Friday, October 18, 2019

Roadqueen: Eternal Roadtrip to Love (LGBTQ comic review)

Two young women pose on a motorcycle
Roadqueen: Eternal Roadtrip to Love - 6/10

In short, I wanted to love it, but I only sort of liked it. Roadqueen: Eternal Roadtrip to Love (Seven Seas) despite it's flaws, is also a lesbian graphic novel, and you can never have too many of them. Representation alone makes it valuable. But unfortunately, the story is corny, tropey, and obvious and the artwork is only okay. It's not without its virtues, but it isn't a landmark comic either.

In Roadqueen, we meet highschooler Leo: the hot, bad-ass motorcycle riding senior girl at the Princess Andromeda Academy (which sounds more interesting than it is and which barely features in the story at all). She's too cool for school, and while every girl wants to ask her out, she turns every one down, every time. She's actually a loner other than her friend and her friend's girlfriend. She's emotionally blocked and hides behind a false bravado.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Osamu Dazai: "The Setting Sun" (Book Review)

The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai book cover 1956 edition
1956 translation
"The Setting Sun" - 8.5/10

There is absolutely nothing I could say that hasn't been said about the incredible, and tragic, author Osamu Dazai or his brilliant novel "The Setting Sun." I'm not Japanese, nor an expert in Japanese culture, literature, or history, so I'm not really in any place to discuss this book with any nuance. Instead, consider this a review for people who have never heard of him or this novel. Because, at the very least, more people should be reading his works.

Osamu Dazai led a short and tragic life, leaving behind several stunning novels and other works of fiction. I came across his name in several anime and manga whose characters make reference to reading him, so I figured it was a good place to start (since the only other Japanese author I've read is Haruki Murakami - whom I LOVE!).

Monday, October 14, 2019

Missed it Monday - Love at Fourteen volume 2 (Manga Review)

A teen boy and girl dancing in front of a classroom window, their arms align to form a heart
Missed it Mondays is the ongoing series where I review manga and anime I didn't read/watch when they first came out. 

Love at Fourteen vol. 2 - 7/10

Like the first volume, Love at Fourteen vol. 2 (Yen Press) is light, sweet, slightly funny, cute, and a little bit insightful. In short, a worthwhile read.

The series follows Kanata Tanaka and Kazuki Yoshikawa, two fourteen year-olds in love. In volume 1 they started as childhood friends, who just sort of realized that their friendship had naturally grown into more. In volume 2, they continue to grow together, and enjoy each others company, while we also get to know some of the surrounding people in their school lives.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Kase-san and Morning Glories Blu-Ray suffers from its short run time (Anime Review)

Disc cover with two high school girls surrounded by plants at school
Kase-san and Morning Glories (Blu-ray) - 7/10

Oh how it pained me to type that rating above and not a higher one. I wanted to gush about Kase-san and Morning Glories (the OVA) because I love the manga series so much. But for all its wonderful qualities, there were some tough decisions that had to get made to bring this to light, and so it's an imperfect anime. But one that surely will appeal to existing fans, like me.

For those unaware, "Kase-san and..." is a manga series that had some publication trouble between the magazine it was published in getting stopped and moving to a web publisher, etc... and yet somehow managed to build an audience, keep going, and actually building up enough steam to go into a second, sequel, series. So the thought that it would ever get an anime was out of the question, and yet here we are reviewing it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Ao Haru Ride volume 7 is filled to the brim with plot and emotion (Manga Review)

Ao Haru Ride vol. 7 - 7.5/10

My favorite part of Ao Haru Ride vol. 7 (Shojo Beat/Viz) is that we get to see another side of Shuko, one of the side characters. We also see that Kou is completely aware of his complex feelings regarding Futaba and Narumi, and stuck with what to do about them. Further, that other boy, Kikuchi, keeps showing up. How long can Kou deny Futaba before Kikuchi scoops her up? That's a lot to pack into a volume, and this one is just as good as the rest of the series has been so far.

To catch up, Futaba and Kou had a mutual crush in middle school before Kou mysteriously vanished. Now back, with a new last name, we find out Kou was taking care of his sick mother and when she died, he moved back in with his father. But during that time away, he met a young lady named Narumi who was also going through something similar. Just as Kou and Futaba seem about to rekindle their romance, Narumi shows up and Kou seems determined not to let her suffer in silence like he did. But to do so, he's drifting away from Futaba.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Missed It Monday - Iroduku: The world in colors (anime review)

two school girls sit on a bridge in misty backlight
Missed it Monday is the ongoing column where I review anime and manga that I missed when they first came out.

Iroduku: The world in colors - 5.5/10

Let me be blunt. "Iroduku: The world in colors" was an overwrought, under developed, and exceedingly boring anime. I also think it served mostly as a vehicle for male fantasy. In short. I didn't really like it.

Hitomi lives in 2078. She is a high-school student in a world where some people can use magic and that is a normal part of society (in some ways, like a huge rip off of the Someday's Dreamers series of manga and anime - a far far better series). For whatever reason, and we'll come back to this later, she cannot see colors. She is also sad (oh so sad) and her grandmother decides to send her back in time 60 years without warning.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Nameless Asterism Volume 4 opens up Washio's experience (Manga Review)

three teen girls sit on a couch doing their hair surrounded by stars
Nameless Asterism vol. 4 - 7.5/10

Nameless Asterism vol. 4 (Seven Seas) is split between Washio's back story and Subaru's current story. Both add some needed depth to the characters, and overall it's a strong volume.

To catch up, since it's been a while since volume 3 came out. Nameless Asterism is the story of three female friends trapped in a love triangle. Tsukasa is in love with Washio, Washio is in love with Kotooka, and Kotooka is in love with Tsukasa. Got it?! Then we have Tsukasa's twin brother Subaru who is strangely tied to his sister (maybe it's a twin thing and not a gross thing) who has become friends with Asakura who is in love with Tsukasa. Got it?!

