Monday, January 20, 2020

Missed it Monday - Love at Fourteen vol 4 (Manga Review)

Two high school students get ready for the sports festival
Missed it Monday is the ongoing column where I review anime/manga that I didn't watch/read when they first came out.

Love at Fourteen vol. 4 - 5/10

It really really hurt me to rate this volume so low. In many ways, Love at Fourteen vol. 4 (Yen Press) was just as cute, sweet, and uplifting as the prior volumes. But in other ways, I've really had to rethink the series in light of a side couple's story.

Love at Fourteen follows long-time friends Kazuki and Kanata, who are seen as more mature than the rest of their third-year middle-school peers, and who begin secretly dating. They are incredibly sweet and kind to each other and model students. Theirs is a simple and cute story but that has some surprising emotional resonance. Their story in volume 4 is just as wonderful as in the prior volumes.

It's uniform changing time and Kazuki and Kanata can't get on the same page. They both want to wear the same uniforms as the other, but they keep getting it reversed. The other part of their story focuses on preparations for the school athletic festival where their time is split away from each other but the ways they find to connect anyway. Cute!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Daytime Shooting Star volume 4 is making me question continuing the series (Manga Review)

A headshot of a high-school girl with braided hair and pink flowers in the background
Daytime Shooting Star vol. 4 - 4/10

Why such a low score you ask? Daytime Shooting Star vol. 4 (Shojo Beat/Viz) takes a teacher's inappropriate affections for a 15 year old up another notch. And that simply isn't okay. While nothing has actually happened between them, we have a 25-year-old-ish man openly flirting and courting at 15-year-old. This is the volume where Daytime Shooting Star appears to fall off the respectability cliff.

In volume 4, Suzume (our heroine) finds out Shishio (her teacher) is really not getting back together with his ex-girlfriend. His ex-girlfriend conspires to get the two of them together instead, and she's unwittingly helped by one of Suzume's friends (Yuyuka) who really does want Suzume to get with her teacher. The two end up alone at the aquarium. We also see that Yuyuka really likes Mamura (the boy Suzume should be with), who really likes Suzume, but that Mamura isn't paying Yuyuka the time of day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Emanon volume 3 is a partial conclusion (Manga Review)

A young woman, smoking, sits on rocks in a forest
Emanon vol. 3 - 8/10

A fourth volume of Emanon is (or has) been released in Japan, but the licensing contract for translation to English only covers three volumes. While it is unclear if we'll get the fourth volume in English, volume 3 "ends" with enough of a resolution as to be satisfying. This is sort of ironic given that the main character is a woman who has existed since before time and who carries her prior live's memories with her through each new birth and so therefore the story has no beginning or ending.

In Emanon volume 3 (Dark Horse), we start in 1973 with Emanon sick and collapsing in the rain in a forest only to be found by a young man who takes her to a hospital. When she awakens, she has none of her memories: not of her current life, and not of any of her previous lives. So instead, the two slowly get to know each other, and slowly fall in love. The story culminates in the birth of their child. For those who have read volumes 1 and 2, you may be able to guess the bittersweet changes that brings about. I won't spoil it here, it's well worth the read.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Missed it Monday - Wake Up Sleeping Beauty volume 3 (Manga Review)

A high school boy and girl, her arms on his, leaning in close, surrounded by small flowers
Missed it Monday is the ongoing column where I review manga/anime that I didn't read/watch when they first came out.

Wake Up Sleeping Beauty vol. 3 - 7.5/10

Volume 3 of Wake Up Sleeping Beauty (Kodansha Comics) keeps up the cute, slightly overwrought, but sincere burgeoning romance between a girl possessed by spirits of the dead and the boy who cleans her house to pay the bills while his mom is sick in the hospital. (Yup, shoujo!)

To catch you up: Shizu is possessed by several spirits of the dead including her grandfather and a 10 year old boy. They take turns inhabiting her body and protect her from being inhabited by evil spirits. Tetsu's mom is ill and to help pay the bills he works, against his father's wishes, and has given up soccer (his passion) to do so.

Volume 3 begins with Tetsu sneaking Shizu out of the mansion where her mom keeps her locked away (hence one of many Sleeping Beauty references) for fear of what others might think of her possession. He takes her to his school on a Sunday and he plays teacher while she plays student in an attempt to give her some of the normal experiences she's missing. It's a really sweet and kind scene.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

In a Word: Trans - an autobiographical comic collection (LGBTQ+ Comic Review)

pink book background with white text with a male and female logo in scratchy white
"In a Word: Trans" by Justin Hubbell
Today's column is a bit different. Rather than giving a review, I want to highlight a very cool collection of comics by a non-binary transgender person, Justin Hubbell (they/them pronouns) called In a Word: Trans. Like my other columns discussing autobiographical works, I will not give a numeric rating because it is not for me to judge another person's life. Instead, I just want to talk about what this work includes so you can decide if it is something that interests you (and it should!).

In a Word: Trans is a collection of comics, by Justin Hubbell, many of which had been posted online prior to this collection. Others in the collection were done for personal reasons by the artist as part of their own processing over the course of exploring their gender and gender expression.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Missed it Monday - Fireworks (2017) is a gross male fantasy (Anime Review)

A highschool girl and boy at night with exploding fireworks overhead
Missed it Monday is the recurring column where I review manga/anime that I didn't read/watch when they first came out.

Fireworks (2017) - 3.5/10

It turns out I had already tried to watch "Fireworks" once. When I started watching it the other day, the first few minutes seemed familiar. And terrible. I now remember starting it and refusing to finish it because it was so bad. This time I plowed through just in case it got better. It didn't. It got worse. It is an overwrought male fantasy that masquerades as a coming of age, time-travel, love story. "Your Name" or "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" it is not.

In order to do justice to this review, I will be spoiling the whole way through, particularly when talking about the absolutely awful ending. You've been warned. But the movie sucks so bad that at least I'm saving you from needing to watch it.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

O Maidens in Your Savage Season volume 5 gets conventional? (Manga Review)

A school girl surrounded by lilies
O Maidens in Your Savage Season vol. 5 - 7.5/10

I read volume 5 of O Maidens in Your Savage Season (Kodansha Comics) twice before writing this review, and also started watching the anime adaptation. Both confirmed my hunch that the series is starting to get a bit more conventional from the thunderclap that was the first volume.

That's not to say this volume or series is bad (quite the opposite), but it hasn't been able to maintain the crushing realism and mind-f@ck of puberty the way the first volume expressed it. To be honest, that's the main reason the rating for this volume isn't higher. It really was a great volume in a great series. But I'm worried that I'll forever feel let down after that first volume's bravery, exuberance, and explosive realism for the topic.

In volume 5, the five girls in the literature club continue to move forward through puberty in its many varied ways. Probably the best way to discuss this volume is by taking each character's arc separately. Although they certainly interweave, they each have their own unique journey of self-realization.The entirety of the volume concerns preparations for, and the actual, school festival where the club will put on a dramatic reading of a legend about love at the festival. Light spoilers to follow, but I've tried to avoid any big reveals.