Fruits Basket Manga Read-Through: Collector’s Edition Volume Two

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And I’m back with the continuation of my read-through of Fruits Basket as I try to remember if my childhood memories of this series are as good as I think they are. So far, we’ve read the first volume of the collector’s edition series from Yen Press which had chapters 1-12. Today, we’re continuing on to volume two which has chapters 13-24, and I have to say I’m worried I’m not going to have the time or space to really talk about everything that comes up in this volume. It’s backed to the brim with characterization, background, and meaningful moments and I really wish I could get to every one of them. I will try and get to some of the best and most important moments though, but I encourage you all to read along with me as we get closer and closer to the anime premiere.

Volume two continues the Fruits Basket story by introducing us to a new member of the zodiac right off the bat, the ox Hatsuharu. This volume is much like the second but slowly works its way deeper into the family drama lurking in the shadows of the Sohma family, peeling back the layers that is the influence of Akito, the true intentions of Shigure, and scattering hints to the traumatic events in Kyo and Yuki’s childhoods. Between these moments, Natsuki Takaya also inserts comedy and heartfelt relationship development as Yuki and Kyo grow deeper connected to Tohru. There’s Valentine’s Day, a hot springs trip, and the introduction of another new member of the zodiac who adds both comedy and drama to the story, Aaya the snake, and Yuki’s older brother. Continue reading

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Fruits Basket Manga Read-Through: Collector’s Edition Volume One

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It’s been such a long time since I’ve thought about Fruits Basket. It was one of the first shoujo manga I ever read and I think I still have some of the original manga volumes. But manga was expensive for a middle-schooler in those days, rising to 10 dollars per volume in high school, so my friends and I would trade off buying volumes and pass them around to read at school. Because of this my collection of manga volumes isn’t complete. I think I’m missing a good chunk of them and I don’t think we ever got through reading the whole series, at least I don’t think I did. Other manga and books caught my attention and I just naturally moved on from series to series, getting sucking into the growing Toonami scene and fanfiction writing. Well I’m determined to rectify this problem this Spring and finally finish the whole series from start to end. With the new anime adaptation coming out in April, I figured it was as good a time as any to revisit this classic shoujo manga that has always held a place in so many manga fan’s hearts.

Fruits Basket has always seemed to me to be one of the quintessential shoujo mangas of the genre, embodying the aesthetics, characteristics, and thematic elements of what we should think of as a typical shoujo series. The story focuses on the naive but good-hearted high school girl Tohru Honda who has just lost her mother, and is left homeless as her grandfather renovates his home. Too much of a caring friend to impose on the crowded homes of her two school friends, she strikes out on her own in a tent in a forested part of her neighborhood that just so happens to be owned by the Sohma family, one of which is the Prince of her school. Caught without a home again after a landslide, she is offered a place at the home of Shigure Sohma where she discovers the well-kept and well-guarded secret of the Sohma family. Continue reading

Three WebToon Recommendations for Romance Fans

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No matter the platform, comics have always been a staple reading material for me since middle school, especially webcomics. I got drawn in at a fairly early age due to one of my cousins creating his own long-running web comic for pretty much as long as I’ve known him. Slowly that love of comics branched off into other areas, and I have to admit, I haven’t been reading them as much as I used to anymore. Maybe it’s because of life getting in the way or maybe it just due to the wide breadth of other reading material I’ve gotten drawn into recently including manga and a random assortment of prose novels. But once in awhile I like to go back and revisit webcomics, and I’m always reminded why I love them each time. There’s just so much creativity and new and interesting ideas that I think the very format of webcomics allows to flourish.

