Shuriken and Pleats Volume 1

The concept of Shuriken and Pleats — schoolgirl ninja — is short but interesting. Sadly, the execution is slow and obvious. Author Hino Matsuri is best known for the popular Vampire Knight series, which I don’t remember being this patchy in plotting. The young female ninja is Mikage, whose older master wants to adopt her and take her back to Japan with him. There, she plans to enroll in school, but she quickly finds herself protecting a younger man, part […]

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Master Keaton Volume 1

Naoki Urasawa is a modern manga master, well-known here for his works Monster, 20th Century Boys, and Pluto. That reputation means we get the pleasure of seeing his earlier, more adventure-oriented stories in Master Keaton. Urasawa was the artist here, with story by Hokusei Katsushika and later, Takashi Nagasaki. Originally published beginning in 1988, this series is being released in deluxe, oversized volumes (matching the Monster re-release) with color pages. Viz is calling the series “post-Cold War detective suspense” — […]

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Yowamushi Pedal Volume 1

Yowamushi Pedal volume 1 seems like it might be a sports manga, with its focus on cycling, but it’s really about a loner guy learning how special he is. Sakamichi is a meek nerd. He regularly rides his “mommy bike” a long distance over hilly roads to get to Akiba, where he can buy limited-release DVDs and toys and other signs of fandom. (Thanks to the translation notes, I found out “Sakamichi” means “hilly roads”.) He doesn’t realize how hard […]

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So Cute It Hurts!! Volumes 3-4

The twins’ gender-switching is over, and everyone is trying to deal with whether their relationships will continue now that the truth is known. This series is so fluffy it’s a great escapist read. But it does leave me with odd questions. Like… Megumu’s crush Aoi is one of those only-in-manga tough guys who’s “allergic” to women. As in, he actually faints if he gets too close to one. Where did this idea come from and who finds it at all […]

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A Bride’s Story Volume 7

As expected, I greatly enjoyed A Bride’s Story Volume 7, although my recommendation comes with caveats. Kaoru Mori’s artwork is as lovely and detailed as always, but much of it this time around is dedicated to drawing women at the bathhouse, which means lots of lovingly illustrated naked breasts. Americans who get upset over nudity won’t want to read this volume (but they probably aren’t aware of this series anyway). There is something refreshing about the variety of bodies she […]

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Idol Dreams Volume 1

Idol Dreams puts a clever twist on a typical manga situation, that of becoming famous in show business. Only Chikage is a 31-year-old office worker, unpopular, lonely, and nervous around men. She’s having a mid-life crisis, feeling she peaked when she graduated high school. She attends her class reunion, dreaming of reuniting with her crush from back then, only to be embarrassed by a classmate blurting out her status as a virgin. She’s hopeless and suicidal. But then comes the […]

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Kiss Him, Not Me! Volume 2

I enjoyed Kiss Him, Not Me! volume 2 more than the first book, since the harem of guys are developing distinct, recognizable personalities. Fangirl Kae has four admirers, and here, they go on a series of dates in expected manga situations. First, there’s the school festival, and due to the cosplay theme, Kae gets to make outfits for several of the guys (including one who’s playing princess). They get upset at spending all their time with her in a group, […]

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Emma Volume 3

Emma Volume 3 is where William and Emma’s relationship really gets interesting. But first, there’s a charming digression that establishes essential background information about William’s family. (See Volume 2 for more history.) William’s father Richard Jones had money but no background. His attempts to join society were rebuffed, with the “right people” blatantly talking about how unsuited he was. We see him meet his eventual wife Aurelia, who is considered hopeless for having no talents. The two marry and create […]

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