manga de l’amour

So with the holiday of lurve coming up soon, I’m going to write a bit about some of the more romancey titles I’ve read recently. Awwwww….

I was hoping that the second volume of Land of the Blindfolded from cmx (amazon) would be a bit stronger than the first, and I wasn’t disappointed. The first volume introduces Kanade (a girl who sometimes sees someone’s future when she comes into contact with them) and Arou (a boy who can see the past). Their complementary powers of sight and their personalities draw them together as they try to figure out if they should use their special knowledge to intervene in the world around them. Just as Arou and Kanade begin to acknowledge their attraction to each other, Nabiki shows up. Nabiki seems quite manipulative, enjoys hanging out at race tracks, and he can also see the future.

The second volume of Land of the Blindfolded opens with Kanade unsure how to respond to Arou’s declaration that he really likes her. Arou continues to display a willingness to flout traditional Japanese gender roles, as he cooks elaborate lunches for Kanade every day. After some great scenes of awkwardness, Kanade is able to tell Arou how she feels. However trouble lurks on the horizon, as Nabiki does not yet seem to grasp that with great power comes great responsiblity (Spiderman’s motto) or one should always do one’s best (unofficial motto of manga heroes everywhere). While Arou and Kanade don’t try to use their powers for personal gain, Nabiki doesn’t seem to be as scrupulous and only his feelings for Kanade seem to influence him to grudgingly do the right thing.

There’s only one back-up story in the second volume of Land of the Blindfolded, and on the whole the second volume seemed much stronger. Tsukuba’s art really captures the giddiness of first love. The writing was more confident, and even though I might have liked to have seen more time spent on Nabiki’s motivations, I’m looking forward to the next volume.

The second volume of W. Juliet from Viz continues with the drama club and cross-dressing hijinks of the first volume. The story to date: Ito likes the new kid in the drama club, Makoto (who is actually a boy masquerading as a girl in order to prove to his family that he has great acting talent because he doesn’t want to run the family dojo). Ito and Makoto begin to fall for each other as she plays Romeo to his Juliet in the school play.

However the course of true love never did run smooth. Makoto’s sickly fiance and her psychotic brother transfer in to Ito’s school! The drama club is threatened with a loss of funding!!!! Will they be able to put on a show, and attract enough new students to preserve their funding? If Ito is finally playing a girl, and Makoto is playing a boy in a production of Swan Lake (which makes him a boy pretending to be a girl pretending to be a boy), will Makoto’s manly costume give away his secret? What’s with the ex-president of the drama club hitting on Ito? And will Ito’s giant swan costume suffocate her????!!!

W. Juliet is cute, but I don’t think I’m going to be spending any money to keep up with the series , but I might flip through the later volumes at a bookstore or something.

I’m mystified as to why so many high school boys in manga have fiancees. Seriously, families in manga are really obsessed with marrying off their 16 year old sons. And the fiancees always seem to be ill or crazy. You would think people would be making better choices in their arranged marriages. I can see how the fiancee plot element is a convenient way to keep the hero and heroine apart for a couple volumes. I guess it isn’t any weirder than all the Marvel superheroes getting super powers through random radioactive accidents.

Imadoki volume 4 (amazon) also deals with a long-lost fiancee plot twist, as Tanpopo quits the gardening club due to pressure from Koki’s %$@*! crazy fiancee. She finds some consolation by becoming closer friends with Koki’s brother Yoji. I somehow have more tolerance for the evil fiancee plotline when it comes from Yu Watase, since she’s a master of soap opera and it is heartwarming to see how the members of the gardening club band together to support each other when they experience rough times. Oh those crazy kids, Tanpopo and Koki! I hope they get togther, despite the %$@*! fiancee and the mysterious older brother.

If the third volume of Land of the Blindfolded features an ill or deranged fiancee, I’m going to throw it across the room. I can only take so much 😛