torachan: a cartoon owl with the text "everyone is fond of owls" (everyone is fond of owls)
What are you currently reading?
Right now I'm reading volume six of Chii's Sweet Home, which I have actually read before but had loaded on my phone to reread so I could buy further volumes off itunes. BUT now I see that volumes seven and eight have been scanned, so I will just download those instead. XD

What did you recently finish reading?
Well, I didn't do this last week, so I will include last week's and this week's reading! I read the fifth and final volume of the Kindaichi 20th Anniversary series. It was good! I was worried that after this anniversary thing they might cancel the series again or something, but the end of the volume made it clear that wasn't happening. However, at least for now it looks like rather than another new Kindaichi mystery, we're getting a backstory series about his nemesis. The cool thing is, this new series is actually being released for free in both English and Japanese through a new online manga magazine app called Manga Box. I downloaded the app but have yet to check it out.

I feel like I also read something else last week, but I guess not? I did read like an issue of Jump, so maybe that was it. I'm still super behind there, though I know there have been some cool spoilery things going on in One Piece, so I should catch up there.

Then this week I started reading this super awesome series called Ohana Holoholo which I think I had downloaded because I saw people on my tumblr dash talking about it. Sadly I can only find the first two volumes scanned and there don't seem to be ebooks of it, either. But I love it SO MUCH I think my Christmas present to myself will be buying the next three (I believe it's up to volume five) on Amazon Japan and having [personal profile] kiwimusume send them to me.

(I would try the bookstores here first, but apparently the Kinokuniya in West LA closed and the little bookstore in Mitsuwa has a terrible selection in general and even more so when it comes to josei titles (everyone in the US has a terrible selection of josei titles) and I doubt I'd have any luck if I went all the way down to Book Off and whatever that bookstore in the Torrance Mitsuwa is, either, and the cost of renting a car to get there (even with zipcar) would be the same as having them shipped from Japan, SO.)

Anyway, what is so awesome about this manga? Let me tell you. It is a slice-of-life story (my favorite!) about queer people (even more favorite!). The gist is this: five years ago Maya and Michiru lived together and were lovers, but then one day Michiru just up and disappeared. Maya was sad, but not terribly surprised, because Michiru is the kind of person you might call a free spirit if you were being nice, or selfish and flighty if you weren't. The years pass and at a new job Maya finds herself face-to-face with Michiru, who now has a young son. Her husband has died and she is still the same person she was, barely able to take care of herself, much less a kid.

So when Maya is looking for a new roommate, she asks Michiru to move in with her, but this time on a strictly platonic basis. As the manga goes on, it's clear that Maya still has feelings for Michiru, but doesn't want to get hurt again. It's also clear to the reader that Michiru has feelings for Maya, too, but doesn't know how to win Maya's trust again.

There's also their downstairs neighbor, Niko, who spends all his free time with them and dotes on Michiru's son. As it turns out, Niko and Michiru have something in common: Michiru's late husband was Niko's lover, and Niko was devastated by his death (possibly even more so than Michiru).

And there's the little boy, Yuta, who is quiet and sensitive and a little odd and one of the cutest kids I've ever seen in a manga.

I ship Maya and Michiru hard and I really hope they get together in the end but this manga is much more than just a romance.

It's being scanlated, though only the first volume and a bit of volume two is done. You should definitely check it out if you like chosen family, slice-of-life, yuri that's not about schoolgirls who are totally not gay just love each other, or just really good manga.

What do you think you'll read next?
Well, I really want to read more of Ohana Holoholo but that's not going to happen for a while! :(

But basically I have given up on the idea of reading any more books before the end of the year (I doubt if I started one now I'd finish it before the end of the month), so my goal now is to read as much of the manga on my phone as possible and try to clear it off because there is really a ridiculous amount on there? Also to catch up on Jump, though that is less of a priority. So we'll see!

I also bought vol. 13 of Aozora Yell and vol. 2 of Chitose Etc. off itunes while I was on there hoping desperately for ebooks of Ohana Holoholo so I will probably read those soon, too, even though they are in ibooks not comic zeal so sometimes I forget I have manga there.
torachan: nepeta from homestuck (nepeta)
Title: Real Clothes
Author: Makimura Satoru
Number of Volumes: 13
My Rating: 4/5

Summary: Kinue works at a department store in the futon section. She loves her job and loves finding customers the bedding that's just right for them, so she's initially disappointed when she gets transferred to the women's clothing department. Will she learn to love her new position as much as she loved her old job?

Review: I have enjoyed several of this author's other series (Oishii Kankei, Imagine, and Imagine 29), but this is the first thing by her I've read in a very long time, so I was curious how much I would enjoy her now that I'm a more critical reader. As you can see, I did end up enjoying it quite a lot, enough to give it four stars, but there is definitely stuff that bugged me, like the way everyone constantly insists that all women love clothes and shopping, and moments like when a male character makes some gross sexist statement about women and the female characters all agree that this is true and women are totally like that, but he shouldn't say so. -_-

That said, it's really cute. I liked how it wasn't just a story about people who love fashion and work in the clothing industry. It's about someone who initially is not sure about this whole fashion thing, but comes to love her job. It's about being a working woman in Japan and what that means.

