Friday, November 29, 2019

Our Wonderful Days volume 1 is...weirdly bland (Manga Review)

Two high school girls on a train, one asleep on the others shoulder
Our Wonderful Days vol. 1 - 6.5/10

There were so many yuri manga series that started publication this month. Sadly, Our Wonderful Days volume 1 (Seven Seas) was the most bland of them all. It wasn't that it was bad, but it was just so weirdly not-memorable as to be somewhat useless. It wasn't without any value, and I'm a bit curious how one character (and the side characters) might evolve. But there isn't much to this volume either.

Koharu and Mafuyu were friends when they were little. Mafuyu moved to Tokyo. Now she's back and they meet on the first day of school. They become friends again and also hang out with two of Koharu's other friends. There isn't actually much between Mafuyu and Koharu that suggests where the series will go other than that it's a yuri series, so it's a foregone conclusion. It's actually their friends Nana and Minori that are the most interesting. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Hatsu*Haru volume 9 loses its way a bit (Manga Review)

A highschool boy lifts up his highschool girlfriend and they make eyes at each other
Hatsu*Haru vol. 9 - 6/10

I have really liked Hatsu*Haru (Yen Press) so far, but volume 9 fumbles a bit. It's really a mixed bag with some wonderful and amazing moments and some real head-scratching non-realistic random plot junk plus some new stuff with a side character that suggests that the series will go for a while just because it can, rather than having a tight narrative.

Summary: Riko is the petite but strong girl who has always protected other girls in the school. Kai was the playboy who grew up with Riko and has fallen deeply in love with her, wanting something so much more than he ever had with his casual flings. By this point in the series they have gotten together.

Sadly, like many a series before it, it just doesn't know what to do with them once they are together. Unlike seminal series such as Kimi Ni Todoke that uses the relationship to springboard truly deep character growth and emotional exploration, Hatsu*Haru can't quite leave the broad comedy behind to find any solid emotional truth.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Missed it Monday - the Fruits Basket reboot fails (Anime Review)

A high school girl and two boys smile as they come down stairs out of a home
It pains me to use this art, Tohru looks like an 80's
space alien here.
Fruits Basket (reboot anime) season 1- uhhhhhhh 5.5/10?????? I guess?

This was a nearly impossible review for me to write. First, I LOVE the Fruits Basket manga. Natsuki Takaya is my all-time favorite mangaka. Her series Twinkle Stars is my all-time favorite, but if that didn't exist, then Fruits Basket would be my all time favorite. They're like 1A and 1B truthfully. In fact, I feel as though everything that Takaya sensei worked out in characters, plot, themes, and her art development in Fruits Basket were perfectly synthesized and consolidated with Twinkle Stars. I don't see how that series could have been born without Fruits Basket, but I digress.

Quick obligatory synopsis of the season: Tohru Honda's mom has died and she's living in a tent in the woods while going to school and working. She stumbles on the house of two boys from her school, Yuki and Kyo Sohma. She ends up living there with their cousin Shigure. Turns out, many of the people in the Sohma family turn into animals from the Chinese Zodiac when hugged by a person of the opposite gender. What is Tohru's role to play in this complex family?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Daytime Shooting Star vol. 3 cements a disgusting possibility for the series (Manga Review)

Four attractive high-school boys in uniform on a purple background with stars
Daytime Shooting Star vol. 3 - 4/10 or 7/10 (depends on what happens next)

I'm so sorry that lately I seem to be giving mixed ratings. But sometimes an individual volume can't be judged in a vacuum and the way the story evolves later will change the way I feel about a current volume. Such is the case with Daytime Shooting Star vol. 3 (Shojo Beat/Viz).

The story: Suzume moves in with her uncle, falls for an older guy, who happens to be her teacher in school and a friend of her uncle's. In volume 3, she finally confesses to him. At the same time, she thinks he's getting back together with a former girlfriend.

Let's get the obvious concern out of the way first. I am not okay with adults dating teens, and I'm really really not okay with teachers dating their students or even contemplating it down the road. The whole set-up to this series hinges on that possibility. My sincere hope is that they never get together and that both of them grow up and grow on their own paths. But this volume seems to suggest that the teacher, Shishio, might harbor feelings for Suzume, the student. Yuck.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow vol. 1 was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise (Yuri Manga Review)

two teen girls hold hands, gaze into each others eyes, surrounded by a field of water and fish as though they were in or near an aquarium
A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow vol. 1- 8/10

Published by Viz (not Shojo Beat/Viz) and looking from the cover like it would be fairly pandering to the male yuri fandom, I can't say I was expecting much from A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow vol. 1. But boy howdy was I wrong. This was an unexpectedly sweet, slightly unique, and promising start to the series. I'm awfully excited for the next volume.

Konatsu's dad has to travel overseas for work and so she moves in with her aunt on a small rural island. Wandering around on her first day, she sees a weekend aquarium event at her highschool. It turns out that the aquarium club puts on a community event monthly, and it's actually pretty well done. There, she meets Koyuki who runs the club. They become friends and Konatsu joins the club. Konatsu is also befriended by Kaede, a strong, confident, and outgoing girl in her class. The volume ends with Konatsu helping out at her first monthly aquarium event.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Missed it Monday - After the Rain (Anime Review)

A high school girl, head tilted back against a wall on a bright blue day, an umbrella leaning against the wall
Missed it Monday is the column where I review anime/manga that I didn't get to watch/read when they first came out.

