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

Dec 31, 2009

Shojo New Year Scene

What is the most memorable new year's scene in a shojo manga? A few come to my mind, but I wondered what every one else out there could think of. Post it in the comments and let's see if we can come up with a pretty good list. Domo arigato!

Dec 22, 2009

Memorable Manga Moments - M³: Shinobi Life

Anyone need a laugh today? Recently I was going back through Shinobi Life as I reviewed the third volume. I remembered that the first volume had some humorous moments and this was one of the best.

To put things in context, the ninja Kagetora has just time traveled through a few centuries to the present time. He thinks that the girl here, Beni, is actually his beloved princess from history. Beni thinks that Kagetora was hired by her father as a body guard.

Shinobi Life Vol. 1 Ch. 2

When Beni wakes up the first morning after Kagetora arrives in the present, she finds him hanging above her bed guarding her. She freaks out when she discovers that Kagetora is always guarding her secretly, even when she's changing. (Duh - He is a ninja!) When Kagetora notices Beni's weird attire, he tries to remove her loin cloth. Pfft! Leave it to a ninja to get off a girl's thong without removing her clothes!

Dec 19, 2009

New York Times Best Seller Ending 12/12

What do you know! D N Angel 13 moves up the list, and Vampire Knight 8 continues to maintain the #2 spot.

Vampire Knight 8
D N Angel 13

Dec 12, 2009

Pig Bride Vol. 3 - KookHwa Huh / SuJin Kim

Synopsis: Starting right where the story last ended, volume three opens with Doe-Doe getting hold of Mu-Yeon's pig mask. Greedy Doe-Doe now in possession of the mask, decides to try it on herself and suffers the consequences. Meanwhile, Si-Joon and friends are out searching for Mu-Yeon and Doe-Doe. Once Doe-Doe is found, Si-Joon must decide whether or not to give the mask back to Mu-Yeon. The next morning Si-Joon's friend Ji-Oh brings it to his attention that he may have some tender feelings towards Mu-Yeon. In complete denial, Si-Joon continues to fuss about Doe-Doe. A flash back shows Si-Joon and Mu-Yeon from their previous lives. When Mu-Yeon's main nemesis, Ki Ryong, shows up dressed as Mu-Yeon, she tries to seduce Si-Joon into her arms. Si-Joon is then left to decide what his true feelings for Mu-Yeon really are. The volume ends once again with a cliffhanger. Ji-Oh has been kidnapped!

Review: Ah! Finally we get to know why Mu-Yeon wears her mask! At the beginning of the book we see the consequences if someone sees Mu-Yeon's face. Then later on in flashbacks, we learn about the curse of the mask and what Mu-Yeon's goal is now at this point in time. The flash backs are integral to the plot of the story, and my favorite one of this volume was one we have seen before. The very first volume of this series begins with the flashback of when Si-Joon met Mu-Yeon for the first time. At eight years old he gets lost, little Mu-Yeon finds him, and he is tricked into marrying her. Now in volume three, we see that flashback again, yet from Mu-Yeon's point of view. Even at eight years old she recognizes Si-Joon from her past life, and already loves him. It's very sweet.

Si-Joon himself has started to come around to his feelings for Mu-Yeon in this volume. Even though he could demand that Mu Yeon show him her face when she loses her mask, he sympathizes with her, and offers it back. We also see him ask her for protection when the place they are staying at loses electricity. Although he denies any affection for her, he becomes jealous when Mu-Yeon praises Ji-Oh and asks for help in studying. He tells Ji-Oh to go to the hospital to see Doe-Doe, because he doesn't want to leave Ji-Oh and Mu-Yeon alone together. Another time he wakes from a dream of Mu-Yeon being attacked in his past life, and the first thing he does is find Mu-Yeon and embrace her. Until he comes fully awake, and then he shoves her away. His ever conflicting emotions make him weak to whatever attacks the antagonist has planned.

Speaking of the evil one, previously we've had hints and glimpses of Mu-Yeon's nemesis, but now in volume three we see her in action. Aiming to keep Mu-Yeon and Si-Joon apart, she has come to fulfill her historical role of assassinating Si-Joon. Attempts on his life have been occurring since volume one. The shockingly beautiful temptress now takes it upon herself to intervene, trying to also keep Mu-Yeon from breaking her curse.

The humor in this volume really steps it up a notch. In my opinion the raccoon steals the show. He's just randomly there, but keeps on playing a role that either saves the day, or gives you fits of laughter. Then there's poor Doe-Doe. If you weren't sure about Doe-Doe before, it becomes apparent now that her character really is there for comic relief. When she tries on Mu-Yeon's mask, she is struck by lightning. They then show in a news broadcast her strawberry panties that have a hole through the butt, and her drooling face with fried hair. Later on we discover that because of the lightning strike, Doe-Doe has become magnetized and anything metal is attracted to her. Which becomes quite comical at one point. Eventually she becomes so embarrassed that she starts wearing a paper bag over her head. If you ever wanted to watch the spoiled brat get her just deserts, then this series does a fine job of it.