This could be a hot mess, but it's a dramedy so while there is some moping and angst, there are also funny moments and levity. In volume 4, Washio's story, particularly how she met and fell for Kotooka, takes center stage. Through that story, the reader watches as both those girls wrestle with their attraction to girls in vastly different ways. Washio doesn't even bother pretending to be interested in boys, and as she thinks more about her feelings for Kotooka, she realizes that it is romantic love. However, we see Kotooka in her early stages of denial, as she hops from boy to boy trying to find something that will work for her.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Our Dreams at Dusk volume 3 explores the painful complexity of identity (Manga Review)

Two teen boys, one looking out, one looking away, stand on a bridge
Our Dreams at Dusk vol. 3 - 9/10

Wow. This was the most challenging and difficult volume in the series so far, but in some ways the most direct about its feelings. Our Dreams at Dusk vol. 3 (Seven Seas) picks up with Tasuku's crush, Tsubaki, spending more and more time helping out with Cat Clutter leading to significant conflict.

While Tasuku and Tsubaki spend more time at Cat Clutter, Tsubaki also starts associating with Tasuku more frequently both in and out of school. This leads Tasuku to begin questioning whether there could ever be something more between them.

However, several times, in several situations, it becomes clear that Tsubaki is struggling with his own identity and lashes out at the LGBTQ+ community as a result. We are left watching as Tasuku gets hurt again and again, but also concerned that Tsubaki might be gay/bi and in denial, punishing himself and those around him in the process of his struggle.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Missed It Monday - Love at Fourteen volume 1 (Manga Review)

two teens, a boy and girl, sit on desks in school with a blue sky behind them
Missed It Monday is the ongoing column where I review anime and manga I missed when they first came out.

Love at Fourteen vol. 1 - 7.5/10

Love at Fourteen volume 1 (Yen Press) was a pleasant surprise, different than I expected, and with room to keep developing. I went in expecting a serious, dramatic, brooding take on young people in love. Instead, it's a heartwarming, cute, light, funny, sweet, and gentle romance between two people whose love is moving from friendship to romantic.

The series introduces us to two middle-schoolers, Kanata and Kazuki, who are both tall and "mature" for their ages. At least that's what their classmates think. In truth, they're just kids who've been friends forever, and enjoy spending time goofing off in endlessly silly ways. They only pretend in school to be the "cool" mature types because that's what the rest of the kids expect from them.

In the Morning, I'll Say Hello Chapter 2 now posted (Original Yuri)

Just a reminder, I'm posting chapters for my original yuri romance every week. Chapter 2 is now up:


Friday, September 27, 2019

After the Rain volume 5 delivers the right ending to the series (Manga Review)

Teenage girl with an umbrella over her shoulder smiling
After the Rain vol. 5 - 9.5/10

I've been waiting for this final volume of After the Rain (Vertical Comics) since I read the first volume. That's a strange thing to say, but my feelings about the entire series were going to be based on how the outcome of this final volume made me reflect on all the prior ones. I am extremely happy to say that Mayuzuki-sensei pulled it off and After the Rain volume 5 is both the beautiful, satisfying, and "correct" ending to the series.

Akira Tachibana was a highschool track star until she injured her ankle and refused physical therapy. She took a job as a waitress at a local restaurant and promptly fell in love with her balding middle-aged boss. Her middle-aged boss was a failed writer who gave up, got divorced, and isn't going much of anywhere. This had all the makings of a really gross story: 17-year-old beauty somehow is attracted to a 40-ish middling man and somehow this man ends up with a girl way out of his league and which comes just shy of being statutory in her near-childness.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

If I Could Reach You volume 1 - obsessed much? (Manga Review)

Cover of manga with girl sitting in room at dusk
If I Could Reach You - volume 1 - 5.5/10

If I Could Reach You volume 1 (Kodansha Comics) is a yuri manga about a high-school girl in love with her older brother's wife. While that could be reasonable grounds to explore complex themes, it just doesn't come together in volume 1 at all.

Uta is our protagonist. Her sister-in-law, Kaoru, apparently spent years pining for Uta's brother, Reiichi, only to finally marry him. Things were apparently not good in Uta's household growing up and after Kaoru and Reiichi married, Uta moved in with them. As Uta is living with them, she realizes that her feelings for Kaoru are romantic love.

Fine. There are all sorts of ways that this could play out. Plenty of young people have had crushes on older people, including those they've looked up to for years. But "If I Could Reach You" doesn't do subtly well, it's all on the surface. The other biggest problem with this volume is that we don't learn anything about Uta as a person, even though she's our protagonist.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Missed it Monday - Waiting for Spring Volume 2 (Manga Review)

Boy on cover giving the peace sign in school uniform
Missed it Monday is the ongoing series where I review manga and anime that I missed when they first came out.

Waiting for Spring vol. 2 - 6/10

At the end of the first volume, there was a strong tease about what plot volume 2 of Waiting for Spring (Kodansha Comics) would introduce into the series. In volume 1, we meet Mitsuki, your average girl heroine who struggles to make friends, and the group of male basketball players she can't get away from. Leaving from watching their game, Mitsuki runs into an old friend, the girl she looked up to in elementary school, except "she's" a "he" (gasp) and the star of the best highschool basketball team in the area (double gasp)!

So my hope, I'm sure because I'm trans, is that this person, Aya, was a transgender man and actually transitioned from girl to boy. But alas, no. Volume 2 makes clear that Aya was always a boy and that Mitsuki just misunderstood the whole time they were in young (they met on the playground). Darn. The creator didn't do anything wrong with this version of the twist, but I was hopeful we'd get some real trans rep. Nope, just a mistaken identity.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Read the scripts for the yuri comic I wrote!

Hi, I spent nearly 4 years writing 82 chapters for an original yuri comic. I've decided to start posting them on this blog. I hope you'll read it and enjoy it as much as I did writing it. Here's the link:


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Emanon volume 2 - imperfect but beautiful (Manga Review)

Emanon wanderer part one
Emanon Vol. 2: Emanon Wanderer Part One - 8/10

Emanon vol. 2 (Dark Horse) is the continuation of the manga adaptation of the well known Japanese sci-fi story series by original author Shinji Kajio and illustrator Kenji Tsuruta. This volume adds a gloriously illustrated full-color story and some interesting insight into the lead character's psyche.

Emanon tells the story of a young woman with no name (hence" Emanon" - no name backwards) who is born into a new body with each generation but possesses all the memories of each of her prior lives, all the way back to single celled organisms.

Volume 2 contains an 8 chapter story and the beginning of a longer arc over the final seven chapters. In the first, self-contained story, she meets a young boy whom she entrusts something precious to for him to protect. Years later, she finds out whether he has kept his promise or not.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Missed It Monday - Takane & Hana volume 2 (Manga Review)

Yuki Shiwasu
Missed It Monday is the ongoing series where I review anime and manga I missed when they first came out.

