One-Shot Highlight #2!

Title page of 'Shoujo Eve Ringo Jikake no 24 Ji'

‘Shoujo Eve Ringo Jikake no 24 Ji’ or “Eve’s 24 Hour Applework” by Arina Tanemura.

Eve Shiratori hates being called “cute” to the very core. Being so cute has made her life miserable, she can’t make any friends and most people are too intimidated to really get closer to her. And to top it all off, she is constantly being asked out by the popular Kashii-kun based off her looks. The only one who seems to listen is the kind Niikawa-kun, Eve’s classmate. Can Eve confess her feelings to Niikawa-kun or will she come around to Kashii-kun’s advances?

Shoujo Eve is a cute little one-shot that contains most of the elements of a whole series in a 10 minute chapter. Albit a little stereotypical of shoujo manga (really big eyes), Arina Tanemura portrays some of the most beautiful art in her works, and Shoujo Eve is no exception. As always, her stories come off as light and innocent at first, but they soon reveal themselves to have a darker side buried deep into the hearts of her characters.

This one-shot was released in America in the magazine Shojo Beat, but if you don’t have a copy of that it should be easily found online. The only annoyance is that some translations online will use “kawaii” instead of “cute”. Granted, “kawaii” in Japanese can mean more than just “cute” in the English sense, for the purposes of this one-shot it works much better to just use “cute” instead of leaving it as “kawaii”. Normally I prefer leaving the Japanese words like kawaii not translated, but it makes for a smoother read by translating it since the use of the word kawaii in this story is actually “cute”. But that’s just my opinion and either way it does make for a good read.

Bishounen rating: The two bishounen of the series are Niikawa-kun and Kashii-kun. If you like the ‘nice-guy’ type then perhaps you will like Niikawa-kun. He’s a little to ‘goody-goody’ for my tastes really. Kashii-kun, however, is just right in my opinion. He’s got the pretend arrogance/optimism that’s funny/cute, but then the kinder, deeper side of the ‘tragic heroes’ without all the emo.

Week #1… The Mysterious Play

Miaka and Tamahome

For my first full review I have decided to go back to my years in middle school, back to one of the very first manga I have ever read. In those times, there was only a small selection of manga translated into English to choose from,  and even smaller was the selection of shoujo manga. Luckily enough manga had slowly begun to increase in popularity, and one day as I was passing through the library I had come across an intriguing novel by a Japanese artist. In its pages lain a story of a mysterious book where a young girl is thrust into a world of gods and war, there she must face a struggle between doing her duty and being with the one she loved. I am talking, of course, of Yuu Watase’s Fushigi Yugi.

Being nearly 10 years ago, I realize there are many of you who have probably already read through all 18 volumes of this classic. But for those of you new to shoujo manga, or even manga in general, perhaps you have yet to stumble across its pages. It is to that end that I write this review, in hopes of encouraging a new generation of FY (Fushigi Yuugi) fans.  Firstly, a brief summary to bring us all up to speed, and maybe dust out a few of the cobwebs for those of us old readers.

We start off the glutton Miaka Yuuki, a 3rd year middle school student in the midst of studying for her entrance exams to get into the prominent high school of Jonan.* One day while studying in the library with her best friend Yui, they discover a mysterious book in the back room called ‘The Universe of the Four Gods’. Upon opening its pages they are immediately transported, unbeknownst to them, smack dab into the setting of ancient China. After a run a run in with some thugs and a handsome strangers they are returned home with doubts about their experience, was it a dream or was it real?

Plagued with curiosity, Miaka decides to re-enter the book and finds herself written down as the Heroine, the Miko of Suzaku (Priestess of Suzaku). In order to obtain the power of Suzaku, which will grant her three wishes, she must find her 7 celestial warriors across the country of Konan and summon the god-beast. The adventure is wrought with hilarity, betrayal, love, and sacrifice as Miaka and Yui are plunged into a world of war, struggling to come to terms with a whole new range of emotions and fighting for survival.

Miaka  and the 7 Suzaku warriors

The story at first is pretty E (PG) but at about volume 6 the scenes become bloody and the content a little more mature. The whole series I would rate at about T (PG13), maybe T+ (older teen) just to be safe. I would said that the story on the whole is very worth the read. It is still most definitely a shoujo but it has enough adventure in later volumes that would probably appease even some shounen fans. The relationships between characters are constantly changing and although the beginning seems a little slower, it starts to pick up at about volume 3-4.

Splattered with ridiculous comic relief and sometimes just silly humor, it does well to break the tension at some of the more dramatic scenes. The romance is a little predictable at the start, and seems to fall into the Mary Sue Syndrome but it more than makes up for it in the long run. The many twists, turns, and back flips the relationship must endure through the course of the series will have you second guessing and losing hope altogether, the conclusion being that not all stories end happy and not everyone’s favorite characters will survive to the end.

