Seven series to get your friends watching anime, no matter what their tastes!
Mylene's Mangatake a look at Mylene's Anime
|20th Century Boys (manga)||Very good|
|Abandon the Old in Tokyo (manga)||Very good|
|Much darker and more despondent than The Pushman and other Stories, Abandon the Old in Tokyo is certainly a must-read for Tatsumi fans, or those seeking out something mature and completely different from what you typically find on the shelves of the chain bookstores. The starkness of each short story provides an unsettling aspect of human nature, well-contained in the snapshot of a life.|
A few more words of review can be found at my blog.
|Alice 19th (manga)||Good|
|A really solid and short series. The main characters are well developed, and while it's odd that they have essentially the same personalities, it was nice to see a pairing that worked well. The art was steady and the typical Watase pretty, and the story with the undertones of the power of words was thoroughly enjoyable. I really only have two complaints: introduction of 2 characters that received no backstory (Watase even said she didn't have time for it--so why add them?), and out of place humor cropping up in several places. It's as if Watase was afraid of truly dramatic moments, so she randomly threw in humor to disperse the emotion.
Overall, a really enjoyable read. If you enjoy shoujo fantasy, this is a really good choice.
A slightly more in-depth review is available at my blog.
|All My Darling Daughters (manga)||Very good|
|I have always been a fan of short stories, particularly when they're loosely tied together through an anthology. That's just one of the reasons I found myself enjoying All My Darling Daughters. There's also the art, the simple poignancy of the stories, and emotional attachment to the characters that Yoshinaga so skillfully builds. It was easy to find a character to identify with, or to find one that reminded me of friends or acquaintances. She built truly believable characters, which can often be quite the feat.|
I'm not sure how well this would go over with the teen set, but it really is an excellent choice for women who read manga.
Slightly more fleshed out review over at Reflecting Lights.
|Andromeda Stories (manga)||Decent|
|Andromeda Stories is a pure sci-fi series, filled with human-enslaving machines, androids, and psychic powers that span the universe over. It has a lot of potential, but unfortunately is too rushed to really develop much of it, leading to a rather uninspired mismatch of ideas with a pretty cool ending. One or two more volumes may have helped it immensely, but we shall never know. I'd recommend To Terra over this one though. Still short, it just felt a bit more cohesive overall.|
|Angel Sanctuary (manga)||Good|
|I watched the OAV long before I ever picked up this series. I suppose I can see why so many people disliked the OAV if they were already familiar with the manga, but honestly, I still like it. The manga is a long, intricate story that often loses a little something when the characters can't be distinguished from one another (and better yet, their sex or gender identity is completely indeterminate.) There were a few too many elements for everything to mesh well together.|
Still, it certainly isn't bad, and if you enjoy bishounen and violence, it is quite an excellent choice. At some point I will need to reread it, just to see if I pick up more the second time around than I did the first.
|Anne Freaks (manga)||Decent|
|Apollo's Song (manga)||Very good|
|Ayako (manga)||Very good|
|Azumanga Daioh (manga)||Very good|
|If you love the anime of this series, it's hard to imagine you won't also love the manga. The 4-panel style is reminiscent of Sunday newspaper funnies, and the distilled humor holds together very well. It's definitely a fun, light read that can be enjoyed over and over again.|
|Blue (manga by K. Nananan)||Good|
|Using a minimalist and stark art style, Blue artfully tells a story of two young women and the relationship that develops between them. The Fanfare release is high quality, with impressive paper stock for the pages, brilliant white contrasting beautifully with the black and white style of the manga. Definitely recommended for those who prefer their manga to be outside the mainstream.|
Additional comments at Reflecting Lights.
|This is really quite the epic, rolling through the life of the man who would become Buddha. Tezuka's art style is less finessed than a shoujo fan like myself is used to, but it is clear in its simplicity, getting the point across artfully. The plot moves forward at a solid pace, although sometimes the incorporation of so many points of view can be very mildly confusing (but not enough to detract.) It was certainly an interesting learning experience. My only complaint were the random bits of comedy stuck in, often in the background with characters doing ultra cartoonish things. They were just so out of place that it would jar me from the atmosphere. Still, well worth a read and a purchase.|
|Cardcaptor Sakura (manga)||Very good|
|A very sweet little manga. While I really enjoyed the anime as well, there are certain aspects of the manga that are just a wee bit 'edgier' that I prefer (such as Rika's relationship with the teacher, and Tomoyo's words/actions.) Overall, it was completely enjoyable and seems a bit better held together than it's anime counterpart.|
|Clover (manga by CLAMP)||Decent|
|Codename: Sailor V (manga)||Good|
|Confidential Confessions (manga)||Very good|
|One of those surprising series that finds a way to be meaningful even while being perhaps more than a bit melodramatic.