Takane & Hana vol. 2 - 7/10

Takane & Hana is not normally the type of series I would read (broad comedy about older guy and high school girl), and yet, it continues to be charming and endearing in its own way with Volume 2 (Viz/Shojo Beat).

In Volume 1, we meet Hana, a high-school girl, who "saves" her older sister by going to an arranged marriage meeting in her place only to meet Takane, the heir to the biggest conglomerate in Japan, where she makes a total fool of his arrogance. Like so many series before it, this sets up the dynamic of the down-to-earth girl and the rich, beautiful, clueless, but has-potential guy. The only real concern I had was that she was still in high-school.

Thankfully, this series is really not concerned with romance, at all! We are not meant to take Takane & Hana seriously. Instead, and unlike horrid series like "Happy Marriage" which seem stuck in another century when it comes to male/female dynamics, Takane & Hana is all about the silly comedy and Hana is as spunky and assertive as it gets. No door mat here!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Daytime Shooting Star volume 2 is full of cliched tropes (Manga Review)

Mika Yamamori
Daytime Shooting Star vol. 2 - 6.5/10

I'm uneasy with the basic setup of Daytime Shooting Star (Viz/Shojo Beat) to begin with, and volume 2 is filled with a lot of cliche'd plot tropes. It was still a fine enough read, but I'm starting to wonder if this is a series I will continue with. For those looking for more of the same shoujo, this might be fine, but for those looking for something unique, Daytime Shooting Star is wanting so far.

In volume 1, we met Suzume who was from the country, has no sense of direction, and is helped to her uncles house (where she's staying - cliche alert - parents are gone, she must move to Tokyo!) by a young man who is friends with her uncle (literally the first chapter of 50% of all shoujo manga from what I can tell). It turns out that the hot young man who helped her get there is also her teacher in school (yup, you saw this coming). What's a young girl to do other than fall in love with her teacher? (which is how volume 1 ends).

In volume 2, Suzume goes on a class camping trip and guess what?

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Art of Forgery - a really superficial survey (Book Review)

Noah Charney
The Art of Forgery - 5.5/10

I love art, particularly turn-of-the-century realism and post-impressionism. I also love art forgery. I think it's incredible that people are either talented enough to fool others, or creative enough to hit on the gullible or corrupt nature of so-called professionals in the art sales industry (although I am fascinated, I would never advocate for it, and I am disgusted at the way it corrupts our understanding of artists and history). I've read many great books on the subject, each detailing a specific forger or forgery ring. I love the technical art details as well as the machinations behind the sales.

However, "The Art of Forgery" by Noah Charney, is not one of those great books. It reads like a survey course or the entries in an old-fashioned encyclopedia. It details a great many forgeries and forgers, organized by thematic topics, but does so in anywhere from just a few paragraphs to a mere few pages. Thus, there is no depth or detail in the discussion of any of them. Having read many books detailing individual forgers referenced in this volume, I was left feeling as though this book could best be viewed as a way for me to identify more forgers to get complete books on, but not as a valuable read in and of itself.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Blank Canvas volume 2 shows the college struggle is real (Manga Review)

Akiko Higashimura
Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey Volume 2 continues the autobiography of creator Akiko Higashimura, a well known mangaka. As is my general policy when reviewing autobiographies, I won't be giving this a numeric rating. After all, who am I to rate someone's actual life? I really liked volume 1, and volume 2 meaningfully continues that story.

Volume 2 opens with Akiko applying to her final art college. Disturbed by the news she didn't get into her first choices, she was too distracted to paint well during the exams for this one. Although she was sure she wouldn't get in there either, she was finally accepted.

The majority of volume 2 traces her college path and her visits home. She spends most of her first year unable to paint, skipping classes to avoid feeling like a failure, and just generally falling apart, her dream of being a mangaka slipping away.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Hatsu*Haru volume 8 is sweet and simple (Manga Review)

Shizuki Fujisawa
Hatsu*Haru vol. 8 - 7.5/10

I am still really enjoying Hatsu*Haru (Yen Press) as a series, but there is always the question of whether a series should end when the couple gets together, or whether their time together can be written to be even more interesting and meaningful than the set-up?

We can all think of shows that tanked after the couple got together ("Chuck" anyone?) and shows where the time together was even better ("Kimi Ni Todoke" is a manga that does this really well and "Dharma and Greg" [TV] nailed this by doing the meeting-each-other and the post-marriage relationship at the same time). With vol. 8, we start to see where this series is going to fall on the in-relationship interestingness spectrum (yes, that's a thing).

Volume 8 starts with two chapters focusing on our side couple, Taka and Shimura. To refresh our audience, Taka is Kai's best friend, and Shimura is the head of the newspaper. Shimura and Taka pretended to date to make it clear to Riko that Taka didn't like her so she could focus on Kai's feelings. Volume 8 opens with Shimura telling Taka that it's time to break-up from their fake relationship. This throws Taka for a loop and forces the two of them to do some real thinking about each other. These two chapters are well done, sweet, and open up some background story on Shimura to complement what we learned about Taka in earlier chapters.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Missed It Monday - O Maidens in Your Savage Season Volume 3 (Manga Review)

Mari Okada and Nao Emoto
Missed It Monday is an ongoing series where I review manga and anime I missed when they first came out in search of great series to keep reading.

O Maidens in Your Savage Season Vol. 3 - 9/10

Volume 3 cemented it. O Maidens in Your Savage Season is simply amazing. It so perfectly captures the mix of pubescent sexuality, naivete, lust, fear, anxiety, confusion, and passion with a mix of realism, drama, and comedy. And the art continues to be extraordinary. Basically, I loved this volume and I love this series. I don't say that lightly, I'm pretty "meh" on most series, hate a bunch of others, and only seldom rave.

O Maidens follows the exploits of the literature club, five high-school girls who read well-regarded literature and dissect it with a heavy focus on analyzing the sex scenes. In volume 2, they escaped being shut down when the got a faculty adviser. In addition, each girl is beginning to explore her own sexuality as well as open up (at least to the reader) about their own pasts.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Sarah McBride's heartbreaking memoir: Tomorrow Will Be Different (Book Review)

Sarah McBride
I was only aware of Sarah McBride in a cursory way before reading her memoir, "Tomorrow Will Be Different." I knew she was a strong advocate for transgender issues but that was about all. I simply had no idea just how intense, dynamic, loving, and devastating her young adulthood has been, just how many years she has lived in such a short amount of time. I also had no idea that this book, while certainly about many issues of importance to the transgender community, wasn't really a book about transitioning at all. Whatever it is about, you need to read this book. I don't say that lightly. I've never cried more when reading a book than I did during this one.

