

I think the first meeting of Kira and Rei is quite lovely. She keeps pressing her dislike for Rei on you, and it’s interesting. I think she unpicks every single thing she doesn’t like about him. But being a certain way and having a certain mindset of her own, Kira makes assumptions about him. She probably has reason to, but I think it was the foundation for their relationship. There are all these stereotypes as to the kind of person Rei is, but he works pretty well at beating down any misconceptions about his personality.

But first off, let’s introduce them properly. Rei is your typical bad boy. Drives the bikes, plays the women, smokes the cigarettes and only goes to school because he’s promised his dad. Otherwise, he wants to be a professional motorcycle racer – and as he confesses later on in the series, you don’t need school for that. Kira is the quiet art student who doesn’t really show any emotion – not because she doesn’t care, but she doesn’t see the point. Something Kira says in the beginning of the manga strikes me as quite insightful. She says “This classroom is so strange to me. I’m just different. No one pays any attention to me. But that ‘s okay… It’s easier that way.” NOW. Tell me that’s not insightful. I think part of the reason that Kira resists Rei in the beginning and the way he seems to want to talk to her is because she feels that it’s drawing attention to herself. Being a person who’s kept quiet so she can stay in her own quiet space, this must be a big change to be hanging out with the one guy that gets the most attention.

The development of Kira’s outlook on Rei happens pretty quickly, if you ask me. By the end of the first chapter, she’s got feelings born inside her and she’s starting to see him differently. Rei’s the kind of personality that’s high on life – literally. Because of it he takes chances and pushes every boundary possible. I can see why someone like Kira would find him distasteful to begin with.

Notice I said “to begin with”. This is only the beginning! Of course! There are events that ensue, which I think are great. For starters, there’s your typical shoujo plotline here. Timid, quiet, different girl is getting attention from the most desired hottie in the class, and other people start noticing. Anyone want to take a guess? :D

She becomes the target of other girls’ jealousy, and they proceed to bully her. Now, I’ve read manga bullying. This is on a whole ‘nother level. NOT because it’s more extreme. I mean, what manga was it that they wanted to crush her hands with dumbbells? Oh, wait! It’s this one! :D So, it IS extreme. I’ve read mangas where they splash cold water on the girl or lock her somewhere or put ink on her clothes… Kira’s had her shoes incinerated and her fingers nearly broken by these girls.

Honestly, I don’t know what high schools these people go to. To be honest, when I read manga, I’d like to think that it teaches me something about Japanese culture. Like calling asking someone out “confessing” or karaoke or the nature of bentous and Valentine’s Day chocolates. I’m not sure I like what it’s teaching me about high school and dealing with girls that you don’t really like. I’d hate to think that it’s actually like that. Where I went to high school, it was more about whether you were lame or not. However, by the last 3 years of school people outgrew it, and it was more about personal feuds than hating someone for the sake of being a grade A bitch.

These girls are grade A bitches – signed and certified. Nonetheless, this stands out because it’s not just “Why are you hogging all the attention?” – but there’s actually something personal to it. The main bully actually had a thing for Rei, waited for him for ages (even when he had a girlfriend) and he didn’t do so much as breathe in her direction. Not that this justifies what she’s doing, but it just makes it much less of a cliché.

Okay, although I’ve already revealed things about the plot, this to me is considered a real spoiler, so either light your screen on fire (to avoid reading) if you don’t want spoilers. Or you can be boring and do the conventional thing of clicking on something else.

I think I didn’t completely understand the random exchange between Rei, Kira and Tatsuya, Rei’s best friend. It served a very strange purpose in contributing to Rei and Kira’s silent attraction to one another. In Kira’s case, it’s the early feelings of love creeping up on her to whack her over the head with a plank. Whatever happened to Cupid, right? That’s old-fashioned. Love walks with a new swagger now. Anyway – Rei… this is the part I didn’t get. Maybe it’s the fact that he didn’t exactly recognize his attachment to her (I don’t think he even fully gets grips on it in this volume) but what’s up with the whole setting her up with his best friend? Granted Tatsuya has a thing for her, but STILL. Aren’t her feelings coming out on the surface – even just a little? Or is it because we see her narration that it’s clearer to us? Because I think her growing feelings seemed increasingly obvious. She has a quiet dependency on him, which is sweet.

However! I think she doesn’t realize it yet, either, so there’s a balance. I don’t think it’s the cute naivety that Aozora Yell has, but in a sense, they share a common ground. How, you ask? Let me walk you through it. Without comparing this to another manga (in the sense of bringing up names and events) there’s the fact that both protagonists have become quite attached to each other without necessarily being an item, or being all fluffy and cute and blushing around one another. This is a good thing, really, because it makes for good development. Something Kira said about her feelings towards Rei blew me away. I think it was beautiful in the sense of admiring someone and having that kind of adoration, rather than being romantic feelings being involved. At one point, Tatsuya sort of confronts (in a non-aggressive way) Kira and asks her whether she’s in love with him. She says she isn’t (filthy LIAR) and that she just has a crush on him (That’ll do… for now). But it’s what she says next that super-inspirational to me. She says “I love Rei’s outlook, his strength. I probably would’ve felt the same way if Rei were a woman.”

THAT is what I loved. That’s what took this manga to a whole new level for me. There’s loving a manga, and then there’s loving a manga. Here we are, constantly breaking away from character clichés, plot clichés, and now: relationship clichés. Think of your warmest, fuzziest shoujo manga. This isn’t it. That’s the beauty of it. The fact that the mangaka can forge a relationship that isn’t entirely based on “oh em gee he gives me flutterz lol” is admirable – and refreshing. It makes me feel like I’m reading something real, and not the slightly unrealistic – and yes, admit it – superficial relationships that seem to be based on attraction that the majority of shoujo titles seem to flock to. Therefore, big ups to this manga. It gets major brownie points in my book.

Wow, this has turned out to be my longest post yet! Talk about lengthy. Which is why this review is coming to a close. Speaking of closes, the end of the volume, anyone?

Spoiler. Oh, yeah, you knew this was coming. How would I talk about the ending without some major spoiler being slapped into our faces? Moving on? :D

Some threats, Tatsuya letting go of Kira – blah blah. Do I care? Well, I probably WILL care about the threats later – because despite Rei sticking up for Kira, it’s not over. In my opinion, it was healthy (and such a relief) that Tatsuya forgot about her. Saves us all the time, doesn’t it? Yeah, there was all that random stuff, and the kiss and some boring dialogue and then it ends. WHAT THE HELL! :D

The kiss? Yes, the kiss! Oh wow, that was a breathtaking moment. And how they dealt with it later… that was even better. In the sweet scent of the night, swept up in the moment (this is BEFORE Tatsuya gave up, by the way) Rei kisses Kira. However, the next day he tells her to forget about it because it’s just some habit he picked up in the states – blah blah blah. What impressed me and REALLY made me smile was Kira’s response. Him just trying to (maybe) earnestly tell her not to take it the wrong way is one thing, but Kira’s cool and cheerful reaction was perfect. She’s totally in the zone, she gets it, she doesn’t get weepy or needy or insecure – she just smiles and goes “Yeah dude, it was totally in the moment. Don’t sweat it!”… but that’s just how it sounded in my head haha. But that’s more or less her reaction. And Rei is so surprised and probably very taken by her confident, open-minded and easygoing response. Well done, Kira – break the shoujo heroine cliché!

This turned more into a review of the manga than I expected! Rather than simply highlighting what I loved – which I think I did plenty of – I’ve given you a lovely review of the first volume at the same time. You know what that means, don’t you? That I’ll continue to review the volumes of this manga! I hope this has given you something to look forward too ^_^ Stay sharp, kidlets!


(Images © SOURYO Fuyumi. None of these images belong to me)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One-Shot of the Week: Soshite Hibi Koishiteku

Another short and sweet manga. This made me smile to no end! It’s a confused, bashful, sweet love that’s captured in a mere 6 pages. Now, you guys shouldn’t accuse me of becoming lazy (the past couple of one-shots that I’ve reviewed have been quite short in comparison to your average story) because it’s much harder to unpick a great story in such a short space. In fact, I think it’s even more difficult to tell a great story in such a short space, which is why I’m more than glad to be able to commend these one-shots with One-Shot of the Week.

Lovely story we have going here. Actually, it’s not even a story. It’s a situation. I think part of the charm of this is the fact that this may be a situation that just about anyone can relate to. It’s more about conveying an image or a feeling than telling a story. Here, it’s about taking that leap, I suppose.

