Tag Archives: cmx

Lapis Lazuli Crown

The Lapis Lazuli Crown Volume 1 by Natsuna Kawase

I’m always on the lookout for fun fantasy series, and Lapis Lazuli Crown seems like it will fill that role quite nicely. Miel is the middle child in a fallen aristocratic family that used to serve the King. Miel is cursed with super-strength and a lack of control over her own magic. Her older sister is a renowned sorceress, but Miel is stubborn about listening to her advice about practicing magic more. Instead, Miel is determined to better herself by pretending to be a normal girl and marrying a nobleman to lift herself out of poverty. The lapis lazuli in the title of the book comes from the way magic users use stones to focus and amplify their powers. Miel’s favorite stone is the lapis lazuli, also her country’s emblem. But her poor control of magic could cause her stone to break so she almost never uses it.

Miel is swinging her purse and her super-strengh causes it to launch like a rocket, striking a boy in the head who is walking several blocks away. Radi tells her that he’s a young nobleman who has been separated from his friend, but his name and appearance is suspiciously similar to the crown Prince Radian. Radi is delighted by Miel’s super-strength and offers to hire her to show him around town. Miel agrees and they have fun going to a cafeteria to eat. Radi also encourages Miel to enter an arm-wrestling contest.

The plot developments aren’t particularly surprising. Radi is really Prince Radian in disguise and he and Miel are attracted to each other. One of the things I liked about the plot was the way Radi instantly accepted Miel and views what she perceives as her weaknesses as strengths. He thinks that she has difficulty controlling her magic because she’s much more powerful than the average magic user. Radi and Miel don’t see each other very often, but since the Prince has a habit of disguising himself as a commoner to wander around the capital city and help out his subjects, they end up going on a few adventures. Miel becomes determined to learn to better control her abilities in order to gain access to the palace as a magic user and support the Prince.

I’ve read that Kawase was previously an assistant to Arina Tanemura. I didn’t find the art in Lapis Lazuli Crown to have an extremely distinct personal style, but it got the job done without the excess of screentone that is sometimes characteristic of Tanemura’s work. This volume also included a lenthly back-up story about a phantom thief. The three chapters of the main story were certainly pleasant, and I think I’ll be getting the second and concluding volume of this series. Lapis Lazuli Crown is rated by the publisher as E for everyone, so this might be a good fantasy series for school libraries to consider purchasing.

Name of the Flower Volume 2

Name of the Flower Volume 2 by Ken Saito (amazon)

I enjoyed the first volume of Name of the
Flower, and I was happy to see that the second volume was just as good as the first. As the second volume opens Kei has barricaded himself in his room with the terse note “Writing” on the door. Chouko goes back to school and manages to be recruited into joining a club for the first time when she takes pity on an awkward young man named Yousuke. The club turns out to be a literary appreciation society specializing in drinking and the authors of the Taisho era. Chouko is socializing with people her own age for the first time.

Both Kei and Chouko realize that they have feelings for each other, but they react to the situation in different ways. Chouko just becomes overwhelmed and awkward when she’s around Kei, while he keeps isolating himself and making plans to push her away because he thinks she’ll be happier without him. There’s a real sense of darkness and depression that hovers around the edges of this manga that deals with two emotionally fragile main characters. Chouko begins experiencing more things at school thanks to her new club. Her club members are obsessed with Kei, requesting pictures and autographs from Chouko and coming up with a plan to take a trip to the same resort where Kei’s on vacation.

The antics of the Taisho Authors Association and Kei’s irreverent editor Akiyama balance out the more weighty themes of the books. Akiyama observes Kei’s reactions to Chouko and concludes that he’s an idiot. Yousuke and Akiyama compete to see who can recall the most literary references.

Kei’s writing talents are tied to his emotional instability. He went through a period where he ceased writing several years ago. When he’s visiting with a fellow author named Bandou, Bandou comments “I just wanted to see you die of insanity.” Kei asks if Bandou is trying to provoke a fight and Bandou lightly replies that he’s the type to constantly torment a girl he likes. Kei sees Chouko at the resort and assumes that she’s a mirage because he’s been thinking about her so much. He kisses her and is then dismayed to discover that she’s not a figment of his imagination. Later, Yousuke tells Kei how he feels about Chouko and Kei’s reply is “You can’t have her, you know. She’s in love with me.” I’m looking forward to the next two volumes to see how the series concludes.