Note: As is my policy when reviewing memoirs and similarly personal accounts of a person's life, I will not do a traditional review with a numeric score nor a standard critique of the content as I would for fiction. How could I, or any one else, judge another person's life story? I want to honor the author's lived reality and so my review is only intended to highlight how I responded to their story. On to the review.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Breath of Flowers volume 1 - an original French (?) language "manga" (Manga-inspired Comic Review)

Breath of Flowers vol. 1 - 8/10

Whelp, that score really surprised me. I guess I really liked Breath of Flowers volume 1 (Tokyopop). It's not without its problems, but the truth is, it was cute and gave me lots of feels as I was reading it, and I think it's well deserving of that score. It did set itself apart a bit from the crowd.

Breath of Flowers is by Caly. I have no idea who this is, but reading the publishing page in the volume, it appears that this volume was first published in France. Given that it is not set in Japan or the US (from various context cues throughout) and that there are many western names, I imagine that it actually takes place in France as well. So my guess is that this is an Original French Language Manga (OFLM - a play on OELM, an older term for manga-style comics by American creators).

And the use of that term, "manga," is the first problem we need to address. Tokyopop clearly lists this as a manga, and even has an advertisement on a back page for other international "manga" creators. But can a comic, created by someone outside the Japanese publishing (or self-publishing) market, and who is not Japanese, be considered manga?

Monday, August 26, 2019

Missed It Monday - I Hear The Sunspot - a really beautiful romance and a look at my implicit bias (Manga Review)

Missed It Monday is the ongoing series where I review anime and manga that I missed when they first came out in search of great series to keep reading.

Yuki Fumino
I Hear the Sunspot - 8.5/10

I went out on a limb and picked up "I Hear the Sunspot" (One Peace Books) due to its critical praise. I don't normally read yaoi manga but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I wasn't disappointed. "I Hear the Sunspot" is a simple, beautifully told and drawn, romance between two young men. I was really struck by how much I enjoyed it.

So I want to talk briefly about implicit bias. Implicit bias is the collection of experiences one has had to date and the way those experiences then unconsciously impact how a person views new experiences. Implicit bias can have positive or negative effects. For example on the positive side, if you've had lots of great experiences with eating cake, you're likely to look at each new cake (as of yet uneaten) and assume it's delicious. On the negative side, we see implicit bias rear its ugly head when we talk about racism in the US.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Shortcake Cake volume 5 - a bit more romance on the horizon (Manga Review)

Suu Morishita
Shortcake Cake volume 5 - 7.5/10

We're really starting to get somewhere with Shortcake Cake volume 5. I still think of it as a really good second-tier quality shoujo series, but I think this volume was a step in the right direction.

Ten lives in a high-school boarding house with a couple other guys and girls. Both Riku and Chiaki are in love with Ten. We pick up volume 5 with Ten realizing she has feelings for Riku. However Riku had already been turned down earlier by her and Chiaki and Riku are uncertain how to reconcile their friendship with each other while also being rivals.

After a trip, Ten makes a slight move to let Riku know that she's thinking of him. It's subtle, but he seems to pick up on the message. At the same time, Chiaki is jealous as he notices that Ten is beginning to focus on Riku. Chiaki makes his move too. Without spoiling what he does, let's just say that although his action is pretty minor, he still doesn't get consent first which isn't good and continues to be a problem in manga.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Yuri Life - actual gosh darn adults in love! (Manga Review)

Yuri Life - 7/10

I really struggled with giving a rating to Yuri Life. It is a collection of unrelated very short comedy yuri stories about adult women in love. In some ways, it was pure fluff. In other ways it was really affecting to me. In the end, it made me feel lots of warm squishy feels so I think I liked it.

First and foremost, I am always excited to read yuri about adult women. I'm all for high-school girls in love, don't get me wrong. But as an adult, I definitely have a different set of feelings and emotions when I read about adult women in love with each other. So anything that adds to that canon is likely to be a good thing.

The stories in Yuri Life are all comedic in nature, nothing too heavy (with one pretty strange but interesting exception). It almost has the feel of a 4-koma, with each page being a joke with a punchline. Within each story, there is some flow between the pages but each page also stands on its own. Not my normal taste, as I like more narrative stories, but pretty well done none-the-less.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Missed It Monday - Wotakoi: Love is Hard For Otaku (Anime Review)

Missed It Monday is the ongoing series where I review anime and manga I missed when they first came out to see if there are great series out there that I need to add to my life.

Love is hard for otaku
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku - 6.5/10

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku does an admirable job filling a much needed gap in my manga/anime habits: series focused on actual, honest to goodness, adults! Let's be honest. I'm 39. I can't only (notice I said "only") read about high-school girls in love with each other. Right? So I'm always on the lookout for great josei manga or adult-focused anime series.

Wotakoi isn't great, but it also isn't very problematic either. It does it's job and was pleasant enough to have been worth watching once, and since all the characters are adults, and those adults are kind to each other, it made it a good enough fit.

Momose is a young woman starting her first day at a new company. She's also a relentless fujoshi otaku and has either ruined every relationship she's been in because of it, or had to hide it in order to appear "normal." On her first day, she bumps into a middle-school friend, Nifuji, who is already working at the company and is also a gaming otaku. Comforted by his presence, they rekindle their friendship.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Love Lives Here - an important memoir of a transgender ally (Book Review)

Amanda Jette Knox
"Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family" is the memoir of Amanda Jette Knox, the mother and wife of a transgender daughter and spouse. She has been active in the advocacy community for years and is an exceptional ally in so many ways. I was overjoyed when she finally published her memoir and eagerly devoured it. As with my reviews of other memoirs and personal stories, I will not do a critical review of the story because who am I to judge someone's real life. Instead, this review is just some thoughts to help you decide if this is a book that you too should read.

