Tokyopop Quick Takes: Bloody Kiss, Game X Rush, Shinobi Life

Bloody Kiss Volume 2 by Kazuko Furumiya

As morning dawns in the spooky mansion where Kiyo and her vampire roommates live, they are engaged in the darkly Gothic task of following along with a morning radio exercise program. The second volume of this fluffy vampire series shows Kiyo’s feelings for Kuroboshi growing even as he causes her anxiety by enrolling in her school. The sudden appearance of her long-lost childhood friend who just happens to be a vampire slayer doesn’t help matters either. I liked this volume a little less than the first one, because there were fewer appearances from Kuroboshi’s comedic vampire sidekick Alshu. Sometimes a short two volume manga series doesn’t end up having a satisfying conclusion, and while Bloody Kisses did have an ending, it seemed a little arbitrary. If there had been more of an ongoing storyline I think I would have felt better about the ending. Still, this is a good brain candy type series for people who like vampire stories with less angst and more humor.

Game X Rush Volume 2 by Mizuho Kusanagi

I previously reviewed the first volume. I didn’t realize that this was also a two volume series. In the second and final volume the mind games between bodyguard Memori and is-he-or-isn’t-he-assassin Yuuki continue, aided by plenty of slapstick violence. After being hospitalized with injuries, Yuuki keeps trying to escape from his perscription for bedrest by climbing out the window of his room. Memori resorts to dressing up in hospital gear to monitor his new friend. Who is the woman Yuuki is so desperate to talk to, and does she have a connection with Memori’s forgotten past?
I wonder if I need to adjust my expectations for two volume manga series. I’m guessing that usually the author gets word of impending cancellation after they’ve already planned out a longer story arc, and then everything just gets jammed into the last few chapters. That’s the way the second volume of Game X Rush felt, as revelation followed revelation at a fast clip. The humor in the first half of the book and the angst in the second half of the book didn’t create a coherent volume, and there was a big contrast between the crowded art in the first few chapters and the more expansive layouts in the final few pages. I really wish I could have seen what the author would have accomplished with more space to tell the story. Overall, I’m glad I read this series, but I’m not likely to revisit it.

Shinobi Life Volume 3 by Shoko Conami

Shinobi Life was a much more satisfying read. This series just gets better with each volume. I was a little lukewarm about the first volume, thought the second volume was amusing, and now after reading the third volume I think I’m hooked. There’s something about the combination of ninjas, time travel, and romance that I find entertaining. Reading this after Bloody Kiss and Game X Rush made me appreciate the clarity of Conami’s illustrations. She really excels at showing the subtle shading of emotions as her characters react to each other. The character designs are also unfailingly attractive.
The romance between rich girl Beni and time traveling Ninja bodyguard is derailed even more by the presence of Beni’s fiance Rihito, who has his own ninja, Hitaki. When Hitaki captures Kagetora, Rihito uses it as leverage to further his relationship with Beni. She agrees to be with Rihito as long as he promises that Kagetora will not be harmed. Kagetora and Beni go back to their daily life, but Kagetora can sense that something is wrong. Beni is always smiling bravely and it doesn’t look like her natural expressions. Beni and Rihito get to know each other better, and there are some things they have in common – they both have incredibly manipulative and abusive parents. Hitaki still wants to kill Kagetora, and Rihito promises him he will get his chance eventually. Even though there are plenty of things keeping them apart, Beni and Kagetora can’t fight their feelings for each other. I think the plot in Shinobi Life is growing even more entertaining as more characters with their own motivations are introduced. Rihito initially seems like a straightforward villain, but he has reasons for acting the way he does. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything develops in this series, although a new plot point centered around Beni has me a bit concerned.

Review copies provided by the publisher.