The title translates to mean, Love for Days to Come. Our hero, Fujimoto is quite a distant guy (as he describes himself) and he’s just been confessed to by another guy (This is more Shounen Ai than Yaoi) and he’s not exactly sure what’s going on. Remember how I said that these kinds of one-shots are situations that people could relate to? It’s pretty cute that you’re getting the side that not many people consider. Normally, people would be on the other end of the stick, wondering what they should say or whether or not they should ‘confess’ (I love how manga culture uses that word! It makes it sounds SO dramatic <3). Now, has anyone watched Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist? That one quote about the Beatle's song "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" - how love is about that simple little desire - wanting to hold someone's hand. Has anyone seen this movie? If not, go watch it! Right now! Stop reading this review and watch that movie!

Why are you still here? Have you watched the movie yet?

For you good girls and boys out there who’ve had the excellent taste and sense to have already done so before reading this, I’ll continue with the review :D Nagaru asks to hold Fujimoto’s hand, even if it’s just for the day. See? The movie was right! It’s the simplicity of just that one act of closeness. There’s a little bit of insight where Nagaru explains why he likes Fujimoto (I’m not going to ruin the ENTIRE 6 pages of this manga for you) which I thought was pretty sweet. He continues to blush about it (how could anyone resisit? *swoon*) and Fujimoto continues to get flustered – which is cute in its own sense. He has absolutely no clue what he’s doing and once he goes along with it he finds that it’s something entirely unexpected, but not unpleasant :)

Pick this sweetheart up! No regrets, trust me. And remember, you heard about it here first, right on Mho-Shoujo ;)


(Images © YUMEKA Sumomo. None of these images belong to me)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Ugly: Flying Bunny

Ugh, what a mess. Nothing excuses a really messy manga. Not even cute artwork. The only thing I’ll give this Ugly is that the artwork was great. Otherwise, it was all over the place.

Honestly, I don’t really like writing reviews on mangas I don’t like, which is why I’m not going to spend too much time on this. The thing about this is that it’s actually quite randomly put together. If this was a well set out manga, I wouldn’t be writing this as The Ugly, but just as another review. This had the potential to be a good story, but it fell off in certain places.

For one, I’ll admit that I’m biased. I really really don’t like teacher-student relationships. I never really had a thing for any of my teachers in the sense that I’d fall in love with them. I had maybe a couple of cute teachers when I was at high school, but that’s kinda where it stopped. I find this a tad bit creepy and it makes me cringe every time I pick one of these up.

Actually, I’ll have to say, I read a one-shot that was worse than this. I mean, really terrible. I completely hated it – and it was another student-teacher one. It would’ve cleanly beaten this as The Ugly, but I disliked it so much, I deleted it before even thinking about it. Anyway, let’s see how this one goes. It isn’t as Ugly as can be, but once I unpick it, it’ll feel like it :P

Our story is about this chick who likes to run. Because I’m quite exasperated with this manga, I’m not going to bother with names – mainly because I didn’t take the time or initiative (or even just give a shit) to remember their names. She’s in love with her running coach – who in turn used to be in love with her mother when HE was a student, and the mother was the running coach. So we have chick, mom, teacher. Mom doesn’t really appear. Chick is really in love with this guy and she’s waiting to graduate first before she confesses to him – in a way, it’s like she’s learning from HIS mistake, when he lost his position as a student by confessing to his teacher – her mother. She says that when she saw him as a teacher, he didn’t recognize her and stuff, but she really totally digs him and maybe one day she’ll be able to tell him, once she’s graduated. And he’s all, shouldn’t you be in love with someone? And she’s all blushing and doki doki (although the sound effect wasn’t there. BIG minus points! I LOVE the doki doki!) and he’s trying to make heads or tails of it.

Yadda yadda yadda. She’s all “I’m going to wait to tell him!” He says “You can’t confess to a teacher!” she’s all “but I’m in love!” *blubber blubber* and he’s like “You’re her DAUGHTER!” – like suddenly, in THAT instant he remembered. Or her knew it all along! So then he’s all, oh, I almost couldn’t control myself because you reminded me of your mom. WOW. Way to flatter a girl. I’m not saying looking like your mom is a bad thing, I’m saying, this guy can’t stop thinking about you because he can’t stop thinking about your MOM. I mean – how great does that make you feel? Lovely, I’m sure. Very lovely.

She gets upset and loses her mojo, so she goes for a run. She nearly collapses and he finds her and takes her home. Nope – HER home (in case you smutty ones out there were getting a bit excited). She has some strange random dream about a bunny saying something wise, but she doesn’t really know what, or didn’t really hear. I thought this would be some kind of development or something interesting to work on – but that’s where it stops. It was completely random. She just dreamt about a bunny saying something to her and that was it. You never really find out what, there was no concentration on it, and it seems like it was something of no significance whatsoever – which is why we’d assume it was never mentioned again. So why is it in there? The mangaka seemed to be in the mood of drawing a couple of bunnies, jotted them down and then decided to make them a plot device – that went absolute nowhere. I don’t understand that. Was it just an excuse to have a bunny in there just so it could justify the title? COME ON. Mangas have the most random titles ever. None of them need justifying. I mean, the one-shot I reviewed before was called Just Stay Gold. What’s that mean? No significance! What if in that manga they had a single frame of a gold statue, just so the title would make sense? Didn’t happen, did it? Gah! I’m someone who picks up on things like plot devices and symbolism or imagery. When you put something out there for no reason, there’s nothing worse! But let’s not dwell on that. (Although I actually did.)

The next day, they get called in because there was a report that they’d been seen together. Technically, he’d been doing his teacherly duties by taking care of a student and it was FINE. No violations. But for some reason, she lies about it. I didn’t really get it. What’s she trying to do? Protect him from… what? Maybe it’s the paranoia that he’ll lose his job or something – but still. It’s strange. She then ends up telling him she’s not going to give up. And then that’s the end.

Tell me if I’ve been too harsh, but that manga seemed like it had no substance. Their relationship was non-existent because Teacher seemed hung up on Mom and not wanting to screw up, and Chick was having a one-sided thing. I think maybe it was supposed to be some insight on “Forget the past! Think of the future!” but that never really happened. I don’t even think the teacher was convinced. He never seemed to have any true feeling for her. There was no shoujo development of any kind. Half the time he was like “I really don’t want to do this” and she’s all “Okay, I’ll ignore you and touch your face!”

I really didn’t like this.

So as for it being really Ugly… It is. Don’t waste your time! The only thing I liked was the fact that the bunnies were really cute. The artwork is the only thing this manga has going. There weren’t any ‘moments’ or fluffy shoujo lines, and using lovely artwork to distract you from the fact that the story sucks – well, you didn’t fool me this time. Good luck the next time! Stupid bunnies.


(Image © FUJITSUKA Yuki. None of these images belong to me)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reviews: Aozora Yell - Ch5

The first chapter of the second volume has finally been scanlated, translated and delivered into my loving arms :D I have to say, I had been anticipating this chapter almost as much as I anticipate the Nana chapters – although I’ve been pretty disappointed with the releases of Nana these days. Days? I think not. More like weeks. I am feeling quite let down. Waiting for that manga to come out is like waiting for nail polish to dry. It’s agonizingly long and all you want to do is be able to finally scratch your nose or something. My point is – I’m waiting for those chapters to come out so I can get over the suspense and be able to concentrate on other things.

Anyway! This isn’t about Nana! It’s about Aozora Yell’s latest release. Now, it actually wasn’t what I was expecting in the shoujo sense of it all, but I’m quite impatient and I should learn to remember that with the development of couples, it takes time. Especially this couple! One that is so blissfully unaware of their attachment to one another. It’s lovely. I think one of them needs a conk on the head to be able to realize what they mean to each other.

How the chapter starts is really cool. I think Ono is quite cute about the fact that she and Daisuke are “special” friends. Ono’s best friend makes a comment about the fact that Ono’s a little more than sweet on him. Ono, true to what their relationship is like, is completely oblivious.

And then we leave it at that.

I thought it was kinda cute, but it lasted shorter than I would’ve liked. But then again, I have a huge heart for cute little stories that make less than a little sense but have a whole lotta shoujo – so of course I’m going to be impatient. After that, there’s a sweet little scene of exchanging numbers, and Ono ships herself off to band camp.

