My Week in Manga: October 2-October 8, 2017

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga I announced the winner of the Assassin’s Creed manga giveaway. The post also includes a list of manga published in English that feature pirates of various types, including historical pirates, fantasy pirates, space pirates, and others. Then New York Comic Con (which is still going on) and Yaoi Con were held last week as well. I didn’t attend either event, but there were some announcements made by Kodansha Comics, Viz Media, and SuBLime Manga (which is technically Viz Media, too). Kodansha revealed plans to release Kenji Inoue and Kimitake Yoshioka’s Grand Blue Dreaming, Mitsurou Kubo’s Again!!, and Akiko Higashimura’s Tokyo Tarareba Girls in print. Among other things, Viz will be adding Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto’s Pokémon Sun & Moon and Tenya Yabuno’s Pokémon Horizon: Sun & Moon and will be re-releasing Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys and 21st Century Boys in a hardcover edition in addition to speeding up the release of Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia. SuBLime announced a few new digital titles, but Ranmaru Zariya’s Coyote and Ogeretsu Tanaka’s Escape Journey will receive print runs, too.

Quick Takes

Aho-Girl, Volume 1Aho-Girl, Volume 1 by Hiroyuki. I only realized it after I finished the first volume of Ah0-Girl, but I’ve actually read another of Hiroyuki’s four-panel manga, Dojin Work, which was never released in its entirety in English. It’s been a long while since I’ve read Dojin Work, but I get the sense that in general I prefer that earlier series over this more recent one. Aho-Girl, while it did legitimately make me laugh on multiple occasions, tends to rub me the wrong way and I personally could have done without all of the sexual harassment being used as the basis for comedy. The dirty jokes I don’t particularly mind, though. As defined by first volume’s cover, “aho-girl” is Japanese for a clueless girl. Yoshiko Hanabatake, the series’ titular character, is indeed an astonishingly dense airhead. Oh, and she really, really likes bananas. Other major characters in the first volume of the manga include Akuru Akutsu, her long-suffering next door neighbor and supposed childhood friend (who doesn’t seem to have many friends in part due to his own unfortunate personality), her mother Yoshie, who would like nothing more than to see the two of the together, and Sayaka Sumino, a genuinely kind girl, classmate, and friend. As may safely be assumed, most of the humor of Aho-Girl revolves around Yoshiko’s sheer stupidity, for better and for worse.

Appleseed AlphaAppleseed Alpha by Iou Kuroda. An adaptation of sorts of the Appleseed Alpha anime, which itself is a spinoff of sorts of Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed manga, Kuroda’s Appleseed Alpha manga forms a prequel to the original story. Although to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure exactly how the Appleseed Alpha fits into the larger Appleseed franchise since I’m not familiar with any of the other manga or anime. What drew me to the Appleseed Alpha manga was Kuroda’s involvement. It’s been a few years since I’ve read it, but I remember enjoying Kuroda’s alternative manga Sexy Voice and Robo, so I was glad to see more of the creator’s work with its distinctive illustration style released. Kuroda’s Appleseed Alpha was longer than I originally thought it was–Kodansha Comics’ hardcover edition is in fact an omnibus collecting the entire two-volume series, but somehow manages to look much shorter than it actually is. Appleseed Alpha is not a quick read although the plot and action moves at a fairly steady pace. The story follows Deunan, a very competent ex-SWAT officer, and her combat cyborg boyfriend Briareos as the couple makes their way through a dystopic cyberpunk Western version of the United States. Previous knowledge of Appleseed is not needed to enjoy Kuroda’s somewhat quirky contribution.

QQ Sweeper, Volume 1QQ Sweeper, Volumes 1-3 by Kyousuke Motomi. I greatly enjoyed Motomi’s earlier manga series Dengeki Daisy, so I was looking forward to giving another of the creator’s series a try, which is what ultimately led me to QQ Sweeper. (A few of the characters from Dengeki Daisy actually happen to make quick cameo appearances in the series, too.) Fumi’s dream in life is to find a prince charming to sweep her off her feet. Instead, she finds Kyutaro who has a fixation on literally sweeping. He has a pretty good reason for it, though. Kyutaro and his family are responsible for ridding the local area of dangerous infestations of malicious thoughts and psychological torment which manifest as bugs and physical cleanliness can go far to help with spiritual cleanliness. Of course, sometimes the bugs really are just bugs. For as seemingly silly and charmingly goofy as QQ Sweeper can often be–it can essentially be summed up as a supernatural cleaning manga–the series quickly becomes surprisingly dark. QQ Sweeper ends somewhat suddenly with the third volume and doesn’t really provide much of a satisfying conclusion, but fortunately the sequel series Queen’s Quality has been licensed as well. The series’ humor and seriousness occasionally seems a little off-balance, but I really liked QQ Sweeper and certainly plan on continuing with the story.

