Skip Beat Manga Review: Volumes 7-9

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Welcome back to my read-through of Skip Beat, one of my favorite mangas of all time. If you haven’t read the previous reviews, please do so before reading on. These reviews will contain some spoilers, so if you haven’t read the manga, you might want to do that as well. Today, we’ll take a look at volumes 7-9, another great series of chapters that add a lot to the characters of Kyoko, Ren, Moko, and Sho. These characters weaknesses are on full display in these chapters with some great moments and major developments in story and relationships. It’s one of the things I love most about this series, the ways Nakamura explores her character’s weaknesses and how they overcome them in order to better themselves and their position in showbiz. Combined with our usual great art and page layouts, I really enjoyed these volumes. So let’s dive in and discuss what makes them so entertaining.

Shoujo Beat’s back-cover description goes like this: “Kyoko’s dreams are finally coming true! She’s landed a spot in Sho’s new video, and revenge is in sight! But vengeance isn’t as easy as she thought, and her rage starts to get in the way of her acting. When her performance catches the attention of some important people, Kyoko finds herself working with the terrifying Ren Tsuruga! Can she make it work, or will her growing fame be her downfall?!” So besides the plot with Sho’s promo video (and the obscene amount of exclamation points), we also get to see a story from Moko’s life as she runs into trouble with a new job in a drama, and see the beginning of the Tsukigomori arc as LME President Lory tries to prevent Ren from taking on his first role in a romantic drama. Continue reading

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Manga or Anime? – Snow White with the Red Hair

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Snow White with the Red Hair has been one of my favorite romance anime for a while now. I love the characters, the slight fantasy setting, and how some episodes focused on Shirayuki using her herbology knowledge to solve problems. I’ve discussed both seasons of the anime at length before, so if you’re looking for a review of the anime, be sure to check those two posts out. There was one thing I’ve never gotten around to doing though, and that was read the manga. I recently watched back through the whole series on a day or so that I wasn’t feeling well, and finally felt the need to see where the story went after the anime ended. In doing so, I also discovered just how much Studio Bones altered and added to get it to the current anime we have now. The story is still pretty much the same, but I can’t deny that there are a few moments in the manga that I find to be much better in the anime. If I had to make a decision right now, I would say that while the manga has the advantage of story, the anime has the advantage of polish. For the purpose of this review, I’ve only had the chance to read up to chapter 34 in the manga, a little bit past where the anime ends. Continue reading

Everyone’s Getting Married Manga Review: Volume 1

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I’m always looking for more josei manga to read, and this one has also been popping up on my Twitter feed. I think the last volume of the manga just came out in the US, but this series hasn’t been on my radar until now. I decided to give this one a try and picked up the first volume at Anime Boston a few months ago, and I have to say I will probably be picking up more volumes sometime in the future. So far, it seems like a fairly straight forward story of two people trying to reconcile their relationship goals in the face of their feelings for each other. I wouldn’t say that it’s an amazing story, but I am liking the art and the characters enough to keep reading. There are a lot of times where I feel like I get too cynical of shoujo romances, so it’s nice to take a break from them and experience some stories about people closer to my age and current experiences.

Everyone’s Getting Married follows the successful career woman Asuka Takanashi who has the old-fashioned dream of getting married and becoming a housewife. After her long-time boyfriend breaks up with her to pursue his own career, she meets the handsome newscaster Ryu Nanami. They both seem to get along well enough, but the last thing Nanami wants is to get married. So the challenge becomes, who will give in first or will they find a way to be together even with their conflicting values? Written and created by Izumi Miyazono, the manga was picked up for US release by Viz Media and imprint Shoujo Beat. Continue reading

The Young Master’s Revenge Manga Review: Volume 1

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One of my goals for this year and in restarting my use of Twitter was to try and keep myself updated on what’s going on in the industry and better follow new releases from all sorts of publishers. I’ve seen this manga pop up a bunch of times on my Twitter feed from Shoujo Beat, so while I was at Anime Boston, I decided to pick it up and give it a try. Honestly though, I don’t think I’ll be picking up the next volume. It may be that this kind of rom-com isn’t really my thing, but I could see that if I ever decided to read anymore the characters and general premise of this manga would start to get under my skin. I wanted to quickly write up a short review tonight and try and get to the bottom of why I think this way and where exactly this mang may be going wrong.

