Category Archives: Graphic Novel

Otomen 2

Kanno, Aya. Otomen Volume 2 (2009). 192 Pages. Viz (Shoujo Beat) $8.99

From the Back Cover

Asuka Masamune is a guy who loves girly things– sewing, knitting, making cute stuffed animals and reading shojo comics. But in a world where boys are expected to act manly, Asuka must hide his beloved hobbies and play the part of a masculine jock instead. Can Asuka ever show his true self to anyone, much less to Ryo Miyakozuka, the girl that he’s falling for?

Asuka’s mother shows up with a surprise announcement– it’s time for Asuka to meet his fiancée! What kind of girl does she have in mind for him? And how will Ryo respond to the match?

In This Volume

The first part of this volume deals with Asuka’s stalker; Yamoto Ariake, a young, cute boy who really wants to be manly. He sees Asuka as the pinnacle of manliness, and follows him to study his ways.

The second part of the volume is about Christmas. Winter time forces Ryo, Asuka, and Juta to find a new place to have their lunches. They find a wintertime lunch room, and a place to celebrate a small Christmas party.

The third part is about Asuka’s fiancée. Having decided that her business could use an alliance, Asuka’s mother has arranged an engagement for Asuka. Determined to make his mother happy, Asuka goes along with it.

Thoughts

Asuka, realizing that he has found some good friends, has relaxed a bit, and enjoys their acceptance. He has seemingly calmed down a lot, which makes this volume all the more difficult for him, because every 2/3 stories involve him hiding his true nature.

Asuka’s mother is manipulative, and distant. She seemingly doesn’t care about her son, so long as he remains manly enough for her, which is pressure he really didn’t need. Asuka’s fiancée is crazy, and her parents overly-indulgent, which is a classic shojo trope.

I do like this series, but I foresee it becoming one which drags out the romance, and throws in unnecessary complications before it eventually resolves itself. This volume gets a 4/5.

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Graphic Novel, Romance, Shojo Manga, Young Adult Fiction

Otomen 1

Kanno, Aya. Otomen Volume 1 (2009) 208 Pages. Viz (Shojo Beat). $8.99

I love Shojo Manga, and I especially love it when it features pretty artwork. This is definitely a fluffy-happy manga with a fluffy-happy story (mostly). As with every shojo manga, there’s got to be a lot of angst before we get to the happy ending, but this one is exceptionally cute.

Asuka Masamune is the manliest man you’ll ever meet. He’s the best at Kendo, Judo, and Karate, he excels at everything academic or physical, and he despises sweets. (Or so he says). He’s strong, smart, and handsome; every boy wants to be him every girl wants to date him. So it’s really unfortunate that this is all a facade and he’s been hiding his true self since he was a child.

When he finds himself crushing on the adorable-but-not-at-all-feminine Ryo Miyakozuka, the manly-Asuka dissolves. His girly side comes out whenever he thinks about her, and before he knows it, he’s created all sorts of cute things. Ryo may be oblivious to Asuka’s feelings, but the school flirt Juta Tachibana certainly is not. He may have declared himself to be Asuka’s love-rival, but he seems like more of an instigator. Before Asuka knows what he’s doing, he’s committed himself to making bento lunch for himself, Ryo, and Juta. Through this cooking his inner feminine side comes out, and he finds himself becoming more girly every day.

As Asuka learns over the course of the volume, loving cute, sweet, girly things doesn’t make him weak, or unable to be a man. He learns (slowly) to accept himself, as he also comes to the realization that Ryo is very, very dense, and is oblivious to the fact that he’s super into her.

Of course, every volume has to have its story arcs. We’ve got Asuka trying to impress Ryo’s dad, Asuka writing Juta off as a player, and Asuka trying to take Ryo out on a date. It’s cute, and I really enjoyed it.

The Quick Version:

If you like fluffy manga, and happy romance stories, this is totally the book for you. It gets a 4/5, because it was very good.

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Graphic Novel, Shojo Manga, Young Adult Fiction

12 Days

Kim, June. 12 Days (2006). 192 Pages. TokyoPop $9.99.

It’s not often that I read stories about death, or mourning. I have never been one for focusing on death. I prefer happy, light-hearted books about fuzzy warm things (like the cheesy romance novels I review so often). However, I do appreciate books that deal with the bittersweet, with mourning and moving on, with the sadness of those left behind.

Jackie and Nick have lost Noah, and neither feels really capable of moving on. They find some solace in each other, and some comfort in Jackie’s crazy ritual, but their story doesn’t end on the last page.

I normally try to come up with my own summary, but I’m really at a loss, so I’m going to share the blurb from the back cover of the book:

When Jackie’s ex-lover Noah dies, she decides the best and quickest way to get over the love of her life is to hold a personal ritual with Noah’s ashes. Jackie consumes the ashes in the form of smoothies for 12 days– hoping the pain will subside with her profound reaction to Noah’s death.

In this intense exploration of love’s power over tragedy and loss, June Kim crafts a moving tale that delves into the intricacies of family, friendship, and love.

There is a lot more to be said about this book than just its cover blurb. The artwork is beautiful, the dialog perfect. When characters are speaking, their words express their feelings, and when they are silent, it is visible in the artwork how they feel. It’s clear that Nick and Jackie find some solace in each other, and it’s clear that Nick knows more about Noah’s feelings for Jackie than even Jackie knows.

The past and the present really blend together, sometimes the definitions are clear, other times it’s blurred, and you’re not really sure when you’re looking at. It’s beautifully done though.

The Quick Version:

For a graphic novel about mourning, this book really is good. It’s subject matter I’m not usually into, but it somehow managed to end up on my bookshelf, and maintain a spot there for several years now. I periodically re-read it. It gets a 5/5 for being beautifully illustrated, and very in-tune with some realistic characters.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Young Adult Fiction