boys, girls, and pets

Tokyo Boys and Girls #1 (amazon)

Wow, reading this made me appreciate Hot Gimmick even more. This is a really early work by Miki Aihara. It doesn’t seem to me like she had fully developed her style; if I had seen this book without being aware of her other work I would probably have characterized the art as fairly typical shoujo, serviceable but nothing very remarkable. The proportions and mobility of facial expression that I see in Hot Gimmick just aren’t there yet. The panel layouts don’t flow as well, and the art isn’t as dynamic.
The storyline focuses on two high school girls; Mimori is the spunky one with short hair, and Nana is the more conventionally beautiful traditional girl. They start school together and are thrown into a situation where they meet three boys. Ran is the nice one who has a crush on Nana, Kuniyasu the player with many girlfriends who Nana has a crush on, and Atsushi is the typical antisocial boy with a heart of gold. Atsushi hates Mimori due to an incident that occurred when they went to the same elementary school, but she can’t remember him or what she might have done to him. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of love triangles with this core group of 3 guys and 2 girls, but this title is something I might read in the bookstore or in the library, I’m going to reserve my money for other titles like

Hot Gimmick #9 (amazon)

The preview for this volume said that it was mostly going to be focusing on Akane and Subaru, but they are really just the focus of a chapter about their first Valentine’s Day. It is a very sweet story, and I’m not sure what it says about the title that the healthiest relationship is between a girl who used to have tons of boyfriends and a geek who’s never been kissed. They are a cute couple, and their developing relationship serves as a useful counterpoint to all of Hatsumi’s problems with her boyfriend Ryoki, her older brother Shinogu, and her old childhood friend Azuza. Back in the main storyline, Hatsumi and Shinogu are trapped in an elevator, and she begins to sense that he has decidedly unbrotherly feelings towards her. Shinogu and Azuza are determined to unravel their parents’ past, and Ryoki knows more than he’s letting on. I’m so addicted to this title. I do hope that at some point Hatsumi grows a spine.

Yotsuba&! #2 (amazon)
This series consistently makes me laugh out loud. The latest adventures of Yotsuba and her neighbors features the hazards of art criticism, water pistol revenge, swimming, buying cake, and catching frogs. I never expected that I’d be giggling wildly at a story with “Gyaaugh!” as a repeated punchline, but Yotsuba is so funny.

Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden #1 (amazon)

I’ve blogged about this before, it is so nice to be able to buy some Watase manga at a $8.99 price point. Good for Viz!

Tramps Like Us #6 (amazon)

One story in this volume marks a sudden tonal shift into magical realism, as Sumire and Momo travel to visit a hotel in the middle of a lake where mermaids are rumored to dwell. It was interesting seeing the characters taken out of context from their usual shenanigans, but also a little odd. Back in Tokyo, Sumire starts to appreciate the work Momo puts into his dancing and Shiori makes a play for Hasumi. He’s finally transferred to Hong Kong and Sumire is still unable to articulate how she feels. Momo continues to be the only person who understands her, because she’s able to express herself fully to him since he’s just a “pet”. Some shoujo series rely on improbable soap opera plot twists, and even though the situation of Sumire and her human pet Momo is fairly crazy, the storyline focuses more on the emotional development and evolving relationships between the characters.