I gotta say this, that camp is brutal. I’m never playing the trumpet. You have to do all THAT? I think not. I’m a runner, but they’re making it quite hardcore for music. No wonder it’s a top band. They really put in the effort in every aspect! I’m talking like this is real. Someone pull me out of the Fangirldom, please?

Anyway, the moral of this chapter is further building up Ono’s confidence. It was quite interesting to see her struggle with her self esteem and be able to pluck up her courage to talk to people. When she ends up doing so, everyone thinks she’s adorable. I thought so too! She’s able to call Daisuke for moral support, she realizes he’s been there for her even when she didn’t particularly go to him first, and it puts a seal on the fact that they are one REALLY, REALLY adorable couple.

However, there’s one bit in this chapter that I wasn’t particularly fond of. When Ono tells everyone to get along, she ends up falling asleep straight after. The girls start chatting and think she’s quite the pretty young thang and that she’s cute and stuff – and then they make a comment that to me seems a bit out of place, and a little malicious in its own way. Is it just me? They remark that she seems like the type to meddle in others’ business. Now, Ono has good intentions, she’s incredibly sweet and she’s like this little puppy everyone wants to cuddle because she’s cute and naïve and quite oblivious. I get that they’d think she’s a bit clueless – because she kinda is, but that seemed uncalled for. Not in the sense of “How rude!” but in the sense that it came out of nowhere. Also, it’s a bit foreboding. If you think about it, this is foreshadowing something that’s to happen in future chapters. You can just feel it. A comment like that isn’t just in passing, and mangakas have a habit of throwing stuff out there for you to go “Whoa, hold on… What’re you trying to say? What do you mean by that?” This is one of those things.

Well, that’s the chapter. She seems to have been accepted a bit more, but I think the biggest struggle Ono will have in this manga is fitting into her band – more than her relationship with Daisuke. Although I’m seriously waiting for some juicy plot device to put more focus on them. Shall we make bets on all those clichés? Sudden, random ex-girlfriend? Him showing her his soft side and her magically realizing her feelings? A sudden intervention of a new love interest (For either one of them)? I could go on, but I’ll leave it up to your imaginations – and the next chapter! Have fun kidlets! Don’t shoujo too hard! :D


(Images © KAWAHARA Kazune. None of these images belong to me)

Monday, July 27, 2009

One-Shot of the Week: I Am A Piano

What a gentle, simple, beautiful manga. All of seven pages, it was more than enough to push this to one of my favourite mangas, and to One-Shot of the Week. Drawn in clean lines, touches of plain block colours and a simple expressiveness, it’s a very sincere style for a very warm one-shot.

Now, scepticism always argues the telling of a story in 7 pages. Like, where’s the depth? Development? Structure? Well, normally, I’d agree, but this is the first time that I’d say that if this was longer, it would’ve ruined the manga for me. This manga is deep enough, sensitive enough, and is touching without being long.

It’s about a piano (thank you Captain Obvious) depicted as a young woman. See, initially I would’ve said a young girl, but you consider the age and experiences of the piano, and you’d say she’s a young woman rather than a girl. The first page is lovely, her introduction is quite simple. Her narration is interesting, because it really gives you a feel that she’s not human, in the sense of showing emotion. However, her emotion is revealed through the artwork. The lovely juxtaposition of the emotion in her expression and the lack thereof in her words gives you an insight to her as an object. She’s not exactly human to feel emotion, really, but she does feel towards things because she’s aware as an object of where she is and who is around her.

Her story is simple. She simply explains where she has been and who she’s met. But like I mentioned before, if you want to fully absorb it, you should observe the art more. The full appreciation of this manga came from appreciation of the drawing. Notice the things around her, who’s ‘playing’ her, and the environment she’s in. I thought this was transformed beautifully considering she’s in human form. At the piano school she’s pulled around by the children, and once they’ve grown the hold her hands gently, because they understand her better. I think that was one of the times I thought; she’s a woman, not a girl. The way she watches the kids grow up – you understand that she’s older than she seems. At the time of the war, you see her side of the bar atmosphere. She talks simply, but the pictures give you a bigger picture.

Now, the slight pseudo-shoujo in this is simply when she is in a concert hall. She is approached by a young boy who plays a specific song. I thought this was sweet. Although it’s not referred to specifically in the text, you feel it. Actually, forget anything being referred to specifically in the text. Here, what she says in the narration is simply a small foundation – the rest? Leave it up to the drawing. There’s so much more there that is not literally spelt out. Here, there was a certain shyness about the boy, and a nervousness. Like young love! Like touching a lover for the first time. He seems unsure, shy and hesitant. But they dance :)

The ending is sweet. I loved her expression once she meets him again. She puts it so simply that he was a better piano player – but reading her expression and his… It made me sigh! Like the thought that she is old, worn out, but she is appreciated and also found her resting place – as a piano.

This is not a journey you want to miss, I assure you. It’ll take a short time to read, of course, but once you’ve read it once I suggest you go back page by page and go through it again. Just drink it all in. Ignore the text, even. Just observe her expressions, her reactions to people. I’m quite in love with this one-shot :) So please take a little time to fall in love with it as well.


(Image © NAKAMURA Asumiko. None of these images belong to me)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

One-Shot Review: The Miyama-Uguisu Mansion Incident

This is one of the cuddliest things I’ve ever read. It’s not exactly shoujo, but it IS warm and fuzzy and exciting, so it gives you more or less the same feeling – in a more innocent and pure way. However, if you ask me, the title’s a bit random. But who cares? I certainly don’t. This was the sweetest thing I’ve ever read.

I can’t believe how amazing this is. First off, let me say the art just blew me away. It’s detailed, it’s intricate, it’s warm and it’s concentrated. You can just see the attention and effort that’s been put into this. The expressions are wonderful, the action is fluid and the entire feel of it made the artist side of me take a deep breath of content – it was perfect. The story is wonderful, and call me soft or whatever, I don’t care, but I got goose bumps at a couple of points in this manga.

Actually, you don’t really get grips of the story in your conventional ‘event – event – funky plot device – event – climax – ending’ setting. It’s more like ‘Here’s a bunch of characters, stuff’s happening that we won’t really explain until later, but enjoy the events at hand for now.’ – And you know what? I like it! The story itself is resolved wonderfully and you won't be disappointed. The colour page is lovely, but it bothers me when they’ve got that cover-page text going “Oh no! What’s going to happen?!” and “Going on a spiritual journey to be FREE!” or some junk like that. All that shit just ruins it for me. I know it’s supposed to be teasers or something, but I don’t feel teased at all. Just really tested.

But as far as story goes, I liked this so much that I’m NOT going to tell you what it’s about. I suggest you pick it up and read it. It’s the fluffiest, most heart-warming story ever and if you read it without even knowing the general plot (like I did) you will not only be pleasantly surprised – you’ll also be gushing all over the place! Guaranteed aww-fest! You want to know the best part? It’s not because it’s one of those ‘couples’ that say sweet things to each other all the time or the guy being all “Because of my inexplicable and unjustifiable love at first sight for you!” It’s actually a warm story that isn’t completely shoujo. Actually, don’t put it in the shoujo category at all!

Here’s where the fun starts. The first page introduces you to a random guy in a long black coat. Honestly, I love what he’s wearing. His whole look, it’s all well put together. That’s just massive kudos to the mangaka mainly because I find a lot of manga heroes tend to look the same or their looks are ‘themed’ similarly. Does anyone share that sentiment? Here, his outfit’s simple, not over-designed or blinged up like some idol (notice how manga heroes, especially in fantasy or supernatural manga, have WAY too many man-accessories?) This is devoid of all that, and his face isn’t that typical manga man-face. That long-faced, pointy-chin, piercing-eyes, too-much-amazing-hair type face that I’ve complained about before (I complain lots about manga stereotypes, don’t I?). Granted, he’s got pretty sharp eyes and his own fair share of luscious hair, but his face is small and his smile is sarcastic, which I find mischevious and alluring. His whole persona seems to reek of dark humour and broody moments – with just a smattering of sheer, smiling “he’s a bastard” vibes. But in a good way! The kind of guy you think is a bastard just because he does everything with a smile. As the story progresses, his utter devotion, loyalty, determination and strength just grow on you. I want to take a bite out of this guy. Interpret that as you wish :P

