>> Friday, March 11, 2011
Contest!First, something I never ever do, I'm going to do. That's right, a contest! And it's a retroactive contest. See, during my manga mania, I picked up several books that I either already had or turned out didn't work out for me, including several first in a series: Otomen, Kimi ni todoke, Ratsetsu, Bride of the Water God, and Vampire Knight. I also have volume 20 (don't ask me why) of Fruits Basket over and above the whole set and volume 1 of Night of the Beasts, which I let my manga-obsessed toddler play with so I can't vouch for the condition. I figured I'd make a drawing of all those who took the effort to make a comment throughout the whole manga mania series (including those to come) and draw names out of the hat for each commenter. Then they get to pick which book they want (first come, first serve) and I'll send it to them. Five books, five winners (6-7 winners if anyone wants to take a chance on the state of Night of the Beasts or wants Vol 20 of FB). I'll include anyone who's already commented, though you can bow out if you'd like. Most are in good enough condition for regifting if you want to do that. If no one's interested, hey, I'll donate them to the local library.
So, having finished off my "current" list of mangas that "have a certain appeal" to me, we move down to the list to mangas that were just "okay," in other words, mangas I read through but walked away feeling disappointed without a compelling urge to read them again.
Flowers in a Storm by Shigeyoshi Takagi
Anime? No Volumes of manga: 2
My rating: Okay
Age range/taboos: Sexual innuendo, some violence, most of it silly. It's probably safe for a teenager who is most likely to be more tolerant of this level of nonsense than I am.
Premise: Our heroine is a high school student with extraordinary physical abilities who tries to pretend she's normal because she thinks her differences preclude her getting a boyfriend. Ironically, she attracts the interest of someone foolishly rich who becomes determined to marry her, using any means necessary and proud as hell of her physical capabilities.
Why It's Just Okay: This could have been very funny, despite the basic stupidity of the notion. Or one of the characters could have been appealing in some way. Instead, our rich suitor is mostly a flaky moron who makes no sense and the heroine's incentive to resist the flaky moron (since she's not exactly a rocket scientist herself) seems weak from the get go. She wants a boyfriend and romance, seems protective of the one guy who is clearly comfortable with her weirdnesses. Since she's not thrown really by his weirdnesses, I don't get the conflict. I read the first one thinking it was stupid but had a couple cute moments. Rereading it when I had the second one changed my mind. My stupid meter was pegged. Also, the artwork didn't appeal to me.
Tail of the Moon by Rinko Ueda
Anime? No Volumes of manga: 15
My rating: Okay
Age range/taboos: Nudity (but not detailed nudity), near rape, plenty of sexual references, plenty of violence. I think it's rated for older teens. That's probably right, though much of it has a cutesy look and feel.
Premise: Set in the Tensho Era of Japan, Usagi is a failure at becoming a ninja largely because she's lazy. As a last ditch effort, she's sent to a neighboring ninja village to marry the highly competent but uninterested Hanzo. His village is desperate for him to find a bride, but he won't wed anyone and, even when Usagi somehow worms her way into his heart, won't marry her until she becomes a real ninja.
Why It Was Just Okay: Okay, it's a period of history that interests me and there are real events covered in this. And shinobi lore is an interest of mine. There's definitely some good humor in this and some nice moments. However, the things that were wrong were painful in the extreme (noisiest ninjas ever, for instance). Usagi has the mentality of a nine-year-old, even if she has a developed body and looks like a black-haired cherub. The artwork is fine, with particularly the male characters being ridiculously good-looking. They were also, without exception, attracted to Usagi which I just didn't get. Hanzo's focus on appearances is whacked, but not as whacked as Usagi's nominal foolishness which manages to screw up nearly everything she's involved in. But it's all good because she can make a medicine that will cure anything, from nerve damage to blindness with any handy herbs. (The Mother should not read this.) Usagi's immaturity, more than her nominal age, make this seem somewhat creepy. Yes, she's a brave kid who works hard when she has to, but the inexhaustible ingenue-ness wore me down.
Wild Ones (aka Arakure) by Kiyo Fujiwara
Anime? No Volumes of manga: 10
My rating: Okay
Age range/taboos: Cross dressing, some very minimal sexual innuendo. More threat of violence than actual violence. Really, it's pretty safe for teenagers, too, the title notwithstanding.
Premise: Orphan (Sachie) is adopted by her grandfather who happens to be the head of a yakuza organization (gangsters) who are effectively harmless. A teenager just a year older is assigned as her bodyguard/caretaker, whose job is complicated by his love for her and her reckless disregard for anything resembling judgement.
Why It Was Just Okay: There's some comic potential in a group of shy good-hearted yakuza (so common in reality) taking care of a single teenaged girl no matter what wrong-headed thing she decides to do. There is something actually charming about the bodyguard's devotion to her. She's certainly good-natured, just heedless. Problem is, this notion would have worked for a few books at most, not dragged out to ten with the two leads (obviously in love in first few chapters) still not understanding the situation in volume 8. Oy! Ten volume romance with one kiss. Pacing was a problem and the same old tired unnecessary adventures started to get old long before I reached the end of them. You'd think Sachie would learn something over time. The artwork was okay, somewhat standard, but there was something freaky about the mirror-like eyes everyone had. The end was both frustrating and lame, in my opinion.