In brief, Amanda Jette Knox grew up with some severe mental health and substance abuse challenges despite a supportive family. Her journey to adulthood alone would make a highly compelling memoir and was an exceptional part of this one. As a 16-year-old she met her current spouse, who at the time was still presenting as male.

They built their life together, she working on completing high-school correspondence courses, her spouse working up through the IT industry. From houses to kids, they were building an ideal life. But her spouse was always chronically sad, grumpy, and frustrated.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Ao Haru Ride volume 6: kisses and confusion (Manga Review)

Io Sakisaka
Ao Haru Ride volume 6: 7.5/10

Ao Haru Ride Volume 6 (Shojo Beat/Viz) picks up with the school festival. Futaba knows she has to tell Kou about her feelings, but out of nowhere, another girl shows up! (OH NO!) Narumi is a figure from Kou's past, the years where Kou was away, a time Futaba knows nothing about.

Kou seems concerned with Narumi but also a bit indifferent towards her. Futaba goes to watch a show where the cute guy who has a crush on her is playing bass! Kou leaves Narumi's side to stand by Futaba at the show. As Futaba and Kou are trying to talk to each other over the noise, their heads turn towards each other...and...and...

Maybe they kiss? What does it mean? Who the hell knows, because they never actually talk to each other when it matters. (LOL)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Missed It Monday - Takane & Hana Volume 1 (Manga Review)

Yuki Shiwasu
Missed It Monday - a series where I review manga and anime I missed when they were new in the effort to find more great series to read.

Takane & Hana volume 1 - 6.5/10

Takane & Hana Volume 1 (Shojo Beat/Viz) is the story of a 16-year-old young lady, Hana, who pretends to be her older sister and attends an arranged marriage meeting with a 26-year-old heir to a large corporate conglomerate, Takane. Hana's father works for Takane's grandfather's company so keeping those two happy is important. But right off the bat, Takane knows Hana isn't the older sister, and displays his characteristic rudeness. Hana does what she does best and immediately puts him in his place. She thinks things are over, but now Takane is intrigued.

Takane & Hana is filled with all the classic plot and tropes of this type of story (common girl and rich corporate heir, totally different personalities, but find each other interesting anyway). However, what separates it so far, and perhaps overcomes the ickiness of a 10 year age gap with an adult man interested in a high school girl, is how rotten (but never actually mean or misogynistic) Takane's personality is, and how sassy and brash and bold Hana's personality is. What will sell you on this, if it does, is their personalities. Because the plot is so old in the genre, and there are definitely problematic elements. But if you feel like wading through that (acknowledging its problems while also looking for something of value) then you might really like the lead characters.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Untangling Cocoon Entwined Volume 1 (Manga Review)

Volume 1
Cocoon Entwined volume 1 - 5.5/10

Gross. Yup, that's the word for the setup in Cocoon Entwined volume 1 (Yen Press).

Cocoon Entwined might best be described as a "class S" yuri manga. It is set at an elite all girls boarding school (with some commuter students). What makes this boarding school different is that the high school students make the uniforms for the middle school students who are about to become first years.

Innocuous enough. However, the fabric for the uniforms is made from the hair of the third year students. Yes, their hair. They grow it out for years until it is nearly down to their feet, then have a cutting off ceremony (pretty much against their will - problematic), and then it is turned into fabric to make the uniforms of the younger girls.

Putting aside the socially constructed "ick" factor of clothing made from human hair, I was determined to investigate what the historical and practical possibility was of hair and clothing in order to overcome my own bias. Turns out, there is almost no use of human hair for practical clothing throughout history. There are some head-dresses, jewelry, and a few other ceremonial things, but as every-day wear, none.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami (Book Review)

Haruki Murakami
Dance Dance Dance - 7.5/10

I am a huge fan of Haruki Murakami's books. "Dance Dance Dance," originally published in English in 1994 is the eighth book of his I've read. It also might be the most fun of his books. It had the chance to maybe be one of his best, but the ending let it down.

Unbeknownst to me when I picked it up used a few years back, it is the sequel to "A Wild Sheep Chase" which I liked very much, and which thankfully, was a bit different too than his other works. His brilliant novel, "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle," has a similar structure to his novels "Kafka on the Shore" and "1Q84" amongst others with multiple interweaving stories and timelines. While some hints of that exist in both "A Wild Sheep Chase" and "Dance Dance Dance," both are focused on one protagonist throughout and tell a fairly linear story (at least as linear as Murakami is going to get!).

"Dance Dance Dance" picks up with our unnamed protagonist back from his sheep chase, back in Tokyo, no longer working with his long-time business partner, and instead picking up freelance journalism doing puff pieces for random magazines. It's a living, it makes good money, he doesn't mind it, someone has to do it. But he is being called, years later, back to the rundown old Dolphin Hotel in Sapporo from "A Wild Sheep Chase". He is being called by Kiki, only he hadn't yet learned her name, the girl with the ears from the prior novel.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Missed it Monday - Waiting for Spring volume 1 ends with a tease (Manga Review)

Missed It Monday is a feature where I review manga or anime I didn't get to when they first came out. It's my attempt to see what quality might be out there that I missed.

Waiting for Spring vol.1 - 6.5/10

Waiting for Spring volume 1 (Kodansha Comics) was first published in English in 2017. I've had it on my list to check out since then, but I just didn't know if it would be any good and I wasn't hearing about it anywhere. This week, I finally bought a copy and, you know what, it wasn't bad. It was slightly different, and then...and THEN...I either have trans stuff on the brain or there was definitely a trans-baiting cliff hanger at the end of this volume. But more on that to come.

Waiting for Spring starts to look like it might almost be a reverse harem shoujo story. Mitsuki ends up befriending the four most popular boys in school. They are all on the basketball team and they are every girl's fantasy, apparently. From the beginning though, it appears that it is Asakura who will win Mitsuki's heart.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Sound Workshop Series 34 EQ rack project - FINISHED!!!!!!

EQ Rack Project
Sound Workshop Series 34 EQ rack project
In a former life, I was a full-time record producer/recording engineer. When one of the main studios I worked out of closed, I got 8 channel strips from their Sound Workshop Series 34 console, a good 80s-ish workhorse console. My gole was to take the EQ modules out of the strips and rack them up as a single 8 channel EQ outboard unit.

