Tag Archives: shojo beat

Fall in Love Like a Comic and High School Debut

Fall In Love Like a Comic by Chitose Yagami 3/5 stars (amazon)

Rena Sakura is a high school student and a mangaka. She’s getting pressure from her editor to include more realistic scenes in her racy manga, but the problem is that she has no life experience to draw from. She’s never had a boyfriend. When Rena accidentally drops some pages from her work in progress, Tomoya Okita picks them up. He’s the most popular boy in school. He comments after reading her manga that it looks like she hasn’t been in a relationship before. Rena asks Tomoya to be her boyfriend for research purposes. She’s shocked when he agrees.
Yagami’s art has the cuteness factor dialed up to the max. Characters frequently slip into chibi mode, and Rena literally melts into a shapeless amoeba whenever she’s overcome with emotion from Tomoya’s attentions. Of course as their relationship progresses, real feelings start to develop and Rena can’t keep telling herself that she’s only hanging out with Tomoya to become a better manga artist. Tomoya is totally perfect but his personality is a little blank, leaving the reader to wonder why he’s attracted to Rena in the first place. This is addressed a little bit in a bonus story in the back of the book focusing on him, but hopefully later volumes will explore both characters a little more evenly. In general, Fall In Love Like a Comic is light frothy fun, and the details included about Rena’s job like meetings with editors and Japanese terms for manga elements will likely appeal to readers who want to create their own manga.

High School Debut by by Kazune Kawahara 4/5 stars(amazon)

While Fall in Love Like a Comic features a heroine who needs a boyfriend to make her manga better, High School Debut has a heroine who needs a coach in order to get a boyfriend in the first place. Haruna threw herself into softball in middle school, spending all of her time practicing and ending up on a championship team. She has decided that her goal for high school will be to find a boyfriend. Haruna studies magazines and fashion trying to figure out what will make her attractive to guys, but she has no internal filter to tell her what actually looks good on her so when she goes out hoping to meet a boy she just looks like a desperate mess of fashion trends. Mami, one of Haruna’s former softball teammates points out that since coaching was so useful in sports, maybe Haruna needs a love coach.
Yoh is one of the coolest guys in school, and Haruna asks him to be her coach because she thinks he’s the ultimate authority on what guys look for in a girl. Yoh refuses, saying that he thinks babying a girl who wants a new life in high school would be annoying. He stalks away saying that he hates girls. Haruna is amazed at his insight into her motivations and vows to make him her coach despite his refusals. Yoh’s sister Asa finds Haruna amusing, and tries to help out by lending her some clothes. As Yoh sees more of Haruna, he gradually comes around to the idea of being her coach and agrees to help her if she promises not to fall in love with him – he doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of inconvenient emotions.
Yoh and Haruna’s relationship is hilarious. Haruna’s single-minded determination to find a boyfriend has led her to keep magazine clippings, scrapbooks, and notebooks of tips. Yoh tells her to throw her notes away because her main problem is that she’s trying too hard. Haruna will sit next to Yoh, trying to think of something to say to him and he’ll say exactly what she’s thinking because her thoughts are so transparent. Yoh takes the task of finding suitable clothes for Haruna as a personal challenge, and he doesn’t give up until he finds a skirt that manages to make her look cute despite her sports-conditioned calves.
While the storyline of a guy making over a girl has been used over and over again, High School Debut manages to rise above the cliche due to the strength of its characters. The sullen cool guy is also a shojo standard, but Yoh’s facial expressions and the exasperated lines around his eyes when he’s reacting to Haruna make him intriguing. The art in High School Debut is a cut above run of the mill shojo titles, as it avoids the same faces with different hairstyles art style that many artists seem to get bogged down in. Each character has a distinctive look and facial expressions that suit their personalities. I’ll be checking out future volumes to see the outcome of Haruna’s determined quest to find a boyfriend.

Review copies were provided by the publisher.

Shojo Beat

I just finished reading the first issue of Shojo Beat and found it good. I think for age range it does skew older than Shonen Jump. There are certainly a few scenes in some of the comics that deal with sex, but not very graphically. If that isn’t a problem for your library, it should be a no brainer to subscribe to the magazine. The fashion bits were sort of lame, but I thought the horoscope illustrated by Junko Mizuno was cute. Of the series it contains:

Nana – I was really looking forward to reading this because I liked Ai Yazawa’s series Paradise Kiss. So far though I’m not a big fan of Nana, because I don’t find the pattern of behavior where she constantly falls in love with older men all that interesting. Nana is very immature as she just decides to move to Tokyo and go to art school so she won’t be seperated from her friends. I wonder what will happen in the next installment of the series when the other girl named Nana is introduced and the characters start to interact. The art is really attractive though, and the character designs are less punked-out than Paradise Kiss.

Absolute Boyfriend – I’m a big fan of Yu Watase, and this series about a girl with a mail order boyfriend who is deliverd in a giant cardboard box has all of her humor and character development. So this is the only series so far where I’ll probably buy the digests once they start coming out.

Godchild – Dark gothic story about a killer in nineteenth century England. The main character Alice comes from a “new money” family and she meets the intriguing Lord Cain, who seems to have a habit of collecting poisons. This is by Kaori Yuki, author of Angel Sanctuary. I wonder if Alice and Cain were brother and sister in a past life….

Baby and Me – Focuses on domestic life as a little boy struggles to help raise his little brother after his mother’s death.

Kaze Hikaru – A girl disguises herself as a boy to join the Shinsengumi. Seems like it would be fun to read for people who like historical fiction and samurai action.

Crimson Hero – Sports manga about a girl who wants to play volleyball, but is at odds with her traditionally minded Mother. This was a pleasant surprise, Nobara is an engaging tomboyish character and it will be interesting to see how far she’ll go to start a girls vollyball team at her new high school.

I think the series I liked most out of the initial issue was Absolute Boyfriend, although I want to keep reading Nana to see if the characters develop more. Godchild and Crimson Hero also look interesting. Overall the issue collects a wide variety of stories with different settings which is just what you’d expect from a good anthology series.