Moon Child

Moon Child by Reiko Shimizu Volume 1

Moon Child is one of the most unique manga that I’ve read in a long time. My reading habits tend to lean towards series that are filled with shoujo cliches, so it is nice to encounter a series that manages to be genuinely surprising. Moon Child is a wonderful mix of fairy tale, alien sex practices, gender bending, and giant spectral fish all presented with some old-school shoujo style art.

Art is a washed-up dance prodigy in New York City. His ex-girlfriend Holly has surpassed his talents and now he struggles with auditions. On a rainy day he hit a strange little boy wearing a suit and bowtie with his car. Art and the boy both end up in the hospital. The little boy has amnesia, so Art ends up taking him home and giving him the name Jimmy. Jimmy is an absolute blank slate, not knowing how to function by himself. Art has an explosive temper, and he occasionally hits Jimmy when Jimmy makes messes in his apartment. When Art leaves Jimmy alone to go on an audition, Jimmy manifests telekinetic powers. Broken appliances in the apartment inexplicably start working again.

Jimmy takes a walk alone when Art is sleeping and he sees a giant floating eel hovering over the deserted city streets. He meets two boys who look like identical versions of himself. They address him as “Benjamin” and tell him to come home. Jimmy runs back to Art’s apartment. On a planet far away a man named Shonach has decided to return to Earth. He’s from a race of mer-people that can swim between the stars. Shonach was last on Earth during the fourteenth century and he looks forward to seeing it again. Shonach arrives in New York and meets Jimmy. He’s struck with how much Jimmy resembles a woman from his dreams. Shonach also meets a mermaid who informs him that it is spawning season for their race. She takes him to visit the other mer-people in New York, and learns of a dire prophecy connected to the legend of the Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid was actually an alien mermaid named Seira who fell in love with and had a child with a human. The half human half mer-person child is now on earth. Shonach is the child of Seira’s former merman lover, and his destiny is caught up with Seira’s half human child, who is named Benjamin. Shonach’s encounters with Jimmy have him convinced that he is no ordinary human child. Granny, the matriarch of the mer-people predicts that Armageddon will take place on Earth if Shonach doesn’t “make eggs” with Benjamin. Jimmy is increasingly disturbed by the ocean creatures in spirit form that keep appearing around him.

Volume 2

Jimmy abruptly assumes his older, female form. When he is a girl he is incapable of using his voice to talk to Art. Art comes home after a late night to find an attractive naked woman with cascading blond hair sitting on his floor. She jumps out the window and is approached by a group of men on the street. They promptly run away when confronted with visions of a giant frog and snake.

Jimmy meets Shonach in his female form, and Shonach knows that she’s his destined love. Mentally Benjamin is still Jimmy, the lost little boy with amnesia. Shonach kisses Benjamin and she turns back into her former form as a little boy. Art looks for Jimmy, but he runs into the clone duo – Jimmy’s older brothers are looking for him. After a confrontation Art passes out. Shonach knows that Jimmy is still attached to Art, so he takes Jimmy back, trying to maintain distance between them. While Jimmy still doesn’t have his memory back he is beginning to learn more about his unique role for the mer-people.

Volume 3

In the third volume, Jimmy and Art are reunited. Art is furious with Jimmy for going missing, but they celebrate the possibility of Art landing a key dance role. The upcoming doom for the world is tied to the polluted waters. If the mer-people lay eggs in earth’s oceans, their children will die. Jimmy has visions of a building exploding that seems to be Chernobyl power plant. Shonach struggles with his attraction for Benjamin.

Jimmy’s identical brothers are growing sick due to the pollution on Earth. If Jimmy were to die, one of them could assume female form and bear eggs in his place. But since Jimmy is alive all they can do is watch over him and attempt to protect him. They view his relationship with Art as disastrous history repeating itself, since a mermaid’s relationship with a human created Jimmy.

There many interconnecting storylines and characters in Moon Child, but it never feels overwhelming because the art manages to clearly portray all the varied themes and flashbacks. The frequent appearance of spirit animals summoned by the mer-people’s powers combined with the modern background of the city creates arresting visual images that highlight the uniqueness of the story. The mer-people’s fluid approach to gender and the relationships between Jimmy/Benjamin, Art, and Shonach are intriguing.

One jarring note is the way “Granny”, the matriarch of the mer-people is drawn. She’s a caricature of an African tribal woman. I usually don’t expect manga to be very sensitive about portrayals of Africans, and I tend to assume that drawings like this stem from ignorance rather than malicious intent, but the contrast with the way Granny was rendered compared with the attractive shoujo styling of everyone else took me out of the story.