The Young Master’s Revenge is a relatively new manga — at least in the US — created by Meca Tanaka and published by Viz Media’s imprint Shoujo Beat. It centers around the story of Leo, who at a young age had his pride destroyed by the daughter of a wealthy family a childhood friend, Tenma. After being forced to live abroad in America for a couple years, Leo finally returns to Japan to seek his revenge, especially now that his father’s clothing business has taken off making him heir to a fortune. His plan? Make her fall in love with him and then dump her in the worst possible way. Continue reading

A Bride’s Story Manga Review: Volume 2

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I finally had the chance to return to this series and pick up Volume 2, and I have to say that the more I read of this series, the more I fall in love with it. The art is still holding strong and the story keeps getting better. If you haven’t already read my review for volume 1, I would highly suggest starting there before we get into spoiler territory. If you’re looking to pick up some volumes of this series, I honestly will suggest getting the physical copies, it’s worth it. They come in only hardcover, but I think that also allows the publisher to present the art and pages in a larger format which also means better quality to showcase Kaoru Mori’s amazing artwork. Buying a manga or any comic in general in hardcover just gives me a completely different feel than buying the regular soft-cover manga volumes. I’m not sure why, but it’s almost like it gains an extra sense of importance or respectability. But that also could just be me and my brain making weird connections.

Anyways, the story of the second volume picks up where we left off after Amir’s family’s first visit to her new family to try and take her back to their tribe to remarry. After being turned away once, they return again in full force determined to take her away this time. The only problem is Amir is part of their family now, and this family does not give up so easily. We are also introduced to a new character, Pariya, who is commonly considered by prospective husbands as too cheeky to be a worthy wife. Later on, we are also given more insight into Mr. Smith’s past as a messenger arrives in town baring letters from far-off lands. Kaoru Mori continues to weave interesting stories set in the not-so-standard 19th century Silk Road. Continue reading

Skip Beat Manga Review: Combined Volumes 4-6

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Welcome back to the next installment of my Skip Beat manga reviews where I take a look at the next three volumes of the series. As I mentioned in my last review, this series is my absolute favorite manga and is probably one of the longest series I’ve kept up with, now standing at over 40 volumes. I’ve been slowly adding the 3-volume combined editions to my library and thought it would be a good idea to create this read-along review series as I revisit my favorite characters once again. Volumes 4-6 are packed with characterization and backstory that helps really solidify the motivations of each main character while providing stories of personal growth. Yoshiki Nakamura does a great job of slowly revealing the backstories of her characters like Kyoko and Ren, choosing which pieces to keep from us and which to keep from the rest of the cast. It creates this sense of suspense that makes you want to keep reading to see how they find out or what else is going to be revealed.

These three volumes continue the story of Kyoko Mogami as she climbs the ladder of the showbiz world in order to get her revenge on Sho Fuwa, her childhood love turned pop star who left her stranded in Tokyo. We left off in volume 3 with Kyoko confronting the acting school class in order to prove that she was worthy enough to join them. The story continues from there to how she got her first regular appearance on a TV variety show as the Chicken Bo. Events begin ramping up quickly after this debut with an audition for a soft drink commercial and being forced to sub in for Ren Tsuruga’s sick manager. Continue reading

A Bride’s Story Manga Review: Volume 1

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I’m always super behind on new manga, so I’m super enjoying getting back into Twitter right now specifically to follow publishers and see all the new releases pop up on my feed. I think A Bride’s Story popped up at some point, and just seeing the cover art was enough to convince me that this might be something worth checking out. Luckily I had a big convention coming up then, Anime Boston, an excuse to spend an absurd amount of money on new manga. I managed to find the first volume in all the crazy crowds around the manga vendors, and I have to say I’ve been hooked ever since. I can’t wait to check out what the other volumes are like and see where the story goes. I feel like this manga is something I haven’t encountered before. Not only is the art wickedly detailed, but the detail stays consistent throughout the volume. The story focuses on an interesting part of history, the Silk Road and Central Asia. I would highly recommend this series to any history buffs and lovers of highly detailed art.

