published by Viz
published by Del Rey 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
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).
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
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
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
Previous review of Book 2
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?