One of the problems with the whole Tokyopop implosion is the fact that they put out so many titles that are too similar to each other. I ran into this problem myself. Several weeks ago I was flipping through a recent release Tokyopop release about a girl and a guy who enjoy punching people who happen to fall in love. Since girls who like to punch people is one of my favorite shoujo character types, I made a mental note to buy the book some other time. A couple weeks later I was in a bookstore again, and needed to grab a new manga title quickly. All I could remember was that the author’s name had the letter S, Tokyopop was the publisher, and the plot details. I accidentally picked up Short Sunzen! when I was actually looking for Love Attack.
Short Sunzen! Volume 1 by Sasugi Sakurai (amazon)
Satsuki Kurakawa is the most violent girl in her school, getting into fights and winning arm wrestling bouts with boys in order to claim the window seats in her classroom. Aya Sendo is the strongest boy in her class, and they are best friends. Satsuki is totally oblivious to Aya’s non-platonic feelings for her, dragging him along to a festival at a girl’s school in order to find him cute girls to look at. Sakurai’s art has thin lines that sometimes gives her characters a bit of a pinched look. I had to force myself to finish reading Short Sunzen!, as I didn’t find the characters or situations very compelling at all. Satsuki’s personality is basically defined as “violent, but likes cute things”, and a back-up story featuring a different girl with similar motivation makes me wonder if Sakurai is capable of writing about a different type of female character. Aya is content to follow Satsuki around without expressing his feelings, which leads to a lack of character progression and anything interesting to read about.
Love Attack Volumes 1 & 2 by Seino Shizuru (amazon)
I had somewhat better luck with Love Attack. Shizuru also wrote Girl Got Game, a gender bending shoujo manga about basketball. Chiemi has a horrible school record, because she always gets in trouble for fighting, usually in order to stick up for someone who’s being picked on. Her teacher decides to involve Chiemi in some creative blackmail involving another problem student. If Chiemi can get “Deranged Devil” Hirata to stop fighting and come to school, her own record will be cleared.
When Chiemi spots Hirata acting up, she leaps out of the window and kicks him in the face. Then she tells him to straighten up:
Hirata is stunned:
Of course, after Hirata experiences Chiemi’s face kicking abilities, he falls in love and asks her out:
Of course as Chiemi gets to know Hirata she realizes that he’s an OK guy for the usual reasons a shoujo heroine ends up going out with a bad boy:
- He’s an orphan
- He skips school because he’s working to support himself
- He has a cute younger brother that he takes care of
- His reputation as a “Deranged Devil” is undeserved
Once Chiemi and Hirata start going out their romance is fairly typical. Neither of them have really dated before, so they don’t know what to do. The art for Love Attack is simple and dynamic, easily rendering fight scenes and slapstick comedy. The second volume of Love Attack features Chiemi and Hirata struggling to defend their relationship to Chiemi’s father, an extremely overprotective retired professional wrestler. Love Attack doesn’t really provide a new twist on shoujo conventions, but the characters are engaging even though the storyline is very familiar.