The only thing that disappointed me about this manga was the character of our ‘heroine’ Monaka, who, to be honest, (wow that’s a lot of commas) was not the most impressive character ever. She had no presence whatsoever. She simply jumped right into the helpless, clueless, damsel in distress-she-doesn’t-know-about personality. She kinda flitted about going “what’s happening?” and in the sense of the course the story took, you can’t blame her. However, there was a moment that opened up a chance for her to pull herself together and prove her courage by throwing away her fear and just ACTING. She has a complex, and I thought she’d overcome it by plunging right in – sort of like how I got over my fear of rollercoasters by going on the scariest ones first. Now I can’t get enough of them! But instead of jumping onto that stupid rollercoaster, you know what her ‘moment of redeeming courage’ was? She yelled. She was all “Gah! I hate you! Go away!” – that kind of yelling. Umm… Well… *cough cough*

I’m sorry, but that’s kinda pathetic. I just kind of sat back and went, “what are you doing?” Needless to say, I wasn’t too impressed with her bit, and if she wasn’t the main character, I could’ve done without her in the story. Is that being too harsh? Maybe! Because I absolutely adore this one-shot. Perhaps I should rephrase and say I adore it from our lovely hero’s perspective. That’s probably why this didn’t make it as One-Shot of the Week. (Actually, I’d planned on that, but once I started reviewing it and unpicking it a bit more, I realized it didn’t quite make the cut. Even now I’m doubting my decision and wondering if I should push it up anyway! But I just can’t do it at this point, as much as I adore this.)

To wrap this up, I’d have to say the ending was perfect. It didn’t have that typical fairytale ‘happily ever after’ vibe to it, but a half unconventional, half cute, but completely satisfying ending. Read this manga! I insist, really. One-shots are good because although it’s only a short story and maybe doesn’t have ALL the development in the world, it’s the manga equivalent of having just one scoop of ice cream as opposed to a whole sundae. So get yourself a scoop of this! It’s got all the toppings! ;)


(Images © KATOU Kazue. None of these images belong to me)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Ugly: Tenshi No Kyuu

Okay, the title is self-explanatory. The Ugly is basically manga I’ve read that you just SHOULDN’T. Because it was that bad.

Now, I read the quickie on this (The quick review. You’ve gotta pick up the terminology as we go :D) and I thought, why not give it a try? It’s ecchi, and I have no problem with ecchi usually, so I got this off the internet and decided to give it a go.

Bad idea. By the time I’d gotten through half of it, I was skipping pages. It was just… smut. I’m not saying I don’t read smutty stories – but that’s my point exactly. Keyword: ‘stories’. Not smut for the sake of smut. It’s some guy who loves checking out women’s asses as he walks up the stairs at the train station every morning or whatever. And there’s this one woman that he sees everyday whose ass he favours the most. And one day, she trips, and her ass falls right onto his face. Of course, our little friend here is reeling with happiness. He’s also reeling down the stairs. And because of her ass, he breaks his arm. God, I wish I had that much power in my butt muscles. I’d be ruling cities by hip-bumping buildings.

Of course, this woman can’t believe the mishap, and decides to cook for him until his cast comes off, because until then he can’t use his arm. So for a month, she’s been going to his house and spoon-feeding him – literally. He’s wonderfully happy, of course, but the month soon comes to a close, and she bends over to get a bottle of something sinfully alcoholic to celebrate. It’s only right that the mangaka should cheesecake everything, because her skirt is way too short and her panties are 3 sizes too small. And he can’t cover up his month-long boner anymore. Typically, in any ecchi smutty situation, the wine spills all over his crotch, drawing attention to his woody.

Here he gets all awkward and embarrassed and she consoles him with a blowjob. Lovely! Then she reveals she knew he was watching her all along and decided to strip. Then some stupid sex ensues with lots of unidentifiable fluids everywhere, some random butt action and pseudo-69ing.

Well… maybe I asked for it, because usually that’s how ecchi stories go. But somehow, this one seemed even more pointless, because during that month there seemed to be no development between the two of them. Then, quite suddenly, on the last day, one minute it was “I’m so sorry I broke you arm with my ass! I need to be hospitable!” and the next it was “Look at my ass!” and all the sex was just too smutty and kinda cheap if you ask me. What happened to his cast? Wasn’t his arm broken? Suddenly he’s having some hardcore butt-humping on his apartment floor. Can you say ‘random’? Nice. Now say ‘crappy one-shot’. Lovely, you’re doing brilliantly. Now put them together and you’ve pretty much summed up this Ugly.

I mean, seriously, the artwork didn’t even make up for it. It was cheesecake after bloody cheesecake and stupidly annoying fan service shots that weren’t even desirable. The kind that makes you think, that’s just overdoing it. Every time they show the top half of her body, cleavage and erect nipples seem to be unavoidable. *sigh* whatever shall we do? And don’t get me started on her ass. As he’s walking up the steps, the shots of her ass are just ridiculous. You know it’s smutty when every woman seems to camel-toe – even from behind in this case. It was absurd. I only flipped through to the end to assess the ending situation. It’s another fan service shot with her naked in an apron. I don’t think you need fan service after the previous display. They had every angle covered.

Because this is The Ugly, I’m not going to put an image up for this. It’s that bad. I couldn’t care less if I never see this again. If you ever come across this, move on. It was terrible, no point to it other than stupid pointless sex. If that’s what turns you on, then whatever. But I’d rather have my ecchi moments with a good story attached. See you on the friggin train, dude, and don’t stare at my ass. I’m not going to cook your dinner.


Guilty Pleasure of the Month: Chocolat

Warning: Read this at home. If you have an aversion to terribly clichéd plotlines, over the top moments and cheesy lines, I suggest you don’t read this in public. Do not read if you are prone to tearing your hair out from frustration with silly characters. Side effects include loud cursing, eyes bleeding, nostrils flaring and mild-to-strong cases of sheer exasperation. Addiction may also be unavoidable. Do not operate heavy machinery after reading this manga. You have been warned.

Whoever’s read this manhwa already – don’t criticize me! Some of you out there might absolutely LOVE this and wonder “Why is it a guilty pleasure? We have open love for this!” and some of you more sceptical readers will think “Oh, really? You’re reading THAT?” but hear me out. It’s called ‘guilty’ for a reason – and it’s also a pleasure, so don’t look at me like I’m not enjoying it! (I actually really hate it, but I can’t stop reading it. Is this making any sense?)

Chocolat is a manhwa that I came across and thought, will I regret this? I did, in a way. Because, against my will, I got hooked. It’s a guilty pleasure because it’s one of those typical shoujo plots. And somehow, I have an aversion for girls who are after idols and pop/music stars. That’s why I couldn’t read Skip Beat! (Which I know is one of the most popular shoujo mangas out there, and people are going to hate me for this, but I just couldn’t get past the first volume!) It’s a plot that’s so terribly out there, and idolized too much. I felt the same way about Sensual Phrase, which I dropped too. But I’m not here to be speaking about other manga – let’s stay focused!

I’m not really going to review the story too much, but as Guilty Pleasure of the Month (of June! I know we’re in July now, but I was a bit late) I’m going to tell you what I hate, and what I love to hate, which led to my sick sick addiction to this.

What I hate, like I said, is the fact that it’s an idol chase. This little series put-together is another manhwa for your plate, and it’s basically about Kum-Ji, fangasming over DDL, a boy band to end all boy bands. However, the fan club’s full, so she figures she’ll join the rivaling band’s fan club (Yo-I), because they bascially play at all the same venues. This is her ploy to meet the love of her life. So far so good? WRONG. E-Soh, one of the band members Yo-I finds out, and basically takes advantage of the situation.

Kum-Ji meets other members of Yo-I, finds them strange, unappealing and maybe JUST a little messed up. She has an encounter with her beloved Jin Ryu of DDL only for it to be ruined by E-Soh. You can easily see E-Soh having a thing for Kum-Ji, and that’s just dandy. The idol falling for the fan, every girl’s dream, bla bla bla.

When E-Soh finds out Kum-Ji’s secret, he threatens to expose her and ban her from the club – unless she does his bidding. Isn’t that so unbelievably typical that you’d pry your eyes out with a spoon? (Read the warning again for further information. If you lose your eyes, Mho-Shoujo will NOT be held responsible) To top it off, SHIN Ji-Sang had the nerve to pull out one of the most cliché lines ever. Upon blackmailing her, E-Soh opens up his mouth, and spews the most annoyingly common control freak line: “Okay, but I own you now.” GAH! It’s almost as bad as the “He stole my first kiss!” line! I wanted to do more than scoop my eyes out. I wanted to play golf with them at that point.