For additional commentary, see my blog.
Started: 21 June 2007
Completed: 9 August 2007
|Confidential Confessions: Deai (manga)||Good|
|Unlike the original Confidential Confessions manga, this series consists solely of one story split into two volumes. The story is still melodramatic and a bit hard to believe, but still fairly gripping. If you liked the movie Bounce KO Gals, you'd probably like this. The reverse is probably true as well.
Started: 28 December 2007
Completed: 29 December 2007
|Cross Game (manga)||Very good|
|Death Note (manga)||Decent|
|I like this series to a game of Mafia, where fingers are pointing everywhere, with people coming up with more and more inane reasons for guilt or innocence. L and Light's constant mental banters of "I know that you know that I know that you know that I know that you know I'm Kira" get incredibly old. The series also long outstays its welcome, adding in an unnecessary second half. Still, it has a few good moments, and I highly prefer Misa's ending in the manga to her ending in the anime (I prefer manga-Misa to anime-Misa in general--in the manga she occasionally thinks.) I can see where the teens eat this up just like they do Twilight, but to me it was just a convoluted angst fest. A guilty pleasure at best, and honestly, not all that pleasurable. That title belongs to the anime adaptation alone.|
|A Distant Neighborhood (manga)||Excellent|
|Looking for something mature, something unique, something that doesn't scream Shonen Jump? Then find yourself a copy of this 2-part series released in English by Fanfare. It takes a look at a middle-aged salaryman as he suddenly finds himself a teenager once more just before his father abandons the family, and the soul searching he goes through as he tries to prevent this tragedy. Briskly paced, it still is a rich and full read. Fanfare/Ponent Mon release some of the best series, it's a shame they never make it into the mainstream.|
|Doubt!! (manga by K. Izumi)||Not really good|
|A Drunken Dream (manga)||Excellent|
|Eerie Queerie! (manga)||Not really good|
|I should point out that BL does nothing for me. If there's not at least one girl involved (and preferably two), what's in it for me as a woman? Thankfully, Eerie Queerie at least starts out more comedic and somewhat less offensive than its BL counterparts I've been subjected to. Don't fret, I don't find homosexuality involving men offensive--I find it offensive when attempted rape is equated to love. As far as I remember, Eerie Queerie mostly stays away from this, and maintains a light and fluffy feeling throughout. Not good, but not bad, and certainly will be a fun time for the fangirls.|
A longer (and more scathing than I remembered) review over at my blog.
|Erica Sakurazawa Collected Works (manga)||Excellent|
|Sakurazawa's works that have been translated into English have been wonderful. They're always short stories, and they really touch on the elements of the adult life that aren't frequently seen in the manga that makes it to North American shores. While the style is the same throughout, each tale has a very unique feel that makes it very easy to devour everything that Tokyopop released.|
|Bad art, bad characters, and an incoherent plot made this particular short series nearly impossible for me to get through. I just don't get it, and there's nothing more that I can say that hasn't already been stated in the review on my blog.|
|Forbidden Dance (manga)||Decent|
|I'm a sucker for ballet after watching Princess Tutu, so when I stumbled across this series at Half Price Books, I immediately bought it. While it's not bad, it's just standard shoujo fare. Girl falls for boy, tries to get better so he'll notice her...there's really nothing here you haven't seen a dozen times and probably done better. I definitely recommend some of Ashihara's later works like Sand Chronicles for an example of what she can really do.|
|Fruits Basket (manga)||Good|
|It took forever to publish, and the months between volumes resulted in me forgetting everything that had happened previously. Perhaps if I had waited until it was complete to start it, that would help. Unfortunately, it always felt rather disjointed to me due to the publication schedule. The story is also a bit too long and convoluted. However, it is still a fine story, filled with many excellent characters. Unfortunately, many of these characters only get skin deep character development due to their overabundance, which is definite flaw of the series. Not a favorite, but I definitely enjoyed the ride.|