I was hopeful when the story starts off with her having a boyfriend, that romance would not be part of the story and it would just focus on her job. I should have realised that wasn't going to happen, though, especially when her new boss is introduced as a good-looking guy who initially insults her (omg can we do away with this trope of the guy who is so obnoxious on first meeting?). However, it's not thirteen volumes of will-they/won't-they with the boss. She breaks up with her boyfriend fairly early on due to him not being as accepting of her career as he'd claimed, but it's a long time before she feels anything other than friendship for her boss, and romance does end up being just small part of the story, which is overall focused on her career and her female friends and female co-workers. (There is also a female boss who is also rude to her when they first meet and I was afraid it was going to be a Devil Wears Prada sort of situation, but it's not at all, and she ends up having a great relationship with this woman, too.)

So yeah. Definitely flawed, but if you enjoy manga about working women, I definitely recommend this one.

Can't imagine this ever getting an official release in the US, but it is being scanlated.
torachan: arale from dr slump dressed in a penguin suit and smiling (arale penguin)
Title: Gokusen
Author: Morimoto Kozueko
Number of Volumes: 16
My Rating: 5/5

Summary: Yamaguchi Kumiko is the new teacher at an all-boys school full of delinquents, but what her students don't know is that she's no ordinary first-time teacher: she's the granddaughter of a local yakuza boss and is used to far worse than them. But she fears that she'll lose her job if people find out about her family, so she can't reveal her secret, which leads to all sorts of hijinks.

Review: Okay, this is just a hilarious and adorable series and immediately became one of my all-time favorites. I tried to watch the drama, too, but omg, it's horrible. Basically it took everything good about the manga, everything that made it unique, and turned it into just another story about a good teacher who turns a bad class around. (And apparently there are sequels where she goes to a different school each time and does the same thing.)

It really changes things when the rest of the school is normal, full of good students, etc. and only Yankumi's class is the bad class. For example, in the manga, when people report a high school boy is going around robbing old people and the cops and neighbors all immediately assume it's a Shirokin student, it's not just Yankumi's kids they're doubting, it's the whole school. And when Yankumi says my students may do this or that bad thing, but they would never rob an old person! and the other teachers say things like, well, but this is Shirokin, you never know, and she says, well, do you think one of your students would do it? and then each of the teachers says the same thing as her, basically, that while their kids are delinquents, they would never do that, it's a Moment. All the teachers are saying that while the school (deservedly) has a bad rep, they know their own students and their students would not do something like this. But when the other teachers in the drama say my kids would never do that, it's just snotty and mean. They know their kids are good, but they doubt Yankumi's kids. It gives the whole storyline a different vibe, and not in a good way.

I also hated how the drama changed her crush to being on a policeman rather than the family lawyer. Again, it totally changed things, introducing an unnecessary "omg I hate the cops but totally have a crush on one!" thing as opposed to her having a crush on someone who was "on their side", so to speak, and whom she'd grown up with.

Okay, so...this review is basically complaining about the drama? But unfortunately I actually read this manga almost a year ago and put off posting a review because I wanted to compare with the drama, and I disliked the drama, so I put off watching it, and then even after I decided to just ditch the rest of the episodes and not force myself to watch the whole thing, I had a backlog of other reviews I needed to write and this just kept getting pushed to the end of the queue. But this month my goal was to catch up on my manga reviews, so I was determined to write something, only to find I couldn't remember much of anything except this paragraph I'd already written ranting about the drama. *cries*

Anyway, it's just a really cute series and I highly recommend it. I have no idea whether the anime is similar to the manga or not, just avoid the drama at all costs.

While the anime has been released in the US, the manga has not. However, it has been completely scanlated.
torachan: (Default)
Title: Helter Skelter
Author: Okazaki Kyouko
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 4/5

Baka Updates Summary: Through round after round of extensive plastic surgery and vigorous maintenance, Ririko has become the absolute manifestation of beauty, and becomes a wildly successful model, actress, and singer. However, soon, her body, unable to withstand the burdens of surgery, begins to crumble, and along with it so does her mind, as she plummets towards a frightening and inevitable end.

Review: I downloaded this (along with the other two) ages ago just on a whim, and they sat in my to-read folder until a friend recently messaged me on Facebook and asked if I knew anywhere to get free or used manga because this was being made into a movie and she wanted to read the manga. That prompted me to finally read it myself, and I really enjoyed it.

The focus on plastic surgery gone wrong here reminded me a lot of Morita Yuuko's Koi no Kiseki, which was written slightly before this, though while I kind of rolled my eyes a bit at Helter Skelter, it was nowhere near as over the top and ridiculous in that regard as Koi no Kiseki (no one's face melted off in a fire to reveal their pre-surgery face underneath!).

While this was originally meant to be continued, it was put on permanent hiatus due to a horrible car accident that has left the author unable to work even sixteen years later. However, I found the volume ended at a good place. It felt final enough to me, even as it ends on a "oh wow, reveal!" note. I'm definitely curious to see the movie.

While none of her manga has officially been released in English, this one has been fully scanlated (no guarantees of quality).

Title: Pink
Author: Okazaki Kyouko
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 4/5

Baka Updates Summary: Pink is a manga about a Japanese girl named Yumi, a beautiful girl in her early 20s. During the day, Yumi works as a regular office lady , but by night, she works as a prostitute. Yumi needs her two jobs to make ends meet. She also needs the extra income to feed her unusual pet, a crocodile, which she keeps in her apartment. Working in an office is quite normal for young Japanese women, but keeping a pet crocodile, and being a prostitute makes Yumi stand out.