This manhwa takes fangirling to a whole ‘nother step. I mean, what are the chances that any of this happens to this one fan – in a million? And that she’ll magically catch everyone’s attention, become the source of other fans’ hatred and jealousy, and will become helpless (but more desirable) in the idol’s eyes? You know what? I’ve read way too many of these. I bet you 10 bucks she’s going to get bullied by other fans, be rescued by the asshole, who will be so gentle with her she’ll be surprised by his ‘other side’ and start falling for him. She’ll hate him in the beginning for being a controlling bastard, but it’ll wear off in time. You can just see where this is going. The whole “I’ll follow your every command, I’ll resist at first but in time I’ll succumb to your LURVE.” situation. I can SMELL it.

However, I DID cheat and do a bit of reading on it. Seems the story is not so conventional, and to ruin it without spoilers, that’s not exactly the track it takes. In fact, it takes a completely different track altogether. I’ll have to admit, I’ve only read the first volume, but I enjoyed it, and enjoyed hating it. I think the fact that the plot won’t be so predictable renewed my faith in this. Because Kum-Ji’s character is that typical ‘I’m going to be outraged by everything that idiot does! And maybe later fall for him!’ type of girl, you really can’t stand her. All she does is whine about the other characters, and especially E-Soh. E-Soh is your typical dominant male who plans to control everyone because he’s just fabulous like that. The other characters have yet to make more of an appearance really. You have E-Wan and Eun-Sung (also from Yo-I) who I think for the sake of the fangirls (in AND out of the manga) are rumored to have some secret or not-so-secret yaoi relationship. Broadening the horizons? I don’t know. I’d love to see how they play THAT one out.

I can’t give this too much credit or too much reprimanding since I’ve only read the first volume, but I hope you can see where I’m coming from. Right now, it looks way too cliché to me – but I wouldn’t be a shoujo reader if I didn’t secretly enjoy it :D I’m going to close off before I gush more about how much I dislike this. So all you readers out there shaking your heads in dismay: you know you love it.


(Images © SHIN Ji-Sang. None of these images belong to me)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Review: Blooming: Bring It On! - Volume 1

I must say this as a starter: I love love love manhwa. And this is no exception. If I wasn’t so impatient, this would be the Manga of the Month (even though technically, it’s manhwa), but I think I should wait and see what July yields before making a decision. This manhwa has two separate titles, if you’re going to search for it. Blooming, and Bring It On are what you can look this up under.

First off, a small rant about manhwa. Drawing-wise, it’s got subtle differences from manga. For example, the eye-to-face ratio. What I mean is, the size. In Manhwa, the eyes tend to take up more space on the face. Why do I notice this? I don’t know. The fact that manhwa is left-to-right just messes me up and I find myself disoriented a lot of the time. I’ll read a whole page right-to-left and wonder why it doesn’t make any sense before I realize my mistake. Other than that, they’ve got similar themes to manga, so it’s not too much of a difference to read. Oh! And I like the way they draw the irises. Don’t ask, simply observe the next time you find yourself picking up a manhwa – and make sure that manhwa is this one :D

This story is funny, deliciously mischievous and on its way to one of my top shoujos. So far, I’ve only read the first volume, and will do a review based on that, and keep updating as I go. Our lovely main, Miha (thanks to her brother) is a sporty, martial arts-doing, tomboy. She basically doesn’t have much of that girl appeal, and does things like run to school and relieve stress through physical activity. Enter Seung-Suh, gorgeous, lethal with an attitude of his own. From the very beginning, these two don’t get along. Just a quick side note: I was really pleased with this manhwa because of the names. Normally with manhwas, I can never get a good hold of the Korean names, and I find them hard to remember and pronounce. Here, the names are pretty simple, so I was a happy Mizzy.

SO, she finds him passed out in the girl’s changing rooms one day and freaks out, wondering who this freak is. Through her brute strength, ends up carrying him along with his colossal hangover out of there. Since it’s the locker room, he gets a glimpse of her goods (well, just her bra, but you know what I mean :P) and when it turns out he’s in her class she freaks out and calls him a perv.

Here’s where his ‘danger’ comes in. He’s got a lovely face – and he knows how to use it. He turns everything on Miha, saying he wasn’t feeling well and she tried to take advantage of him, and that she’d ‘exposed’ herself to him. Naturally, everyone believes him – and that’s where the rivalry starts.

Before I continue, I bring your attention to Yun-Jin, Miha’s cousin. Drop dead gorgeous, silent, bosses Miha around, and is wildly sought after. It’s a bit of an oddity that Miha listens so willingly to whatever Yun-Jin says, and regardless of her tough exterior, Miha never backs down or complains. Ki-Ri, Miha’s best friend, doesn’t really approve of this, but there ya go. There’s a brilliant moment here where Seung-Suh butts in and reprimands Yun-Jin for using Miha and for not doing things for herself. However, even at that point (when you’re rooting for Seung-Suh, the only person who’s got the balls to throw it back in that ho’s face) Miha defends her cousin. There’s gotta be some back story to that – I can feel it.

On another side note, Ki-Ri seems to have quite the thing for Mu-Jin, Seung-Suh’s best friend. I’m really excited to see where that’ll go. He seems to be that ‘strong, silent’ type, maybe not paying attention to her TOO much. Not out of ignorance, but just one of those guys. It makes me giggle because Ki-Ri really makes attempts to be close to him, and I think that’s a sort of comic relief.

As IF Miha and Seung-Suh aren’t funny enough. What is it about couples like this that attract me? Something like Love Com, they can’t stop going at each other. Seung-Suh’s got some sort of past (I won’t reveal too much since I’m not going to hand out spoilers like candy – as much as I LOVE candy) which contributes to his danger. He’s got a very odd way of showing kindness towards Miha, especially in the one situation that he tried to help her. It was genius and hilarious – and insulting. He seems to handle Miha with a lot humour, if not that general rivalry they’ve got going. That’s the best part. I think he gets this inner giggle every time something happens between the two of them. Miha takes every opportunity to sabotage him, because she simply can’t trust or like this guy. Or does she? :D I think it’s one of those unconscious attractions. Unlike Risa from Love Com, I think it’s gonna take her a WHILE before she grasps it.

However, the end of the volume had me doubting, and also begging for more! Once I’d finished the first volume I jumped to find the second – only for the internet to crash on me. Perfect timing, yes? However, I’ve gotten my hands on the next two volumes. However, I can’t help but feel a bit bad that I’ve gotten so attached to it. It’s like falling in love at first sight. Is it real? In this case, I can only hope so, because a manhwa with this much promise should hopefully go well! I’ll be back with more tales of my sordid love affair with Blooming: Bring It On! :D


(Images © BAEK Hye Kyoung. None of these images belong to me)

One-Shot of the Week: Okubyou Na Kimi No Te

Everyone likes a good bit of trauma. Not like head trauma, but personal trauma that slowly eats up your insides and consumes your soul. Okay, I didn’t mean for it to come out like that (or maybe I did :D), but you shoujo readers should know what I’m talking about. There’s that one incident that sticks with you forever, affects everything you do, changes your attitude towards people, alters your behaviour, character, reactions and interactions, makes you feel terrible, worthless, angry, confused, frustrated or just plain scared… don’t you just LOVE manga? I know I do. And I know I love this manga too, which is why it’s our One-Shot of the week.

This 40-page wonder starts out really gently, I feel. Shino and her man-thing, Takeomi are talking about Valentine’s day, he teases her a bit, and then says some really sweet things. Not the smooth operator sort of sweet things. He’s the kind of guy that all you girls would want to cuddle and offer him a cookie. On a more serious note, he’s a really sweet, decent guy. He’s really considerate and says some odd things about wearing gloves and holding hands. This is explained by the fact that Shino doesn’t want to be touched by a guy (not even holding hands) until after she’s married – or so she says. Takeomi is the guy that genuinely cares about her, so even though she tells him this when he confesses to her, he says it doesn’t matter. I don’t know about you, girls, but that makes me want to rip my heart out of my chest, slap it onto a silver platter and offer it to him. How many guys have you met like that recently? xP

Moving on! We find out that Shino’s abstinence isn’t because of some vow of celibacy, but because of the aforementioned soul-consuming, inside-eating personal trauma. She’s given up her body once before to some sucker with a sick smile and since then, she can’t stand being touched by any guy. Well… That blows. I think I can understand her feelings. I mean, if your first time was forced, uncomfortable and with a guy that fancies himself a smooth operator, you’d be distrusting too. Through one way or another, Takeomi finds out and Shino’s forced to face her inner demons, and that past demon turns up again. Kudos to Takeomi, I love the way he dealt with this guy. But anyway, I’m not going say any more than that. The manga is short, as it is, so unless I’m going to sit here and tell you the story, I’m going to cover other areas of the manga now.