|Full Moon O Sagashite (manga)||Good|
|A little sappier than I prefer, Full Moon's a sweet series with at least a couple of twists to keep you engaged even when it follows a pretty standard storyline.|
|A Girl Who Runs Through Time (manga)||Decent|
|The manga felt a wee bit slap-dash, and certainly wasn't nearly as compelling as its anime counterpart. Worth a read though if you enjoyed the anime and want more.|
|This series has about everything I hate in it. Misconceptions of love, abuse being equated to love, rape being equated to love, just everything about it is wrong in so many ways. If it's supposed to be a comedy, it's not funny. It's cruel, disturbing, and I cannot fathom how people like it. I really can't. I think I just take such topics a bit too seriously.|
|Gunslinger Girl (manga)||Excellent|
|.hack//Legend of the Twilight (manga)||Good|
|A vast improvement over its anime counterpart! A better plot, better version of the characters, and some awesome IRL moments as well. Thoroughly enjoyable, particularly when viewed in contrast to the travesty that was the anime.|
|Helter Skelter (manga)||Very good|
|Here is Greenwood (manga)||Very good|
|This is easily one of the more delightful manga series I've read. Now granted, I'm not all that well-read when it comes to manga, but this truly had something almost magical about it. The characters each fell into a certain archetype, and yet at the same time they were written as cognizant of this and rebelling against it from time to time. Much of the series was completely tongue-in-cheek, and its wackiness had me giggling through large portions of every volume.|
|Honey and Clover (manga)||Excellent|
|Hot Gimmick (manga)||So-so|
Hot Gimmick is a trainwreck of a manga, and I found myself rubber necking it the entire way. Essentially, the story is how a girl falls in love with someone who hits her, berates her, and blackmails her into being his slave. Along the way, her brother expresses his love for her, and her supposed friend tries to coordinate a gang rape. It's absolutely awful, but morbid, compulsive curiosity kept me reading, trying to figure out if the girl would ever get a clue.|
For fans of trashy manga with clueless leads, this might work. For others though...your inner feminist might hurt you if you try to read it all the way through.
|Imadoki! Nowadays (manga)||So-so|
|I can't deny that I was extremely disappointed with this series. I thought I heard high praise for it, but it just felt so disjointed, predictable, and badly melodramatic (there is such thing as good melodrama--but this wasn't it.) I'm rather glad I found this at the library rather than dropping cash on it. Not my cup of tea at all.|
There's a bit fuller review on my blog.
Started: 6 March 2008
Completed: 7 March 2008
|Just a Girl (manga)||Decent|
|Kamikaze Girls (manga)||Decent|
|I love the magical live action movie base don the same novel as this manga, but the manga really just came off as flat, too much in too little space. It lacked any real depth for the plot or the characters, unfortunately. I'm curious to see what I'll think of the novel, which is still waiting to be read several years after I received it along with the manga, movie, and imported soundtrack as a fantastic birthday give from my husband.|
|Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something (manga)||Good|
|Kitchen Princess (manga)||Good|
|Kodocha - Sana's Stage (manga)||Very good|
|I loved the first 80% of this series. It was ever-so-much better than the spastic anime adaptation. It was funny but poignant, really gripping your heart from time to time. Unfortunately, the final story arc really jumps the shark, pulling in a pretty unbelievable element to an already melodramatic story and pushed it a bit too far for my enjoyment factor. Still, it's a wonderful series, and if you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend it. I am in the minority in with my opinion on that final story arc, so your mileage may vary.|
Additional review available at Reflecting Lights.
