Even More Shoujo Manga!
How about some more short Shoujo manga reviews? You can find the last post here.
It's not all Shoujo this time, but most of it. My sister bestowed upon me another bag of this stuff a while back (Christmas, I believe), and I've been reading through them occasionally, night by night, spaciously. Unfortunately it's mostly just one book here and there - never an entire series - but here's a quick summary on the ones I've been going through...
Skip Beat. Got just the first book of this one, but hope to get the rest too. It's a story about a girl, Kyoko, who's in love with an idol, and works day and night to support him, until one day after he's hastily fetched some clothes from the apartment she pays for, for him, she stumbles upon him talking to another girl, saying how worthless she is, how she's pretty much just his assistant, that this is all she is to him, and her whole world comes crashing down. But not in the typical way. Not with sadness, but with rage.
There's a little symbolic intro at the start of the story about a box that everyone's given at birth, hidden deep within them, with multiple locks and keys required to unlock it - you're not sure what it's in the box at this point, but when her world crashes down it opens, and what escapes is hate.
If you're looking for the typical love story you probably aren't looking for this! I'm not sure if she ever gets together with that love of her life again, but it doesn't feel like she will. He's not regretful at all when she confronts him, and she doesn't seem intent on reconciling either. Instead he says good luck, and that she'll have to become an idol herself to do so, and so that's what she does. She pours a seemingly endless supply of energy and rage into this endeavor, unknowingly goes to his rival agency looking for a job, gets some unintentional interest from his biggest rival - the most popular idol in Japan (there's the potential hook-up), and so starts the most unconventional break-up and revenge story ever.
It's a swirling blend of comedy and darkness, but never so dark it's actually depressing, more so that it makes you root all the more for the main character. Everyone does have that typically overly-beautified Shoujo-like appearance, but it doesn't bother so much when the story is as unconventional as it is. I could really get into this one. Great first impressions.
Princess Ai is a similar manga, about a girl (supposedly an angel - origins not certain) who runs into a guy, a human, but doesn't want to get involved with him as to not cause problems for him, and becomes a singer. They go a little back and forth anyway, but dark forces are apparently after her and she distances herself from him entirely when the bullets start flying... bit more action here. At least towards the end.
This one wasn't bad either. There's a lot of fashion though, there's that unstable female mentality with the lead role, which I don't entirely relate to and sometimes get annoyed with - how it takes all the more sacrifice from the guy to gain her interest than goodwill from her to make up for it, but the story's intriguing, the art's fluent and the meetings are always dramatic. It's easy to keep reading.
I got the first and third book with this one; have read the first so far. If I stumble upon the remaining books I'll definitely read them, but it's no must. I'd prefer something like Beck. Bit too much unrelatable female abandon/freedom/diva here.
Apparently the in-manga lyrics are written by some famous k-pop/rock bands btw. So that's pretty cool.
She also has a box with a lock on it at the start of the story, similar to the previous one, but in this case it's physical, and she can't open it no matter how hard she tries. Potential heirloom from heaven - or hell - or wherever she's from, that'll play a larger role in the future...
Edit: Apparently the third was also the final one! It ended decently, though I feel like it started way better; didn't really go to the level of greatness it could have...
Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives. Book 1. Here's a story of an emo/goth girl who falls in love with a kind vampire who wouldn't think of turning her, yet a group of half-vampire adversaries show up and basically take her hostage to get at her loved one, and get their hands on some blood vials that'd make them immortal for real
The premise isn't bad, and it takes a dark turn towards the end that might bode well for the sequels... but unfortunately the girl's both annoyingly overconfident and ditzy, the plot progression feels both rushed and fragmented, and the art's pretty basic. Not bad but: not a passion project. More so a project for the passionate. A love story among many that doesn't directly stand out. So I'm fine with just the first of this one, unless say I actually happen to stumble upon the rest. I guess they do end with a good cliffhanger after all...
Fullmetal Alchemist. This one isn't shoujo. For some reason I got my hands on the second book of it for a second time now, read it a second time, and still thought it was great. Would love to get the rest of them. It's a well-told tale with both comical and dark moments, about two brothers (Edward and Al) in a parallel world where alchemy is real, fighting to bring back Al's lost body, which was lost during a failed attempt at bringing back their dead mother.
The second book in particular has one of the darkest moments in the whole series. The one with the daughter and the dog. Goosebumps still...
War Angels. How about some manhwa for a change? Korean comics, where characters typically seem to be both sexier and more muscular - both the girls and the guys - everyone either looks tough or beautiful. At least the main characters.
War Angels is the story on unconventional trio who gather together to chase down a bunch of beasts who threaten to kill the mother of humanity's new savior. It's a anno 2504 take on Christianity, that takes place in a broken world where animal-human hybrids steer the world, and our heroes fight to finally put an end to their tyranny.
I like the premise here too, and wouldn't mind reading more (just got the first book here), though plot and character development feels superficial compared to, say, Ragnarok or Rebirth, two other Korean comics I now hold in pretty high regard. This ain't bad though. It also has an art style that feels detailed, and well-shaded, but doesn't really place focus on the most important parts sometimes. Character traits shift a bit; come across unclear at a distance.
And now for something completely different! A one-volume collection by the name of Mjau. It's a kids manga about a stray black male kitten, Ville, who gets taken in by a kind woman, and explores the house together with a tame white female by the name of Vanilj. Eventually they run into almost and sad mouse baby and pretty much adopt it, and gain company from a crow with a hurt wing towards the end of the book.
As understandable by the intended audience it's not the most advanced reading material, but uplifting and fun. The art's simple but smooth. And did I mention it's Swedish? It's the first full-fledged manga book I've read that's actually made here. I guess that paradoxically makes it not manga after all, but it's in the same style, and the author's name is... Natalia Batista.... so...? Uncertain, but it's good mood visual paper entertainment regardless of national classification. That it is.
Last but not Chobits! Do we need an introduction on this one? It's a by now well-known manga by the iconic all-female studio CLAMP, telling the tale of a future inhabited by people, but also AI-like humanoids known as persocoms, which humans have both for company and for... various other duties.
The story explores their relationships, and in particular one between the human teenage boy Hideki, and the supposed Chobit he finds and names Chi, as this is the only word she knows when he finds her. Chobit is apparently a type of unusually advanced/independent/all-the-more-human-like persocom that can't be either bought or produced. Chi's a mystery, but her past slowly unravel as the story moves on, and new threats appear on the horizon... but the main story is the naive love story between her and Hideki. As naive as a newborn, but with the body of a female adult, and all the capabilities thereof too: that's CHi.
I got the sixth book of this one, but it's goo. A bit cheesy and naive sometimes, but that's part of the charm too. It's more shounen than shoujo, what with the innocent girl scenario, but if you know CLAMP you know they make stories that should appeal to pretty much everyone. Wouldn't mind reading the rest.
And that about sums up... half of the books I was planning to write about here. Maybe best to leave the rest for another day.