Shino’s character was nice because it wasn’t too overdone by the mangaka. She isn’t tragically dramatic about her trauma, but she’s obviously affected by it, so it’s a great balance. The love is there, so it’s not the catastrophic heroine obsessing about herself and how hard she’s had it. She honestly tries for the sake of moving forward for herself and for Takeomi.

Takeomi’s this cuddly guy with ‘love me’ written all over his face. However, when he’s serious – he’s serious. He’s considerate, gentle and wonderfully patient and understanding. The two make a good pair, if you think about it.

The artwork is gentle. I just realized I’ve used that word a lot. Well, if there’s anything that describes this manga, it’s ‘gentle’. It happens in the wintertime and you really feel it. It’s quiet and still. The artwork is beautifully done and detailed just enough to draw you in. I think the flashbacks were cool because they were literally flashes. You don’t get the whole “this is exactly what happened so I’m going to spell it out for you”. Sometimes we shouldn’t be so spoon-fed :P Other than that, I’d have to say there are some pretty amazing angles in this. Sometimes when you have every frame clear and obvious, it gets monotonous. Here, you have a lot of close-ups, shifts of focus (the manga starts with a view of their feet) and also blank frames where it’s just text. This doesn’t make it ambiguous, which I like, but it adds to that winter feeling. Quiet, still and gives more insight to the character’s state rather than their actions. But when it comes to action, there’s a brilliant moment towards the end where Takeomi snatches Shino away, and I felt the rush of his movement wonderfully.

So it goes without saying (although I wrote this to say it) this one-shot is definitely something you’d want to read. So pick this up sometime and enjoy! And you might want to get that trauma looked at. Cheers!


(Image © TOUDA Yoshimi. None of these images belong to me)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Review: Love Com - Volume 3

How’s THAT for an intro picture? Are you curious now? I hope so! :D

I’m going to race through volume 3 because it’s not my favourite volume in the whole world. It’s not bad, it’s still got funny moments, but I absolutely ADORE volume 4 that I can’t wait to get to it! But because I love volume 4 loads and loads and loads, I thought I’d do a separate review because it’ll be twice as long as this one, probably. Yes, yes, I know my reviewing organization isn’t terribly fabulous, but I do get it done.

Okay, first chapter of volume 3 seems to resolve the Haruka issue. His confession wasn’t very impressive, lawl. His presence itself is quite an interest and an annoyance to me. His pursuing Risa seemed all very oh em gee in the beginning, but afterwards, I kinda wished he’d shut up. Maybe it’s the fact that he was getting in the way? But his exchanges with Otani were classic. I’ve mentioned that before, but there’s no denying it, it was FUNNY.

It’s here that we start to see Risa paying attention to the fact that she likes Otani. After Haruka’s ‘confession’ and Otani’s animal-management (I will say no more about that. Read the chapter and find out :P It’s not as bad as it sounds) Risa realizes she shouldn’t use Haruka as some sort of distraction for her feelings towards Otani. SO the chapter ends nicely with “If I told Otani I like him, I wonder how he would react” So you definitely know at this point that she’s seriously thinking about it and considering it. Isn’t that lovely?

At this point I’d have to say the major spoilers start. As if I haven’t said too much already, but it’ll start with little ones and slowly build up. By the time I reach volume 4 I’m afraid you’re going to have to do an Oedipus and scratch your eyes out unless you don’t mind reading spoilers to the MAIN plot of the story. Ye have been warned. This is not for the frail of heart.

Right now, starting the second chapter of the volume, there’s ANOTHER character that decides to drop in. Of course there are going to be obstacles! Before the main characters could ever get together, you have to realize the fact that it never comes easy. Enter, Seiko (there’ll be spoilers about her in a bit) who just can’t keep it in her pants when she’s around Otani, and she kisses him. Of course, everyone’s shocked and the Seiko-complex begins, spanning over two chapters.

First, because I’m a complete spaz and my mind’s in ADD mode right now, I’ll have to quickly give a run-through of the rest of the characters, just so I don’t make references that people get confused about. The group of friends includes Risa and Otani, Chiharu and Suzuki, Seiko and Haruka (less predominant roles, really) and Nobu and Nakao. Nakao is Otani’s best friend. He’s this quiet fella mostly and seems quite mellowed out. Nobu is his girlfriend, Risa’s best friend, and one of the coolest characters, in my opinion. She’s quite sassy, always well put together and she’s the voice of reason. Gotta love her!

So, everyone freaks out about this pretty young thang that’s appeared to ruin Risa’s chances (which she’s still doubting a bit) and Nobu tells Risa that she needs to fight back. But in the midst of it all, we find out the truth about this insatiable girl.


That insatiable girl is a boy.

So when I said she couldn’t keep it in her pants, I wasn’t joking.

Lawl. So Seiko is really Seishiro, but she’ll never tell you that. She’s like Isabella from Paradise Kiss – she feels like she’s a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and she’s actually this feminine pretty little… Has it hit anyone yet that Risa was beat by a GUY and that there was some indirect random yaoi moment in this? I’m sure Otani felt fabulous about it. Or not? :D

After everyone (except Otani) breathed a sigh of relief, the last chapter of the volume is basically resolving the fact that Seiko’s a guy who’s comfortable being a girl and that no, they’re not disgusted and she and Otani are cool. Risa is surprised by Seiko’s tolerance to the fact that she’s really a guy. It really doesn’t bother her, because regardless of that fact, she’ll still admit her feelings for Otani – still be honest about it. When her confidence falters Risa encourages her to be herself, because she's so awestruck by her resolve. In turn, Risa learns a little lesson too. End of volume.

WAIT! NO! Mini-spoiler, perhaps?

End of volume is Risa taking Seiko’s example and is being comfortable and honest with herself about liking Otani. This is the first time she’s not cat-and-mousing in her head – she’s definitely said it! Not out loud, though. Sorry to burst your bubble, but all that’s happened is she’s admit to herself the way she really feels instead of being in denial. It’s a warm moment, and drawn out in quite a funny way, making it really light. You feel like it’s an honestly young and purely lovely moment. Yay for that!

And so begins one of my all-time favourite volumes. Watch out for a long-ass review of volume 4! What was that? You thought this was long? Oh dear child, you have much to learn :D But granted, I did say I’d race through it. Oh, how I lie. I never race through anything, do I? Well, I make no excuses! :D See you at the next review!


(Images © NAKAHARA Aya. None of these images belong to me)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

One-Shot Review: Don't Stay Gold

Wow, okay. I have a love-hate relationship with this manga. For a one-shot, it’s high on the list – but not too high. The story, from what I could follow of it, seemed pretty genuine, so I thought it was an enjoyable read. For you yaoi fans out there, it’s not too explicit, and most of it leans more to shounen ai in the general aspect of the story. The drawing – flawless. I loved the art on this and it’s completely my style. Just enough balance between the physical and the emotional in the sense of expressions and movement, and you’re surrounded by controlled lines and neat detail. Right here you have a slick 40 pages by YONEDA Kou that tell a pretty good story in such a short space – but it does have its draw-backs.

I say ‘pretty good story’ based on what I caught of it. The dialogue’s a bit hard to follow sometimes because you have no idea who’s saying what and you’re left guessing. This was a major turn-off for me because essentially, I thought it’d be a fantastic story. That’s why I can’t exactly review the story too much – because I’m not entirely sure of it myself. All I can give you a review of is the progression of our lovely yaoi couple.

The bread and butter of the story is that some Yakuza boss has the hots for this one guy that’s paying off debt for him by fighting – or killing or something. Somehow this guy, the ‘Mad Dog’ gets himself beat up, and has to stay with the doctor for a while (because he gave the boss a big fat NO. Like “Hells to the NO, you’re NOT getting in my pants” kinda thing.)

Okay, the doctor’s not really gay to start with, the Mad Dog seems like he’s questionable (he doesn’t really reveal much in the beginning) and the boss is like a dog at the butcher’s – he wants some. The doc just won’t admit he has a thing for this guy, but as they stay together, some sort of connection develops between them.