Several years ago I racked up just the 8 mic preamps from those strips into an outboard chassis. All it required was a dual rail 16 volt power supply with phantom, a chassis, and some connectors. The outputs are unbalanced, but I have A/D converters that switch from +4 to -10 so I just use the converters on -10db making it a really simple project. Here's a pic:

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Update on my own writing - Do We See The Same Ocean?

In addition to reading and reviewing manga, anime, and books, I also am an amateur writer. My first major project was the scripts for an 82 chapter yuri manga-style comic series called "In the Morning, I'll Say Hello." (just let me know if you want to read it - its only scripts since I can't draw!). Since finishing that project last fall, I've been developing a screenplay for an animated movie called "Do We See The Same Ocean?".

After months of thinking about it, doing treatments, character development, etc... I am finally at the drafting phase of the screenplay. The basic synopsis is this:

Rebecca Lewis is a tom-boy-ish teen whose parents move to a seaside town when her mother gets the job as headmaster at a prestigious private school. Rebecca is pushed to be an intellectual by her parents, but she loves being outside and becomes transfixed by the fishing industry. In her walks along the coast she stumbles onto a female shipwright. From a distance, Rebecca watches this woman planing the wood, sanding, staining...she watches her tanned muscles glisten in the sweat. Over time, Rebecca realizes she's falling in love with this woman.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Missed It Monday - Forget Me Not Volume 1 is problematic (Manga Review)

Mag Hsu and Nao Emoto
Forget Me Not Vol. 1 - 5/10

I picked up "Forget Me Not" Volume 1 (Kodansha Comics) solely because I really like Nao Emoto's art. The story is written by Mag Hsu and that's where I'm a bit concerned. Emoto-sensei's art is great again, but the writing has me both slightly intrigued and very very concerned. There are many red-flags in the writing and I'm not sure I'm going to keep reading this series because of them. I might give the next volume a try to see if the red-flags are actually resolved responsibly or if it is an indication of a fairly misogynist viewpoint.

The story is complex in that it bounces between present day and episodes in the lead character's past (middle-school through college so far). Yusuke Serizawa crashes on his scooter leaving work one day as he's distracted by a familiar looking woman. She then calls the ambulance, but when Serizawa awakens in the hospital, she's gone and hasn't left a name. However, she calls him and seems to know him, but won't tell him who she is before inviting him to meet with her.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Our Dreams at Dusk volume 2 is painfully insightful (Manga Review)

Shimanami Tasogare 2
Our Dreams at Dusk Vol. 2 - 8/10

With "Our Dreams at Dusk" volume 2 (Seven Seas), we pick up with highschooler Tasuku having come out as gay to some of the folks at the drop-in center. He's also beginning to think about his project for the abandoned home the non-profit he helps with (and runs the drop-in center) is refurbishing. But this volume focuses more on Misora Shuji, a young person at the drop-in center, and how his interactions with Tasuku helps Tasuku begin to broaden his own understandings.

Misora Shuji, who I will use "he/him/his" pronouns for here only because he's struggling with his gender identity and hasn't yet changed his own pronouns (although is probably a trans girl at heart), is a late elementary school (6th grade presumably) child who presents as a girl at the drop-in center.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Love, Stargirl - the sequel to Stargirl, and maybe the better book (Book Review)

Jerry Spinelli
Yes, this blog (and my twitter handle @yuristargirl) is named after the book "Stargirl" which means this review of its sequel "Love, Stargirl" isn't going to be very objective (no review ever is) but also is likely to go off the rails compared to typical reviews. I put off reading this book for a long while, uncertain whether I wanted to disrupt the strange magic the first book left with me. I'm so glad I finally read it. It's probably the better book even without all the critical acclaim of its predecessor.

"Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli (whose wife's work has a special place in my family's heart) told the story of Leo when a strange, homeschooled girl, named Stargirl, starts attending his school. He's terrified and awestruck by her at the same time. Ultimately they become friends, then a couple, then he cannot fully digest what it means to be good to her, nor can she fully tolerate what she's giving up to be good to him, and the whole thing collapses just as she moves out of town.

"Stargirl" was celebrated for its championing of non-conformity (Stargirl's given name is Susan) through all the "wacky" things she does to bring joy into the world. I'm dating myself, but for fans of the show "Dharma and Greg," she's much like a teenage Dharma.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Missed It Monday - Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty Volume 1 (Manga Review)

Megumi MorinoMissed It Monday is a feature where I review anime and manga that isn't super current, but that I missed the first time around. I'm going back to try and find awesome series.

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty Vol. 1 - 7/10

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics) was first published in English in 2017. We meet Tetsu, a short but hardworking high-school student who wants to skip college and go straight to work to support his family, particularly his mom who is in the hospital in a coma (naturally, cause this is a shoujo series!). His father wants him to go to college, so to settle things, his father lets Tetsu work for his housekeeping company so long as he maintains his schooling. If he can prove that he can balance both, then his father won't complain if he heads straight into the workforce.

Tetsu is employed by the wealthy family in a mansion at the top of the hill. There is a ghost story about a straight haired girl that appears in the windows of the building in the back. Tetsu finds out that the family's daughter is ill and unable to leave her special house at the back of the property (again, shoujo!). One day, while tending to the gardens, he ends up meeting this mysterious girl, Shizu.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Reviews will return next week

Sorry, my manga order hasn't come in yet and I haven't found any good anime to watch recently, so no reviews this week. But we'll return Monday with a "Missed it Monday" column (probably) as well as new reviews. Thanks for sticking around!

Friday, July 12, 2019

O Maidens in Your Savage Season volume 2 shows the quality is for real (Manga Review)

Mari Okada and Nao Emoto
O Maidens in Your Savage Season vol. 2 - 8/10

A series about five naive high-school girls learning about sex through 18th century literature should be good, but could easily be awful. It is with much relief that the second volume of O Maidens in Your Savage Season (Kodansha Comics) shows that the quality and promise of the first volume wasn't a fluke. This series is for real, and deftly balances comedy, nostalgia (for our own youth), romance, and messaging with great art and great writing quality.

