Danielle’s Reading Diary
Today I review the latest volumes of two of my favorite on-going shojo series — Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me to You volume 4 and Natsume’s Book of Friends volume 2.
In Dorohedoro, manga creator Q Hayashida takes a matter-of-fact approach to dismemberment, human experimentation and beheading by reptile jaws, resulting in a wickedly funny gross-out comic.
CLAMP’s latest series — Kobato coming out in May by Yen Press — might be mistaken for primarily younger readers, but by the end of the first volume there are some interesting hints at dark clouds on the horizon for the plucky heroine.
Youka Nitta’s latest series to hit stateside is a supernatural mystery that defies easy classification. Because it is published in Wings it is technically considered “shojo,” but besides the fact the male characters are a little too pretty, the story feels more like it straddles the shonen / seinen line.
Even though I make an attempt to review manga titles aimed at adult readers — or manga that I think has a lot of “crossover” appeal to U.S. comic book readers — in the blog, I also don’t want to neglect my 5 year love affair with shojo. I open with this thought as I take a look at the most recent volume of Miki Aihara’s latest work, Honey Hunt, along with other recent shojo releases throughout the week, since it is Aihara’s Hot Gimmick that first sent me down this long, strange trip way back in March of 2005.
I found the first volume of Yen Press’ Spice & Wolf to be an odd mixture of mundane economic treatise and extremely explicit fan service and as a whole not quite as engaging as the anime of the same name (both the manga and anime appear to be adapted from a light novel series also published by Yen Press in the U.S.)
There’s no doubt that Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki’s Pluto is a great comic but I think one of the things I admire most about the concluding volumes is the way they raise a number of questions but don’t offer neat answers to them.
Don’t be fooled by the cutesy title — Bunny Drop is a wonderful comic about how we finally learn to grow up in more ways than we ever could have imagined.
This new one shot from Natsume Ono is a perfect little palette cleanser. Unlike her previous work, not simple (which I reviewed here), life in this work isn’t one soul-crushing defeat after another as Ono takes a much more gentle and palatable approach to loss and love.
The third rendition of this horror tale — known as the “Curse Killing Arc” — takes an unexpected left turn, departing from the supernatural emphasis of the first two arcs in order to explore the very human face of evil. This move is more than just effective storytelling — it also offers an entirely new experience of a story the reader only thinks they already know.
Tsutomu Nihei’s Biomega is a bleak, nihilistic vision of the future that is also surprisingly entertaining.
Bamboo Blade continues to feature observational teen humor, ridiculous hijinks, and sly self-referential winks at the readers. And oh yes, sometimes the characters even remember to play a little kendo.
I found Arata: The Legend to be an entertaining fantasy tale that allowed creator Yuu Watase to thoughtfully defy the conventional wisdom that shojo and shonen are distinct categories of Japanese comics.
The first two volumes of Vampire Hunter D mix elements of science-fiction dystopia, horror and Western, although the comic seems most successful when it emphasizes its traditional horror-roots.