My Week in Manga: July 6-July 12, 2015

My News and Reviews

So, apparently last week was Shark Week, an annual event on the Discovery Channel. I don’t watch much television or pay attention to programming schedules, therefore it was a complete coincidence that both of the manga that I reviewed last week happened to include sharks! First up was my review of the deluxe hardcover omnibus of Junji Ito’s (comedy?) horror manga Gyo: The Death-Stench Creeps. It’s an incredibly gross and absurd manga and will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. I was entertained by its outrageousness, but overall much prefer his earlier work Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror. The second review last week was of The Legend of Kamui, Volume 1, an influential historical drama by Sanpei Shirota. The manga was actually one of the earliest series to be released in English back in the 1980s. Fortunately, it’s still relatively easy to find even though it’s long been out-of-print. I really wish that more of the series had been translated, though; The Legend of Kamui is excellent.

A couple of interesting things that I came across last week: Shojo Beat’s tenth anniversary celebration continues with five questions for Julietta Suzuki and Haikasoru posted a translation of a conversation between authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Taiyo Fujii from 2013. (I recently reviewed Fujii’s debut novel Gene Mapper, and reviewed Bacigalupi’s novel The Windup Girl, which has been very well received in Japan, at my old review blog Experiments in Reading several years ago.) Last week was the San Diego Comic-Con, but most of the news and announcements seemed to be repeats of Anime Expo. However, there was one newly announced license that was huge: Udon Entertainment will be releasing Riyoko Ikeda’s influential shoujo classic Rose of Versailles! Among other good news, Udon rescued Moyoco Anno’s marvelous shoujo series Sugar Sugar Rune, which makes me very happy. (I reviewed Del Rey’s edition of the first volume a couple of years back.) Udon will also be releasing Yomi Sarachi’s Steins;Gate manga. Kodansha has picked up Kousuke Fujishima’s manga series Paradise Residence. Dark Horse will be re-releasing Hiroaki Samura’s epic Blade of the Immortal in an omnibus edition which is great news since some of the individual volumes are out-of-print and hard to find. (The series is also a favorite of mine.) A couple of other interesting SDCC/manga-related posts: myths from the Manga Publisher Roundtable and a summary of 2015’s Best and Worst Manga panel. Oh, and Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa: A History of Japan won an Eisner Award!

Quick Takes

The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Volume 1The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Volume 1 by Aya Shouoto. There were mainly two things that initially drew my attention to The Demon Prince of Momochi House, the beautiful and somewhat provocative cover illustration and the promise of beautiful and somewhat provocative yokai. Himari Momochi unexpectedly inherits a house when she turns sixteen. As an orphan, it’s the only connection that she has to a family that she has never known. But when she arrives, she discovers a couple of complicating factors: the house is a gateway between the human and supernatural realms, and it is already occupied. Honestly, the story’s setup feels a little forced and employs a few well-worn shoujo tropes; it remains to be seen whether or not Shouoto will do anything clever with them. However, the artwork is attractive and I actually really do like the underlying premise of the manga. Although I wasn’t blown away by the first volume of The Demon Prince of Momochi House, I did enjoy it. The series has great potential and the manga certainly delivers on its promise of beautiful spirits. While I’m not in a rush to read the next volume, I’ll likely continue with the series to see if it develops into something really special or if it will merely remain something that is enjoyable in passing.

Dengeki Daisy, Volume 13Dengeki Daisy, Volumes 13-16 by Kyousuke Motomi. It’s been awhile since I’ve read Dengeki Daisy, but it is a manga that I tend to enjoy. Since the final volume of the series was released in English relatively recently, I figured it was about time for me to catch up. Dengeki Daisy isn’t always the most realistic or believable series—frequently things will happen because they’re convenient for the sake of moving the story forward or are being used as a punchline rather than being a convincing development—but it’s still pretty great. The manga also handles the romance between Teru and Kurosaki very well, especially considering the eight-year gap in their ages. Interestingly, while the last volume quickly wraps up the main story, it’s actually mostly devoted to a small collection of side and bonus stories, generally of a humorous nature. The volume also includes Motomi’s debut manga, “No Good Cupid.” It’s kind of a fun send off for the series, especially as the final story arc is focused more on intense action and drama rather than the manga’s humor or the quirkiness of its characters. However, I always find Motomi’s author notes and commentary to be endlessly entertaining. I definitely plan on reading more of her work in the future.

