Man of the Moment

Sean William Scott

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Friday, March 11, 2005

Manga Reviews 

I'm finally getting sick of looking at the stacks of both read and unread manga.

Fruits Basket Vol. 7 by Natsuki Takaya: The charm for this series isn't so much the fantasy elements and the cute transformations, it's the gentle humor and the delicacy of the emotional relationships between the characters. In this volume, a new Zodiac member is introduced, Hiro Sohma, an obnoxious child determined to make Tohru's life difficult. But as usual, there's a deeper cause for his resentment of Tohru, one that's understandable and handled by Takaya very well. We also get an extended flashback sequence detailing how Arisa first met Tohru and her late mother and the origin of the bond between the girls.

Tuxedo Gin Vol. 10 by Tokihiko Matsuura: A rival for Ginji's affection is thrown into the mix, penguin trainer Kyoko Iida. Letting slide for the moment that she falls in love more with the idea of Ginji from seeing his old room, the story does take a nicely comic turn as Kyoko begins a one-sided rivalry with Minako for the love of Ginji, a rivalry Minako is completely oblivious to in her usual manner. It culminates in an over-the-top multi-part Christmas story involving aquatic stunts, paper bikinis and penguins in devil costumes. In short, funny, patently absurd stuff. The volume winds up with a short bonus story, "Double Lesson" about a student teacher and a rebellious student and the attraction between them.

Ranma 1/2 Vol. 29 by Rumiko Takahashi: Comic misunderstandings and silly situations abound. Oh, and boy-type Ranma and Kuno confess their love for one another. Honestly, at 29 volumes in, either you like this sort of thing or you don't.

Tokyo Babylon Vol. 2 by CLAMP: This is the title that really tests my patience with CLAMP's work. The protagonist, Subaru, is almost too much of a pretty boy. And the stories have a vaguely reactionary feel to them at times that puts me a little off. It's a combination, I think, of the age of the stories, the fact that the stories are marketed at adolescent girls (and though there may be a 14 year old girl inside every gay man, I'm still not an adolescent girl at heart), and just essential cultural differences between Japan and America, that left me unsettled by the resolution.

Worst Vol. 2 by Hiroshi Takahashi: The resolution of the fight to see which freshman is the strongest is dealt with quickly, wisely allowing the story to advance. The motivations of the other characters in wanting to see how far the seemingly naive Hana will go in his quest to become the boss of the school adds a welcome layer to the story. The upperclassmen either want Hana to join their gangs and control more of the school or they want something more out of life than dropping out of school, joining a gang and meeting a bad end, and they see Hana's goal of uniting the school as a way to bring dignity and order through their lives. Order and dignity through really is a concept that works best in manga. To further complicate matters, not only is a rival school making plans against the whole of Suzuran school, and a mysterious upperclassman actually manages to defeat Hana.

Musashi #9 Vol. 2 by Takahashi Miyuki: I'm glad I gave this series another chance. I was underwhelmed by the first volume, and thought there was a sameness and repetitiveness to the stories. To a certain degree that's true here as well, the basic formula of #9 being inserted into a situation in disguise and getting the best of her enemies by being two or three steps ahead of them carries through. But the stories here are longer, allowing the supporting characters and the situations to be more developed. And the "gag" of #9 being mistaken for a boy is downplayed a little, and in most cases it becomes apparent early in the stories that #9 is actually a girl. The art is stellar, as it was in the first volume.

A few more titles to go, but I need content for the weekends.

In other manga news, Digital Manga Presents has announced several new titles, including several yaoi titles. Of the new batch of books, Jazz looks to be the one I'm most interested in. And that's in addition to the much anticipated by me releases of Café Kichijouji de and Antique Bakery. So in a short time there will be lots of attractive new titles from DMP to look forward to.

Just two more days until DWNTACBW...


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