If you’re planning on sampling this manga, I’d definitely recommend reading multiple volumes together. There’s so much going on in the story that I think waiting several weeks between volumes would make it harder to piece everything together. I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of this series.

Venus Capriccio


Venus Capriccio Volume 1 by Mai Nishikata (amazon)

Jacket Copy: Takami is tall, attractive and funny. Akira’s a quiet, musical prodigy who seems much more effeminate than Takami, even though he’s a guy. Best friends since childhood, Takami turns to Akira when yet another would-be boyfriend dumps her. Now will their longtime connection finally turn into something more than friendship?

This is a low-key shojo series that manages to be enjoyable despite some typical character types and plot elements. Takami has grown up with four older brothers and as a result she’s a total tomboy. The manga opens with Takami getting dumped on a first date due to her eating habits and unfeminine appearance. Takami goes to visit her childhood friend Akira. He’s two years younger than her, and they met at piano school where Takami was enrolled against her will when her mother thought she should pursue traditionally feminine hobbies.

Akira has an exotic (half-Japanese) appearance, and he is so pretty that when Takami first met him she thought he was a girl. Many years later she still thinks of Akira as her idealized little sister. He’s content to play the piano to calm Takami down and accompany her to all you can eat cake cafes in the wake of her breakup, but he requests that she dress up to attend a concert he’s giving at a jazz club. Takami puts on a dress for the first time since she was seven years old and goes to hear Akira play. Everyone comments that they look beautiful together, and Akira announces that Takami’s his fiancee. The next day Akira visits Takami’s school and gets into a confrontation with the boy who dumped her. Takami says “Don’t be violent like that again. Akira, you’re my ideal girl.” Akira says “Don’t be so obtuse. I’m no girl, and if the girl that I like gets hurt I’m going to fight about it.”

Takami finally realizes that Akira is a boy who cares about her, but she isn’t sure how she feels. The events that unfold between Akira and Takami will be familiar to any shojo manga fan. They need to work together to perform a piano duet, there’s a girl that attempts to come between them, a school festival that involves some cross-dressing, and a visit to an amusement park. As Takami and Akira hang out together on the way to becoming more than childhood friends, it was nice to see a friendship between a boy and a girl that is mutually supportive and drama-free.

One of the things I appreciated about Venus Capriccio was the slow pacing. While Akira is confident in how he feels, Takami isn’t so sure that she wants to change their friendship, and while she’s more self-conscious about hanging out with Akira she isn’t pushing herself into a romantic relationship. In some ways this reminded me a little of another CMX title, Venus In Love, because of the room given for the characters’ relationship to develop.

There were a few spelling and grammatical errors in the volume that were slightly distracting. The art was fairly typical shojo style, with the characters portrayed with elongated figures and necks. I enjoyed the contrast between Takami’s boisterous reactions to the world around her and Akira’s cool reserve. While Venus Capriccio isn’t a title to pick up if you are looking for something wildly innovative, it has a quiet charm that is quite rewarding.

Fire Investigator Nanase

Fire Investigator Nanase Volume 1 by Izo Hashimoto and Tomoshige Ichikawa

Fire Investigator Nanase combines the qualities of a police procedural and a psychological thriller to produce a manga that is thoroughly entertaining. Nanase is a recent graduate of firefighter academy. Years ago she saved a man from a burning building. He turned out to be the notorious serial arsonist nicknamed “Firebug”. Nanase is dedicated to finding the causes of fires. She investigates the aftermath of a mysterious blaze at a supermarket. While her supervisor Tachibana belittles her for being a rookie, Nanase has strong instincts that cause her to look at clues more closely. A dead security guard, burned computer, empty fire extinguisher, and a melted plastic bucket lead Nanase to assume that the cause of the fire was arson. She goes to the site alone at night to continue her investigation. She’s attacked by a mysterious masked man and then saved by an unexpected ally, the Firebug.

Firebug takes Nanase to a building where he tests her knowledge of fire with a variety of traps. She manages to pass each one, and Firebug gives her hints that will help her solve the supermarket fire mystery. She asks why he’s helping her. Firebug turns to leave and she grabs his head, accidentally ripping off a mask that reveals a scarred, almost melted face underneath. Nanase and Firebug begin a somewhat twisted relationship. Firebug seems to take offense at the work of arsonists other than himself, and he keeps phoning Nanase to give her help on her cases. He’s obviously watching her very closely with inside knowledge that seems almost impossible for him to know.