Which brings me to WebToons, something I only just recently downloaded on my phone and started digging through for new comics to read. Most of them I think are from Asian authors since it’s affiliated with LINE, an app not many people in North America use, but there are still the occasional comic created with a Western setting. Over the course of the last half year or so I’ve managed to find some great romance comics on the platform, a lot of them autobiographical, but there are still quite a lot of them that delve into fictional worlds. Below are three recommendations of good romance comics I found on WebToons. Continue reading

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Manga Volume One Review

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There are few things I love more than cooking manga, except apparently cooking manga combined with gay relationships. What Did You Eat Yesterday is an interesting take on both cooking manga and boys love, though I guess you wouldn’t call it boys love since both main characters are 40-year-old men, but you get my point. I found this manga through I believe a recommendation on Twitter, which it seems is where I’m finding the most interesting recommendations now, and picked it up on a whim last week to finally check out. And while I wouldn’t say it’s the best or most interesting manga out there, I think how the mangaka, Fumi Yoshinaga, tackles big societal issues through the characters and their actions means I’ll be coming back for future volumes.

The story of this manga revolves around Shiro Kakei, a lawyer by day and gourmand cook by night, who lives with his boyfriend Kenji Yabuki, a hair stylist. Each chapter deals with a new issue surrounding being gay in Japan and a different made-from-scratch recipe. Whether it’s Kakei’s unwillingness to share the fact that he’s gay with his coworkers or the case of a male domestic abuse victim that comes to Kakei for legal advice. Each of the eight chapters in this volume pairs one serious issue with a recipe fit for food lovers. I can see why it was nominated for the first Manga Taisho Award and received a jury recommendation at the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival Awards. Continue reading

Taproot Paranormal Romance Comic Review

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It’s been awhile since I’ve done something other than an anime or manga review on this blog, so I think tonight I’d like to return to the world of comics, more specifically indie comics and graphic novels. Tonights review is a independent comic by Keezy Young called Taproot. I picked up this comic last October during a comic convention but never really got the chance to do more than read through it once. It’s such an adorable queer, paranormal romance that I couldn’t help getting drawn back to it this week and felt the urge to share it all with you.  Young combines her love of color, plants, queer relationships, and all things slightly creepy into a wholesome and lighthearted romance. Published by Lion Forge’s imprint Roar in 2017, the comic is apparently based off a webcomic (that I will need to check out later).

“A story about a gardner and a ghost” is how the subtitle for this comic reads, pointing to the basic premise of the story. On the back cover, the description expands: “Blue is having a hard time moving on. He’s in love with his best friend. He’s also dead. Luckily, Hamal can see ghosts, leaving Blue free to haunt him to his heart’s content. But something eerie is happening in town, leaving the local afterlife unsettled, and when Blue realizes Hama’s strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means….leaving him.” Continue reading

Wish Manga Omnibus Review

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Ah CLAMP, just reading any of their series brings me back to my early teen years of reading Cardcaptors and Chobits. Over the years, they have wound up becoming one of my all time favorite manga creators. Their wide breadth of titles and stories make it easy to find something entertaining for almost every reader, and their ability to create meaningful stories for both younger readers and older ones is hard to match. Wish is one of the few series from them that I actually never had the chance to pick up and read, so I was excited to learn that Dark Horse had started to publish the entire 4-volume series in one collected omnibus. It’s a challenge to read with it being at least two inches thick and pretty heavy, but the series itself is definitely worth it especially if you like cute and innocent love stories.

The story of Wish follows a young doctor Shuichiro who notices an adorable flying thing trapped in a tree on his way home from work one day. It just so happens to be the angel, Kohaku, who offers to grant Shuichiro any wish he desires in gratitude. The only problem is that Shuichiro has everything he could ever want, a good job, enough money to be comfortable, and a nice house. But that doesn’t dissuade Kohaku, and Shuichiro soon finds himself with a new roommate who just so happens to draw more angels and even devils to their home, becoming a sanctuary for those looking to escape both hell and heaven. Continue reading

I Hear the Sunspot Manga Book One Review

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I feel like good disability fiction is on the rise lately with the likes of A Silent Voice becoming so popular and now I Hear the Sunspot is being talked about as both a great story about someone with a disability but also a great boys love manga. I’ve seen it mentioned so many times around the web and pop up on a lot of people’s must read mangas of 2018, and I have to say this manga definitely deserves all the praise that has been heaped upon it. Yuki Fumino really delves deep into what it means be a person with a hearing disability that not bad enough to be considered part of the deaf community but also not insignificant enough to be considered a “normal” person. The boys love aspects appear as more of an afterthought as the characters traverse societal rules around conformity and the almost infantilization of people with disabilities.

