Tag Archives: Otomen

Otomen (Volume 4)

Kanno, Aya. Otomen Volume 4 (2009). 200 Pages. Viz (Shoujo Beat) $8.99

The hardest part about reading series which are incomplete is that they are incomplete. You have to wait for each volume to be released, which can be difficult (at best) once they start dragging into the high double digits*. Otomen is an ongoing series, unlike Othello or Doubt!! which were both complete before I started reviewing them. Even more difficult is the fact that until they are licensed by US Distributors, many good manga can be found fan-translated, so you’re simultaneously hoping they do get licensed (so you can buy it) and they don’t get licensed (so you can read them online, instead of having to wait).

This all relates to Otomen because I had read a few chapters online before Viz published it, and had really liked it, but now I have to wait for it to publish on their schedule.

The Story So Far…

Asuka was the ultimate representation of masculinity until he met Ryo. Something about having a crush on her brought back all his long-repressed feminine habits; he cooks, he cleans, he crafts, and he adores Ryo. Of course, Ryo was fairly clueless, being oblivious to Asuka’s feelings for her (even if she is his perfect match). Juta, meanwhile, has been observing the two and secretly basing his manga on them.

Finally, Asuka got up the courage to ask Ryo out, and now they’re dating, which would be great, if anything had changed. We got to know a lot more about Juta and his family, and a little bit about Asuka’s rivalries, and status in the martial arts world. Tonomine especially is an interesting contrast to Asuka, making things extra fun.

In This Volume…

Asuka prepares to celebrate Ryo’s birthday, and spends some time with Ryo’s father (Takeshi Miyakozuka).

Asuka discovers a hidden flower garden, and makes a new friend (Kitora Kurokawa).

Yamato returns, and drags Asuka, Ryo, Juta, and Kitora off on a summertime beach adventure. Then Tonomine gets involved and it becomes a battle for honor.

Thoughts…

Otomen is a fun story, and part of what makes it so fun is the semi-cluelessness which plagues Ryo and Asuka. Another part of the fun is the way that nothing quite happens the way you expect, or the characters get excited over something which doesn’t go how they expected it to.

The “summertime beach trip” is a manga classic which is done well in this series, managing to be fun and unique while still staying true to the series/characters. I think this volume deserves a 5/5 for being my favorite so far.

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* I’m looking at you, Ranma 1/2 & Inu Yasha. You and I have a love-hate relationship. I hate you for taking so long to tell a story, but I love you for being so brilliant and for being my first manga.

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

Otomen (Volume 3)

Kanno, Aya. Otomen Volume 3 (2007) 200 Pages. Viz (Shoujo Beat) $8.99

When I first got hooked on manga over a decade ago (which makes me feel old, when I say it that way) there were really only a couple series, and they were hard to find. Even big-name retailers like Borders and Barnes & Noble had maybe one or two shelves with manga and comics. I would spend ages looking for the latest volumes to the series which I was reading, and I spent $10+ per volume.

Now, even the local library has manga (though I have to use Link+ for some of them) and suddenly my manga habit is much cheaper to sustain. I love that it has become so main-stream, and that it is now so easy to get fun, cute stories like Otomen.

The Story So Far…

Asuka Masamune lives a double life; he loves cute, sweet, girly things, he’s a great cook, and a talented crafter, he’s an Otomen, a girly-guy. Yet, he’s also the captain of the Kendo club, and is ranked nationally. In his day-to-day life, he strives to be the perfect man, and he mostly succeeds, at great personal expense.

Seemingly by accident, Asuka ends up making friends with Ryo Miyakozuka and Juta Tachibana. This is partially because Asuka has a major crush on Ryo, and partially because Juta has decided to base his manga on their story.* Asuka and Ryo seem destined to be together; Ryo is a manly girl** who fails at anything womanly, and so Asuka completes her.

In This Volume

Asuka helps Ryo out at a friend’s daycare. They finally go on a successful date to an amusement park, and finally, we meet Hajime Tonomine, Asuka’s kendo rival.

Thoughts

Having gotten the cliche “arranged marriage” story out of the way in volume 2, the rest of the series seems ready to move on to original (or at least more original) stories. Asuka is an endearing character who you can’t help rooting for, even when his only problem is his own fear.

The first story in this volume was very cute, as Asuka tried to help out at Ryo’s daycare, and found himself struggling, because he simultaneously wanted to be a good, fun sensei, and an ideal man, two concepts which he could not balance. Ultimately, things end up working out (as they always do) and Asuka seems to learn a bit from it.

As a whole, I like this series a lot, and I thought that this volume was very good. It gets a 4.5/5

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* Juta is apparently an established manga-ka, and is, in fact, the author of Asuka’s favorite series.

** Interesting that there is a name for a girly-boy, but no name for a boyish-girl.

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

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