|Limit (manga)||Not really good|
|I'm basing my rating of Good as much on potential as the actual content. The concept behind the story isn't unique, but it's the type that always piques my interest. Even in its extremely condensed nature (just 1 volume), Line manages to still pack a little bit of a punch. I can only imagine what it could have been had it been given several volumes to carefully unwind itself, providing characterization for Chiko, Bando, and Task.|
|Magic Knight Rayearth (manga)||Good|
|Magic Knight Rayearth will probably always be my favorite story from CLAMP, and much of the reason for that is in part one of the series. Plot twists and moral quandaries pop up regularly, adding layers to what should be a fairly straightforward magical girls series. The art is beautiful, and the ending of the first portion is heartbreaking but complete.|
|Magic Knight Rayearth II (manga)||Very good|
|I much preferred the second part of the manga to its anime equivalent. It didn't suffer from many of the flaws that the anime had, including some really random and nonsensical character additions (Nova). It also was a bit better written than the first half of the manga, but overall I still prefer the more bittersweet end of the first half to the tidy ending of the second.|
|Mai the Psychic Girl (manga)||Not really good|
|This series irritated me. Up until the very last volume, I was fairly engaged with its action thriller style--and then the fanservice really got going. It detracted from the story and really ruined the appeal. It's as if to add in the fanservice, the story itself suffered. It was never especially strong, but it was very interesting, and much of this was lost in the end. Quite unfortunate, really.|
|Marmalade Boy (manga)||Good|
|Much like Kodocha, Marmalade Boy is one of those series that just goes on a bit too long, chooses to take the story one step too far. It was already unbelievable, but the final storyline completely jumped the shark, and hurt the overall appeal. Still, it is a fairly good shoujo series, and works well for fans of girls comics.|
|I really found myself drawn into Mars. The writer took a slow approach to introducing all of the information about the main characters, which really added to the drama as everything unfolded. The art was pleasing, the story deeper than originally thought, and all in all it's a very approachable series for girls that takes serious matters seriously.|
|Mars Gaiden (manga)||Good|
|Gaiden didn't add much to the series, but it's a likable add-on and the unrelated stories were enjoyable enough although not especially memorable (I know I read the volume, but I have no memory of any of it.)|
|Message to Adolf (manga)||Excellent|
|There are great manga, and then there are manga that are utterly amazing. Adolf is one of the latter. Story, pacing, characters--everything hits the mark. A story of human nature at its core, it makes the reader feel pains of war and dark moments in human history.|
A more in-depth review is available at my blog.
|After reading Buddha I excitedly checked out Metropolis from my university's library. I was familiar with the dystopian themes having seen parts of the silent film of the same name, but I didn't realize it was a cross of that and essentially a precursor to Astro Boy. I don't know if it was the translation that was clunky or the original dialogue, but either way it was an unpleasant read, especially with Tezuka's habit of inserting random humor into what should be a serious scene. That bothered me some in Buddha but I could overlook it due to the quality of the rest of the series. With Metropolis, however, it was just one more mark against something I already wasn't enjoying.|
|Millennium Snow (manga)||So-so|
Millennium Snow suffers from its lack of completeness. While The World Exists for Me has a similar problem, it's so open that it almost adds to the fun. With Millennium Snow the story stops oddly, not really in the middle of anything, but also not at a time that provides any sort of satisfaction either.|
If Hatori were ever to finish it, I would continue reading. As for now, it's just a short, incomplete story riding the Twilight wave of a vampire and a werewolf fighting over a girl.
|Miss Me? (manga)||Not really good|
|Monokuro Kinderbook (manga)||Good|
|(The) Name of the Flower (manga)||Decent|
|The premise of The Name of the Flower sounded quite good: broken girl moving in with her coarse cousin and love slowly blooming between them. Unfortunately the execution of this story was weak at best and utterly shallow more frequently than I would like to admit.|
The biggest problem with the series is that Chouko has already been living with Kei for quite awhile before the series starts and already is in love. We don't get to see how she falls in love, nor do we really see how Kei falls for her because he already was in love with her as well. Essentially we just get a story about them being in love and yet hardly ever speaking to one another and having misunderstandings that never get fleshed out. The translation may have added to the disconnected feeling as well, or else the dialogue really was just atrocious. Often the scene would change unexpectedly and without reason.
I picked up this series because it sounded interesting, and spent extra on it because it was going out of print. I rather wish I hadn't bothered though, it really wasn't particularly good.
|Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (manga)||Very good|
|I am not especially fond of Miyazaki Hayao films. Of the 5 that I've watched, I didn't dislike Kiki's Delivery Service, I hated Princess Mononoke, I disliked Spirited Away, I never finished Laputa, and I loved Castle of Cagliostro. It was a pretty bad average, but I decided to try out his manga for Nausicaa anyway, before attempting the film (which, I should note, I strongly disliked.)|
The only way to describe this manga is that it's epic in every sense of the word. It is expansive in scope, geography, and the feelings of the characters. Every moment is so carefully detailed that you feel as if you are in the story with Nausicaa, and watching her grow and make her decisions is amazing.