The publisher, One Peace Books, describes I Hear the Sunspot’s story as: “Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood by others and has trouble integrating into life on campus so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. He tells Kohei that his hearing loss is not his fault. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms like a knife and opens his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever.

I want to preface this review by saying that his is book one of the original two part series, but the volume itself does not mention what book it is. I had a lot of trouble figuring out what book to buy first since there is this one, book two, and then volume one of the multi-part series as well. So if you are looking to buy the series, start with the book with the green cover, then book two, then volume one of the series. I’ll be reviewing each one in order, so feel free to follow along with me as well. Continue reading

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Manga Volume 3 Review (US Version)

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I can’t help but feel that if I was to revise my top 5 manga list of all time, Wotakoi would fall at number two on the list. I’ve talked at length before in my previous Manga vs Anime post about my love of this series, and I figured I should start where I (and the anime) left off, with volume three of the North American version which includes volumes five and six of the manga. I honestly can’t not talk about it at this point, it’s just too much of a comfy and feel-good series to not gush about. Fujita’s art is fantastic and the story is a great mix of short comedic chapters and longer, split up serious narratives. I found myself enjoying this volume just as much, if not more than the other two. Partly because we get to see some great love stories this time around and also partly for the great character development.

The back copy of this volume describes its story as “summer romance for nerds.” In this volume we see Hirotaka and Narumi battling the rumor mill to keep their relationship a secret from their coworkers, but of course it gets a little out of hand. We see Naoya’s continuing story of his grave misunderstanding about Ko and how he tries to save their relationship. But summer romance is not complete without a hotspring and festival chapter, and you definitely won’t be disappointed on that front with this volume. In terms of otaku goodness though, we also get to see Narumi’s first try at cosplaying. Continue reading

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Manga Volume 3 Review

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What is it about watching romantic comedies about older women failing at love that keep us coming back? Is it because watching them fail makes us feel better about our own lives? Or is it just oddly entertaining to watch people make mistakes and ruin their own lives? I’m not entirely sure why, but all I know right now is that I am still hooked on the story of Tokyo Tarareba Girls. I mentioned in the volume 2 review that the themes and story of this series are fairly relatable, dealing with how the arbitrary 30-year-old milestone makes women think they’re failures if they’re not married and successful by then. Volume 3 continues these themes and shows us more how forcing yourself to be happy can lead to disastrous outcomes. All of this is wrapped up in some awesome art by Princess Jellyfish creator Akiko Higashimura.

Volume 3 picks up where the last volume left us, with Kaori and Koyuki still continuing their relationships with a married man and an ex-boyfriend while Rinko still feels lost after being dropped from a writing gig. When a gig finally comes Rinko’s way however, she finds she may not be young enough or in-the-loop enough to handle a story geared towards a younger audience. After Rinko loses the gig due to none other than Key’s meddling again, both Kaori and Koyuki begin questioning why they’re still in these relationships as new information about both of their men surfaces. Continue reading

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Anime Review

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This anime has to be one of the most talked about of last season, and for good reason. This is another contender for top show of the Winter season for me as it is just all-around a great series in terms of animation, story, and characters. Bunny Girl Senpai has an interesting mix of romance, magical realism, and drama with a touch of wit to really keep you hooked for the long-haul. It’s the type of show that I can see sparking so many discussions about the nature of human psychology and how we cope with society and stress. I’ve already seen quite a few interesting discussions on its subject matter not to mention its catchy opening. I highly encourage anyone who has been wavering about watching the show especially due to its title, to really give it a chance.

The story follows Sakuta Azusagawa whose life takes a weird turn when he meets the actress Mai Sakurajima in the library dressed in a bunny girl costume with seemingly no one noticing she’s there. Mai is intrigues that he seems to be the only one who can see her, and as Sakuta begins to speak with her more, he discovers that more people are slowly losing their ability to see her as well. Sakuta calls this “adolescence syndrome” or “puberty syndrome” and works to help her solve this mystery as well as those of other girls he meets along the way. Continue reading