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

Jun 24, 2010

Shinobi Life Vol. 5 - Shoko Conami

Instead of a review per se, I wanted to do some creative writing. I can't recommend this series enough. It's great character chemistry, beautiful art, and a well developed story. I've re-read it three times already, and we're only at volume 5. Remembering important plot details requires that when there's so much time between releases, and it's such a confusing plot line. But don't let that dissuade you from enjoying the eye candy. Conami's Kagetora is one of my top 5 bishies at the moment. Fans of the series, enjoy. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?

Dear Beni-Sama,
How could you even ask Kagetora to go back to the past again? The poor guy knows he'll be a fugitive the rest of his life, yet he considers jumping into the portal anyway. Then you go and fall through and he gets left behind! Girl, you so need to think about the repercussions of your actions! Lucky you, you actually end up seeing Kagetora as a hormonal teen. Most of us would rather not share those years of our life with our lovers. But damn, if he isn't cute as hell. You make him fall in love with you all over again, poor guy. He doesn't stand a chance in the future. It's no wonder he hankered after Beni-Hime. Then poor 18 year old Kagetora is jumping through portals like a mad man, trying to find you. He looks like he's about to bite it. Stupid Iwatsuru even takes a dive to find your butt, and the whole time you're making googly eyes at little Kagetora. Woman, go find your real man, and get the heck out of there before you get killed!
-Elle Sensei

Dear Kagetora-kun,
Blessings upon you for being so diligent about your woman. I think Beni-sama is a lucky girl. You've had a hard life. No wonder you took a shine to the foreign lady who gazed upon you, an insignificant orphan, with tenderness and longing. She got you good, and is she ever making your life hell now. How many jumps have you made, man? You can't seem to find her no matter which time you jump to. Must have been a shock to see Beni-chan as an innocent child. Too bad her daddy wouldn't listen when you wanted to save her mama. Now you have to deal with wimpy Iwatsuru jumping through portals too. I hope you and Beni-sama don't break some time dimensional rule, and both vaporize. Maybe if you wait in the future, she'll come back on her own? Nah, that's too simple of a plot resolution. We're all hoping you get back to Beni soon!
-Elle Sensei

P.S. - If you want to give up on Beni-sama, then you can be my ninja bodyguard.

Jun 22, 2010

Manga of the Month: Library Wars Vol. 1 - Kiiro Yumi

Library Wars was originally a light novel by Hiro Arikawa and has been turned into a couple of different manga. This series is based on the first light novel subtitled "Love and War", and ran in the publication LaLa in Japan.

Synopsis: Main heroine Iku Kasahara is a rookie trying out for the Library Defense Forces. In her timeline, there is an establishment called the Media Betterment Act enforced by the Media Betterment Committee (MBC), that gives the federal government the right to censor any Japanese media deemed harmful to its citizens. Local govenments opposed to this loss of free media, established library defense forces (LDF) that protect the MBC from raiding local libraries for censorship. Basically, the LDF is a military force to protect Japanese libraries. Iku was inspired to become an officer in high school, when a book she has long awaited is rescued by an LDF officer on her behalf. As the story opens we see her current attempts to make a name for herself in order to join the LDF. This opening volume shares the trials and tribulations that bring Kasahara into the LDF and the relationships that develop as she learns the ropes.

Review: I'm a total bibliophile, so I love the idea behind this series - a military to protect books. However, it is the characters that grab your attention, and they don't let go. Iku Kasahara is a strong heroine from the beginning. Her physical abilities make her stand out to her instructors, but it is her passion and stubborness that wins the hearts of the readers (and the male lead!). Then there's Atsushi Dojo, Iku's drill instructor. His condescending attitude annoys the heck out of Iku, but that makes her push herself harder. The chemistry between the characters is right on. Watching the emotional reactions of Iku and Dojo when Iku talks about her perseverance to join the LDF is priceless. And Iku is so clueless! I laughed out loud several times along with Dojo's team. Fellow recruit Corporal Tezuka's anger and hostility towards Iku causes frustration among the characters now, but it looks like a set up for a love triangle later on. Iku's roommate Asako Shibazaki is a well placed contrast to Iku's tomboyish nature. Her feminitity and flirtiness balance out the overabundance of masculinity, and her friendship is an asset for Iku.

Besides great character chemistry, the art in this series is highly enjoyable. I'd love to see some of the chapter headers in color. There are good action sequences, some superb emotional moments, and even comedic scenes that are all well laid out. The character designs are attractive, and Kiiro Yumi has a talent for conveying facial emotions with a few strokes in the right directions. I felt that the toning was done very well, with emphasis in the right places, and no distracting patterns. The English translation was so smooth, you'd think it was originally written that way. Even the sound effects were translated. Overall it was a pleasure to look at.

This is a manga that will definitely be in this year's best new series come December. If you like action and romance, or have a military fettish, you'll love these characters. It reminds me a bit of Full Metal Panic, with a cute, naive military guy and a strong, stubborn heroine. I can''t wait for the next volume. Highly recommend!

Romance Rating: Cuddly - I wonder if it will be "Mulder X Sculley" chemistry throughout the series?

Media Status: This story is based on four original light novels by Hiro Arikawa. Currently there are five tankobans of "Library Wars: Love and War" released in Japan. There was also an anime made that has 12 episodes.
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