It's not my favorite manga, in large part because it's pretty classically fantasy which isn't one of my favorite genres, but it is one of the most amazing I've read and I think every manga fan should read it. And if you're a Miyazaki film fan and haven't read this yet, then shame on you. It's utterly amazing even to someone who doesn't like his films.
|(The) One I Love (manga)||Decent|
|This is a very short collection of unrelated stories about liking and loving another. The art is as expected quite beautiful in the CLAMP-style. The stories are often pretty subtle, and perhaps in that way are less poignant for an American reader than one might expect. Perhaps it's because the intended audience was young or perhaps due to Japanese sensibilities, but they aren't especially gripping. Overall it's a nice volume and probably a must-have for any CLAMP fan, but otherwise you can probably skip it.|
|One-Pound Gospel (manga)||Good|
|Takahashi Rumiko has silly, romantic comedies down to an art, and One-Pound Gospel is really no exception. Kosaku is amusing in his utter helplessness, and as much as I want to hit him, I still can't but find him endearing in his faults. Meanwhile Sister Angela is very similar to Maison Ikkoku's Kyoko, which makes her automatically an awesome character. She's dedicated but not stupid, stubborn, but willing to get mad to make her point. All in all, a fun and miraculously short series from the queen of the never-ending tale.|
|Only the Ring Finger Knows (manga)||So-so|
|This was my first foray into the world of boys' love manga. I received the volume from a fellow ANNer, but I had actually marked it as something I wanted to read many years ago. The description of the story was intriguing, but unfortunately the content wasn't nearly so good. I cannot recall the details especially well after all this time, but it was a pretty standard story of guy falls in love with guy who is mean to him. I don't like this particular trope in heterosexual relationships, and it bothers me even more in same-sex relationships. Still, I don't recall this being a terrible story, just one that didn't suit my tastes in most ways.|
|Ouran High School Host Club (manga)||Good|
|Paradise Kiss (manga)||Excellent|
|I don't know what possessed me to pick up the Paradise Kiss manga after disliking the anime. It was probably due to the fact that I loved NANA that I decided to give it another try. Whatever the reason, I'm grateful. The manga was infinitely better than the anime, especially since it lacked the poor voice acting that disconnected me from the anime in the first place. Instead, you get a much better sense of Caroline and George and can appreciate their on and off relationship more. It's still not a healthy relationship, but their willingness to accept it is made much more clearly and believably in the manga. My only complaint was that the anime made better use of some of the side characters.|
For more commentary, go to my blog.
|Phantom Thief Jeanne (manga)||So-so|
|(Le) Portrait de Petit Cossette (manga)||Decent|
|As much as I read Le Potrait de Petit Cossette to get a better grasp of the story compared to the anime, honestly the execution of the anime was much better. Yes, you can understand more from the linear fashion here, but it loses so much of its essence in this distilled form. A nice enough supplement, but I'd recommend the anime over the manga any day.|
|Pretear (manga)||Very good|
|There were elements of the Pretear manga that I liked better than the anime, and elements of the anime I liked better than the manga. The manga by far had better art and character designs. On the other hand, I think the story in the anime worked a little better. Overall neither was exceptional, but they are something to read for fans of fantasy shoujo.|
|Princess Knight (manga)||Good|
|Princess Prince (manga)||Decent|
|First off, don't let the back of the volume fool you: You're not getting a story about whether or not Princess Lori will ever get to become Prince Lawrence and fall in love. Rather, Princess Prince is a collection of loosely-related short stories, most of which include the characters of Lawrence and Matthew (but not all). They're a variety of love stories, with the first few featuring Lawrence's crush on Jenny (but being unable to express it because he's Lori), and later chapters involve Matthew, Emma, and Brandon's loves. |
In general, it's a nice little volume of manga, and the stories that involve the protagonists are especially enjoyable because you aren't expecting them to somehow become relevant or lead to a conclusion of Lori's dilemma. It would be a much better manga if there was some sort of conclusion, but as long as you like shoujo romance short stories and don't go into it thinking there will be an ending, you'll have a good chance of liking it.
|Puella Magi Madoka Magica (manga)||Good|
|Pure Trance (manga)||Good|
|(The) Push Man and Other Stories (manga)||Excellent|
|Tatsumi is an amazing storyteller. The Push Man was my first experience with his work, and it greatly altered the way I view graphic novels. His stories are stark and unpleasant, forcing you to look at the ugliness in the world, and yet they don't necessarily drive you into despair. They almost do, they toe that line, but it's almost as if they act as a slap in the face, shoving you into reality from a haze of oblivion.|
It's certainly not for the casual manga reader, but I would recommend this for anyone who wants to see what exists for mature readers.