Review: Based on the summary, this one didn't seem that interesting to me, but I figured since I had downloaded three of her manga (the only three I've been able to find online), I would read them all. It started out slow, but I did end up really enjoying it. It's basically a mess of tangled relationships involving Yumi, her step-sister, her step-mother, her step-mother's boytoy lover who becomes friends with Yumi and Keiko (and then starts having a relationship with Yumi himself), and the boytoy's girlfriend (who doesn't know about either his relationship with Yumi or her step-mother). Oh, and of course the crocodile. It's pretty over the top and quite fun, though with a tragic ending.

This one hasn't been scanlated at all, that I can find.

Title: River's Edge
Author: Okazaki Kyouko
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 5/5

Baka Updates Summary: Haruna Wakakusa and Yamada become friends after she saves him several times from her boyfriend's constant bullying. Through him she gets to know Kozue Yoshikawa, a fellow student who also models professionally. The three emotionally stunted teens' lives briefly yet intensely intertwine for one semester before splintering from the aftereffects of one disastrous night. For both Wakakusa and Yamada, their emotional awakening fosters an unlikely friendship between the two battered souls.

Review: This was hands-down the best of these three manga, and also gets massive props for having queer main characters in a non-romance story. (Helter Skelter does as well, though I kind of had issues with how that was portrayed.) Although this had a lot of dramatic things happen, it was the most realistic feeling of the three (though still pretty over the top in a lot of places). Just a really, really good teen drama that is about relationships of all sorts (both platonic and romantic) and how complicated and fucked up everything can get. While there was a lot of issue stuff (pregnancy, disordered eating, queerness, rape, bullying & abusive relationships), it wasn't at all an issue manga.

Oh! I just realised that the younger model whom Ririko is competing with is one of the main characters in River's Edge! Now I kind of want to go back and read Helter Skelter, because wow, she had this total innocent image there and it seemed like it was genuine, but after seeing her in River's Edge, that's not true at all. (And River's Edge was written first, so it's not like the innocent thing being an act was a retcon.)

This one also appears to be fully scanlated, and I highly recommend it.
torachan: arale from dr slump with a huge grin on her face (arale)
Title: Anna-san no Omame
Author: Suzuki Yumiko
Number of Volumes: 6
My Rating: 4/5

Summary: Lily looks like a fish, but is convinced she looks like a supermodel, and due to her enflated self-image, she has a horrible personality on top of it, firmly believing everyone is beneath her. She's also convinced her best friend Anna's boyfriend Kyotaro is in love with her, and is continually throwing herself at him and generally getting in their way. And yet despite all this, Anna (and eventually Kyotaro), can't help loving her.

Review: Despite Lily's ridiculobnoxiousness (it's a perfectly cromulent word), there is something sweet and helpless about her that Anna and Kyotaro are drawn to, and I feel the same way about this manga. I have many conflicted feelings about it! I feel like the premise is that ugly girls should be put in their place...and yet Lily is genuinely obnoxious in the way she treats others; it's not just that she has good self-esteem despite her not conventionally attractive looks, so idk idk.

While this is definitely a comedy, it's also touching, and not at all what I expected from the premise. I laughed a lot and I couldn't help but love Lily. And I love that Anna and Kyotaro love Lily, too. I mean, well, can I spoil the ending of a series probably no one reading this will ever read? XD It ends with the three of moving in together forever, because Kyotaro and Anna realise that they don't want a life without Lily.
torachan: (Default)
Catching up on my reviews, here are some one-shots I've read recently. None of these have official US releases, but they have all been fully scanlated by Kotonoha (I translated Kokoro no Kanashimi myself, can't speak for the quality of the other two).

Title: Kokoro no Kanashimi
Author: Nishioka Kyoudai
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 4/5

Summary: A collection of bizarre, dreamlike short stories.

Review: I really disliked Kami no Kodomo, the first manga I read by this brother/sister mangaka team, but I enjoyed these short stories a lot more. The art is unique and interesting and goes very well with the decidedly odd, often dreamlike tone of the stories.

Sadness of the Heart on Kotonoha

Title: Love My Life
Author: Yamaji Ebine
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 4/5

Summary: Ichiko nervously introduces her girlfriend to her father, only to find out that her dad is gay, too, as was her (now deceased) mom. The revelation unsettles her, making her wonder if she (or her girlfriend) would ever choose a traditional life over what they have, as well as whether or not her parents really loved each other.

Review: Ichiko's questions are answered fairly early on, and the manga turns into more of just a slice-of-life story about her and her girlfriend and their day-to-day problems (not all or even mostly relationship problems, though there is that; there's also Ichiko taking steps towards realising her dream of becoming a translator like her dad, and her girlfriend figuring out what she wants to do in life). I enjoyed it overall, especially as a nice change from typical yuri manga with its gay-for-you-ness and general isolation of the couple from any other queer characters (between Ichiko, her girlfriend, her best friend & his boyfriend(s), her dad and his boyfriend, her mom, her mom's former lover & her new partner, there are far, far more queer characters in this story than there are straight (the only straight characters I can think of are the girlfriend's father and a girl at Ichiko's university who has a crush on Ichiko's best friend)). This was also made into a movie, which is available in English (region 1). I saw the movie quite a while ago and enjoyed it, too.

