Checking in on Dropped Manga

This summer, we were talking about manga series we’ve dropped before they concluded. Thanks to publisher generosity, I’ve had another chance to sample several of these titles. I’m curious to see whether any lead me to change my mind, although I admit going in that books I’ve given up on once already have a high hurdle to jump to get my attention back.

Cheeky Angel Book 18

Cheeky Angel Book 18 cover
Cheeky Angel Book 18
Buy this book

by Hiroyuki Nishimori
Previous review of Book 6

Meg and her gang of wannabe boyfriends are apparently hunting for treasure when they get in a fight (as happened all too frequently before) and the police take them into custody. Only it’s an ambush driven by Miki’s evil ex-fiance, who takes them captive to torture them in various ways.

I don’t care about any of these characters — they’re not funny, they’re not interesting, and they’re not multi-dimensional. The drama never seemed realistic or involving, especially given how cardboard the characters and their protestations of faith and strength are.

I don’t like those kinds of movies, either, where the point is to wallow in pain and torture. At least here the reason seems to be admiring how they overcome it and never quit believing in each other. I see no reason to start again, especially given how few volumes are left in the series (ends at 20).

Crimson Hero Book 6

Crimson Hero Book 6 cover
Crimson Hero Book 6
Buy this book

by Mitsuba Takanashi
Previous review of Book 4

The series seems to have become as much about Nobara’s love life as her drive to compete. Keisuke had a crush on Nobara when they were younger because she encouraged him to work hard and overcome his asthma. Now he’s part of the boys’ volleyball team, due to her inspiration driving him on. He recently told her he still had feelings for her, but she just wanted to be friends, because she has a crush on another team member, Yushin, even though he rejected her.

The two guys’ feelings end up damaging their team standings. The guys’ coach tells her to stay away from them because they’ve lost focus due to her. Why their feelings are her fault, I don’t know. I would think the coach talking to them instead of her would make more sense, and I was glad she told the coach that they had to learn to manage their own feelings.

The second half of the book returns the spotlight to the girls’ team, their drive to compete, and the huge gap between their aspirations and reality. A new coach brings the realization home to them bluntly. I like the part of the series that focuses on Nobara’s competitive edge, which I find unusual and distinctive compared to other titles, but it’s difficult to make workouts and winning and losing games provide enough story material, I guess, especially since so much of the deck is stacked against her.

There are other romantic soap operas I enjoy more than this, because I have a hard time keeping the characters straight. I still wish the artist was better with faces and expressions, since the characters’ looks sometimes don’t live up to the strength or emotion of their words. Nobara’s family members also seem to have disappeared from the series, so I guess my questions about her younger sister will be left unanswered.

I’d read more, if I could do so without spending money (thanks, library!). I don’t mind spending time with the characters, but the unevenness of the story means I don’t need to own the books.

Kitchen Princess Book 3

Kitchen Princess Book 3 cover
Kitchen Princess Book 3
Buy this book

by Natsumi Ando, story by Miyuki Kobayashi
Previous review of Book 2

Najika’s still cheerful, cooking food to solve people’s problems. As this installment begins, relationships are laid out: Najika’s fallen in love with Sora. His brother Daichi is suspected of also liking Najika, but her rival Akane (whose life Najika helped save last book) likes Daichi.

Due to jealousy from another student, the diner where Najika works is threatened with being shut down. No sooner is that crisis averted but her adoptive mother falls ill. That turns out to be a false alarm, though it gives Najika a chance to cook yet another treat. There’s a comforting lack of real concern with most of these chapters, because everything gets better once everyone eats, and all the conflicts wrap up easily in a short space.

My favorite part is still the recipes, although I don’t believe making cream puffs is ever that easy. The short, punch-packed chapters might make this an involving read for a younger audience, while the reminder of the importance of food as a source of family feeling and love is comforting for all ages. I think I might have given up on this too early, because the characters, simple as they are, are growing on me, with conflicted Akane my favorite.

Nodame Cantabile Book 10

Nodame Cantabile Book 10 cover
Nodame Cantabile Book 10
Buy this book

by Tomoko Ninomiya
Previous review of Book 1

I really missed having a “story so far” blurb or character introduction page, because I was lost throughout the first chapter. Of course, few people probably start this far into the series. But all those characters talking about what they were doing without knowing who they were to themselves or each other… it was tiring.

