I’ve updated the following manga pages with information on the newest volumes:
In Sensual Phrase book 13, Aine’s boyfriend plays Henry Higgins, turning her into a proper young lady so she can pretend to be someone else’s fiancée. Twisted!
Hana-Kimi book 11 once again sets up a cross-dressing situation, this time at the Christmas dance. Mizuki’s now pretending to be a boy pretending to be a girl in order to get the chance to waltz with the boy she loves.
I’ve also given another look to Shojo Beat with the latest issue. I was thinking of this as a manga anthology, but I think that’s the wrong way to approach it. I now think of it as a lifestyle magazine for teen girls, and a pretty good one. Aside from the comics (and that’s a pretty big aside, since I enjoy reading 4 out of the 6 series in collected form, an excellent ratio), there are short features on fashion, makeup, and accessories/toys.
What sets it aside from something like Seventeen, though (again, aside from the comics), is the emphasis on creativity and personalization. That’s a focus of this issue, looking at items you can customize such as blended makeup colors or design-your-own messenger bags. It’s still encouraging consumerism — everything can be ordered or purchased — but at least it’s not overly standardized.
I was surprised to see what was going on in Kaze Hikazu. I wasn’t very interested in this story of a girl pretending to be a boy so she can become a samurai and avenge her murdered family, based on the concept, but this particular installment was unusual in its subject matter. It deals with the young heroine getting her period for the first time and how it complicates her masquerade. It’s a realistic challenge, and one I can relate to more than the desire to pick up a sword and become an apprentice warrior. It’s also educational, given the historical setting. Practices in this area have certain similarities to today, but we’ve also come a long way.
The other stories were chapters of Baby & Me (about a satisfying-in-itself neighborhood competition that’s part of a bigger picture), Godchild, Absolute Boyfriend (ending with a juicy cliffhanger that makes the reader want more), Crimson Hero (a family struggle reaches a turning point), and Nana. The issue concludes with a lesson on manga page layout, continuing the theme of making things your own, and an interview with a creator.