A Bride’s Story follows Amir Halgal, the daughter of a nomadic tribe in Central Asia during the nineteenth century who is betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Amir, who is 20 years old, is considered old for marriageable age. Now she must adjust to a new life among her husband’s family including cultural differences, expectations from her birth family and in-laws, and her growing feelings for her husband. The manga was created by Kaori Mori, the mangaka behind Emma and Shirley, giving us another great slice-of-life story. Continue reading

Manga or Anime? – Ancient Magus Bride

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The Ancient Magus’ Bride manga has probably earned a permanent place on my top 5 list of best romance manga. I’ve explored why I love this story so much in the past and have been delving into the lore and myths behind certain ideas and characters. With the last episode of the anime adaptation behind us, I think it’s safe to say I enjoyed the anime as well. I won’t say it’s perfect, and there are a few moments that I feel could have been handled better, but as an anime adaptation I have to say it was fairly faithful to the manga overall. So, in this post, I hope to explore the similarities and differences between the manga and anime. I won’t promise an answer for the question of which one is better, as I don’t think I have an answer for that. But I think it’s interesting to explore how each medium treats and/or improves a story by the nature of their differences in presentation. Continue reading

Skip Beat Volumes 1-3 Manga Review

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Skip Beat currently rests at number one on my list of top 5 manga, so I thought it was about time I finally reviewed the manga. Considering that the series currently stands at 40 volumes and counting, I figured I would try reviewing the combined 3-volume manga versions as I slowly add them to my collection. This series probably stands at the longest-running manga I’ve ever kept up with, and for good reason. It keeps pulling me back with its likable and multi-faceted characters as well as a story that stands out from the rest by putting an interesting spin on the romance genre. And, after finally getting around to buying the physical volumes, I’m highly enjoying the little asides and notes from the mangaka that give interesting insight into the creation of the series and characters. I will never stop recommending this series to people, and I think it’s worth reading through all 40 volumes. I hope after I’m done with this review, you’ll be convinced enough to start reading along with me.

The back-cover reads as follows: “Kyoko Mogami followed her true love Sho to Tokyo to support him while he made it big as an idol. But he’s cashing her out now that he’ famous enough! Kyoko won’t suffer in silence—she’s going to get her sweet revenge by beating Show in show biz! Kyoko’s broken heart keeps her from getting into her talent agency of choice. The eccentric president at the agency decided to give her a second chance, but it requires her to wear a bright pink uniform, put up with spoiled stars, and try to live up to the name of her new position—the Love Me Section! Can Kyoko stand the indignity long enough to find her vengeance?” The manga is written and illustrated by Yoshiki Nakamura and was given a 25-episode anime series back in 2008. It is currently published by Viz Media for the US market.

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My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness Manga Review

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I’ve been meaning to pick up this particular manga for a while, having seen it in various book stores as well as recommendation lists. Most recently, it won Manga of the Year in Crunchyroll’s anime awards, so I thought it was about time I gave it a read. And boy does Kabi Nagata really hit home and dig into your head with her discussions of mental illness, sexual orientation, and her journey to finally loving herself. A simple, two-tone art style gives way to deep introspection and heart-bearing truths, and I can see why it won Crunchyroll’s award and many others. Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I do want to stop and point out to all my readers that this manga does deal with topics of self-harm, eating disorders, and severe mental illness for anyone who may need the content warning.

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is an autobiographical manga that follows the life of creator Kabi Nagata as she explores her sexuality and searches for some sense of self worth, eventually leading to an encounter with a female prostitute. The comic was originally published on Pixiv, but was then picked up by East Press in 2016 for a single-volume Japanese release and then Seven Seas Entertainment in 2017 for its English release. Nagata notes in an interview on Pixiv that her reasoning behind creating this manga is because “drawing manga is the only thing I can do. Then I started thinking about how to make a living off this. That’s when I decided to base stories off my own private self.” In the process, not only has she won the Manga of the Year award from Crunchyroll as well as high acclaim across the internet from Publisher’s Weekly to Teen Vogue. Continue reading