NightSNightS by Kou Yoneda. Only a few of Yoneda’s boys’ love manga have been released in English, but I enjoy her work immensely and would love to see even more of it licensed. NightS is a collection of stories: “NightS,” about a transporter for the yakuza and an older man with whom he becomes entangled (in more ways than one); “Emotion Spectrum,” a high school romance with a bit of a twist on the usual sort of love triangle; and “Reply,” featuring the blossoming relationship between a car salesman and a mechanic. Although the anthology is called NightS, “Reply” is actually the longest and most involved work in the volume. But even the shorter manga feature well-developed stories and characters. They each come across as an individual with a distinctive personality. This is a particularly important aspect of Yoneda’s manga since the plots tend to be very character focused and driven—people and their relationships, romantic or otherwise, are key to her stories. There is a maturity to the storytelling, as well. And a great sense of humor. Though they aren’t comedies, at times the manga collected in NightS can be quite funny. Also, Yoneda’s artwork is excellent; especially impressive is her use of light and shadow to create drama, mood, and atmosphere.

My Week in Manga: September 30-October 6, 2013

My News and Reviews

It’s the beginning of one month and the end of another, which means it’s one of the slower weeks here at Experiments in Manga. I announced the winner of the Arisa manga giveaway. The post also includes a list of some of the manga available in English that feature twins. For those of you who are interested in the absurd amount of manga and other related materials that make their way into my home, September’s Bookshelf Overload was also posted. Finally, the honor of the first in-depth manga review for October goes to Satoshi Kon’s Tropic of the Sea. I thought it was fantastic. Hopefully it does well and more of Kon’s manga will be able to be released in English.

For anyone looking for more anime and manga blogs to follow, CryMore.Net (formerly known as Whiners.Pro) has put together the most comprehensive list of active sites that I’ve seen. (And yes, Experiments in Manga is included.) If you’re interested in yokai, Matthew Meyer recently launched a Kickstarter project for his most recent artbook/guide The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits. It’s already met its goal (and I was one of the people to support it), but it’s still worth checking out if you like yokai. I reviewed Meyer’s previous book (also funded through Kickstarter) The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: A Field Guide to Japanese Yokai and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work in print.

Quick Takes

Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, Volume 18Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, Volume 18 by Yukito Kishiro. I could be wrong since I haven’t read the entire series, but I believe that the eighteenth volume of Battle Angel Alita: Last Order is the first volume to prominently feature Figure Four (the burly dude on the cover). A love interest in the original Battle Angel Alita manga, up until this point in Last Order he’s been mostly relegated brief references. The eighteenth volume concludes the fallout from the ZOTT combat tournament with the series’ titular chapter “Last Order” before jumping nearly a year back in time to follow Figure for the rest of the volume. He’s hard at work training in anti-cyber martial arts when he learns that Alita may be dead and so goes searching for both her and the truth. Sechs makes a brief, but important appearance in the volume, which made me happy since Sechs is one of my favorite characters in the series. And as a side note, Kishiro designs some really creepy cyborgs.

Dengeki Daisy, Volume 9Dengeki Daisy, Volumes 9-12 by Kyousuke Motomi. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of Dengeki Daisy. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the series. Dengeki Daisy is kind of a strange manga, mixing rather mundane school life with hackers and cyber espionage, but I am consistently and highly entertained by it. I really like the quirkiness of characters in Dengeki Daisy. Motomi calls Dengeki Daisy a love comedy, which I suppose in the end it is, but in addition to being funny and occasionally romantic, the series also has a lot of action and drama. Kurosaki’s past and his guilt over it continues to be a major driving force behind the story. His disappearance is resolved fairly quickly, which surprised me, but that fact emphasizes how much he cares for Teru and how much Teru and the others care about him. Motomi has a tendency to use stereotypical shoujo plot devices but then completely turns them on their head. The fake-outs are both effective and refreshing.