|Quest for the Missing Girl (manga)||Good|
|I fully loved Taniguchi's A Distant Neighborhood series, but The Quest for the Missing Girl didn't quite deliver the same emotional impact. It's certainly good, but between the slightly rushed pacing, lack of scenes involving Megumi (so as to pull in the reader a bit more), and sometimes clunky/too-literal translation, it just wasn't quite to the same level as Taniguchi's other works.
Still, if you want to read a manga that isn't made for teen boys but rather adults, you could certainly do worse than The Quest for the Missing Girl.
For a fuller review, check out my blog.
|Read or Die (manga)||Good|
|Read or Die has much more of a plot than the Read or Dream manga, and provides a bit of background for Nenene and Yomiko that is lost in the anime since the OAV is unconnected to the full television series. It's not exceptional, but for fans of the anime it's a nice look at Yomiko and her history with Nenene.|
|Read or Dream (manga)||Very good|
|Lacking any sort of plot, Read or Dream is still a delightful short series for those who enjoyed the Paper Sisters in the anime series. I found myself giggling frequently, and sometimes letting out a little "Aww!" at certain moments as well.|
|Revolutionary Girl Utena (manga)||Excellent|
|Many fans of the Utena absolutely hate the manga. I am not one of those fans. I love being able to kick back with the manga and enjoy the simple aspects of the series without having to peel away each layer to determine what underlying plot or symbolism exists. Those are aspects that I enjoy about the anime, but honestly my favorite part is the simple story of a girl wanting to be strong and help others. This is the essence of the manga, and why I love it as much as I do.|
|Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Adolescence of Utena (manga)||Excellent|
|I didn't really like the Utena movie, but the manga counterpart was just what I wanted. As with the manga of the series in general, it distills the plot and gives variation that isn't heavily symbolic but rather straightforward. While this isn't always a strength, it does provide a nice change up to the movie and television series, and therefore I enjoy its addition in the franchise.|
|Rozen Maiden (manga)||Good|
|For fans of the anime series, it's a no-brainer to pick up the Rozen Maiden manga, but I'll admit that maybe it's not necessary. So much of the brilliance of the anime came from the seiyuu performances, and without that and with some clunky translation, it doesn't quite hold up to its animated adaptation. Its incompleteness is even more blatant than the unfinished ending of the anime. I don't discourage people reading it, but if you have to choose between this and something else, I'd put the money towards something else first.|
|Sailor Moon (manga)||Good|
|Sakuran (manga)||Very good|
|Sand Chronicles (manga)||Very good|
|Scrapped Princess (manga)||Good|
|The Scrapped Princess manga has a very OAV feel to it. It's a collection of random stories about the Cassull siblings without any real cohesion or ending. That's not to say it isn't an enjoyable enough read, particularly for fans of the series, but it doesn't add much new to the franchise overall.|
|Sexy Voice and Robo (manga)||Good|
|Solanin is absolutely amazing in every way. The simple art makes the depth of the story all the more poignant. The character interactions are realistic, and the expressions of feelings of happiness and anguish really jump out of the page to affect the reader. Highly recommended for anyone who likes to read manga that isn't part of the extreme mainstream.|
|Someday's Dreamers (manga)||Decent|
SOS contains 3 short stories, including the longest one for which the volume was named, and each covers a love story of sorts. The first story, about a dating agency is a bit melodramatic, and very predictable. The next two, “That Sweet Organ Song” and “The Easy Life,” are actually quite a bit less predictable and lack the most common shoujo tropes.|
The art is fairly common, but nice. The length doesn’t allow for particularly developed characters, but they don’t feel too terribly shallow for the lack of time to develop. Really, it’s like a lot of short stories–you get a simple story, but not much else. Some writers can pull this off really well, others badly, and some are mediocre. S.O.S. trends slightly more towards the good side of mediocre. There are hints of originality in the second two stories, but the predictability of other parts and all of “S.O.S” really hurts the overall quality.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable enough quick read, but just doesn’t quite hold up to other higher quality romance series or one-shots.
|Sugar Princess (manga)||So-so|
|I was really excited to read Sugar Princess because I remember being a little girl (and young woman) who absolutely adored figure skating. Kristi Yamaguchi sparked my obsession with Japan (which eventually led to my love of anime and manga), Michelle Kwan was my perpetual heartache, and every weekend I would flip through the television channels to see if any figure skating competitions were televised.|
Sugar Princess seems to be written by someone who grew up feeling the same way. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much going for it aside from the artist's obvious love of the sport. The characters are paper cutouts, the story is a typical trope, and really it feels like any generic shoujo manga, just on ice.
