February Viz: Inubaka 7, Absolute Boyfriend 5, Hayate the Combat Butler 6

Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs Book 7

My favorite guilty pleasure manga! Why guilty? Because it’s by-the-numbers plot-wise… but the drawings of the doggies are so cute! It hits all those emotional buttons, even while the brain is thinking “you should be reading Ponent Mon instead”. (The brain can be a snob.)

Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs Book 7 cover
Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs Book 7
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It’s not all frothy, though. This volume opens with the story of a little girl coping with her mother, who’s become obsessive after the death of her younger son. That’s pretty heavy stuff, especially since it’s not all spelled out. Yukiya Sakuragi allows readers to draw their own implications, which makes it more powerful.

Given the premise, it’s not surprising that the family finds solace in a new pet, although how they get to that point has a lot of drama. If handled badly, it could have been seen as implying that a child can be replaced by a pet, but this book stays on the tasteful side of the line, suggesting instead that love for another living thing can help with grief.

After that, we catch up with the actress from Book 2 and her papillon, then the student from Book 3 and his shiba. Plus, in the longest story, the pet shop gets a new employee, a groomer, with her own personal problems, including a poodle in heat and a deadbeat boyfriend. A fun read with cute art and a variety of story types and characters in one book. I last reviewed Books 5 and 6.

Absolute Boyfriend Book 5

Absolute Boyfriend Book 5 cover
Absolute Boyfriend Book 5
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I’d given up on this series after the last volume, because it became too exaggerated and silly. As this installment starts, teen girl Riiko is coping with her robot boyfriend being the size of a troll doll. Plus, nice guy boy-next-door Soshi has moved in to protect her, making it even more like Three’s Company. Together, they make slapstick.

Yuu Watase’s art is attractive and well-done, but it feels wasted on such slight material. The increased soap opera doesn’t help. Soshi demands she choose between them, but she doesn’t know real love yet, so she can’t decide. Until she does, but that still doesn’t settle things.

Soshi vows to leave until she makes up her mind, but he can’t stick with it. She’s always thinking about whichever guy isn’t around. Night’s broken, then he’s not. (That one happens multiple times.) The book’s like a yo-yo, constantly reversing itself. It wants to keep the reader so busy figuring out what’s happening next that maybe they won’t notice how artificial it all is. The only character I care about at all is Soshi, but I can’t even wish for him to be happy, because that would mean him getting wtih Riiko, and she’s such an idiot that I couldn’t consider that a happy ending.

Supposedly, the series ends in book six. That was about twice the length I would have recommended.

Hayate the Combat Butler Book 6

Hayate the Combat Butler Book 6 cover
Hayate the Combat Butler Book 6
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I’ve never read any of this series before, but that’s what Wikipedia’s for. And it’s pretty easy to pick up what’s going on in this volume — Hayate has to win a pair race (that’s really more of an obstacle course) due to some obligation, but his mistress Nagi hates to exercise. Lots of people can relate to that, or maybe it’s just me.

It’s goofy comedy, but it’s funny, which is all I can ask. And it’s fast-paced, so there’s plenty happening and a good sense of energy that makes the outrageous happenings easier to accept. Even the asides to the reader were entertaining, especially when the maid says, “It’s okay. Most of our readers get left behind on a regular basis.” It gave me permission to enjoy what I did and ignore the rest.

With so much going on, even that strategy left me with plenty to laugh at. I also loved the chapter title “Many Kids Must Be in Trouble Since Train_Man Showed Their Parents What Comiket Is All About”. And yes, it turns out to be a Train Man parody, only with a crazy fighting nun. That’s part of the Harate’s journey to forced training to prove his ability to serve (and stay with) the girl he cares for, which takes up most of the book.

I don’t feel the need to track down previous volumes or seek out future, but for now, this was an enjoyable diversion.

(Complimentary copies for this review were provided by the publisher.)

10 Comments

  1. [...] Welsh presents the cream of this week’s new manga. Johanna Draper Carlson looks at Viz’s February titles at Comics Worth [...]

  2. I’m really enjoying Hayate the Combat Butler. Just when I think it can’t get sillier, it gets sillier; just when I think, ok, this is *too* silly, it has a touching moment. There’s no doubt that it’s fluff, but it’s fluff that keeps inching higher on my looking-forward-to-the-next-volume list while other, better-illustrated and more ambitious are wearing out their welcome.

  3. That observation is how I feel about Inubaka. I think I’v been underestimating the appeal of successful entertainment.

  4. I’ve really found myself attached to Inubaka, actually. Sakuragi-san does a good job of keeping the characters dynamic and entertaining, though the addition of Momoko has me just a little annoyed (not a triangle fan at all– I get attached to pairings). I particularly enjoy the way in which Sakuragi-san approaches many sensitive and very plausible situations. She gets close to the line but never goes over.

    I could do without the panty shot ‘tweeners, even though they do sort of serve to add that certain awareness of sexuality that seems to pervade everything in the young adult life… they don’t detract from the stories, but they’re a bit gratuitous.

    Overall, I think I’m quite hooked. I want April to get here already! :)

  5. [...] I last talked about Book 7. [...]

  6. why are you so mean about the authors choice of how to write books. i think they are good books and she should write more. i also think that you are being really picky. sorry.

  7. There seems to be a service every manga can provide. Inubaka is not exactly ground-breaking, but there is nothing wrong with being a good example of teen appropriate manga. For me, and for a few of my friends, it is the first manga I have ever read. I picked it because it had dogs on the cover and I was absolutely overwhelmed by 200 books I knew nothing about! But, it has introduced me to a new genre and I am definitely becoming a fan. So…it did a good job for me!

  8. That’s terrific! I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

  9. [...] as I’ve said many times before, although this series is aimed at boys in its native Japan, I read it for the dogs. [...]

  10. [...] first chapter of this installment of the comedy manga is titled “© Gosho Aoyama”, who’s the author of Case Closed. After watching [...]

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