Incubus, Volume 1Incubus, Volumes 1-3 by Yayoi Neko. The mythology in Incubus is fairly complex and the comic’s exposition can be somewhat long-winded, but I overall I’m liking this yaoi series. It has humor and drama, and I’m rather fond of the two leads—a college student named Judas and the surprisingly endearing half-demon Lennial. Judas’ dream sequences are great. In them, the different sides of his psyche try to make sense of what is going on around him as he is repeatedly confronted by demonic powers. The results are often amusing, but his emotional struggles can be heartbreaking. Judas has a very troubled past and what little good there was in it has been torn from him. Not everything has been revealed about his and Lenniel’s history together, but Neko seems to have a firm grasp on the series’ direction. Incubus is currently on hiatus due to the creator’s health—the first three volumes only cover the first half or so of the story—but I look forward to reading more of it if she is ever able to continue the series.

Sickness Unto Death, Volume 1Sickness Unto Death, Volume 1 written by Hikari Asada and illustrated by Takahiro Seguchi. I didn’t know much about Sickness Unto Death before picking it up, but I’m willing to give anything released by Vertical a try. Emiru is a frail young woman suffering from despair—a sickness of the spirit that is causing her body to fail. Kazuma has recently enrolled in college to pursue a career in clinical psychology. When he meets Emiru he not only wants to do all that he can to help her, but he falls in love with her as well. I found the manga’s basic premise intriguing, but in the end I was largely disappointed with the first volume of Sickness Unto Death, though I can’t seem to quite pinpoint why. However, I am still interested in reading the second half. The big reveal as to the cause of Emiru’s despair has been set up and I am very curious about it. I’ll admit that don’t have a lot of confidence, but I am hoping that it will be worth it and that it won’t be something too absurd or overblown.

FreeFree!: Iwatobi Swim Club directed by Hiroko Utsumi. I really enjoyed Free!, finding it to be both a fun and funny series. At times it even manages to be rather touching. The anime has a lot of self-aware goofiness in addition to a decent story and great animation. The swimming in particular is beautifully animated and, for the most part, realistically portrayed. (This also means that there are plenty of muscles to appreciate.) Although it is an important part of the series, Free! is actually less about swimming than it is about the relationships between its characters and their personal struggles and doubts. They all have their own reasons for swimming, but ultimately what brings them together is their desire to connect with one another—swimming just happens to be the way they go about doing it. A second season has been hinted at for the series; I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more of Free! I’d also love to see it licensed for a physical release.

My Week in Manga: September 10-September 16, 2012

My News and Reviews

I posted two reviews last week here at Experiments in Manga. First was for Strawberry Panic: The Complete Novel Collection written by Sakurako Kimino with illustrations by Namuchi Takumi. I was introduced to the Strawberry Panic yuri franchise through the manga, which was never completed. The novels are utterly ridiculous and yet highly entertaining. The other review was part of my Blade of the Immortal review project—Blade of the Immortal, Volume 13: Mirror of the Soul. I’m still loving the series. Mirror of the Soul focuses on Anotsu who I find to be an incredibly compelling character.

This week is the Shojo Beat Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Manga Report! All of the quick takes below feature Shojo Beat manga and anime. On Wednesday, I’ll be posting an in-depth review of the first volume of the manga series Sand Chronicles by Hinako Ashihara. I think Sand Chronicles is one of the best contemporary shōjo manga series out there; it’s certainly one my favorites.

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to see Kataoka Ichiro, a professional benshi, in action. It was very cool. The University of Michigan’s Center for Japanese Studies hosts two film series every year. This fall, the series is focusing on the silent films by Ozu Yasujiro which are being shown accompanied by live music and benshi. With the exception of the opening night, the films and performances are free and open to the public. If you’re in Southeast Michigan on a Friday evening between September 14 and November 9, I highly recommend checking the series out. Can’t make it to the films? Kataoka’s interview on arwulf-arwulf’s “Face the Music” radio show is worth listening to, too.

I am absolutely thrilled with Nozomi Entertainment’s most recent license announcement—The Rose of Versailles. Hopefully, the acquisition of the anime series means that the manga may be within reach for English-reading audiences. The series is infamous for being unlicensable, but maybe there could now be a chance. Either way, I’m very happy that The Rose of Versailles anime will be available next year.