Love My Life on Kotonoha

Title: Omoide Emanon
Author: Tsuruta Kenji & Kajio Shinji
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 3/5

Summary: Onboard a ship in 1967, a college student meets a mysterious girl, Emanon ("no name" backwards) who, after seeing him reading a novel in which memories can be passed from one person to another, confides to him that she is three billion years old mentally. Physically she's seventeen, but she has memories dating back to the beginning of life on Earth.

Review: This has lovely art and is intriguing, but I find it annoying that it's not actually about Emanon, but about this guy who meets her and how that affects him. Her story is much more interesting to me and I wish we'd actually gotten more of that. It's based on a novel (which turned into a series) and at first I wondered if the novel(s) might actually be about her, but the summary of one of the other ones on Amazon is the same sort of thing (boy meets Emanon and his life is changed by her). :-/

Memories of Emanon on Kotonoha
torachan: (Default)
Title: Dou ni ka Naru Hibi
Author: Shimura Takako
Number of Volumes: 2
My Rating: 4/5

Summary: A collection of (mostly unconnected) short stories.

Review: If you like Aoi Hana or Hourou Musuko, you'll probably like these short stories. They are generally slice-of-life stuff, with that same slow pace, focusing on small moments, that is the hallmark of her longer works. Many are relationship-focused (though not necessarily romance), and feature m/f, m/m, and f/f couples. My favorite was the story about a woman who gets a wedding invitation from a girl she dated in high school, and meets another wedding guest, who dated the bride in college. Neither of them are completely over the bride when they meet each other, but their drunken, bitter one-night stand after the wedding ends up turning into something more. It's always nice to find yuri stories that aren't the typical high-school girl stuff, and I like this even more because it actually starts in a way to make you think it's exactly that sort of story.

Dou ni ka Naru Hibi has been completely scanlated by Kotonoha (though it's not one of the ones I translated, so idk about quality).

Title: Kawaii Akuma
Author: Shimura Takako
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 3.5/5

Summary: Another collection of short stories.

Review: One multi-part story dominates this book, followed by several one-shots. I honestly wasn't that thrilled with the title story. It was okay, but eh. I enjoyed some of the shorts more, though none were too memorable. I actually had to download the volume again (I read it a week or so ago) to refresh my memory as to what was in it. My favorite was the one where a girl is obsessed with a certain manga and when a new boy moves in next door, she tries to make it fit the manga (which also starts with a new boy moving in next door). Of course reality doesn't happen like a manga, but she does find out that the boy is also a huge fan of the same series.

I've scanlated one of the one-shots, Unworthy Son (Fushou no Musuko), but no one else seems to have scanlated the rest.

Title: Route 225
Author: Shimura Takako & Fujino Chiya
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 4/5

Summary: A teenage girl and her brother take a wrong turn one night and find themselves in a parallel world where everything is just a little bit different. And their parents are missing. Using her brother's phone card, they're occasionally able to call home to their mom in their own world, but will they ever be able to find their way back?

Review: This is based on a novel, so Shimura Takako just drew the manga, didn't write the plot. That said, it does feel somewhat like something she'd write, sort of dreamy and slow (and while her longer works are all realistic, after reading a bunch of her short stories, it's clear she likes supernatural stuff, too). Anyway, I enjoyed this quite a bit, especially the ending (which from reading reviews of the comic and the novel on Amazon Japan wasn't a big hit with some readers).

This one has been fully scanlated, too, though again, I didn't take a look at it myself, so no idea whether or not it's actually readable.
torachan: (Default)
Title: Clover
Author: Chiya Toriko
Number of Volumes: 24
My Rating: 3.5/5

I originally started reading this because I caught a chapter in a monthly mag I picked up (not one of my usuals, so I didn't know any of the stories). The chapter I liked turned out to be a side-story about the main character's little sister, and the main story was totally different (the side story was about a high school girl in a relationship with her tutor; the main story is an office romance). But I kind of got hooked anyway, in a vague way, and kept reading it. It's enjoyable, but there's nothing out of the ordinary about it. I would recommend it to people interested in longer josei series, as there are not that many of those out there (especially as long as 24 volumes). While the main guy, Tsuge, is the sort of jerk with a heart of gold type that I'm not usually that fond of, he did grow on me (and he does eventually repent of his jerky ways, which I guess is the point for fans of this type, the big "yes, I was a dick, I love you, please don't leave me, I'll change my ways!" scene), and I really love the rest of the cast. This has loads of female characters and a big focus on female friendship, which is always a big plus for me in romances.

The first few volumes are available in scanlation, but I would be really, really surprised if such a series ever got licensed in the US.
torachan: (Default)
This is not a manga I normally post about because I don't think many people outside of Japan really know about it, but I happened to mention something from vol. 22 in a previous post and got a comment asking for a summary, are super detailed summaries (seriously, like over 1000 words each *headdesk*) for vols. 22 and 23 for anyone who might be interested.

Vol. 22 )

Vol. 23 )
torachan: (Default)
Title: Cappuccino
Author: Yoshizumi Wataru
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 5/5

Ari and Sousuke have been dating for almost four years when they decide to move in together. It seems like the perfect solution to the way their work schedules keep them from seeing each other very often, but soon things start falling apart.