The development of some characters might be lacking a bit, but it does come about by the end of the series. And it is still better than other shoujo manga out there that lack it completely. Though it’s true that the story does span over 18 volumes, and I am proud to say I have read the entire series a few times, I personally like to believe that the series ends at volume 13. Volume 1-13 is considered part 1 and volume 14-18 is part 2 of the series. In my opinion the 2nd part of the series travels down a confusing path that take away from the story overall. You will however make some interesting discoveries about what happens to the original characters after the events of part 1. I still recommend at least reading through part 2 to make your own assumptions.  Overall, this series is a bit dramatic at times but it still makes for a great shoujo manga.

Yui and Nakago

Bishounen rating: For any bishounen fan this series is definitely a treat! There is basically a harem of guys to choose from in this series! From the Suzaku 7 (6 of which could be considered), to 4 of the Seiryu 7, and even a couple other warriors that make an appearance, bringing the bishie count to about 14. And the best part is there’s something for everyone. Whether you prefer the strong silent type, the evil type, the noble type, loyal type, optimistic type, emo type, or even just the plain freaky personality, there are plenty to choose from. And all 14 are definitely bishie status at one point or another in the series, my favorite being Amiboshi. ;)

*For a tidbit of information in case there are some newbies out there, in Japan the school system (mostly) goes 6-3-3-4, 6 years elementary, 3 years middle school, 3 years high school, and 4 years university. In between junior high and high school, and high school and university, there are entrance exams to deal with. And the better the high school you get into, the better university you will get into, so the high school entrance exams can be a big deal. There’s a lot more to it but that’s the basic gist.

One-Shot Highlight #1

Title picture for 'Hajimete' Ageru!

‘Hajimete’ Ageru, or Give “The First Time”, by Yukimo Hoshimori.

School girl Sayu is suddenly confessed to by the popular Yano-senpai out of the blue. Agreeing to go out with him, Sayu learns why the mysterious Yano-senpai chose her out of all the other girls.

Definitely not one of the best one-shots I’ve read, but it’s not terrible. The art isn’t bad and the story is sweet. A little bit cheesy, but hey, if you’re in the mood for a bit of innocent fluff this may just be a nice short fix.

Overall on the bishounen (hot guy) rating, the art can use a little bit of work but it’s not bad in some parts. Leaning more on the strong silent type, Yano-senpai does break away from it in a slight ‘moe’ scene in the middle that adds a cuteness factor. Not bad for one-shot bishounen but not enough personality in my opinion.

One-Shots Galore!

In the vast expanse of manga there are thousands upon thousands of different titles available for the curious reader to lay their hands on. An overwhelming prospective when you imagine every series running nearly over a stretch of 5 volumes or more. The reality is that nearly half of all those titles are merely one-shots or one-shot collections.

One-shots are basically the manga/fanfiction equivalent of a short story in classic literature. And I believe these little bursts of inspiration are just as entertaining as some of the longer running series of the genre. Therefore, along with the weekly manga review I will be posting a weekly one-shot highlight giving a short description and opinion on each title. I will also be adding a little piece called bishounen rating to the end of all my reviews for my fellow fangirls waiting to grab onto the next shoujo heart-throb.

So the next time you are looking for a 10 to 15 minute break try flipping through one of these short but sweet escapes, perfect for tiding over the deprived manga addict.

Welcome to the World of Shoujo!

Mokona Modoki saying "It's a secret"

Mokona Modoki from Tsubasa Resvoir Chronicles

Hello all!

My name is Tokyo. I’ve started this blog as a way to bring shoujo manga to others. Most people who read manga will tend to go for shounen, most likely drawn to the action that is ever-present in its pages. I, however, have always been drawn to the more emotional and relationship heavy manga of shoujo. And yes, it is normally categorized as the “girls” manga but I believe there is more to shoujo manga than just being for “girls”.

Anyway, since my first days in middle school of coming across the wonderful world of manga and anime, I have read a countless number of manga, most of which are in the category of shoujo. I have also noticed, sadly, how a lot of great shoujo titles are much, much lesser known than their shounen counter parts. Why shouldn’t these wonderful shoujo stories be as popular as all of the shounen manga, I’ve thought. Perhaps if people were made aware of all these great titles they would be encouraged to read. Or perhaps it might encourage some new readers, those who aren’t partial to shounen but are interested in the beautiful art of manga.

Thus, the Shoujo Review has come to be! I will be using this blog to review as many shoujo manga as possible with a new one every week. I will also highlight a new shoujo mangaka every month starting in August! Occasionally I might have a random anime and manga piece of news or trivia that I will post in addition to the weekly manga, or maybe just a slice-of-life. Nevertheless, this marks the start of a journey into the beautiful, illustrated World of Shoujo!

Ja Matta Ne~

Tokyo