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

Sep 8, 2010

It's Moving Time----

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Aug 8, 2010

Manga of the Month: Stepping on Roses Vol. 1&2 - Rinko Ueda

♡ Fans of classic romance, this is the crossover manga for you!

Synopsis: Sumi Kitamura is a young girl of marriageable age, living in poverty during the Meji era. She runs a household of orphaned children brought home by her gambling brother, always promising he's going to make it big and needs the kids to run his future business. When her brother runs off to escape a loan shark and the landlady threatens to evict Sumi and the kids, she becomes desperate. She ventures to the red light district and offers herself for enough money to cover her brother's debt. There she is rescued by Soichiro Ashida, who promises she'll have all the money she needs if she will marry him. The catch - they are never to love one another. She quickly agrees, and finds herself thrown into a new world of refinement and a culture evolving towards western customs. Upper-class society demands she learn to read and write as well as practice the social graces of a lady. She is no longer allowed contact with the kids or her brother. When Soichiro introduces Sumi to a personal friend, Nozoma Ijuin, she discovers her secret prince who's generosity saved one of the children's lives when she was desperate for money. Sumi's affections for Ijuin are obvious, and Soichiro decides to play upon emotions to put himself at a corporate advantage. As Ijuin makes advances and Sumi learns more about Soichiro, she finds herself in an awkward position and her emotions become confused. Which man should she care for, and which one needs her the most?

Review: This series has all the trappings of a traditional historical romance. A pauper maiden rescued by a rich noble, marrying only for inheritance, but wait, we can't fall in love! The introduction of a love triangle is another cliché plot element. It's stereotypical romance roles, and the plot is somewhat predictable. Although, if I've come to the correct deduction, things are going to get mighty interesting when all character backgrounds are revealed.

Sumi Kitamura is portrayed as a very loving and self-sacrificing girl. She takes care of all those children and even decides to sell herself to keep the family together. However, once she is in the presence of Soichiro, Ueda turns her into a helpless maiden. By taking her out of her usual environment she's forced to rely on Soichiro, and Sumi acts more scared than determined. She falls for Ijuin, and lets Soichiro push her around. I guess it has to do with the time period, but I wish Sumi had more backbone and was a little saucier.

As for Soichiro Ashida, now there's an interesting guy. He buys a girl off the street and marries her so that he can gain his inheritance. He tries to match his wife with his childhood friend in order to ruin his reputation so that he has a corporate advantage. He harasses Sumi so that she won't like him, but then realizes that there are things he finds attractive in her. He's had a difficult childhood, and some trauma in his past. Ueda does a fine job making him desirable to the audience, even though he acts like a jerk. I find myself wanting to know a lot more about this young man and why he makes the choices he does. That would be the hook that Ueda uses to take hold of her readers - as well as the good looks. :)

The characters are drawn attractively, and Ueda has a vein for fashion design. Period clothing looks dashing! There is typical shojo toning with roses and sparkles used every few panels. I found an inconsistency with the cover art between volume 1 and 2. On Volume 1, Sumi has brown eyes, and on volume 2, she has blue eyes. Oops! I think I know why that happened. The colored art does look really nice, especially the hair. I'd like to see more of Ueda's colored pieces.
Panels flow well, and at a good pace. The English translation seems well done, but I did find an editing mistake in volume 1.

Overall, I highly recommend this series for shojo fans who like cliché romance, or historical pieces. The plot thickens after volume 2, and the series really is easy on the eyes. If you liked Black Bird, then you will most likely enjoy Stepping on Roses, too.

Romance Rating: Steamy - Soichiro does try to ravish Sumi in one scene, but only suggested nudity.

Media Status: Stepping on Roses is currently running in Margaret magazine in Japan. There are 2 volumes available in English from Viz media.

Aug 2, 2010

Dengeki Daisy Vol. 1 - Kyousuke Motomi

Synopsis: A young high school girl loses her brother, her only living family member. She is given a cel-phone before his death and told that if she ever needs anything DAISY will be there for her. Now two years later, Teru Kurebayashi daringly faces up to high school bullies and ends up breaking school property. A poor scholarship student, Teru must work chores after school for the school janitor, Tasuku Kurosaki, in order to repay the debt. As Teru spends more time with the deliquent janitor, she begins to question DAISY's identity, and his uncanny ability to come to her rescue. Meanwhile, Kurosaki struggles to hold back his emotions as he strives to protect and harass Teru.

Review: The author states in a side bar that she almost named the book "Magical Daisy". Frustrated I demanded, "So then what is Dengeki?!!" After a quick stint on Google, I found the answer, and I realized it's the perfect title for this series. Dengeki means having to do with electricity, or being electric. So the translated title would be "Electric Daisy". That makes a lot of sense, seeing as the persona of DAISY comes from a cel phone.

There is a lot I could write about, but I'm not big on spoilers. I really loved the set up and development of the characters in this series. The mangaka plays on emotions really well. The interactions of Teru, Kurosaki, and DAISY really flesh out the roles of the characters and what may lie ahead. I'm most interested to see what becomes of Teru and DAISY.

I found the relationship that Teru has with DAISY very intriguing. She's never met that person, but trusts him or her. Although she's being harassed at school, she only asks DAISY for help when it's a friend that is in trouble. At one point her cel phone is stolen, and although she is delirious with fever, she is desperate to recover her only connection to DAISY. DAISY has been there to help her through her loneliness, and she relies on that connection.

Kurosaki, the janitor, is a charming character. He acts like a drinking, smoking, delinquent, but has another side that he tries to hide from Teru. When Teru gets in trouble, Kurosaki comes to her rescue armed for bear. He can't reveal his alternate identity, which puts him in some tight spots. He harasses Teru in hopes of irritating her, to keep his own feelings at bay.

The art has a nice mix of styles to fit the right mood. There are the scenes where Teru and Kurosaki are working after school and the characters are more cartoonish. Then it may come to a scene where there is strong emotion, and Motomi draws the characters more detailed and feathery. The paneling and layout flow smoothly, and the drawings are very attractive. It's really enjoyable to read.

If you prefer shojo, then you won't want to miss this new series from Viz. It won't disappoint. Great characters, interesting storyline, and attractive art. Best of all - it's a shojo that isn't cliché.

Romance Rating: Cuddly

Media Status: Dengeki Daisy vol. 1 is available in the states from Viz media. Volume 2 will be released October 5, 2010. The series is currently running in Betsucomi magazine in Japan.
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