This might work for a younger sister or niece under the age of 11, but for anyone older they're going to want a lot more meat to their story than this provides.
Additional review available at Reflecting Lights.
|Sugar Sugar Rune (manga)||Good|
|Although it has some pretty standard shoujo props in it, Sugar Sugar Rune is a lot of fun with the way it makes use of those props. It's nice to have a lead character who isn't a total idiot or afraid of everything. It's interesting to see the 'good girl' struggle. It's refreshing to have the story go differently than expected in the end. Many magical girl tales get trapped in following the same formula, but Sugar Sugar Rune manages to have the essence of those stories while doing something much fresher. Recommended for any shoujo magical girl fans.|
|Tekkonkinkreet (manga)||Very good|
|I actually struggled a little with Tekkonkinkreet. While I can handle stark reality in stories involving adults, seeing that with children as the protagonists was difficult. Not that it wasn't well done, it was, but it's soul crushing to see children suffer and lose their humanity. However, it's a magnificent story and really should be read by anyone, or at the very least those who want some variety in their manga selection.|
|To Terra (manga)||Very good|
|I'm not terribly fond of science fiction as a genre, but To Terra felt less like sci-fi than a story about humanity and the terrible things we can do to those that are different. Fear, hatred, anger, retaliation, and redemption are the common themes of this short, classic story. It's definitely not for everyone, particularly those who don't enjoy 'old school' art, but it is a good story to consider checking out.|
|Tokyo Mew Mew (manga)||Weak|
|I knew the series was for young girls, but so was Sailor Moon and Magic Knight Rayearth. Unfortunately, it seems this series was for young girls who had been lobotomized--it was completely brainless. Between the awful valley grrl power localization, the mangaka's inability to put together a cohesive story (or scenes...one minute the girls are fine, and on the next page they're flat out and only Ichigo can save them even though in the dialogue they were said to be winning the fight??), and the really sexualized costumes. The characters themselves were pretty flat but not just terrible, but it was just everything else that was annoying. My biggest pet peeve was Kish's name. Given that his fellow villains were named Tart and Pie, I think his name was supposed to be Quiche. I can't decide if the translator was just that bad, or if the localization dumbed it down to that extreme.|
Honestly, I wouldn't recommend this for children or grownups alike. It's a lackluster series that starts out with a Captain Planet meets Cat Grrl Power, and ends up a jumbled mess that no longer has any sort of environmental message, unfortunately. Where's Arjuna when you need her?
|Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode (manga)||Bad|
|The original [b]Tokyo Mew Mew[/b] series at least had a semblance of plot going for it, and actually a fairly cute romantic interest between Ichigo and Masaya. [b]A la Mode[/b], unfortunately, falls even flatter than its predecessor with an incoherent story, addition of an unnecessary Mew Mew, and a completely lackluster ending. The author sidenotes didn't help either, with constant mention of Mew Mew merchandise. It was a bit too obvious this was created solely to sell things.|
|Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (manga)||Excellent|
|Subtlety. Subtlety blended with poignancy are the key components of what make the short manga, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, so incredibly compelling.
It is split into two overall stories (3 chapter), the first of which I found to be the most heart wrenching. In 1955, the reader gets to delve into the life of a young woman who lost many family members from the bomb and its after effects, and feels the anguish of being a survivor. The way the story is brought to a close was so heartbreaking and thoughtfully written that I could hardly breath.
The next two stories take place much later and focus around a young girl as she grows up and deals with the effects of the bomb in the 1980s and 1990s. The fact that it was still alive in their lives says so much. Many have forgotten, including Japanese people, but if your family was touched with certainty by the bomb, it’s hard to forget. This was shown with gentle clarity in the last half of the volume, giving perhaps a little insight into mindsets that still exist.