Mad Dog (real name Kuga) seems to be young, the type that was abandoned and made his way by fighting. You know, survival of the fittest, only the strong survive, hunt or be hunted, yada yada yada. The doc (real name Kageyama) is not really in the closet. There was no closet. He’s just a guy with a burn fetish who saw Kuga’s burn marks, touched him in a completely yaoi way, then decided to make a closet – and then cover the closet with a tablecloth and deny the existence of it. It took a while for Kageyama to come to term with his feelings, but when he did, he acted on them pretty well. In an oddly similar way to Indigo Blue, Kageyama took some time to figure out what he was comfortable with. His denial phase could be deemed slightly adorable, but you never know. Some people might just think “STFU and get it over with!”

The chemistry between Kuga and Kageyama has its push and pull, which made it interesting as to where it was going. The story doesn’t follow a particular seme/uke relationship that most yaoi fans die for – but you’d be surprised at how well this works. It’s a lovely relationship between them, but I feel slightly unsatisfied in the development side of it. There could’ve been more, I think. There were some big steps forward, but it felt rushed, like running before you learn how to walk. I would’ve loved to see all the baby-steps in between. Granted, it’s a one-shot and normally you shouldn’t ask for much in 40 pages, but I’ve seem better moderated development in other stories that leave you way more satisfied. For that reason (although I did consider it) this isn’t a one-shot of the week. Well, at least it tends to your yaoi needs ;)

SO, pick this up for some enticing yaoi moments, and let it pull on your heart-strings (at least once or twice :D). Stay sharp, my feathered friends! More reviews will come your way.


(Images © YONEDA Kou. None of these images belong to me)

Manga of the Month: Aozora Yell

Well all you lovers, shoujo lovers and shoujo mangas alike (yes, I DID call you a piece of manga), I hope you're ready for the Manga of the Month!

For the month of June, I'm going to have to deem Aozora Yell the Manga of the Month. Now, I don't know if it's because it's relatively new that it hasn't gotten much recognition, but I've been pretty surprised by the lack of coverage this manga has had so far. Coming from KAWAHARA Kazune, the brilliant mangaka that brought you Koukou Debut, Aozora Yell (Blue Sky) looks just as promising as its predecessor - and maybe even more so. So far, there are 2 official volumes out in Japan, and only the first has been scanlated and translated. But just from that one volume, it's gotten me even giddier with excitement than Koukou Debut. The fangirl in me has been awakened!

So, this delicious little number (it seems I'm hungry again) starts with a heart-warming colour page. The main character, Ono-san, starts off by looking at her shoes. I love these shots. It’s simply from her perspective, looking down at her feet. Well, it’s not hard to guess – our heroine is this timid girl (not shy, just timid) always apologizing for herself. She’s gone to this specific high school because she’d seen a brass band perform at the high school baseball finals and, well, she got inspired. She says, “Oh yeah, bitches, I’m going to be in that band.” But, in more polite terms, and not so many words. Basically, she’s always felt that it’s what she wants to do – cheer on the baseball team with a proud and motivating performance. And she wants to play the trumpet!

So she’s there at the school on her first day, staring at the trophies the school’s prestigious band has won, and she meets Daisuke, our leading man. What a dashing fellow he is – tall and all that junk. Here that little cliché I love to talk about appears. Ono-san talking to Daisuke is like a fairy talking to a giant. There’s a colossal difference in their height. But it’s just lovely. Here it brings out more of that timid air to Ono-san – but it doesn’t bring out weakness. As the manga progresses we’ll discover more of the strong side Ono-san has tucked away inside her shoes or something.

Daisuke is that gentle giant type, and for some odd reason, it pleased me to see his lack of luscious locks. He feels more like a boy in that sense. You know when you pick up manga and the boys have all this tousled hair just nestled about their face and tumbling across their forehead? I think it bothers me if a boy has nicer hair than I do. He’s the type that smiles no matter what, encourages Ono-san because she’s the musical half to his baseball dream, and as the manga goes on, you can tell he completely adores her.

Now, let me make this clear. The thing about their adoration, which is the same thing that attracted me about this manga, is that it doesn’t stem from romantic feelings. The root of all adoration comes from the fact that they’ve resolved to aim for the same dream, thus they’ve supported each other quite well. In the beginning it was mostly Daisuke supporting Ono-san – until Ono realizes that Daisuke has a human side to him, even if he IS smiling all the time. Sweetly enough, this drives Ono-san to try harder and become stronger, so that Daisuke won’t hide his struggle and actually share it with her.

The charm of this manga so far has been their attachment to each other, without necessarily basing it on being romantic feelings. It’s heart-warmingly pure and puts you into that fuzzy shoujo mood. As if your heart just had some nice warm hot chocolate with marshmallows :3 Ono-san’s attachment to Daisuke in turn makes her realize her dependency on him, and therefore she resolves to make more of an effort so he can depend on her. Not your typical helpless heroine, is she? That’s what I love!

One last note: I think Daisuke’s reminder to Ono-san to be more confident was just adorable. Since she’s always looking at her shoes, he draws a smiley face on her shoe – which she ends up naming her trumpet after. Whoever thought! It’s sweet. Later, as you realize Ono-san’s growing confidence, those ‘feet’ shots become less frequent – and she realizes too. There was one point that made me smile when she just goes “Oh no! I looked at my feet!” as a sort of reminder that she should hold her head high =) The Daisuke effect works!

Artwork? Brilliant and heartfelt, as expected from Kawahara. My only concern is that it takes the same turn as Koukou Debut, where you could see her attention slipping a little towards the end of the manga. If she keeps going strong, she’ll add some really nice spice to this potentially well-drawn manga.

The ending to the volume is just perfect. I love the phrasing. Instead of it being all “I think I like him” or the typical “What is this feeling?” it’s a simple phrase that makes you smile quietly. She simply says “My shoulder is warm” Ono-san contemplating her feelings towards Daisuke is quite honest and isn’t drastically out there. She just really wants to get along with him (as she states in the manga).

I shouldn’t say much more since this is supposed to give you an idea on the manga of the month, rather than a complete review of it. However, since I love it so much and since it’s on-going, I’ll start to review the chapters as they are released! :D So ya’ll have something to look forward to, and I’m going to have some toast since I seem to have the munchies and it’s a long way to lunch :D


(Images © KAWAHARA Kazune. None of these images belong to me)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Review: Love Com - Volumes 1 and 2

Volumes 1 and 2… Are you afraid? Well, maybe you should be! Get ready for some mad reviewing :D

Okay, Volume 1 was the introduction, and started covering most of what I’ve said in the general review. If you skim that you’d be able to get a quick idea and we can jump straight into the deep end of this kiddy-pool.
WARNING: Here there be spoilers. Well, I’m reviewing the story, so it’s like reading a summary, so you can read on if you haven’t read the manga and you don’t mind knowing the plot. However, if I’m about do reveal something SO undeniably juicy, I’ll put up another spoiler warning.

Right. You have the introduction of the two characters, Risa and Otani) They don’t get along, but when they find some common ground (they totally dig each other’s friend) they decide they can get along, join forces and put their backs into it. Risa has the hots for a guy taller than her, Suzuki, while Otani thinks that Risa’s friend Chiharu is a tasty little morsel (this is the second time I’ve referred to Chiharu as edible. Maybe it’s because I write these so close to lunch time?) By the end of the first chapter, they’ve made failed attempts to go for gold. In-between bickering like a 60 year old couple, they’ve spent their time enjoying each other’s company while completely forgetting about their goal.

Now, does anyone see what’s coming? No wonder everyone thinks they’re going out! They spend their time freaking out about the pool and fangasming over the waterslide together. Everyone’s kinda going “Only those two would be simple-minded enough to find that amusing” I’D tease them too.

As they keep trying, they realize Suzuki and Chiharu may have an interest in each other, rather than in Risa and Otani. One of my favourite moments happened when Chiharu reveals that because he’s so short, she doesn’t consider Otani to be a guy. Risa’s pep-talk with Otani just made my day. I think it was great because they’ve destroyed that helpless girl image and had Risa nail him a good one.

