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Even Even Even More Shoujo Manga!

Found an old post of manga reviews, mostly Shoujo, that I typed up back in the day but never posted. I've reviewed a couple of these again since - I read one twice and reviewed it twice, and thought I'd forgotten to review the other one when I read it. Whoops. Marked those with (x) below.

Here we go though, five old reviews and a couple new ones at the bottom... you'll find the previous shoujo manga post right here.

Fullmetal Alchemist (x)

You already know this one right? It's the story of Alphonse and Edward, two brothers who lose their mother at a young age, but make the mistake of trying to bring her back with alchemy, resulting in a far more tragic loss. Ed loses an leg, Al loses his entire body, and Ed sacrifices an additional arm to bind Alphonse's soul to a full suit of armor they happen to have nearby.

Years later it's time to embark on a search for the ultimate truth, and a way to get his body back, all the while working as government alchemists, and in time uncovering a strange organization working in the shadows; maybe sitting on those ultimate secrets they wish to find...

I've seen the anime, but this is my first dive into the manga, and I need more now. This was just the one book. Need to get my hands on the remaining 27.

Rans Magiska Värld

I haven't read anything this imaginative in way too long! It's the kind of book you can get lost within the images of.

The details are impressive, but it's the fluidity and charm of it that's the greatest appeal. It's just so fun to look at. It's the kind of world you might've had in your mind when you were smaller, and reading this makes me want to bring it back. To start imagining again. To make the stuff of dreams the world that surrounds me.

Also just read one book here, but it was a real pleasure. An innocent, fun, charming and dreamy surprise. There's a story too... somewhat. Of Ran (a little girl who becomes an adult when she puts on her shoes) and of magic.

Wonder what lurks beyond the gate. Wonder how Ran might grow up. Because she's not really grown-up yet you know...

The title translates to: Ran's Magical World.

Nana (x)

Here's the story of two girls with the same name, who happen to run into each other a few times and decide to become roommates. One's in a punk rock band and the other one's a normal and kind girl... but they're both kind, really. This is the story of their trials and tribulations, and relations, and everything that goes on in the somewhat adjoined life of theirs.

I'm really not the target audience here. Focus: romance. Girl stuff. But the comedy, and characters, and the way they express themselves... I think this one has me hooked after all. Gotta read the rest of these too.

The style's quite different from similar manga too, and though it took a chapter or two to get used to it I end up loving it. It's just so expressive.

Apart from being fun, but also at times tragic and overly dramatic, the story also seems to shed some light on a foreign element: the female mind.

You'd think any Shoujo manga would, but this just really puts things in perspective somehow. It make you go "aha". Little bits of wisdom. Little bits of revelation. Personality traits, relationships... it's like it's both a soap opera and a 101 guide. I feel like I'll learn things if I keep reading this...

Don't get me wrong now. I'm not totally oblivious as to the differences between genders. But this was surprisingly clear-sighted. That, the expression, and character charm, are what make NANA really stand out.

Demon Diary

Here's a manthwa for a change. A Korean manga. It's about a Demon Heir who's all too kind to be a demon heir, who doesn't feel like killing humans and what-not, and ends up keeping a couple as companions instead.

The idea's not bad, but the comedy feels somewhat predictable, and just not strong enough to make you laugh. Maybe it's the wording. Maybe it's a fault in translation.

I also feel like the drawing style's all too basic, the exceptions being occasional backgrounds, and the story overall, and plot progression... it's basic.

Even if there are girls involved it also almost has a yaoi-like vibe to it, which had me a bit skeptical during the first chapters, and I guess I still am.

Not sure I'd enjoy reading this all the way through. Maybe I should, but first impressions aren't so great I'd want to get the rest of the books for $$$. Not my style.

Make Love & Peace

Wasn't expecting to stumble into a dose of softcore porn for the ladies amidst this particular bundle of Shoujo Manga books. There's a particular genre for this apparently, named Josei, and this is a part of it.

It's the first release within this particular genre aimed at a US audience, and considering the whole book's like a superficial soap opera with an abundance of sex scenes to bridge any other events... I wonder how it went. Is this what females like, really? There's no depth. No twists. No continuity regarding the story.

A cop (the guy) and an eighteen year old girl meet, she falls in love with him, and here we go. He's at work, she's worrying, and then they have sex, and then she gets attacked, and he saves the day, and then they have sex.

