Kare Kano has always had a special place in my heart, starting from my early high school more than a decade ago now. It was one of the first romance mangas I picked up and still remains steadily sitting on my bookshelf to this day. I’ve been feeling a lot of nostalgia lately for manga and anime of the 90’s and early 2000’s, and decided to revisit this classic recently. I spent the better part of two or so days binging through the whole 21 volumes, and am pleased to say my nostalgia did do it justice, which I can’t say for many other mangas from that time period. I won’t say the story is perfect, but there are reasons why it has remained in my top five romance mangas of all time for so long.
Kare Kano, or His and Her Circumstances, follows the story of Yukino and Arima who are both the tops of their class at high school, admired by students and teachers alike for their intelligence and attitude. However, for both of them, this perfect student persona is just that, a mask that they wear to gain respect and admiration from their peers. Yukino thrives on the attention her classmates give her, while Arima must play the good boy role for the well-being of his adopted family. When Yukino sees her position in school threatened by Arima’s rise to class president, a vicious feud erupts that leaves their true faces exposed. Continue reading
Liquor & Cigarette (L&C) is a one-shot manga that drew me in from the very first page but didn’t necessarily live up to the level of its art when it came to the story. Created by Ranmaru Zariya, L&C is their first work in the shonen-ai or boys love genre. It’s a short and sweet story that definitely has a lot of great points to it, but left me wanting at the end.
For anyone interested, here’s a very brief synopsis:
Teo recently inherited his father’s liquor store after he retired. Camillo is his best friend from childhood who lives across the street and runs a Tobacconists. During the warmest days, Teo can smell the scent of cigarettes and shampoo wafting over. With Camillo completely open about his bisexuality, flirting with the many women who come to his store just to see him, Teo begins to question why Camillo’s scent is becoming so appealing. Continue reading
Horimiya takes the concept of public versus private personas that we’ve seen in other manga’s such as Kare Kano and makes a truly entertaining and sweet story out of it. This manga, which at the time of writing reached 75 chapters, is a great read that thoroughly entertained me, possibly making it into my top 10 list. Focusing more on the comedic aspects that each character brings to the story, the overall manga is light on the drama. However, this also makes the serious moments all the more apparent when they do appear, and there are some good ones. The characters struggle with their own sense of self-worth, overcoming bullies and social exclusion to become people you truly want to root for.
If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, here’s a quick synopsis:
With workaholic parents and a little brother that still needs to be taken care of, Hori doesn’t have much time to socialize with her friends. But she also doesn’t want them to know that and the fact that she acts more like a housewife than a teenager at home. Miyamura is a stereotypically nerdy-looking guy with his long hair, glasses, and quiet demeanor. Pretty much everyone in class ignores him and he doesn’t seem to have many friends at all. Outside of school however, he pulls back his hair showing all of his piercings though still hiding his tattoos. When the two of them meet without their public personas, they form an unlikely friendship around keeping each other’s secret. Continue reading
This will be a short one today mostly because the comic I’m going to talk about is a short-format gag strip that was compiled into a few volumes of its own. Tsurezure Children started as a web 4-koma comic created by Toshiya Wakabayashi. Four-koma comics typically focus on gags and are typically arranged in four panels reading top to bottom or two columns of panels side-by-side. This comic was eventually picked up by Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shonen Magazine and then transferred to Weekly Shonen Magazine. It came to my attention a short while ago when an announcement was made that it was going to get an anime adaptation in the Summer season of this year. It seemed interesting enough, a simple comic that focuses on young high school kids having trouble confessing or talking about their feelings, and it very quickly made me glad I picked it up. Continue reading
QQ Sweeper is a manga that I wasn’t quite sure I would like going in, but it did win me over after a little while. Written and illustrated by Kyousuke Motomi, this three volume manga isn’t perfect but manages to have a lot to say about mental illness while keeping to its fantasy aesthetic. Set in a world where people called Sweepers are able to access people’s minds through magical doors, QQ Sweeper combines romance, magic, and psychology with a pretty striking art style to produce something short and sweet.
Here’s a quick synopsis to get you started:
After her family abandons her, Fumi finds herself wandering around her school after-hours with no place to go. She manages to stumble upon a strangely calming room in the school’s old building that practically glows with how clean it is. Letting the room’s atmosphere overwhelm her, Fumi falls to sleep only to be woken by Kyutaro, the school’s official cleaner and her future classmate. Kyutaro is treated like an outsider by the rest of the school for his obsession with cleaning and his nasty temper, but Fumi can only see him as a sort of mystery. When a mysterious door appears in the old school building room, Fumi gets dragged into something both magical and frightening. Can her strong will save her this time, or will she get sucked into the darkness filled with squirming insects? Continue reading
Sumino is invisible. No one notices her at school, her classmates always leave her out of their groups, and her teachers barely notice when she’s gone. But on her blog she has friends who love looking at her pictures and provide advice for her everyday troubles. When one of the most popular boys in school finally notices her and admits he’s been watching her all along, Sumino must decide if she has the will to step out from the shadows and join her classmates in the light. Continue reading
Fumi is a stubbornly optimistic girl who’s generally clueless about love. Akatsuki is a reclusive and grumpy historical fiction author who is terrible at reading situations. When Fumi’s father reveals that he wracked up a huge debt and must go off on a tuna boat to pay it off, Fumi now needs both a job and a new place to live. Luckily for her, Akatsuki needs someone to make sure he eats and doesn’t collapse on his own floor from overwork, and she winds up becoming his live-in housekeeper. But as they start to share more than just their space, new feelings are ignited that neither of them really understand. Continue reading
Two childhood friends, Fumi and Akira, meet again ten years later as they both start their first year at a new school after Fumi moves back home. While they’re not in the same school, they’re brought together again by their families and memories of their close relationship. Where Akira is outgoing and innocent in love, Fumi is quick to fall in love with her senpai, Yasuko, after another failed unrequited love. But Yasuko may have been running from an unrequited love of her own, and when their relationship fails, Akira has to step in to comfort Fumi, igniting long dormant feelings once again. Continue reading
When Matsunaga comes to pick up his twin niece and nephew from daycare, he notices how much of a liking they’ve taken to a certain daycare worker. In a fit of desperation, he decides to hire Shitaru to be the part-time babysitter for the twins Aoi and Akane. As someone whose mother and father are also no longer with her, Shitaru bonds quickly with the twins as she tries to make their early years as fun as possible. With Matsunaga trying his best to raise them by himself, Shitaru slowly becomes an important member of their family and maybe even something more to Matsunaga. But when the twin’s grandparents decide they want to take custody, they may never have a reason to see each other again. Continue reading
When Tanpopo Yamazaki transfers into the prestigious Meio High School in Tokyo from her small home town in Hokkaido, there is a lot of adjusting to do. The day before the entrance ceremony, she goes to check out the school and encounters a boy planting a dandelion. She doesn’t catch his name but is struck by his kindness to plants. The next day she meets him again, but he acts like a completely different person and doesn’t seem to recognize her at all, even ripping up the dandelion that he lovingly planted. Tanpopo takes it upon herself to become friends with him and make a place for herself in this cold school by starting a gardening club, and slowly through sheer force of will she begins to gather friends and romance around her. Continue reading