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

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

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

Manga or Anime? – Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

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What is it about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku that keeps drawing me back? So far I’ve probably watched the anime about three times now all the way through. I’ve also picked up all three US volumes (6 Japanese volumes) of the manga and have read through all of those at least twice. I’ve reviewed the anime before on this blog, and I stick by my assessment that it’s a genuinely great series about nerdy people falling in love. It’s an anime I think we really needed with its energy, comedy, and healthy older relationships. So after the anime ended I felt the need to pick up the manga and see what other content there was, and I have to say that the anime is a fairly faithful adaptation with some minor changes to pacing and story. Like a lot of other adaptations, there are advantages to each medium whether it be animation or comics, and I find myself enjoying both the anime and the manga almost equally. However, there are a few notable differences between the two that I’d like to touch on more below. Continue reading

The Delinquent Housewife Volume 1 First Impressions

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The Delinquent Housewife was something I picked up on a whim when I was out picking up some manga that had just come out. It was new, so far there is only one volume published in the US, and the artwork seemed interesting enough, so I thought why not. I had a feeling that the content might not be that great since from the title and the back-cover copy, the story was going to follow a woman learning how to become a housewife, but I was willing to try considering it seemed perfect for the blog. In some ways I was right, and in other ways I found myself strangely enjoying this manga. Nemu Yoko has a great art style that gives the manga a great feel with some traditional shoujo styling and some great work on expressions. The story itself uses some traditional and semi-annoying plot devices and character tropes, but looking at it through the lens of comedy, I did find myself enjoying it as like a fluffy, sit-com read.

The story follows ex-biker gang member Komugi and her husband-to-be Tohru Komukai who have just decided to move back in with his family until they can look for a place of their own. Or that was the plan until Tohru gets called away on a business trip overseas, leaving Komugi stranded at her in-laws place. While Komugi appears to be an ideal housewife, the real truth is that she can’t do anything without Tohru. She doesn’t know how to do her own laundry, fry an egg, or do any sort of housework. The only person to catch on to both her secret past as a biker gang member and her inability to perform housework is her brother-in-law Dai. But it won’t be long until the rest of the family finds out, so Tohru enlists Dai and her biker gang buddies’ help to learn how to be a housewife before that time comes. Continue reading

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Manga Volume 2 Review

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I’m approaching 30 and am two years out from getting married, so it’s safe to say that I’m not really the target audience for Tokyo Tarareba Girls, but I do feel like I know enough people like the women in this manga to feel a connection to their story. They’re thirty year old women who have been told over and over again by society that they might as well be washed-up has-beens if they’re not married and living comfortably by now. This manga is simultaneously a depressing and entertaining look at how society–Japanese society in particular–enforces ideals of marriage, success, and love on women throughout their lives while setting an arbitrary cut-off date for these things at 30 years old. Akiko Higashimura continues to use a sharp sense of wit, a dynamic art style, and a keen understanding of society to create a truly entertaining manga for thirty-somethings and those of us approaching that arbitrary milestone age.

Volume two of Tokyo Tarareba Girls picks up right where volume one left off, with the fallout over Rinko drunkenly sleeping with the famous model Key. After finding herself alone the morning after, Rinko heads back home by herself feeling like it’s becoming ever more apparent she’s going to be alone for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, her friends Kaori and Koyuki are feeling like they’ve found a small bit of bliss while hooking up with a married man and an unavailable ex-boyfriend respectively. However, even these two begin to see that sex isn’t everything and the same old “what-if’s” begin to pop up again as they all have to face up against younger and fitter women. Continue reading