Horimiya Volumes 3-4

And now we’ve reached the point where the series settles down into a more typical groove in order to maintain for the long term. (The most recent book out is number 11.) They’ve introduced the friends, with each having someone to talk to at school, and the trio on the cover of volume 3 are the student council members. Those characters expand the social circle while providing some people to speculate on what the two leads, Hori and Miyamura, are […]

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Takane & Hana Volume 4

I thought, if you give something enough time, it can grow on you, but each new volume of Takane & Hana just reminds me how far it’s fallen from the potential I saw in the first book. Take the latest, volume 4. Hana and her friends are finishing up a vacation trip with the guys, conveniently summed up by one of the girls on the first page: “Their group was so random! I mean, a Japanese heir, a rich Italian, […]

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Horimiya Volume 1

It’s nice to have a reliable shojo series to stick with for a while. It’s even more fun if the series has something to say beyond “cute kids fall in love”. That’s the case with Horimiya volume 1, which turns on the question of how much appearance matters. Hori is smart and popular, a model schoolgirl whom everyone wants to be. Miyamura is a loner, looked down on as a gloomy fanboy. But there’s a hint early on, when we […]

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Laid-Back Camp Volume 3

Laid-Back Camp is a wonderfully consistent series. I liked the first volume, and I like this new one, volume 3, for the same reasons. That makes it tricky to talk about, though, since it can be difficult to find something new to say. This time around, though, I’m impressed by the artist Afro’s dedication to detail, as the camping club visits a huge outdoor equipment retailer. Nadeshiko is puppy-like in her excitement and enthusiasm over everything available for camping, and […]

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Kiss Him, Not Me Volume 14

And here the series ends, although with more qualities in keeping with its unique premise than many other shojo manga series I’ve read. Usually, a last shojo volume has a couple of chapters showing the main couple getting together, a flash-forward to show their wedding and/or happy future life, and then a bunch of side stories checking in with the supporting cast couples to fill out the book. Kiss Him, Not Me volume 14 has many of those elements, but […]

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Laid-Back Camp Volume 1

When things get tense, it’s really nice to have a comic to read that’s mellow and comforting. My latest discovery of a title that worked that way for me is Afro’s Laid-Back Camp. I’m not allowed to go camping, since I’m allergic to much of the outdoors, but this is a different kind of camping. Rin likes to go out by herself during the off-season, enjoying her isolation despite the cold. That makes the joy of a bonfire’s warmth and […]

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Silver Spoon Volumes 1-2

The classic “fish out of water” story, where someone with preconceptions and stereotypes learns to appreciate another lifestyle, feels fresh in Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist). That’s because so few of us these days know what it takes to be modern farmers, and it’s fascinating to learn along with this high school student. Hachiken, with no background in farming, enrolls at an agricultural high school with plenty of hands-on training. He’d previously been geared for high academic achievement, […]

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Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Volume 7

I was about ready to give up on Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. It wasn’t what I wanted it to be and seemed to have gotten bogged down in some gangster junk. Then I re-read the series before reading volume 7, and I realized that there were many more connections than I remembered, bringing new depth to the story. This is a series that rewards paying attention to detail as the story sprawls over three generations. The most important […]

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