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.