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. Continue reading
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
Memoirs of Amorous Gentlemen or Bikachō Shinshi Kaikoroku came to my attention when I was scrolling through the manga offered on the Crunchyroll manga app, and I’m genuinely glad I decided to start reading it. This manga is generally out of the ordinary for what I tend to read, being a josei story set in 20th century Paris where brothels were legal places to seek pleasure and the company of a woman. And the story could not have been written by a better josei mangaka, namely Moyoco Anno (interestingly enough, the wife of Hideaki Anno), who is the creator of such big-name mangas as Sakuran and Hataraki Man. You can really see her experience come through especially in her creation of characters and the design of the the specific pages.
Sometimes back-cover descriptions can be pretty terrible to read, but the one Crunchyroll has on their site is a great representation of the manga: “Perverts are people who know the shape of their desires. They have carefully traced those contours like a blind man using both hands to measure the shape of a vase. Colette works in a brothel in early 20th century Paris, an occupation she can’t escape. She and the other girls support each other, satisfying the desires of their clients, day in, day out. The one source of hope in her difficult life was her trysts with Leon. But Colette could never be sure if Leon really loved her… The strength of women in their pleasurable confines; the naked desires of the ‘amorous gentlemen.’ Welcome to a beautiful, bewitching bordello of love and desire.” Continue reading
This is probably my second or third read-through of this manga, and while I don’t think it’s the best romantic comedy or romance manga in general, I do feel like I’ll return to this one again in the future. I feel like this is one of those semi-cliche shoujo mangas that contains moments that both annoy me and move me to tears. The premise is fairly simple, but as the story progresses, we see a significant amount of character development packed into the quiet, introspective moments between the comedy and drama. It’s not just the story however that draws me back, it’s the quality of art throughout the manga especially when it comes to expressions. So, if you’re looking for a standard shoujo manga that has a tad more depth than most, L-DK might be one to check out.
The story follows high school girl Aoi Nishimori who convinced her family to let her live by herself after they were forced to relocate. A choice encounter with the prince of her school Shusei Kugayama, who rudely rejected her best friend’s confession, leaves her with a grudge against the prince. However, later that day she is greeted by her new neighbor who just so happens to be Shusei. To make matter worse, after an accident in his kitchen that renders his apartment unlivable, Shusei decides to move in with her. But will her hatred for him hold up in such confined conditions? Created by mangaka Ayu Watanabe, this manga has been serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Friend since 2009. The manga supposedly has 24 volumes, with the series coming to an end just this past year. It was also adapted for a live-action film in 2014 and nominated for Kodansha’s best shoujo romance that same year. Continue reading
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.
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.
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