by Fumi Yoshinaga
published by Digital Manga; $12.95 US
Like book one, this second volume surprised me by taking off in a different direction than expected.
This time, it’s more traditional shojo, with a class play and unexpected romance, both focused on know-it-all Majima. Even though many of the twists reminded me of other books, it was an entertaining read that kept me interested.
Sumiko, a shy girl who hides behind long straight hair (she looks like The Wallflower), draws surprisingly good manga. Majima discovers it, spreads it around school, and appoints himself her editor. If he’s involved, you see, he can get into the big comic convention as a creator and shop early. (I found this motivation particularly realistic, given how I’ve seen people try to find similar lame excuses to get pro badges.)
I normally dislike comics about making comics, but the personalities here are different enough that the story seems fresher than many. And Majima’s well-meaning but completely wrong advice was amusing in the way it satirizes what makes manga successful. He personifies the type who thinks that reading a lot makes him an expert, even though he has no writing or artistic talent. He’s not reacting to the story but trying to dictate it out of purely commercial motivation.
Regardless of his meddling, Sumiko’s story is so successful at school that it becomes the basis of the class play. There’s plenty of casting problems, resulting in unexpected roles for several of the main characters, and the traditional “duckling becomes a swan” unveiling. There’s also a story about how to run a study session, complete with a recipe for seasonal pumpkin pound cake (I love comics with recipes!), plus more background on Harutaro’s family and Shige’s motivations, for continuing storyline interest.
I was surprised at how funny some of this was, without being forgettable. This is the first Digital Manga series that’s really hit for me, and I’m looking forward to book three.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)