As I've said in previous reviews, the color art is not that fantastic, but it's the layout and paneling as well as the clean line art and toning that carry this imaginative plot. Pig Bride is enjoyable to read and keeps me giggling through out each volume. If a series can do that, then I'll keep coming back for more. If you're looking for something sweet, light-hearted, and humorous then I highly recommend you give this series a try.

Romance Rating: Steamy - Not that there are any passionate scenes happening in this story, but Si-Joon does walk in on Mu-Yeon while changing clothes or bathing more than once, so there's some implied nudity. Then there's the insistence every volume that the couple consummate the marriage by Mu-Yeon.

Media Status: Pig Bride volume 3 is available in English from Yen Press. You can find the most recent chapters in the Yen Plus publication. Volume four will be available April 2010.

Dec 11, 2009

New York Times Best Seller Ending 12/5

Vampire Knight 8 hangs on the the #2 spot while D N Angel 13 pops in to the bottom ranks.

Vampire Knight 8
D N Angel 13

Dec 7, 2009

Shinobi Life Vol. 3 - Shoko Conami

Synopsis: Beginning with Kagetora's kidnapping by fellow time-traveling ninja Hitaki for Beni's arranged fiance Iwatsuru, volume three jumps right into the story. By bargaining to become Iwatsuru's girl, Beni is able to save Kagetora from torture. Feigning happiness to protect Kagetora, Beni suffers in silence. Her self-doubts about Kagetora's feelings for her, and a blunder by Kagetora himself, push Beni to believe that Kagetora really still loves his first princess, Beni-Hime.

Meanwhile Iwatsuru seeks Beni's attention in order to discover for his father how Beni's mother had the ability to predict the future. When Iwatsuru tries to force his affection on Beni, he despises himself and realizes that he has truly fallen for Beni, despite what his father desires.

Ashamed that he can't protect her, and burning with jealousy at Iwatsuru's affections towards Beni, Kagetora lashes at out Beni in anger when he discovers she has been protecting him all this time. Depressed and disheartened, Beni escapes her father's confinement only to fall down a well on her own property. When Kagetora finds her, sparks ignite as the two act on what really lies in their hearts.

Review: Shoko Conami continues the journey of her star-crossed lovers in this third installment of the series. Filled with pages of high strung emotions, this volume focuses on Beni's depth of feelings for Kagetora, and the complications from her newly announced engagement. The passionate sentiments displayed by Beni, Kagetora, and Iwatsuru reveal how their perceptions of each other have evolved. Beni wears her heart upon her sleeve, and even when confronted by Iwatsuru to love him, she points out that she can't make her heart love him (especially when she already loves someone else!). Iwatsuru really wants Beni to be happy, and struggles with his own inability to provide that for her. Kagetora finally acts upon his rage and jealousy, showing Beni how he truly feels towards her. While some may be turned off by the soap-operatic feel of this series, others will be engrossed by the romance and angst at the heart of the story.

Though there are usually more action sequences in Shinobi Life, volume three focuses on character development using dialogue scenes. That may sound boring, but Conami pulls it off with her talent of expression.
Key plot elements are revealed through these conversations, and the character dynamics play a large role in story development. Through her feathery drawings and fervent dialogue, emotions flow off the page so effortlessly that you can't help but empathize with the main characters.

With such emotional c
ontent, the toning greatly impacts the mood of the scene. A strength of this particular series is that along with well chosen panels, contrasts in toning help focus in on the character actions and expressions. Add to that the attractive character designs, and the pages really are easy on the eyes.

A word of caution, though. Without previous knowledge from the first 2 volumes, readers will be lost trying to fathom the story starting at volume 3. The plot would be confusing not knowing the back story of Beni-Hime and Kagetora. Plus, the time traveling aspect would need to be better explained. Begin at volume one if this story piques your interest.

Romance Rating: Steamy - Heart-breaking sacrifice and intense kissing scenes spice up this volume. This time-traveling drama will captivate audiences that enjoy adventure along with an epic romance.

Media Status: Serialized in Princess magazine since 2006, Shinobi Life is being released by Tokyopop here in the states. Volume 3 was released November 10, 2009.

Dec 4, 2009

New York Times Best Seller Ending 11/28

Vampire Knight 8 falls to number two. Other shojo titles are slowly receding as newer manga volumes debut.

Vampire Knight 8
Ouran High School Host Club 13
Black Bird 2

Dec 1, 2009

Vampire Knight 8 - Interrupted

So after waiting a couple weeks to dive into my copy of Vampire Knight 8, I got a rather disappointing surprise. My copy happens to be a misprint. I know these things can happen, but I wondered if it was just my particular copy or if it happened to a whole batch. There are about four pages that look like the one below:

I know Viz would happily replace the book, but what is the best way to go about it? Do I return it to the book store, or try to somehow contact Viz for a new copy? Anyone had this experience before?
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