At the end of volume 1, the literature club (our club of five high school girls using literature to learn about sex - having deemed that ages written expression to be a pure form of sex over whatever their peers are constantly talking about) is being shut down by the principal. One of several arcs in volume 2 consists of gaining student support and a new adviser for their club. Those are fine, but its in the more character driven arcs that this series flexes its muscle.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Komi Can't Communicate Volume 1 exceeds expectations (Manga Review)

Tomohito Oda
Komi Can't Communicate Vol. 1 - 7/10

I'm not a fan of shounen manga generally, and I was skeptical of the premise of Komi Can't Communicate vol. 1 (Viz): Komi is a beautiful, but alone, high-school girl who can't talk and her underwhelming classmate Tadano takes her under his wing to help her achieve her dream of making 100 friends. Yikes, that sounds like it could be fairly condescending to women. Further, while not a strict 4-koma, it is a comedy manga that is scripted in short comedic bursts, also not my preferred style. So I was pleased to discover that it was a well balanced, kind, and funny manga.

Komi is beloved by everyone for her beauty, her grace, and her aura of perfection. But no one really knows her because she doesn't talk (which ends up adding to her mystique as most people don't even realize she's not speaking). It turns out, whether from some speech issues or social anxiety (I'm not a speech pathologist, so I have no idea where this communication disorder is coming from), she doesn't talk in school at all, and any attempts to do so get barely a single sound or puff of air out. That hasn't hurt her popularity, but it has left her completely alone and without any friends.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Missed It Mondays - Reviewing the problematic Gakuen Polizi by Milk Morinaga (Manga Review)

Milk Morinaga
Missed It Mondays - The first in a periodic series of Manga and Anime reviews where I review older series I didn't read at the time of publication.

Gakuen Polizi - 4.5/10

I'm not quite a "fan" of Milk Morinaga, but I have really enjoyed some of her work. My favorite is "Secret of the Princess" (one of the least talked about of her yuri manga - and which holds a special place in my heart for reasons unrelated to anything Morinaga-sensei could have planned). But I also really liked "Girlfriends" and at least the Nana and Hitomi chapters from "Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink." So it was somewhat surprising that I had never read "Gakuen Polizi."

SPOILERS (because it's a 2012 manga, so deal with it) and Content Warning (transphobia and sex trafficking of minors) to follow.

Gakuen Polizi (Seven Seas) is a two volume series that follows Aoba and Midori, two high-school girls in the special undercover high-school police department known as the Polizi. They are placed as partners in a peaceful all-girls high-school because Aoba is a rookie and Midori had a problem on her last case and her father wants her somewhere safe this time. Along the way, Midori's old partner comes back to stir things up, and a few cases are investigated, two of which are actually quite serious.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Daytime Shooting Star Volume 1 doesn't shoot for much (Manga Review)

Daytime Shooting Star vol. 1 - 6.5/10

I've been waiting for the publication of Daytime Shooting Star (Viz/Shojo Beat) for awhile. I've had it on my list since it was announced, but I'm pretty sure I encountered the name of the series even before then.

It was originally published in 2011 in Japan, so making its English debut 8 years later presents some problems for me as a reviewer. When it reminds me of several other manga I've read (and it frequently does), it can be tough to figure out whether I would have felt differently about it if I had read it before the other ones, is it lacking only in comparison, or is it genuinely bland?

Daytime Shooting Star Volume 1 introduces us to Suzume Yosano. She has just come to Tokyo from a small farming town after her dad gets transferred over seas and her mother is more worried about him than her ("I'm worried about your dad going by himself"... so we'll send you to live with your uncle in the big city). And so, just like so many other manga, it's another one about a girl without parents striking out on her own (I don't actually mind the trope, it's the parents leaving for work part that is the stupid part - give me a runaway or dead parents or something dramatic like that!).

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Futaribeya volume 2 ups the ship-baiting (Manga Review)

Kasumi and Sakurako
The colors in this photo of the cover don't do it
justice, the pastels in the actual print are beautiful!
Futaribeya Vol. 2 - 9/10 (if you are a fan of moe yuri-ish 4-koma); 6/10 for everyone else

I just can't quite wrap my head around the purpose of Futaribeya now that I'm two volumes in to the series. I don't know who it is written for and that confuses me. However, I also can't help but care about the two main characters, Sakurako and Kasumi. Despite the fact that it isn't the type of series I normally read, and the actual plot is all but non-existent, I find myself enjoying the series.

Volume 2 (Tokyopop) definitely upped the pseudo-yuri. What is intriguing about this light comedy series is that there isn't any explicit guidance on whether or not Sakurako and Kasumi are just friends and room-mates, or if one or both want more, or if they are actually more. In that sense, it's like "ship-baiting" - ie. the series is set up to make people imagine them in a true relationship without providing any sense that it is actually occurring. For people who love "shipping," this is definitely a series for them. And volume 2 really ups the baiting.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Awakening of Faith attributed to Asvaghosha (Buddhist Text)

"The Awakening of Faith" is a probable Chinese origin Mahayana Buddhist text likely composed between 400-600ce. However it is attributed to Asvaghosha (80-150ce), so you can already see the complicating factors. It is considered a keystone treatise on "suchness," and deservedly so, but it is not without its flaws. The version I read was translated by Yoshito S. Hakeda and published by Columbia University Press in 1967. There are many versions out there (seeming print on demand reprints of another translator's version), but you can get this one used for cheap!

"The Awakening of Faith" is sometimes titled "Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana." In this case, one should not mistake Mahayana in the title with the sect of Buddhism bearing that name. Here, it is another term for "suchness" or "thusness." At its core, The Awakening of Faith is a brisk treatise that connects suchness with the tathagatagarbha and the wisdom literature. For that alone, it was well worth the read.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Love in Focus vol. 1 doesn't have much to show (Manga Review)

Mako, Kei, and Amemura
Love in Focus vol. 1 - 6.5/10

Love in Focus vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics) is a shoujo manga about a first year high-school student, Mako, who moves into a boarding house at a distant school when her caretaker grandfather passes away (and of course both her parents work away from home). She's an avid photographer and chose the school because of a renowned photographer who consults with the photography club and her long-time childhood friend, Kei, also goes to school there.