This is not an action manga. It feels it is going nowhere part of the time, and then you reach a moment of realization of what the author wants to put out there. The first story is certainly the strongest and most effective of the three, but the second half of the second story has strength of its own. More than anything, this is a manga that makes you not just think, but also remember in a sense what happened that terrible day in Hiroshima. This should be read by every fan of manga who has any interest in Japan in general.
|Train Man: A Shojo Manga||Not really good|
|As a fan of the movie Train Man, I was extremely disappointed by the shoujo manga version of it. It lost a lot of its edge and humor, and instead was distilled into a shoujo mess that was less than appealing to read.|
A fuller review is available at my blog.
|Tramps Like Us (manga)||Good|
|With a title like Kimi wa Petto or Tramps Like Us, I rather expected this to be a fairly risque story. Instead, it's just sort of sweet as Sumire and her 'pet' form a bond together. It lasts a bit longer than it should in the end, but overall it's a pleasant read for a slightly older crowd.|
|Tropic of the Sea (manga)||So-so|
|Tsubasa, RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (manga by CLAMP)||Decent|
|It starts out a little week, but as Tsubasa gets going, it turns into a rather compelling story. At least until it turns into an unmitigated disaster of a plot that is so messy that even a basic summary is utterly convoluted. The ending itself, I didn't mind, I'm fine with opening endings, but the entire last volume felt like CLAMP didn't really have an idea for what the story was about, so they just threw in some random ingredients and decided it was time to end. There was quite a lot of potential, but the execution of the series was dreadful.|
|Tsubasa: Those With Wings (manga)||Decent|
|Twin Spica (manga)||Very good|
|Utsubora - A Story of a Novelist (manga)||Very good|
|Video Girl Ai (manga)||Good|
|(The) Voices of a Distant Star (manga)||Excellent|
|The OAV is a amazing, and so is the manga of Voices of a Distant Star. It has all of the same elements of poignancy and also the short span to show the depth of story. If you liked the anime, read the manga. If you didn't you probably won't enjoy the manga either. I, for one, loved it.|
|W Juliet (manga)||Decent|
|It might not be deep, it might go on longer than necessary, but W-Juliet certainly is a lot of fun. It covers the same story over and over again, and perhaps becomes tedious in that if you read it quickly (I had a lot of breaks between volumes), but it never pretends to be anything more than it is: a romantic comedy with a little cross-dressing thrown in.|
|We Were There (manga)||Good|
|What a wonderful world! (manga)||Good|
|As much as I enjoy CLAMP, Wish left me rather cold. Until the end (which was rather unexpected), most of the story is nothing different than what you've already read before in stories like Ah! My Goddess. It's definitely one of the CLAMP series that could just be left alone unless you're an ultra-fan of the group.|
|With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child (manga)||Good|
|It was bittersweet closing the final volume of With the Light. Knowing that it will never receive it's proper ending due to the author's death is difficult. However, it is an amazing series with the way it takes on autism in Japanese society. Tobe did so much research to provide mothers with examples, stories, and resources they could look into should they have a child with a disability. It was very courageous of Yen Press to take a chance with a series that was clearly targeted at Japanese mothers when the U.S. manga market is so thoroughly targeted at teenagers and young men. Certainly a series worth reading for anyone interested in autism, what series for Japanese women are like, or for sharing with non-manga readers as an introduction to the medium.|
|(The) World Exists for Me (manga)||Very good|
|The most important thing to know about The World Exists for Me is that has no ending. It just stops, right as the story is introduced. I'm still not certain if this was intentional or if Saito and Ikuhara just haven't gotten around to continuing it and someday they'll produce an additional volume. That said, it has the potential to be pretty awesome if it were ever finished. As it stands though, it's simply a tease of something interesting, cruelly drawing you end only to just vanish into the night.|
|X-Day (manga by S Mizushiro)||Decent|
|Whenever I read the plot summary for X-Day, I at least briefly think about the movie Heathers. Aside from the plot to blow up the school they aren't all that much alike, but I can't help but think about it regardless. As X-Day it's OK. Nothing really exceptional to it (although there was potential), but if you can find it for cheap at a used bookstore, it's work picking to read through at least once. At the very least, it's something that not everyone else has already read.|
|Will not finish▲▼||Rating▲▼|
|(The) Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan (manga)||Not really good|
|(The) World of Narue (manga)||Weak|