Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

Sep 6, 2009

Back to School Shojo Manga

It's that time of year again here in the states. With summer time escapades come and gone, students are back to classes and learning new subjects at schools all over the country. In recognition of this annual ritual, I'd like to highlight some of our reader's favorite school mangas.

Last month I ran a poll asking for everyone's favorite shojo/josei manga in a school setting. Excited with the amount of response, I'd like to thank everyone who voted. Unquestionably, the most favored title is Bisco Hatori's Ouran High School Host Club. Not surprising considering the amount of bishies covering the pages of this elaborate private high school story. I personally haven't read the entire series, just a few volumes, but it's in my to be read pile to be reviewed at a later date. With that confessed, I can still say that it's understandable why fans are so drawn to this series. Hatori's characters are memorable at the very least, and fans readily have their favorites. The school itself is such a posh environment that it doesn't even compare to an average high school experience. Then you have the heroine, who is so unconcerned with her appearance that she doesn't care if others mistake her as a boy. That goes against the stereotype of all the affluent girls that do attend the school. Which leads us to the host club which, really, what high school in Japan would even allow that as an extra-curricular club? The fantasy of Ouran High School is such a buy in for fans that girls just eat it up. Who wouldn't want to be Haruhi, surrounded by cute or hot guys all the time that secretly adore you? The humor in the series is often gut busting, and then there's the more serious ongoing storyline of Haruhi and her relationships with and among the boys. If you haven't given this series a read yet, then you may want to give it a try. Underneath all the laughter and frills is a simple story that warms the heart.

Another read you might want to pick up if you haven't already is After School Nightmare. This also was a fan favorite for a school manga. I have done a formal review of this title and highly recommend it. An interesting cast of characters along with a mind boggling premise, After School Nightmare keeps readers guessing down to the last few pages. The high school that Ichijo attends along with his classmates has an interesting after school class. There the students sleep, and in their dreams they must compete to find a key that will open the door and allow them to graduate. Only the dreams are more like nightmares, since everyone's true personae are revealed and many of their forms are terrifyingly distorted. Add the fact that you must destroy your classmate in order to find the key inside them, and you have a very disturbed group of teenagers vengefully trying to graduate this class. Then what happens once you graduate? Well, that's the whole secret of the story my friends, and I'm not one for spoilers. So go grab the first volume and get started. You'll be so absorbed by the art and the story, you'll have to read this series twice!

If comedy and horror are not your thing, then you might enjoy a more typical, slice of life shojo like Kimi ni Todoke. With it's recent popular release, it has captured the hearts of many devout shojo fans, including myself. Although we only have the first volume here in the states, the second one will be released next month in October 2009. Most fans are eagerly waiting to see just what happens next between Sawako and Kazehaya. In the same class their first year of high school, Sawako respects Kazehaya for always being friendly and pleasant to her. That's despite the rest of her classmate's fears that Sawako has the power to curse them or see ghosts. Stigmatized with the name "Sadako" from Ringu, quiet, shy Sawako has a hard time making friends. That is, until sweet, popular Kazehaya takes notice and extends her his friendship. With Kazehaya's encouragement, Sawako endeavors to make more friends and eventually succeeds. Truly thankful and honored by Kazehaya's help, Sawako expresses her deepest respect. Though Kazehaya is touched, he obviously yearns for more than Sawako's respect. To see this endearing relationship blossom, you'll have to pick up the latest copies from Viz.

Other titles that were voted highly include CLAMP's Cardcaptor Sakura, Umino's Honey and Clover (coming out in anime this month!), Minami's Special A, Kanno's Otomen, and Kawahara's High School Debut. So now that it's time to be hitting the books again, be sure that you've picked up some enjoyable reads as well. There's no setting like school that can bring so many memorable or lovable characters together in one place.


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