After the Rain (anime) - 5/10 (if you've read the manga) or 7/10 (if you haven't)

This was a very hard review to write. I waited to watch After the Rain until after all the volumes of the manga had  been published and after I had read them. That means that I would be judging the anime not on its own terms, but against the manga. And I loved the manga, and really really loved the way the manga concluded. I felt the manga was emotionally and characterizationally consistent and honest in its conclusion. While I liked the anime, it truly paled in comparison to the manga, particularly the ending. It's short running time of 12 episodes did it no favors.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Finally!!!!! - Kiss & White Lily for My Dearest Girl volume 10 (Manga Review)

Two high school girls with smiles surrounded by lilies
Kiss & White Lily for My Dearest Girl vol. 10 - 8/10

Finally! On two levels. Finally, after an excruciatingly long wait, we have volume 10 of Kiss & White Lily for My Dearest Girl (K&WL) (Yen Press). And finally, after 10 volumes... (SPOILER...don't read the next sentence if you don't want to know)...Shiramine and Kurosawa get together! SQEEEEEEE >_<

The long and short: there was a lot I liked about this volume, truly a lot. But its one problem was indicative of a larger problem I had with the whole series. Still, I really did enjoy the volume and the series, so don't get me wrong.

Reminder: this is the story of an all-girls school and the many young ladies who inhabit it. It focuses on romance and friendships between them. Our primary couple is Shiramine and Kurosawa with Shiramine being the "main" character, if one can define it as such.

Structurally, this volume gives the reader small glimpses of many of the couples from the series but spends the majority of its time on Shiramine and Kurosawa. I always liked the other couples in the series, but I wished the series was a little more focused on its main couple, Shiramine and Kurosawa. So I liked that they were the main focus of this volume.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Shortcake Cake volume 6 starts the romance (Manga Review)

Two teen boys on the cover, looking sexy and likable
Shortcake Cake vol. 6 - 7/10

It would be hard to discuss Shortcake Cake vol. 6 (Shojo Beat/Viz) without spoilers. So this is your warning. The next few paragraphs of this review are all spoilers. Skip to the last 3 paragraphs if you don't want spoilers. You've been warned!

SPOILERS ahead (okay, you've been warned again!)

In volume 6, Ten, who lives in a boarding house with a few other students while attending high school, has fully realized that she likes Riku. But at the end of vol. 5, Chiaki finally confessed to her clearly. We start off with Ten making her feelings for Riku known to Chiaki and turning him down.

Ten then spends time with Riku, cementing her clarity of feelings, turning Chiaki down again so he knows for sure, and then finally confessing her feelings to Riku. But Riku just doesn't seem totally sure that she means what he is hearing and the volume leaves on the cliffhanger of Chiaki asking her if she really likes him the way he hopes.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Missed it Monday - Love at Fourteen Volume 3 (Manga Review)

A male and female student in the classroom, buy the window, laughing as they talk to each other
Missed it Monday is the column where I review manga and anime that I didn't read/watch when they first came out.

Love at Fourteen vol. 3 - 8/10

In Love at Fourteen vol. 3 (Yen Press), we catch up with Kanata and Kazuki, our young love-birds, and the "most mature" two people in their school, whom everyone looks up to. With the dance, festival, and choral competition coming up, their classmates are showing frayed nerves. Things come to a head when there is a fight between a guy and girl in the classroom.

Kanata and Kazuki have been working hard to keep tension down, but their attempt to end this particular fight ends badly when they end up in a shouting match with each other in front of all their classmates. Worried that they've hurt their fledgling relationship, but unsure how to apologize, they keep missing opportunities to set things right.

Sensing the time is right, Shiki makes her move on Kanata, trying to steal her away from Kazuki. Needless to say, it doesn't work, and Kanata and Kazuki end up patching things up. The couple panels where they do are so cutely written and drawn, I almost couldn't take it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

O Maidens in Your Savage Season volume 4 loses some of its edge (Manga Review)

A high-school girl, eyes closed, finger tips on her lips, surrounded by lilies.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season vol. 4 - 7.5/10

The first couple volumes of O Maidens in Your Savage Season were an unexpected mix of rawness and compassion for the adolescent condition.

O Maidens in Your Savage Season vol. 4 (Kodansha Comics) doesn't quite rise up to that level of writing or narrative prowess, but is still a good continuation of the five characters' stories. The question for the series as a whole, is will it keep giving us complex insight or will it lapse into typicality? It's too soon to say, but Volume 4 doesn't quite have the edge or depth of the prior volumes.

The overall story centers on the five female members of the literature club. They read the classics looking to discuss the complexities of the human condition, with a strong emphasis on exploring love, lust, and intimacy through writing. At the same time, they are five teens going through puberty, and the early parts of the series took an unflinching look at the mind-f#ck that adolescence encompasses.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Updates and where I've been

Sorry for no updates since last Monday. My laptop broke in several ways and I didn't want to type everything on my phone. Thankfully, my laptop is now repaired and I'm back at work. I added Chapter 7 of the original yuri I've been posting (see the Original Yuri tab above). I'll also be posting some reviews this week. Missed you all!

- Jaime

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