I really, really liked this. I am not sure I've ever read a manga that was about a relationship falling apart that didn't set up another relationship for the protagonist to end up in for a happy ending. Here the happy ending was that she got over Sousuke and moved on with her own life, was enjoying her job, etc. (she did accept a dinner invite from a colleague at the very end, but it was an offscreen thing and played as more of a "she's starting to date other people now, because she's over the other guy" rather than a "this will be her true love" kind of thing). It was a refreshing change.

There's no official English release, but it has been scanlated.

Title: Spicy Pink
Author: Yoshizumi Wataru
Number of Volumes: 2
My Rating: 3/5

Sakura is a busy mangaka who hasn't had a boyfriend in years. At her friend's urging, she goes to a goukon (group date) and meets a rather obnoxious doctor, whom she later ends up dating because her friend convinces her that as a shoujo mangaka, she should have more romantic experience.

What was this? This is not my beautiful Yoshizumi Wataru. I know the obnoxious guy with a tragic past and secret heart of gold is a staple in shoujo and josei manga (especially the stuff released in the US, for some reason), but that is not at all typical of Yoshizumi's stuff. Not only was the main guy obnoxious, but so was Sakura's ex-boyfriend as well as another guy who shows up for a while. The only non-obnoxious guy is the friend's boyfriend.

I liked the female characters a lot, and really liked Sakura's friendship with a fellow mangaka, but the obnoxious guys just ruined it for me.

This hasn't been released officially in English, either, but scanlations can be found here.

I checked Baka Updates and apparently I've now read all of Yoshizumi's manga except for her current series (which seems to be back to shoujo; I've really enjoyed her josei stuff, so I hope she returns to that again).
torachan: (Default)
Title: Kamisama no Orgel
Author: Mizusawa Megumi
Number of Volumes: 3
My Rating: 4.5/5

I read the first vol. of this years ago, but then never could find the later volumes for cheap and sort of just forgot about it. I recently found them, though, as well as vol. 1, so I could refresh my memory, and I'm glad I finally got a chance to read the whole series.

It's a cute story as is everything by Mizusawa Megumi. This is from Cookie, so the characters are college students, rather than middle- or high-schoolers as you usually get from Ribbon. Yumi is a second-year college student and has recently broken up with her boyfriend when she finds out she's pregnant. At first she is going to have an abortion, but eventually she decides to keep the baby and she and her ex, Kouta, get back together to raise the baby. However, there was a good reason they broke up: Kouta is immature and kind of obnoxious, and it's not easy for them to make a go of it.

I liked that it wasn't a fairytale romance and that I really wasn't 100% sure that they were going to be together in the end. I also liked that it didn't glamorise having a baby. Despite being married, Yumi essentially has to raise Tsubasa on her own, while still going to school, and it's not easy (even though Tsubasa is a very easy-going baby).

There's a second story in vol. 3 called Pocket Cafe, which is also very cute (not a one-shot, but complete in two chapters).

The first vol. has been scanlated and is up on Manga Fox, though it looks like the series was abandoned after that. (I'm adding it to my list of possible things to scanlate, though, you know, who knows when that might be.)
torachan: (Default)
Title: IS~Otoko Demo Onna Demo Nai Sei~
Author: Rokuhana Chiyo
My Rating: 4/5

I've written about this manga in detail before and everything I said there still stands. I enjoyed this manga quite a lot and I love that there is a manga with a positive, realistic portrayal of intersex people, but I wish it weren't so...conservative. It seems like so often I read or watch something and I'm like, yes, it's awesome that this is out there, but I want more.

One of the main things that bugged me was Haru's relationship with Ibuki. Haru and Ibuki met and fell for each other when Haru was in high school and was being forced by the school to attend as female because his birth certificate said female. Ibuki does continue his relationship with Haru even after he finds out that Haru is intersex and feels more male than female, but they have a lot of problems and it's really played as a "straight except for you" thing. But what's even worse is that it really feels like the main reason Haru never takes testosterone or has top surgery or anything is because he feels it would alienate Ibuki even more. He hates his body. The doctors keep trying to push him towards female hormones because of his birth certificate, and the one time he gives in and says yes, he ends up not being able to make himself take them. But even though he knows there is the option of T if he wants to fight for it, because his therapist, who is on his side, told him he could do that, he is always stopped by the thought of losing Ibuki.

The other thing is that over and over the manga talks about how they can never have sex. Sex is envisioned as heterosexual PiV sex only, and since Haru can't have that sort of sex, he can never have sex at all. In the end, he and Ibuki do get together, but it is a very platonic scene. There's a hug and they cry, but there's not even a kiss, much less a sex scene or even a fade-to-black. I really wanted the story to acknowledge that there are other ways of having sex.

Also there was some hinkiness with gender in that often gender roles were depicted as something innate. Haru was able to become friends with the girls in high school, not just because he was forced to go to high school as a girl, but because of some (physically) female part of him that allowed him to relate to them. And later, Haru ends up adopting an intersex child whom he names Nozomi, and he raises Nozomi as intersex. At school, Nozomi tells the other kids that zie can play with both boys' and girls' toys because zie is neither a boy nor a girl. As if that's something that only zie can do because zie is intersex.

There's probably other stuff I'm forgetting as well, but despite all that, I did enjoy it a lot and do recommend it. I wish it had been better than it was, but it's good for what it is.