Nanase is a strong and engaging heroine. Her parents were killed in a fire, and she is totally dedicated to her job. She still has some family life because she adopted the orphaned son of a fellow firefighter in order to prevent him from having to live in an orphanage. While Nanase isn’t afraid of action, she has a more cerebral approach to solving fire-related crimes. She’s willing to accept Firebug’s help, even though she’s unsure of his motivation. Firebug himself is a compelling contrast to Nanase. He seems to be a master of disguise in addition to being a clever arsonist, as he is always ripping off his face to reveal new identities. The art for this series is solid, and especially excels at portraying the crazed look in Firebug’s eyes as he confronts the authorities. I’ll definitely be collecting this manga in the future.

Classical Medley

Classical Medley Volume 1 by Sanae Kana

Cute art and musical names don’t make up for the lack of an engaging story in the first volume of this fantasy series. Prince Soprano’s companions are his ambiguously gendered bodyguard Alto and the dragon Mezzo. One day Soprano is summoned to participate in a secretive mystical ceremony. In an attempt to seal the hereditary dual spheres of light and darkness that the royal house guards, evil takes over the King and the prince is forced to flee with his companions. They set off across the Classical Kingdom in search of Soprano’s older brother, the Prince Grave, fleeing members of the Royal Quintet who have also fallen under the King’s evil spell.

The art in Classical Medley features thin lines and round faces that make every character look very young. So it is a little startling when Prince Soprano’s mother is drawn in a way that makes her breasts constantly threaten to overflow her tops. I was hoping that the references to music would somehow reflect the personalities of the characters, but it just seemed like a convenient source of naming terms. A guard named “Klezmer” didn’t seem particularly Klezmer-like and another character named Enka didn’t appear to have any affiliation with the Japanese music genre.

The best thing about this manga was the intricate costume designs for the characters. Unfortunately the plot didn’t really capture my interest and the personalities of the characters didn’t really make me want to read further.

Name of the Flower

Name of the Flower by Ken Saito (amazon)

Since I tend to order my manga months in advance, I’ll often pick up the first volume of a series without knowing much about it. I was pleasantly surprised by Name of the Flower, a melancholy slice of live manga that details the relationship between a young girl and an author who are both trying to get over tragedies in their lives.

Chouko lost her parents in a tragic accident and lapsed in to a semi-vegetative state where she refused to talk for a couple years. She was passed among relatives who didn’t know how to care for her. Eventually she ended up being placed with Kei, a distant cousin and award winning author. Kei’s approach was to tell Chouko that as long as she was living in his house, she had to work – preparing meals, cleaning, and working in the long-neglected garden. Still silent, Chouko starts working in the garden and finds that her labor pulls her out of her depression. She starts talking again. Years pass and Kei and Chouko are still living together when she’s finishing up high school and starting college.

Saito captures small moments of daily life like the way Kei grabs items off the table while Chouko tries to rush to hand him whatever he needs. Kei switches back and forth between acting harsh and indulging in childish whims like a game of rock paper scissors. While Chouko has managed to conquer her depression, she hasn’t been able to socialize like a normal 18 year old. She gets nervous when her classmates try to talk to her, and she tends to spend all of her time with Kei, his talkative editor Akiyama, and a neighborhood senior citizen gardening club.

Saito’s art has a thin, sometimes scratchy line. There’s a great focus on facial expressions and the emotions of the characters. Kei has an impressive barrage of blank looks and glares from behind his glasses and overgrown hair. Chouko tends to display plenty of smiles and awkward blushes, which stand in contrast to her broken doll mode when she’s still recovering from the death of her parents.

Although I think I can tell where this love story is going, I’m looking forward to seeing how this relationship plays out. I hope Chouko is able to become more confident in herself, and Kei needs to stop being so emotionally withholding. While most of the volume is told from Chouko’s perspective, the final story shows Kei’s memories of Chouko when she first started living with him, and the change in point of view was interesting.

I think this would be a great series for someone looking for something similar in tone to Fruits Basket. While Name of the Flower doesn’t have the fantasy element, the way the characters cope with life’s hardships and the bittersweet appreciation for the beauty found in Chouko’s garden ensures that both series share a similar melancholy tone. Name of the Flower is quietly charming and if the remaining three volumes are as good as the first, readers of this series will be in for a rare treat.