The Hooded Utilitarian, a cultural criticism blog that largely focuses on comics (including manga, from time to time), is celebrating it’s fifth anniversary with a roundtable called the Anniversary of Hate. So far, two of the posts have focused on manga: Jason Thompson’s From Habibi to Tezuka, With Ono In Between and Kate Dacey’s Peace and Hate. Some of the comments on these posts are also very intriguing and worth reading.

Quick Takes

Dengeki Daisy, Volumes 5-8 by Kyousuke Motomi. I used to consider Dengeki Daisy a guilty pleasure of mine. Well, I’ve gotten over the guilt and now just enjoy myself. I find the series absolutely hilarious. Sure, it has it’s serious and melodramatic scenes, but it never fails to make me laugh. However, the eight volume has a drastically different tone (Motomi even admits as much). The volume delves into Kurosaki’s past and is understandably more somber, but it still contains moments of humor. Kurosaki’s guilt has been hinted at and its revelation has been built up to from the beginning of the series. Even though I wasn’t entirely convinced, for the most part I found myself satisfied with explanation.

Library Wars: Love & War, Volume 8 by Kiiro Yumi. Library Wars still isn’t as good as I want it to be, but I enjoy the manga enough to keep reading and I love the basic premise of the series. The resolution of book burning incident from previous volume is fairly anticlimactic, but as a result Iku finally realizes that Dojo is her prince. This gives Yumi plenty of opportunity to draw “jittery Iku” as Iku processes this development. The results are quite amusing. I’ve actually never been exceptionally fond of Iku as the main character (her incompetence as a librarian frustrates me), but she is growing on me and I appreciate her enthusiasm. Still, I tend to prefer almost any other character in Library Wars over Iku. I’m particularly fond of the romance developing between Tezuka and Shibasaki.

Otomen, Volumes 1-5 by Aya Kanno. Asuka Masamune is the epitome of manliness—strong, handsome, cool-headed, chivalrous. However, his hobbies, which he desperately tries to keep hidden, are less than manly. He loves cute things, sewing, cooking, and shōjo manga. Asuka is an otomen—a girly guy. Otomen relies heavily on gender expectations, stereotypes, shōjo tropes and cliches. Although the gender-bending nature of the characters and their interests are the source of the series’ humor, the manga doesn’t make fun of characters themselves. The series is lighthearted fun with the message that it’s okay to be who you are even when defies expectation. I am really enjoying Otomen and look forward to reading more.

Honey and Clover, Box Set 1 directed by Ken’ichi Kasai. I haven’t actually read the Honey and Clover manga, but I’ve heard great things about it and it’s anime adaptation. The series revolves around a group of friends who are students at an art college in Tokyo. We never really see their initial friendships develop, which makes me feel like I’m missing out on something. It is clear that their bonds are strong ones, though. Despite this, there is also a lot of loneliness in Honey and Clover. But there’s also plenty of humor, too, including the most epic game of Twister I’ve ever seen. While I’m not in a huge rush to finish the series, I did enjoy the time I spent with the characters of Honey and Clover. Their quirkiness is probably why I liked them so well.

My Week in Manga: March 12-March 18, 2012

My News and Reviews

So, I finally got around to my follow-up post about podcasts—Discovering Manga: Podcasts, Part 2. In it I talk about three podcasts that have regular manga content. If you’re interested, please check out the original podcast post, too—Discovering Manga: Podcasts. Also this past week, I posted my first in-depth manga review for the month, Blade of the Immortal, Volume 7: Heart of Darkness by Hiroaki Samura.

And speaking of Blade of the Immortal! Several people have mentioned interest in my reviews for the series, and so I’ve given myself a new goal. Beginning in April, I plan on reviewing one volume of Blade of the Immortal each month. Ideally this will be in addition to my regular in-depth manga reviews which, hopefully, means there will be three manga reviews each month! This will also allow me to catch up to current volume more quickly. It should take me about a year and a half. We’ll see how it goes, so fingers crossed!

There has been some exciting news this past week. The criminal charges have been dropped in the Canada customs case dealing with Ryan Matheson attempting to cross the border with manga on his laptop. His personal statement can be read on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website. Charles Brownstein, executive director of the CBLDF, also made some comments on lessons learned from the case. This past Thursday, Digital Manga announced on their blog that their account for Kindle publishing had been suspended. Thankfully, after an outpouring of support for the publisher, Amazon reversed their decision and Digital Manga’s Kindle account was restored on Friday.

