New Manga Monday – short reviews

Do you know, it occurs to me that I might want to come up with a consistent title for the manga short reviews. I’ll think about that. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

OTOMEN, vol. 11 by Aya Kanno
Shojo Beat, 2011, 200 pages, 978-1-4215-3978-2, Paperback, $9.99

Genre: Manga/Shoujo

So, I’ll admit it. This is the only copy of Otomen that I actually own. And why? Because Tonomine is featured on the cover. Thus I randomly have volume eleven in my collection, though I wouldn’t mind having all of them at some point. Alas, cost….

This volume wraps up the story featuring Mifune as the instructor in charge of teaching the male students about their samurai spirit in a recreation of an Edo era town. As usual, Asuka prevails by simply being himself, and Ryo is, yet again, cast in the role of the savior. I found this second half of the story much more engaging than the first, which was a bit dull, truth be told. And since I dislike being bored while reading my favorite books, I was pleased when volume eleven managed to pick up the pace.

Next, there’s a valentine’s story wherein Asuka must battle the “pheromone king” Suzaku Oji to acquire the most chocolates. I found this one particularly amusing. I notice that one of Asuka’s teachers is getting more and more face time. I rather like him, though I never can remember his name, and wonder just how he fits into the story. Is it possible that he might have some information about Asuka’s dad?

Of course, when Asuka’s mother returns and decides to stay in Japan to make sure her son isn’t behaving with otomen tendencies, things become rather tense. Even though I understand this character’s motivations, and it’s her constant pressure on Asuka to be manly that causes most of the obstacles in the story, I can’t help but find her overbearing and incredibly frustrating.

Tonomine is testy and hilarious, as usual, in this volume, though he isn’t heavily featured. But there are plenty of interesting side plots involving the previously mentioned teacher and the owner of Patisserie Violet.

Definitely a great volume with a lot of humorous moments!

KOBATO, vol 4 by CLAMP
Yen Press, 2011, 156 pages, 978-0-316-17818-1, Paperback, $11.99

Genre: Manga/Shoujo

In the previous volume of Kobato, I didn’t see where the story was going. I read it, and it was fun, but I simply couldn’t get deeply involved. Luckily, in volume four, I’m beginning to get a clearer picture. There’s a new obstacle in Kobato’s way–one she isn’t even aware of, as Ioryogi has not yet revealed it to her. Besides that, it appears that she is developing feelings of some kind for Fujimoto, though she doesn’t yet understand them.

Most interesting, I believe, is the backstory (even if somewhat vague) provided about Ioryogi and Gensei’s origins. Though we have not been given absolute answers, the hints are becoming more and more intriguing. Also, the nature of their relationship is expounded upon in a mostly humorous way that I did not anticipate.

This is probably my favorite volume of Kobato so far, as we’re finally getting some interesting material.

Also, enjoy mentions of Clow and Yuko, and appearances by Kohaku and Ushagi (of whom Ioryogi is hilariously afraid, it seems).

NATSUME’S BOOK OF FRIENDS, vol. 8 by Yuki Midorikawa
Shojo Beat, 2011, 192 pages, 978-1-4215-3592-0, Paperback, $9.99

Genre: Manga

This latest installment of Natsume’s Book of Friends is also one of my favorites so far. In addition to seeing more interaction between Natsume and his school friends, we’re also given a wonderful story about his developing friendship with Tanuma. Their interaction continues to be hesitant and a little awkward, since both of them are new to close friendships, but it’s obvious that they’re slowly coming to understand one another.

Following that is short piece about how Natsume met the Fujiwaras. It was nice to see that Natsume was wanted in that household from the beginning. In fact, Toko was almost too excited at the prospect of having Natsume live with them. Part of me wonders if the Fujiwaras don’t know more than Natsume thinks they do, but I suppose we’ll have to find out over the course of the series.

It’s both sad and heartwarming to know just how much it means to Natsume to be wanted and cared for by others. I don’t think we’ve seen him break down many times during the series, but we see it in this volume even though he tries to hide it.

This is still one of my favorite character development stories, and this volume reminds me why.



2 responses to “New Manga Monday – short reviews

  1. @Nina @ Death Books and Tea

    Hi Nina! Thanks for commenting!

    Yes, a lot of fun things happen up through volume 11. Definitely catch up!

    As for the other two, it’s hard for me to say who will and won’t like Kobato unless they’re already a CLAMP fan. It’s only just getting into any real plot, so I’m not sure how to describe it. Natsume’s Book of Friends is really good in terms of character and emotional content, but the pace is slowish, so some people might not care for it on that account. I’d say it’s slower than Otomen, in some ways, and it’s not much of a comedy for sure (I think I cry in every volume).

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