After that, the setting shifts. Nodame and Shinichi have gone together to study in Paris. He loves it — the music, the food, the wine, the city — but she hates it, in part because she never learned French. She does have another friend there, though, and they both love anime. Frankly, I don’t care. I’m still missing the power and glory of music felt by the characters, because it doesn’t come through the printed page for me. And without it, they’re flat.

xxxHoLiC Book 10

by CLAMP
Previous review of Book 2

xxxHoLiC Book 10 cover
xxxHoLic Book 10
Buy this book

You’d think I’d have the same problems with this series, but I didn’t. Perhaps it’s because the supporting characters’ functions are clear — they’re servants or comic relief. I think it’s more that the plot is so clearly presented and the motivation — love — so universal.

There’s also plenty of intriguing content for someone who hasn’t been following the story so far, about a mysterious mission to gather water from a particular well in someone else’s backyard. Why does the water matter? Who’s the woman watching from an upstairs window? Just how creepy can CLAMP be?

The roles are clear and relatable whether or not you know the character history. The demanding boss, the put-upon worker, the person you’re forced to associate with you don’t want to befriend, the girl being crushed on who’s bad for you. Plus, the art is a lot more moody and attractive.

I liked it, especially the parts about the interconnections one can’t escape, and the sacrifices we’re willing to make for the ones we love. It’s very foreign and very immediate all at the same time.


So, have you revisited any manga series you gave up on, and what did you think?

18 Comments

  1. The image for Kitchen Princess is actually a different book (Princess Resurrection)…

  2. Yeah, I know, but that’s Del Rey’s issue. MY image is right. :)

  3. Ali T. Kokmen

    Well that’s not too embarassing, is it? Let’s just see if we can get that fixed…

    Ali Kokmen
    Del Rey Manga

  4. Ooh, my blog is responsible for positive change!

  5. Actually, once you get the hang of ‘em, cream puffs are quite easy to make. The first time I made them, I was surprised how simple they were. It was on my second attempt (probably because I had year-old memories of it being super-easy at that point) that was challenging. I’d say if you can follow a recipe cream puffs aren’t so hard to make — I think my problem the second time is I only skimmed the recipe thinking “I did this once a year ago, I just need a quick refresher.” As I recall, there aren’t temperature or measurement issues to get just right, just boiling water and stirring vigorously.

  6. James Schee

    I actually have enjoyed the Cheeky Angel books I’ve read.(up to 9) Nothing truly grand about it, but I thought it was funny and am curious to see what happens to Meg.

    Yet I can’t seem to find the series in stores anymore.

  7. I got bored with Cheeky Angel, XXXholic, and Crimson Hero, too. I still like Kitchen Princess.

  8. I never did follow up with XXXholic after reading the first volume. It was good (like much of CLAMP’s stuff), but it didn’t do much for me. Neither did Tsubasa (just sold a pile of those volumes on eBay).

    The only series I can think of that I dropped (or stopped reading) for whatever reason only to pick up again later were Maison Ikkoku and Cardcaptor Sakura, both of which I then kept up with until the end (and in Maison Ikkoku’s case, it was really worth it!).

  9. Oh, yeah, Maison Ikkoku! I came back to that after years, once they started coming out in the $10 format, and stuck with it til the end.

  10. [...] a similar vein, Johanna Draper Carlson catches up with some series she had [...]

  11. [...] Johanna Draper Carlson on later volumes of series that she’d previously [...]

  12. Actually, Holic totally recovered for me in the tenth volume. from about 7-9, I felt like it was dragging its feet for some reason and was getting pretty frustrated. Volume 10 was more plot development than that series has had, ever. I still kinda liked the dragging parts, but it made me mad that CLAMP waited so long to reveal the roles of the other two human characters.

  13. Hmmm… I was thinking about searching out V3-9 to catch up, but your comment makes me think I might not want to bother. What was happening in 7-9 if there was no forward plot movement?

  14. To feel the power of the music of Nodame, just watch the anime or the Live Action drama. Inspired a few kids I know to start piano lessons.

  15. [...] time I think I should start following this series again (as I did after the last book), I hit a bum entry in the series that kills my enthusiasm. Maybe it’s just me. (A [...]

  16. i love kitchen princess…
    because i love cooking….
    i can make a cake tart,soup,chicken crispy,burger,spagheti,tom yam n donnat,some want need?

  17. Well, I read a whole lot of different types of manga, and I have to say Nodame Cantabile is one of my favorites. It’s in my top 5 list. I already love music, but I found that it got me more interested in the orchestra made me listen to more classical music.

  18. [...] of the series about a volleyball player, that I would be lost. The last couple of times I’d tried the series, the emphasis was more on relationships, less on sports competition, so it was hard to [...]

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.