SO, Otani encourages Risa, and she increasingly admits what a lovely person he’s turned out to be, rather than some short jerk. I think it’s that tickle in the back of her head that doesn’t become as predominant until the second chapter is over. Now, I would’ve loved to have explained how this little tingle with Risa happened, but I think Laura of Heart of Manga (linked on the homepage!) captured the essence of the first ‘moment’ between Risa and Otani (no matter how small) in her Memorable Manga Moments, linked here:

I couldn’t have put it better myself. By the second chapter they’ve realized their efforts are in vain, and they’re just going to give it up. Chapter 3 is a huge fight just to get Suzuki to confess, which happens just nice and smoothly (Random note, I did NOT like what Risa was wearing when they went to the movies. Is it just me?) Suzuki and Chiharu hook up, Otani and Risa bicker again, and decide to make a wager. Who’s going to score first? Let’s find out, shall we? Chapter 4 is where they start trying. After some weird make-up issues, odd hairdos, a love machine that confirms their compatibility at 100% (Suzuki and Chiharu had a funny moment with that one) and some synced food, a goukon presents itself. Risa goes thinking she’s gonna score big, ends up finding a dog, a bird and a monkey (not literally) AND Otani. Lovely! It’s here that we unlock the source of all fangasm and unity between Risa and Otani: Umibouzu. No, I don’t need a tissue, it’s a band that only Otani and Risa seem to know and LOVE. After karaoke like mad people, they fangasm some more, and Risa makes this naïve little comment about Otani being good looking and just because their compatibility is 100% doesn’t mean there has to be love involved. Pssh. Girl, are you shitting me? Don’t kid yourself :P

At this point, I’ve written SO MUCH and I’ve only spoken about the first volume. So I’m going to speed through the rest. Volume 2! Dun dun DUN! Lovely plot device every shoujo mangaka loves to pull – the ex-girlfriend. Impossibly cute, sweet and nice, she turns up and puts a twist on EVERYTHING. At this point, Risa is playing cat and mouse in her head about liking Otani (“He’s great! He’s wonderful! He’s so nice! He’s cool! He’s – what? NO, I don’t like him!”) and then this little wonder comes along. She looks like Chiharu, turns out she was the basketball team manager at Otani’s old school and she dumped him. WELL. Since I’m fighting to keep this short, let’s go into Tarzan-Jane mode. Otani has Umibouzu tickets. Invites Risa on Christmas. Ex-girlfriend appears. Invites Otani to Christmas party. Risa freaks out about ex (“I don’t like him but I’ll take time to feel slightly subdued and maybe threatened!”). Risa encourages Otani to go and ‘reconcile’ with the ex. Risa goes to concert alone. Risa falls and cuts her knee. Risa on the verge of tears. OTANI! (I just had to put it like that :D) appears. Risa realizes Otani ditched ex for her. Risa bursts into tears. Otani holds her hand and takes care of her boo-boo.

NOW. In the middle of all this, Risa is slowly realizing her feelings because by the end of it, she says “Something might develop” Ooooh you know you want it! However, the volumes not over yet! If you thought Risa conquering the ex was one thing, conquer THIS.

Risa and Otani have been getting quite nicely until a new character appears! Haruka! Some childhood friend of Risa that she saved lots of times because he was such a pussy *cough cough* I mean, ‘girl’ that he got bullied lots. Okay. What does he want? He wants Risa! Like.. wants-wants her. I have to say, comedy-wise, some of the times I’ve laughed the hardest was with all the interaction between Otani and Haruka. It was so beautifully priceless that I couldn’t help myself. Volume 2 ends with Haruka telling Risa he’s going to confess to her soon. NOT that he’s confessing, no no no… He’s GOING to. Thing is, I really like Haruka’s presence as a character because he’s the boy dependant on the girl. That rarely happens – shoujo boys are usually manly and rigid beyond everything else, and the only time the girl would be dominant is if she was some sort of dominatrix, or completely madly evil out of her mind. But Risa’s not, so it’s a change.

After that, then like any other respectable mangaka, she leaves you hanging. That’s exactly those 2 volumes. Wow, to think I actually considered doing 4 volumes in one post. I’d be here all day, and so would you. So I’ll leave it here and you can simmer in all of that for now. I’ll be rolling in with Manga of the Month tomorrow, so watch out for that! It’s a recent release that’s been catching eyes and turning heads and will be one of the up-to-date mangas that I’ll be reviewing in the future on this blog! Take it easy, and don’t overdo the doki-doki moments :D


(Images © NAKAHARA Aya. None of these images belong to me)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

One-Shot of the Week: Indigo Blue

This manga took my breath away. This is by YAMAJI Ebine, and my experience with her manga, and especially her yuri ones, is that they’re about literature and self-discovery. Well, technically so. In ‘Love My Life’ the heroine studies English while her father is a translator for novels, and in ‘Sweet Lovin’ Baby’ the protagonists meet in a bookstore. ‘Free Soul’ has the jazz/music aspect of things which brings in the idea of some sort of art, or culture. I like it that they’re not just random women, but there’s a culture aspect to them, giving everything a softer feel. And not every character is entirely sure or confident of what she’s doing or wants to do – and the story is of how she confirms it. In Indigo Blue, our protagonist is a novelist who hides her confused feelings about her sexuality in her writing.

Now, when I started reading this manga, I didn’t expect what I found. Normally, I’m not so much of a yuri reader, but I try not to be sceptical and decided to give it a go. When I read manga (any manga), I look it up first, just to read a review about what it’s about – you know, one of those single paragraph quickies. Here, the quickie was way too quick. So quick I didn’t even really absorb anything. But I just held my breath and went for it anyway – I’ve got nothing to lose.

The artwork opens up like a sandwich. A sandwich that you unwrap and expect this stuffed deli-type thing with cold cuts and lettuce spilling out. And when you see it you kinda go “hmm” because it looks a bit… under-stuffed. But then you take a bite out of it and you do that face where you raise your eyebrows and the “hmm” turns into a “hmm!” and you realize it’s not so bad.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s simple – VERY simple. A lot of people, I noticed, are put off by Yamaji’s artwork. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more. The simplicity of it – once you get used to it – makes you realize it’s not about talent, complexity, detail or some intricate or life-like style of drawing. The feelings and progression in the characters are as blatantly obvious as the blank spaces on the page. Her stories are heart-felt and quite touching, and she didn’t need stylistic drawings to convey them. So even if the artwork isn’t your cup of tea, the story will more than make up for it. Personally, I think the fact that in not crowding her drawings she didn’t crowd the story.

OKAY. Enough about art. The story, the characters – the rest of the sandwich! The main character, Rutsu is a novelist who’s always had a certain curiosity or uncertainty about her feelings and sexuality. To let it out, she puts all her thoughts and experiences in her novels, using the ambiguous ‘Y’ to be vague about the gender of her character. She has a boyfriend, but one day she meets an artist Tamaki, who makes a comment about Y being a woman. This sparks Rutsu’s interest and curiosity, and she asks to see Tamaki again. Tamaki, however, refuses her, and asks to simply stay a reader of her work.

Thus begins the Rutsu’s struggle between confronting her suppressed feelings, dealing with her boyfriend and opening up to a lesbian relationship. It’s a lovely story about coming out and having the confidence to discover yourself. Rutsu tries to comprehend her discomfort in a heterosexual relationship and her yearning to be with a woman. It’s smartly written and you notice certain things that make you do a double-take. For example, when Rutsu is dealing with Ryuuji, her boyfriend, you notice that she is quite cold and distant, yet she opens up freely when she is with Tamaki. It is wonderful contrast and quietly hints at where her comforts lie. Matter of fact, you never really have any insight on Rutsu’s character until she’s talking to Tamaki – even her narration is subdued. When Rutsu is around Ryuuji, I honestly thought she was heartless and cold. Her character – at times it’s hard to sympathize with her. At times it’s because you feel like you hardly see the emotional side of her (not till the very end, at least) and at times because you want to smack her in the back of the head and go, “Woman! What the HELL are you doing?” She might be confused, but whether you think that it’s a good enough excuse, that’s up to you.

Despite that, I got a lot of emotion from this manga. It’s a one-shot of about 200 pages and in fact, it’s more Josei than Shoujo, which suits its more adult theme and more mature approach. It’s not adult to the point of ecchi – there is sex but it’s more about the situation than actual “this is a sex scene!” and no, there are no penises present. If you read this be sure to read Yamaji’s afterword once you’re done. It’s a nice finishing touch and further clarifies the story for you. As a one-shot, this told a lovely story so simply and beautifully. It’s quick and light to read (really easy to get through), so if you’ve got an hour to spare, be sure to pick this up!


(Image © YAMAJI Ebine. None of these images belong to me)