On to slightly less vexing issues! Booklist has posted a core collection list for Japanese Manga for Adults. It’s a pretty great list with some fantastic selections that I can easily get behind. Also, this week is the Jiro Taniguchi Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Manga Worth Reading. Over the last few weeks I’ve been reading, and mostly enjoying, a bunch of Taniguchi manga. I’ll have a review of A Zoo in Winter and a slew of Taniguchi manga quick takes later this week.

Quick Takes

Blame!, Volume 1 by Tsutomu Nihei. If you have read and enjoyed Nihei’s more recent manga Biomega, you should probably check out Blame! as well. The two series are quite similar in many ways. The artwork and setting is dark, character designs are appropriately creepy, and action and environment take precedence over dialogue. Killy is a loner with a big gun, making his way up from the depths of the The City searching for anyone possessing Net Terminal Genes. Humans are just barely surviving, fighting amongst themselves and against terrifying creatures. No explanation is given as to what happened to bring humanity to its current state, but that’s not particularly important to the story at the moment.

Dengeki Daisy, Volume 4 by Kyousuke Motomi. Dengeki Daisy can be absolutely ridiculous at times, but I’m still enjoying the series. Probably because that even with all the potential for melodrama, it never takes itself too seriously. Teru is now aware that Kurosaki is Daisy, something that she had suspected, but decides to hide that fact from him because she’s afraid he’ll leave if he knows. More is revealed about the mystery surrounding her brother and his death in this volume as well as some of Daisy’s darker past (at which had previously been hinted). Motomi is very slowly doling out tidbits of information. I want to learn more, but I’m not frustrated yet by how little I actually do know. The character dynamics and interactions are also very interesting to watch.

Kekkaishi, Omnibus 2 (equivalent to Volumes 4-6) by Yellow Tanabe. In the earlier volumes of Kekkaishi it seemed like Tanabe was just making things up as the series went along, but the manga seems to have a settled down somewhat. Granted, there are still some major plot developments and characters that are introduced out of nowhere. I am enjoying Kekkaishi quite a bit. I appreciate that brute strength is not seen to be the ultimate expression of power, but that knowledge and tactics are also extremely important. I also enjoy seeing the innovative ways that Tanabe comes up with to use the kekkai barriers. I certainly never expected them to be used for what amounts to aerial combat; that was pretty cool.

Samurai Deeper Kyo, Volumes 1-2 by Akimine Kamijyo. I had high hopes for Samurai Deeper Kyo. I enjoy stories set in the Tokugawa era. I also thought the series conceit—two souls with vastly different personalities trapped in the same body—sounded interesting. Mibu Kyoshiro, a traveling medicine peddler and a bit of a goofball, fights for control over his body with Demon Eyes Kyo, a vicious killer. And there’s a bounty out for each of them. Despite their potential, I actually found the first couple of volumes Samurai Deeper Kyo to be a bit bland. Like the lead character’s split personality, it seems like the series hasn’t quite decided what it wants to be yet. The humor isn’t quite funny enough for it to be straight comedy, but the drama isn’t quite dramatic enough, either.

V. B. Rose, Volume 1 by Banri Hidaka. As I’m not particularly interested in weddings or wedding dresses, I wasn’t particularly expecting to enjoy the first volume of V. B. Rose. I was surprised by how much I ended up liking it. Ageha’s older sister is getting married which ultimately leads to Ageha helping out at the bridal shop Velvet Blue Rose when one of her sister’s dress designers injures his hand. The story in the first volume is fairly self-contained, which makes me wonder how Hidaka manages to stretch it out for fourteen volumes. Also, Yukari and Mitsuya (the designers) are totally a couple and are absolutely adorable together; no one will be able to convince me otherwise. Even if it is all in my imagination. Which it is.

Whisper of the Heart directed by Yoshifumi Kondō. Whisper of the Heart is a predecessor of sorts to The Cat Returns; both are based on manga by Aoi Hiiragi. As a librarian, I enjoyed seeing an old school library complete with card catalog and check out cards. The story simply couldn’t have happened in the same way with today’s computerized libraries and privacy concerns. Shizuku is a bookworm, so I couldn’t help but to feel some affinity with her. Her love of books and the library was endearing to me. However, I did find that I had little patience for all of the junior high school love drama. They’re all just so terribly earnest. I think it was supposed to be nostalgic, but it mostly made me roll my eyes. Still, the film did make me smile and even laugh on a few occasions.