You can find scanlations up through vol. 9 (of 17) here. The first eight were translated by a different group, then it was picked up recently by Dokukinoko Scans, and as of chapter 38, I'm working as their translator (so you can be guaranteed it's good; no idea about the earlier stuff).
torachan: sakaki from azumanga daioh holding a cat, with the text "I like cats" in Japanese (sakaki)
Title: Kabocha to Mayonnaise
Author: Nananan Kiriko
My Rating: 4/5

Miho and Sei are living together, but there's no passion to their relationship, which is strained by the fact that Sei is a struggling musician who mainly sits around all day drinking and watching TV instead of looking for a job. Meanwhile Miho turns to sex work to support them and is pining for her old boyfriend who was a complete asshole.

I liked this a lot. It's understated and very realistic and feels very grown up. I love the art, too. It's all outlines with minimal use of ink and tones.

I wish it were easier to get my hands on this sort of manga, but the bookstores here don't tend to stock a lot of ladies manga and most of what they do stock is BL of some sort. Ladies also gets scanned much less frequently than seinen, shounen, or shoujo, so it's hard to find online, too.

Scanlations can be found here. (I translated chapters 5-10.)

Title: Kaikisen
Author: Kon Satoshi
My Rating: 2.5/5

For generations, Yosuke's family has kept the "mermaid's egg" in their temple. Yosuke doesn't believe in mermaids and thinks the egg is just a legend, but strange things start happening when construction begins on a new resort that will the nearby island where the mermaid supposedly lives.

This was a decent enough story, but it didn't really feel that compelling. I could tell exactly where it was going to go and it just didn't feel like there was anything new and different about it. The art was okay, in a retro-looking way (it was published ten years ago, but looks like it could have been twenty or more).

Scanlations can be found here. (I translated part 3; part 4 should be posted later today, and the final part next Sunday (both by me as well).)

Title: Darling wa Gaikokujin 2
Author: Oguri Saori
My Rating: 4/5

This comes between Darling wa Gaikokujin and Darling no Ataman Naka by Oguri Saori (I wasn't able to get them in order, but it doesn't matter) and is pretty much more of the same: a mix of observations about Japan and Japanese, foreigners, and just these two people and their individual differences. I really enjoy Oguri's humor and am looking forward to reading more books in the series (if you can call it that) if I can get my hands on them. There seem to be quite a few!
torachan: (Default)
I've been going through all my one-shots and reading those before deciding what series I want to tackle next. Here is one by Mizusawa Megumi and two by Yoshizumi Wataru, two of my favorite shoujo writers.

Title: Orange Kakumei
Author: Mizusawa Megumi
My Rating: 3.5/5

I've always liked Mizusawa Megumi's stuff. This wasn't one of the best I've ever read, but it was cute. The first three stories are about a girl named Natsu who's classmate always teases her and jokes around and says he likes her. She doesn't take him seriously at first, but eventually grows to like him, too. The fourth story is about her sister, Aoi, whose best friend is really pretty and outgoing and Aoi is always jealous of her. I liked that the pretty best friend was a genuinely nice person, and that when a bunch of other girls accused her of using Aoi to make herself look better, that wasn't the case. (There was a romance in this one, too, but the friendship was equally important.)

Title: Cherish
Author: Yoshizumi Wataru
My Rating: 5/5

I love Yoshizumi's shoujo stuff, but I've never read any of her ladies manga before (in fact, I didn't know she wrote ladies at all until I saw this). I don't know if she's written any more, but if she has, I hope I can get my hands on it, because this was awesome.

There are two stories. The first is about a girl whose mom dies when she's three and she's then raised by her mom's best friend and his partner. Flashforward to when she's in college, where she's reunited with a boy she broke up with in jr. high because he couldn't accept her gay dads. If I had known that's what the story was about, I would have read it a lot sooner! Gay supporting characters aren't too rare in shoujo, but I've never seen one where the parents were gay (outside of BL). It's great to see casual positive portrayals like this in manga.

The second story was about a guy who falls for a woman who has an eight-year-old son and tries to convince her that he's not put off by her being a single mom. This was a cute story, too.

Title: Quartet Game
Author: Yoshizumi Wataru
My Rating: 4/5

This is a collection of some really early manga of hers. It's not the best of her stuff I've ever read, but all the stories were enjoyable.

The first story was a mystery. Four kids at a music school are assigned to play as a quartet. One day as they're practicing, they stumble onto a clue that may have something to do with a missing teacher. I was totally not expecting the mystery in this, so that was a nice surprise.

The second story was a fairly ordinary school romance. A boy has a crush on his classmate, but thinks she's going out with their teacher.

The third story was the best. It was about a girl who gains the ability to "time slip" after being hit by a truck. She can't control it, but she usually only slips back a few hours or at most a day or two. Then one day she slips back five years and meets two boys who try to help her get back to her own time.
torachan: (Default)
Title: Honey and Clover vols. 1-4 (out of 10)
Author: Umino Chica
My Rating: 2/5

This is a ladies slice-of-life manga about college students at an art school. I wanted to like this series, since it seems to be pretty popular, but I just...didn't. It's cute, but I wish it would decide if it wants to be a cute college slice of life thing or if it wants to be wacky crack, because I don't like the combination of the two. Also, the story is not keeping my interest for this many volumes. I had really meant to try and read the full series since it's only ten volumes, but I tried to read volume five and I was just bored and finally thought, Why am I forcing myself to read this just so I can say I read the whole thing? So I gave up on it.