When she arrives in town, she meets another boarding house resident, the somewhat reclusive and closed off Amemura. Thus setting us up for the eventual love triangle of Mako being pursued by both Kei and Amemura. There isn't much else to say about the plot of this volume as it's basically just setting up their three personalities and a bit of their history. Some photos are taken, dinner is eaten, Mako trips and falls on Amemura, there is a declaration. Whatever. Honestly, nothing too interesting or earth shattering.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

O Maidens in Your Savage Season Volume 1 - a careful balance of comedy, sex talk, and high-school (Manga Review)

Mari Okada and Nao Emoto
O Maidens in Your Savage Season Vol. 1 - 8/10

I knew nothing about O Maidens in Your Savage Season Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics) when I bought it. Somehow it made it to my wishlist on Amazon where I keep track of manga to read. When it arrived, I noticed that it had been written by the creator of the Anohana anime, one of my favorites for its tough balance of grieving and loss, love, comedy, and melancholy. Would this be more of the same? Well, yes actually, although with perhaps an even tougher topic than childhood death - childhood sexuality! Yikes!

O Maidens in Your Savage Season is set in high-school, where the five female members of the literature club seem hell-bent on reading novels that, for whatever reason, have a fair amount of sex in them. We're told, and through a host of literary references throughout, that these are well respected pieces of literature, and that the girls interest is purely literary. After all, how can one eventually write classic novels, if one does not know and understand the world of adults?

Monday, June 24, 2019

Hatsu*Haru Volume 7 is our reward (Manga Review)

Hatsu Haru vol. 7
Hatsu*Haru vol. 7 - 8/10

Unlike many series which end once the characters get together, Hatsu*Haru (Yen Press) is giving us the joy of watching two loving newbies grow and change together in their fledgling relationship.

Hatsu*Haru volume 7 picks up with Kai and Riko having finally started dating after Riko eventually understands that Kai was truly interested in her and she comes to terms with her own feelings for him. This volume is the treat we get for all the past will-they-won't-they (which I love, too) as we watch the first months of their new relationship unfold.

The first chapter is so exceedingly cute it's almost painful (in a good way). Eating together at lunchtime, Kai notices that Riko only buys bread for lunch. She tells him that her mom is so busy that this is what she's always done. Kai, thinking that poor nutrition is why she's so short and petite, takes it upon himself to learn to make lunches. It turns out this is a hidden talent for him and suddenly he's making the most adorable bento creations each day. He is incredibly nervous to give it to her the first day and insists that it's from his mom. She knows its actually from him and the sweet and sensitive way she let's him know that she knows is one of the best written moments I've come across in a long time. The whole chapter continues from there in sheer joy.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Whenever Our Eyes Meet - another bland yuri space filler (Manga Review)

A Women's Love Anthology
Whenever Our Eyes Meet - 5.5/10

"Whenever Our Eyes Meet... A Women's Love Anthology" published by Yen Press is another middling yuri one-shot manga. I'm really starting to wonder if I'm so desperate to see two women together in comics that I'll buy anything, because my reviews of these type of manga have not been too favorable. The question is how to tell the quality releases from the mass-produced filler (which this more or less is) made just to appease the current yuri "craze". I don't really know how to tell them apart from just the Amazon descriptions, so I'll probably keep buying any that come out (so long as I am sure they don't have explicit content) in the hopes that one will be brilliant. Unfortunately, that isn't the case with "Whenever Our Eyes Meet".

Now, that's not to say this one is all bad. It's just really really average (or maybe a bit below average). Whenever Our Eyes Meet is an anthology, which means there are many short stories collected together. I'm not super up on all the creators our there, so I couldn't tell you if any of these ones are famous, but from the quality of writing and art, my guess is "no." For the most part, the stories were by-the-numbers (if even that) and much of the artwork had a distinctly amateurish feel. Let's do a "The Good" and a "The Bad" list to expedite things, shall we?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Emanon Volume 1 - a sci-fi manga set in the past (Manga Review)

Volume 1
Emanon vol. 1 - 7/10

I took a flyer on Emanon Volume 1 (By Shinji Kajio and Kenji Tsuruta, published by Dark Horse). I knew nothing about it. It wasn't what I was expecting, but it was pretty cool.

The manga is based on a series of sci-fi-ish short stories about a mysterious woman named Emanon originally written by Shinji Kaijo. This is science fiction in a way, but it could just as easily be mythology, or legend, or religion. Or none of the above.

What will be most challenging in reviewing this volume, is not giving away the central tenet of the story for those who have not read it. Reviewing this without talking about that is going to mean that I won't have much to say, but that's okay, because for those that do read it, you should probably go in blind. No spoilers!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Girls in Their Married Bliss by Edna O'Brien (Book Review)

The newest edition
Girls in Their Married Bliss (on it's own) = 6/10
The Country Girls Trilogy + Epilogue = 9/10

Girls in Their Married Bliss by Edna O'Brien is the third in her classic trilogy: "The Country Girls." Originally written in the 1960s, my edition came with a new epilogue written in the 1980s and wow, what a difference that addition made.

I absolutely loved the first book, "The Country Girls" and I really liked the second book "The Lonely Girl" although it was fairly depressing (you can find my reviews HERE and HERE). What I didn't see coming, but maybe can now in retrospect, is just how sad and miserable and, dark and strange the final book would be.

Friday, June 14, 2019

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up was less problematic than expected (Manga Review)

Kodama Naoko
I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up - 6/10

I purchased "I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up" (by Kodama Naoko, published by Seven Seas) with mild trepidation. With a title like that and the premise that two women fake a marriage then really fall in love, I was skeptical that it would handle a gay relationship with any validity. Surprisingly, it wasn't bad, and actually had a few solid moments.

As premises go, this one is pretty flimsy. Two young woman (Morimoto and Hana), who have known each other since high-school, decide to fake being married in order to get Morimoto's parents to stop setting her up with various eligible men.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

All My Darling Daughters - catching up with a classic (manga review)

Fumi Yoshinaga
All My Darling Daughters - 8/10

I came across All My Darling Daughters (by Fumi Yoshinaga) in a list of top josei manga. It is a single volume that tells interrelated stories about a woman, her friends, her mother, and other relatives. Published in English in 2010 by Viz, it remains a powerful set of stories. I am so glad to add another quality josei volume to my collection. As far as I can tell, they are too few and far between in English. As always, please let me know your favorite, legally published in English, josei (or shoujo or yuri) titles because I'm always looking for more!

The first story concerns a young woman, living at home with her mom. Her father passed away when she was young and out of nowhere, her mother has just remained someone younger than her own adult daughter! These three people form the backbone for all the stories in the volume and all three are wonderfully, and fully, realized people. They have faults and good qualities, unique personalities, back stories, motivations, and they grow and change. To do all this with these three, plus the other characters, in a single volume, is simply incredible writing.