Seimaden Volumes 1-5

Seimaden Volumes 1-5 by You Higuri

I generally like books by You Higuri, even those of her works which aren’t as strong as Cantarella. I read the first two books of Seimaden a long time ago and put them aside. I always meant to go back and read more but for whatever reason I didn’t quite find the characters compelling enough to seek out the later volumes. I swapped some other manga for volumes 3-5 recently and I’m glad I decided to give the series another chance because Seimaden tends to be more entertaining when it is read in large chunks. The heroes aren’t necessarily good, and the stereotypical heroes have negative qualities. A sprawling cast of characters interconnects in different ways, setting up a confrontation between the human and demon world. Throughout all the events one question remains – can a human girl and the Prince of Darkness find happiness together?

I’m going to write about plot developments in the later volumes, so there are spoilers ahead.

Hilda is a tavern dancer who is so beautiful that she seems to attract the attention of any man who looks at her. She has an overprotective patron named Laures who always comes to her rescue when she is threatened or kidnapped. Laures has a rather dark personality, perhaps because he is actually the King of Hell. To add to Hilda’s issues, she also has a severe case of amnesia and her best friend Cheryl is suffering from a horrible wasting disease. A young man named Roddrick arrives in town. He’s the last of the Azelle, a mystical race with magical powers. Roddrick is accompanied by a precocious and obnoxious little boy named Rabby.

Hilda is kidnapped by a local bully and Roddrick and Laures hasten to her rescue. Laures demonstrates his demonic nature when he begins to torture Hilda’s captor, and she runs away in an attempt to rescue herself. She starts to swim across a moat only to encounter flesh eating fish. Roddrick jumps into the water to save her, and tells her that he’s been searching for her for a long time. Hilda sees Roddrick as a clue to her past, but when Roddrick reveals that Laures is the one who wiped her memory, she can’t reconcile the image of the evil Laures with the person she knows as her fierce protector. Roddrick and Laures begin a fight that ends without resolution. Laures retreats to the demon world and Roddrick recuperates in his room. Laures has a demonic servant with feathered wings named Tetius who bears more than the usual amount of affection for his master. Tetius is quite dismayed that Laures is focusing so much of his attention on a lowly human girl instead of doing demonic deeds.

As the second volume opens Tetius is disappointed with Laures for turning away from his demon heritage due to his obsession with Hilda. He decides to free a rival for Laures’ demonic throne, the Lord Zadei. Zadei is pretty but not very intelligent. Zadei certainly enjoys death and destruction more than Laures, as he sends dragons and demons to the human world to pillage and destroy whatever they find in their path.

Hilda agrees to take a dancing job for a local count who looks like the Phantom of the Opera. The count also has an unconventional love of taxidermy and a compulsive urge to collect beautiful things. He wants to add Hilda to his permanent collection. Laures comes to rescue Hilda, and the count immediately decides that he prefers the demon lord, declaring “His body lithe, like an ebony panther. The depths of his utterly inhuman, intoxicating eyes! I’ll die if he doesn’t belong to me!”

Hilda and Laures escape, leaving the count alive. This is an unfortunate decision because the count decides to ally with Zadei, turning his castle into a portal into the demon world. Hilda’s backstory begins to be filled in a little bit, as the reader learns that she is the reincarnation of Laures’ lost love Elis. Also much like Anthy in Revolutionary Girl Utena, Hilda’s body houses the long-lost mystical Sword of the Azelle. The sword is a mystical relic that can amplify Roddrick’s power.

Roddrick’s annoying young companion Rabby becomes even more annoying when it is revealed that he’s possessed by the spirit of an ancient Azelle priestess. She’s determined to rid Roddrick of his feelings towards Hilda. Hilda is captured again and Laures allows himself to be imprisoned by Count Phantom of the Opera in order to protect her. Trapped in the count’s castle, Hilda sees Laures’ true demonic form, complete with cute bat wing ears. She still loves him though!

The fourth and fifth volumes detail Zadei’s growing obsession with the angelic Tetius and the count’s gradual decline into demonhood as the magic portal in his castle warps his already unsightly body. Laures is chained to a wall and tortured a bunch. Rabby tells Roddrick to claim the Sword of Azelle from Hilda. Zadei sees Laures staked to a wall and is annoyed that his powerful foe has been reduced to such a pitiful state.

Tetius sets off a demonic organic bomb by growing a Dimension Tree in the castle. Roddrick rescues Hilda, but she insists on going back to save Laures. They end up confronting Tetius, and Hilda yells at him “If you’re going to kill me, do it! I’m not running away anymore!” Tetius raises his sword, and Laures (who could have freed himself any time he wanted to) jumps in front of Hilda. Tetius is unable to kill his former master.

