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)