I wouldn't think I'd ever say this but: there's too much sex. It breaks the build-up. The chemistry feels superficial and lacking because of it.

Maybe it's also the drawing style that's all too soft and plain, but whatever it is this kind of content just doesn't turn me on at all, and the story quickly feels plain and unnecessary. They're just not getting anywhere... there's some fun, some exciting bits, but it has that feeling like it was just made to sell. Like it lacks soul and substance. Hopefully it's not a valid representation of the genre after all...

.hack - Legend of the Twilight

It's the third and final part of the trilogy! I'm pretty sure I read the first part earlier... or one of the parts at least, but not this one. Or maybe I was just skimming through this same book earlier...

Either way it's the story of two siblings who venture into an online VR multiplayer game world (Ready Player One inspired by this maybe?) and get in trouble with the system administrators, but they make friends and meet people and it seems almost like the world has a mind of its own, because the admins can't delete them even if they want to.

It's a story full of turmoil and happy/emotional moments, and though it feels a bit too childish sometimes, and weird with the so close sibling bond and all, it's a feelgood story... not bad after all.

The after-text bits were so small I could barely read them though. Might need to do something about that.

Chrono Crusade

Just read the four first books of this one and daaaamn I need to read more!

It's the story about a demon, Chrono, and an exorcist, Rosette. Only they have a contract, where every time he uses his power it saps a bit of her soul, and shortens her life.

It's a story all about time. Using time to the fullest. Taking each day that comes your way as the best thing ever - and though Chrono's a somewhat melancholy kind, Rosette fully embraces that style of life.

It's fun, it's crazy, it's sad, sometimes. It mixes the elements in a great way, captivates and entertains and keeps you going.

Naruto was exciting too, but this one kept me up a bit too late sometimes... it's that kind of reading material. Perfect for a long night.

Can't wait to get the rest of these books. Also this one's probably Shounen. And I guess .hack was too, and Ran...? Also FMA. The title seems a bit misleading now but there you go. That's the latest of what I've been reading now.

I'm done with Naruto too. It was great. I'm not sure it needs to be reviewed at all. The Wallflower though, up next...

Even Even More Shoujo Manga!

Been reading even more of this stuff! More quick impressions...

Nana

I apparently missed this one in the earlier post, though I'd read it then.

Similar to Skip Beat and Princess Ai it's the story of a girl in the music biz, though here without any supernatural or vengeful twist. It's a girl in the music biz. Plain and simple. No frills but her character. Music, love and friendship... those are the main themes.

You could say it's a bit like a Shoujo version of Beck, with milder characters/setting overall, but a much more punk-rock MAIN character. And it's not bad! Charming, fun...

I wouldn't mind reading more of this one too. So far I've only gone through book four.

Emma

Here's the story of a maid in old England.

She works for an old lady, who's strict but considerate, and though she lives sparsely, with little possessions or freedoms of her own, she lives well. One day the heir of a rich family comes to visit, it's love at first sight, and her whole world changes. Sort of.

It's an impossible romance though, both of them know, and when the old lady dies Emma is forced to go... she inherits enough for a train ticket, packs her bags and heads home... and that's as far as I've read so far. Books one and two here.

Looking forward to reading the rest of them though.

Not only does the story take place in an unusual time and setting for a manga, but the backgrounds are intricate, the authenticity of the world just as much so, and the character interactions are refreshingly mild in their emotional ranges.

They convey feelings via their actions rather than with their reactions, and sometimes via their lack of actions too. It's just a fascinating style, as well an ode to a bygone era where this was how they did things. It's artful, charismatic, and almost magic how easy it is to read and understand. Intuition through drawing. Almost.

After reading a couple books the title itself makes so much more sense. Intricate in its simplicity too. But I really didn't think this would be a story I'd get hooked to. Want to read the rest before I lose the trail.

Black Butler

Here's a similarly unconventional series, starring a boy and his butler, working under the Queen in that same country as above, living seemingly in a dream but... the boy and the butler have a pact. He sold his soul to the devil for the butler's services, and it takes a while before you get to the point where this is revealed. What a turn it takes when it is!