I also was weirded out by the fetishisation of Hagumi's childlikeness, both in terms of her looks/size and her personality. Not only does it make it kind of icky for guys to be in love with her, but I'm just kind of over that obsession with female innocence/purity. It's not special and attractive. It's just kind of icky.
torachan: (Default)
This is not a proper review, since I don't like to review before a series is finished, but I mainlined these ten volumes over the past few days and I wanted to talk about this manga.

If you missed my previous posts on this manga, it's a josei series that has a serious, realistic take on intersexuality. Scanlations of the first eight volumes can be found here (though sadly it appears to be discontinued by the group who was working on it). The author has worked closely with an online intersex group to make sure she has her facts straight and isn't getting offensive or appropriative, which shouldn't impress me as much as it does, because it should be how everyone approaches fiction, but we all know that's not how it works, so I do admire her for how respectful she's been with this topic, especially considering the fact that her original idea was for a generic fantasy story that had a "hermaphrodite" hero/ine and it was only when she started poking around online for research that she realised, hey, this could be offensive, and then trashed that idea and wrote this story instead.

An outline of the story )

There's a lot I love about this story )

but what I really want is a queer story, and this is often depressingly heteronormative )

I so many ways this manga is awesome and is showing a better way, rather than unthinkingly regurgitating society's wrongness. But I want it to question more. I want the characters to realise that there's a better way than what they're told. And I don't know if they will. I don't want to come to the end of this manga and be disappointed, but I'm so afraid I will.
torachan: (Default)
Guy Burt - The Hole

Woohoo! Book #13 finished! After reading half of The Hole this morning on the bus, I found I just had to finish the rest of it up this evening. It was a really quick read, only 150 pages (one of the reasons I picked it; long books are being saved for next year!) and really kept my interest.

I originally heard about it from [ profile] rachelmanija's Young Adult Agony Awards (though I don't know that this is YA? It's about teenagers, but I don't know that that automatically makes it YA, and Amazon offers no insight), but lucky for me, by the time I read it, I had completely forgotten any spoilers I'd read.

Anyway, the plot is that five teens have another friend lock them in this basement room at their school while everyone else is away on a field trip. The friend is supposed to let them out after three days, but doesn't come back. I highly recommend it, but it's best read without spoilers.

Spoilers under here! )

Apparently there's a film, which I've put on the Netflix queue, but from the book reviews I read, the film was reeeeeally different. In fact, almost all the negative reviews were people criticising the book for not being like the film. One criticism was that the characters were more fleshed-out in the film and given backstories, but honestly, that didn't bother me at all. I didn't find it relevant. There was the right amount of information needed to tell the story. (In fact, I was quite impressed that the author was eighteen when he wrote this. This book certainly deserves a lot more praise than dreck like Eragon, to name another book written by a teenager.)

This also seemed to have a high number of reviews by people with no reading comprehension whatsoever. One person commented on how you don't know who the narrator is til the very end, but it's clearly said on page ten that it's Liz. D:

Rokuhana Chiyo - IS~Otoko Demo Onna Demo Nai Sei~ 1-4

I ordered the first four volumes of this off Amazon Japan and really wish I had the money to order the rest! (There are currently fourteen volumes and it's still ongoing.) I read all four of these in one go because it was hard to put them down.

IS is short for intersex (or intersexual, as it's said in Japanese), and I want to start off by saying how impressed I am with the author. It's not a guarantee that any author anywhere, even a professional, is going to do research or treat a topic with respect, and manga often feels more like fanfic than other professional fiction, in that it can be very, very self-indulgent and cracktastic, and many authors who are serialised just write whatever comes into their head rather than plotting ahead.

So when I read the author's notes for this, I was really surprised. She originally read a fantasy story about a boy who turned into a girl (or vice versa) and thought it would make a neat manga, so she talked to her editor about doing something with an intersex character. Her editor told her that was a sensitive topic and she would need to research and treat it with respect, and she agreed, not thinking it would be anything. Then she got online and started reading and realised how much work she had ahead of her. And instead of writing something fantasy or sci-fi, instead of writing something made-up that could possibly be offensive, she actually did a ton of research, joined a messageboard for intersex folks, talked to many people both online and in person, and then wrote her story. Furthermore, each chapter she writes not only has to get approved by her editor, but is vetted by one or more intersex people to make sure she has her facts straight and hasn't done anything accidentally offensive.

It's sad that this is something I'm so surprised and impressed by, but that's how it is. I wish fandom would take that to heart for any number of topics...

Anyway, the manga starts off with a couple of one-offs about different intersex people, and then starting with volume two, it focuses on a third character for the remainder of the series. I enjoyed the first two, but I'm glad it settled into something more than just a bunch of one-offs, because there was a lot of repetitive information between the three, plus the first two felt a little too much like issue manga (which tbh, they were).

The main story is about Haru, and the story starts when sie's born (one nice thing about this series being in Japanese is that you never have the pronoun problem!). Haru's parents are upset when they first find out their baby is intersex, but they soon decide to raise Haru as-is, and let hir decide to get surgery or hormones or whatever when sie's old enough. However, they do put down female on Haru's birth certificate, which will become a problem later. More rambly, with vague spoilers )
torachan: (Default)
I seem to have done a lot of reading yesterday and today. Catching up on my massive backlog, yay.

