Fruits Basket

Tokyopop promoted Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket as its “most eagerly-awaited manga series”, and sales figures and top rankings have borne that out. With its blend of comedy, romance, fantasy, and drama, all expressed in an attractively mainstream art style, there’s something here for everyone. An eternal optimist, Tohru Honda is proud of taking care of herself, even though she’s been living in a tent after her mother’s death. She’s on the property of the Sohma family, a rather unusual group […]

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Sensual Phrase

I’ve read manga aimed at more mature female audiences before, women (josei) instead of girls (shôjo), but none of it hit me quite this passionately. Sensual Phrase by Mayu Shinjo combines the things I like best about both shôjo (stories about love, searching for meaning in life’s choices, and figuring out what kind of person you’re going to grow into) and josei (real-world conflicts, like not being taken seriously at your work because of your appearance and balancing work demands […]

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Sgt. Frog

The setup for this comedy by Mine Yoshizaki is simple: Fuyuki and his sister Natsumi accidentally capture a frog-like alien. He was sent as part of an advance invasion force, but due to his incompetence, he quickly loses his weapon and is abandoned by his planet. The kids want to make friends with the alien, and he agrees to play along so that he can scheme uninterrupted. They treat Sgt. Frog as a pet, one that’s able to help with […]

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Alichino Volume 1

I picked up Alichino because I saw a preview, and I was astounded by the beauty of the art by Kouyu Shurei. Stunning, graceful figures stare piercingly at the reader, accompanied by a menacing owl. Alichino are gorgeous beings who can grant wishes at the cost of the requester’s soul. They’re lovely demons, drawn to misery and deep desires. A girl, seeking one to save her brother’s life, mistakes Tsugiri for one because of his beauty. He’s not, but he […]

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Maison Ikkoku

Maison Ikkoku is a classic romantic comedy. Rumiko Takahashi presents a motley group of housemates in a funny farce, complete with frequently slamming doors and mistaken identities. The inhabitants include Godai, a failing student; Akemi, a brazen barmaid who wanders around in her negligee; and Mrs. Ichinose, a tipsy gossip. When the new manager, an attractive young woman named Kyoko, shows up, Godai quickly develops a crush on her. The others tease him unmercifully, preventing their relationship from developing, when […]

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Tramps Like Us

Sumire Iwaya is a highly educated, accomplished, beautiful woman who puts most of herself into her newspaper job. Her fiancé dumped her because he’s uncomfortable with her — she makes more money than he does and is smarter than he is — and she was demoted from breaking foreign news to the lifestyle section after she forcibly rejected her boss’ advances. She has no friends at work, only people who gossip about her out of jealousy, while other women play […]

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Kare First Love Volume 1

Kare First Love, a manga romance series by Kaho Miyasaka, is a Harlequin-like fairy tale for teenagers. The geeky Karin is considered ugly because she wears glasses. On her morning bus ride, the attractive and popular Kiriya notices her and wants to take her picture. Even though his friends tease him and insult her, he pursues her, even though she pushes him away out of fear. Karin’s a confused young girl who always jumps to the wrong conclusion. If a […]

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Cipher Volume 1

This is a CMX book? What happened to the trade dress with the white backgrounds and the bright-colored corners? Where’s the heavy type set on a slant? Cipher is missing any identifying imprint information at all on the cover, leaving only the title, volume number, author’s name (Minako Narita), and a nondescript picture of a couple in winter. Looking at the spine — always a problem for these titles, since the CMX letters were as big as the title, causing […]

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