Blue was something I found while wandering around MICE (Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo) a couple weeks ago. One of my purposes in going to that convention was to find interesting and little-known comics to review for this blog. I saw this particular one sitting on the display shelf, its cover almost a solid blue with the faint outline of a girl, and knew it would be something great to review for this blog.
Written by Kiriko Nananan, who got her start writing for the prominent magazine “Garo” in Japan, which specialized in alternative or avant-garde comics. The story itself follows the relationship that grows between two girls, Kayako Kirishima and Masami Endo. We see their friendship slowly develop into confused feelings of love as their high school years slowly come to an end. It’s a story of fleeting love, told in a sweet yet powerfully moving way. Continue reading
I wanted to give something new a try this time around and take a look at some short anime series to see how they compare to the manga. For our first review, we have Say I Love You, created by Kanae Hazuki, and picked up for its 13 episode anime adaptation by Studio Zexcs and Sentai Filmworks. The manga itself currently has 17 volumes published with the 18th and final volume due to come out sometime this year. Like most anime adaptations, the manga continues well after the anime ends, but the question then becomes whether it’s actually worth it to continue reading the manga or even if it’s worth it to check out the anime. I’m hoping with these types of reviews, I can answer those questions for you guys. Over the past couple days I’ve binged through all 13 episodes of the anime and 17 volumes of the manga, and have come to the conclusion that while I love how the anime handles the story, the manga has its good points as well.
Say I Love You follows the growing love story between high school students Kurosawa Yamato and Tachibana Mei. Mei doesn’t trust people, not after being bullied her whole life, and refuses to make friends or open up to people. But that all changes when she round-house kicks the most popular boy in school, Yamato, and gains his unwavering attention and phone number. While she vows never to use it, soon finds herself hiding from a stalker in a convenience store with Yamato the only person she can call for help. After he shows up to rescue her and subsequently steals her first kiss, she begins to see that opening up to the people around her isn’t such a bad idea after all. Continue reading
From the creator of Oyasumi Punpun, Inio Asano brings us a story of adolescent love, sex, and mental illness between two middle school friends. Originally published in Manga Erotics F, it was picked up for western publication by Vertical where they released all 20 chapters in one omnibus version. I honestly haven’t had to chance to check out Punpun for myself yet, but if it’s anything like A Girl on the Shore, I’m excited to see what kind of story Asano crafts and what kind of art he presents us with. After reading this manga, I almost want to say that this was what I was looking for when I went into Scum’s Wish, a gritty story about casual sex between two people who have a relationship complicated by fear and mental illness. And, while it doesn’t hold back on its displays of sex and exploration, I never felt like these scenes were there purely for our titillation rather they acted as a key component in our understanding of these two juvenile’s relationship to themselves and each other.
A Girl on the Shore follows the lives of two middle school students, Koume and Keisuke, as they develop a relationship based around casual sex and the need for something more. Koume looks to Keisuke as a rebound companion after the playboy Misaki loses interest in her, but soon finds herself enjoying their time together. Keisuke has confessed his love for Koume multiple times before, and agrees to help her get over the self-involved Misaki, but things quickly become clouded as the anniversary of his brother’s suicide fast approaches.
Cardcaptors has been a series that I have returned to again and again, whether it was trying to learn to read Japanese through its original manga or watching and rewatching the 70 episode anime and two movies. Now, after almost 17 years, CLAMP is bringing back one of their most popular and beloved IPs for a new — and old — generation of readers. Cardcaptor Sakura: The Clear Card Arc is both a continuation and a modern retelling of the original story. I say modern retelling in the sense that the content and world are updated to match our current culture and technology while also following the same storytelling formula of the previous series. As someone who is an avid fan of the series, I have both reservations and hope that CLAMP will be able to make good on their past success with both the new manga and the anime coming out in January. Continue reading
Yaoi anime and manga are not for everyone, but I think it’s important to examine all kinds of love stories when searching for the best romances. However, it can be hard to weed through the smut and less serious works to find the stories that really have something great to tell. Below are my top five picks for best yaoi anime and manga, starting at number one. I will admit that this specific area is one that I need to experience more, so in the next couple years this list will most likely be changing. But so far, the series below are ones that I find myself coming back to or have displayed a unique art or story that has managed to stick in my memory. Before we get into it, I want to preface this review by saying that I will not be making a top five yuri list, more for the fact that I have not found many I like than an overall dislike of the series. This is also something that will change in the future. But enough of that, almost all of the series below have full reviews of their own, so be sure to visit those if you find a series interesting. Continue reading
I’ve been mentioning here and there in reviews the manga’s that may have wormed their way into my top 5 favorites. For this special week, I’d like to present to you all one of four lists I’ll be creating: my top five romance mangas. To be able to make it onto this list a manga must possess: complex characters, multifaceted stories, and strong art. Each of these things is important to — at least my — overall enjoyment of a series. Listed below are five mangas — starting with number one — plus two honorable mentions that have captured my attention over the many years I’ve been reading manga and my past year of critically reviewing them. Each of these are my own personal favorites and many have full reviews of their own which I encourage you to read. If you have any other manga’s you think should have a shot at this list, feel free to let me know, and maybe these will get updated every few years. Continue reading
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