Kaze no Uta wo Kike is Murakami Haruki's first novel. I'm glad I didn't read this first, because I may never have read anything else of his. It's okay, but I was just kind of bored. Apparently there are two other books (Pinball something and something with sheep in the title) that make up this trilogy (though they also stand alone? This one does, anyway), but I doubt I'll read the others. I have a couple of his later books (English translations), so I will read those, and hopefully they'll be as good as The Elephant Vanishes. Actually there were some stories in The Elephant Vanishes that were similar to this. Just really stories about nothing, and while that works okay for a short story, I don't think it works very well for a novel, even one that's only 150 pages).

Then I read vols. 10 and 11 of Evangelion. It was Evangelion. :p Apparently vol. 12 is to be the final volume. Hopefully that will be out soon. I'm curious to see if the ending is similar to the anime or movie or something else entirely.

Finally, I read vols. 18 and 19 of Chiya Toriko's Clover. There are a ton of manga called Clover, but this is not the one by Clamp. It's a ladies series about office romance. Pretty cute, but nothing spectacular. I am still enjoying it, but at the same time I'm getting to the point where I really want it to end because it feels like the author is just throwing in more obstacles to keep it going.
torachan: (Default)
First off, waaah, no Ugly Betty tonight. *sadface* At least it's back next week.


Koi no Kiseki
The nice thing about rereading this is that while I remembered the basics (who got with whom, that people had tragic pasts, etc.) I didn't remember much of the specifics. It wasn't quite the same as being surprised the first time round, more like "oh yeah, I remember that", but it wasn't like I totally remembered everything and there was no point in reading it.

I had forgotten just how horrible people were in this. It's not just Yukino and Hijiri who are horrid. Like with Peach Girl, people jump to believe Yukino and hate on Taeko because of Yukino's lies. Or even if they're not hating, it's still really teeth-grindingly annoying how they believe Yukino. Of course that's the whole point, but argh!

Spoilers )

Aside from the cracky soap-opera goodness, there is one thing that really bothers me about this manga and that's the focus on beauty. Even though as the series progresses, Taeko learns that inner beauty is what's important rather than just physical beauty, there is still a lot of emphasis on being beautiful and basically looking pleasing to a man. Hijiri at one point berates Taeko for coming to breakfast without wearing makeup, telling her that's part of the etiquette of being a woman, and this is presented as being the right view, not as something obnoxious!

The thing I did like, though, is that even after losing weight, Taeko was not "beautiful". She was normal-looking, and it was her personality that drew people to her (and she could be pretty with makeup, etc. which is how most people are). A nice touch of realism somewhat unexpected in a shoujo manga, where normally losing weight would make her automatically beautiful. Also she wasn't automatically a good actor. She flubbed her lines and was stiff and wooden and only after working really hard at it did she begin to get good. So I liked that there was some realism (unexpected!) amidst the over-the-top soapness.

Anyway, I'm definitely glad to have had a chance to read this again and see that I liked it as much as I did the first time round.


Random links to stuff I have found interesting and/or amusing lately:

[ profile] rachelmanija's A User's Guide to PTSD is a great resource for anyone writing characters who have been traumatised. It's also just good reading.

This comic is so true. Sadly.

This is why I love Penny Arcade.

"Maybe if they had gone to church, God wouldn't have smited them with Dino AIDS" is my new favorite phrase. I even made an icon.

I wish we had some potted kitties!


The other day I reached the final level on Luxor (13-10, assuming there aren't more hidden levels after it) and damn, it's crazy. It's a double path, with both paths looping around and around so it's really hard to tell where things are coming and going. I reached it twice, but the past few days, I've been dying consistently on level 13-1 or 13-2 and I don't know why!


I uploaded U;Nee's first two albums, too, for anyone who's interested.

Passion and Pure

Next week I should have the next in the alphabet series up.

I've also got my to-listen playlist whittled down to just two bands. Of course one of those is Bad Religion, and I have pretty much their entire discography to listen to, but still. I feel productive! After this, I need to go through the random songs and see what I want to keep or not, but I only have about 200 songs there to go through.


All I have to say about the newest LJ thing is that I won't be flagging anything and whether other people do or not doesn't affect me, since I am both over 18 and never surf LJ logged out, so I really don't care.

Also, there are many legitimate complaints to be made about this; "oh noes, the lack of information in the cut tag means I might see fic with pairings I don't like or that has my squicks in it!!!" is not one of them. I have seen this everywhere, but it's ridiculous. The headers will still be there. All it means is that you have to click the cut to see them. If you click the cut, see the headers, and decide not to read the fic, you've wasted two seconds. It's not going to force you to read fics with your squicks in them, people. Be intelligent.
torachan: (Default)
Nana 17

Spoilers, natch )

I have the first Nana movie on my hard drive somewhere. I should watch it.

D.Gray-Man "Reverse 1: Tabidachi no Clergyman"

I actually liked this book quite a lot. As I said the other day, there are three stories, Allen's, Kanda's, and Bak Chan's. The writing isn't wonderful, but mediocre writing doesn't bother me as much in Japanese as it does English.

Long, long, with some spoilers )


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