A confrontation between Laures, Zadei, Hilda, and Roddrick ends with Hilda manifesting the Sword of Azelle, and Roddrick grabbing new power. The expression on his face changes, and he no longer looks like a simple orphan hero. The castle begins to drift into another dimension. Rabby starts dressing in drag, his personality totally subsumed by the spirit of the high priestess who has possessed him. Tetius ends up sacrificing himself to save Laures, and Zadei demonstrates his deep affection for him by ripping off his wing and kissing him. Zadei and Tetius disappear into a dark dimension with the castle. Zadei swears that he will crawl out of the bowels of hell to destroy Laures.

Seimaden is full of epic battles between good and evil, but there’s plenty of moral ambiguity to make everything more complicated. I thought it was interesting that Roddrick, the character with the most traditionally heroic traits, is really just a supporting player in the story of Laures and Hilda. While Hilda is constantly getting kidnapped, she isn’t entirely passive. At one point she demands that her captor serve her his head on a platter. Laures is the typical attractive, tortured, and dark Higuri hero. If you enjoy Cesare Borgia’s descent into darkness in Cantarella, you’ll likely also enjoy reading Seimaden.

Kiichi and the Magic Books

Kiichi and the Magic Books

Kiichi and the Magic Books Volume 1 by Taka Amano (amazon)

I have often thought that librarians needed some sort of catchphrase they could declaim as they went into battle. Reciting lines from the ALA code of ethics like “We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.” just doesn’t do it for me. I want something that rhymes and alludes to librarian superpowers. If only librarians were as cool as the Green Lantern, who is able to say “In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight! Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power.. Green Lantern’s light!”

Kiichi and the Magic Books features a librarian named Mototaro who is often called upon to utter “As birds flying out of formation are books lacking information. Empty pages must need be filled so return to thy home as I have willed.” As catchphrases go it isn’t that great but I’ll take what I can get. Mototaro also wears a purple hat, and is easily identified as a “library man” due to his coat, so he also continues the librarian tradition of questionable fashion choices.

In Mototaro’s world, books are placed in tightly controlled depositories so librarians wander from town to town with a selection of titles that villagers can use as a portable lending library. Kiichi is a young boy, an illiterate outcast in his village because he has a horn on his head which indicates that he has oni (demon) heritage. Kiichi is left alone after the death of his mother and he observes Mototaro in the forest holding a book containing tiny demons that leap from the pages. Kiichi decides that Mototaro is the key for him to find out about his demonic heritage so he decides to follow Mototaro and his girl companion Hana on their journey. Books can be dangerous in the hands of untrained users, because the characters in the books come to life. An elephant rampages through Kiichi’s town, but Mototaro is able to put it back in the book thanks to his nifty rhymes.

The first volume is mostly set-up as everyone gets to know each other. They start on a trip to a book depository where an Oni scholar may be able to help Kiichi. Hana isn’t quite what she seems, and she’s resentful of Mototaro adding another companion to the group. Kiichi is determined to find other Onis, and he starts to work on learning how to read. The art for this title is simple but effectice, featuring plenty of Mototaro’s deadpan expressions and dynamic fight scenes with literary characters that have escaped from their books.Kiichi and the Magic Books isn’t a standout title, but like many of the series published by CMX it has a certain lo-fi charm. I’ll be picking up further volumes but I tend to seek out manga about books and/or librarians.

Other reviews:

Manga Maniac Cafe
Slightly Biased Manga
it can’t all be about manga… (includes some scans of the art)

Venus in Love #3

Venus in Love #3 by Yuki Nakaji (amazon)

I continue to enjoy this series about the romantic entanglements of four college students. Suzuna confessed her feelings to the popular tennis player Fukami, but it is clear that he has a crush on another girl. Her partner in lovelornness is Fukami’s best friend and her next door neighbor Eichi. Eichi continues to keep his feelings for Fukami hidden, and he and Suzuna spend more time together working at a toy store over Christmas. Eichi and Suzuna begin to grow closer, but when a dangerously handsome male model spots Eichi in a dangerously cute bunny costume, he vows to make him his. Suzana’s friend Hinako continues to pursue her Greek teacher.

Eichi and Suzuna encourage Fukami after he has a tension-filled date. Suzuna thinks that Fukami’s girl must be really special to him since he’s stressing out so much:

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