The surrounding cast seems a bit more superficial, but it's a fascinating tale otherwise, with more violence than you'd assume from the clean-cut covers. And that's part of what makes it fascinating. The contrasts. The clash between fine-dine aristocrat society and the underbelly of London, grim reapers and all that entails.

I like that civilized veil of it all too. Class, with all the more dark undertones. It's fascinating at its most fundamental. Read books one to three here. Wouldn't mind more.

Time Stranger Kyoko

Just got one book of this one. The second.

It's about a girl, who can steer the way of time, who's on a quest to find guardians with similar powers to ultimately wake up her sister that's supposed to take the throne.

Of course there's also a darker side to the story. A threat a lurking.

But mostly it's an airy, romantic/comedy-type tale that's both pleasant and entertaining to read through, starring a bright yet melancholy main character, with charming sidekicks.

Not bad, but not one of the ones that stand out the most.

Fushigi Yuugi however, of which I just have the first book so far, is a more traditional but all the more magical/charming tale of a high school girl who, through a book, is warped into a world where her apparition is one of destiny.

She runs into a totally non-interested dude, and an emperor so beautiful she thinks she's a girl at first, and they get into all sorts of adventures and dramatic twists and... I could keep going with this.

It reminds me a bit of Ranmna 1/2, but with a more serious undertone. Also reminds me of Planet Ladder, what with the shift between worlds, and how the main character seems destined for something greater. Come to think of it though there sure are a lot of tales with similar premise...

Yurara

Just got one book of this one too, the second again.

It's the seemingly standard tale of a high school girl and two high school guys (potential romances there), but with a twist: She has an alternative personality which can vanquish demons.

It's refreshingly dark sometimes, and emotional, and well-drawn. It had some moments that'll stick in mind - in particular the self-sacrificing teacher that dove off a rooftop together with a lonely kid.

Needless to say I wouldn't mind reading more of this one too.

I also read through the fourth book of Angel Sanctuary, and daaaaamn here's one that stands out!

It's the story of an angel cast down from heaven, who's lived through reincarnation after reincarnation, and is currently in love with his sister.

Their incestuous relationship doesn't go unpunished though, and when she's killed - or rather sacrifices herself to save him - his powers awaken and he blows up Tokyo.

Then Adam appears, while God lies dormant, and stops time so that our unconventional main character can journey into Hades to rescue her...

It's such an unconventional and legacy-like journey that I couldn't put down the book once I'd picked it up. Nothing seems off limits. The angels torture each other in heaven, forming their own allegiances to lead, while fate seems to have it that our main character journeys to the netherworld to find allegiance there instead, possibly turning the whole divine order upside down.

Are demons really bad? Is God really flawless? What about incest? What about all that we hold true and conventional? I love how even in the first book I pick up this story just flips it all around.

The characters are likable too, and the drawing's grim and detailed. Hope to read more of this.

In other news I've been getting into The Wallflower and Naruto again. The Wallflower's new. Bought the entire series so it'll take some time to read through (26 books I think), and Naruto's not the shortest franchise either. Stay tuned for future reviews...

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.

One Piece 914

It's getting serious now! I'm still severely agitated with the drawn out style animation though. It's awesome, yet at the same time it's even worse than Dragon Ball Z ever was, it feels like...

Hope they give it a reboot in the future and tell the story as it's meant to be told. No filler. Not in arcs; nor in expressions. It'd probably be just half as many episodes, but all worth a thousand watches. No shortcuts.

One Punch Man Season 2 EP 12

At the brink of death, in an epic battle against Bang and his brother, Garou's picked up by a bird - saved by the talons of the monster association.

Before that we get a rattling glimpse of his raising, at the injustices he's faced, and a preview of what might be coming next. And then One Punch Man stops by to save the day!

What a great place to take a break before I leave for summer! With Centurion blasted to smithereens, and a quite different monster duo riding off into the sunset... can't wait to get back to this when I get back.

No cliffhangers here. If you're looking for a pause: this is the place.

To be continued.

One Punch Man Season 2 EP 11

Garou's going through the fire trial with this one! Level of seriousness just jumped up drastically.

Is this the OPM I know? The one I knew? The one I want? I'm not sure but it's really getting intense again, and it feels refreshingly new - even if this is exactly how it used to be. Feels like they're either back on track or they're onto something.

Can't wait for the next one.

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