Train Man / Densha Otoko Comparison

The Train Man story is a modern romantic fairy tale. (“Densha otoko” means, unsurprisingly, “train man”.) It has captured the imagination of readers to the extent of inspiring multiple manga versions, as well as a novel, a movie, and a TV show. The story is simple: A geek on a train aids a girl being hassled by a drunk. He likes her, so he asks for help impressing her on a message board. Thanks to the advice, the two get […]

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Emma

Emma is a beautifully illustrated period piece by Kaoru Mori that explores a forbidden relationship in Victorian London. Emma is maid to a former governess, whose young charge William has now grown into a prominent gentleman. He’s interested in Emma after their chance meetings, but he’s unsure of whether to say anything, especially given how strictly class lines are socially enforced. William’s clumsy attempts to demonstrate his affection only reinforce the difference. He thinks nothing of buying a new pair […]

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Penguin Revolution Volume 1

The author of Land of the Blindfolded, Sakura Tsukuba, has another story about a girl who sees things others can’t. In Penguin Revolution, Yukari sees wings on people who have the talent to be stars. Since Dad’s a flake who’s almost taken them to ruin, Yukari dreams of stability; her goal is to become a public servant. She’s nonplussed when she once again sees wings on a classmate. As if all that wasn’t enough, it turns out that the classmate […]

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ES (Eternal Sabbath)

Thank you, readers, for recommending this title by Fuyumi Soryo — I enjoyed it! It’s intriguing in its premise and characters. The almost-stand-alone first chapter works as a lengthy introduction to ES, later renamed Ryousuke. He’s a psychic, capable of adjusting people’s memories and reading their impressions. We first meet him playing a kind of parlor trick. Someone asks him to pay for something he’s taken or used, he stares at them briefly, they blankly look back… and then they […]

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Genshiken Volume 7

I’d previously tried the first book in this series, but then, it didn’t click with me. Now, I felt less like I was reading a book, and more as though I was meeting a new group of people, friends of friends (since I’ve had so many recommendations about the series). That approach helped, since there was a lot I wasn’t told about these characters — it is volume seven, after all. Still, it didn’t matter. If I didn’t know them, […]

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xxxHOLiC Volume 1

Illustrating the oddities of interpretation and the passage of time… This is the second time I’ve tried reading CLAMP’s xxxHOLiC. I know lots of people love it, but after the first time through, I shrugged. It didn’t do anything for me, and I found the atmosphere of mystery silly and pretentious. The authors seemed to be trying too hard. I’ve since changed my mind. I came back to it because someone (sadly, I don’t remember who) whose opinion I respect […]

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Dramacon Volume 2

As promised at the end of the first book, it’s a year later, and Christie’s back at the anime convention in Dramacon volume 2. She’s still writing her comic, but her new artist, Bethany, is a lot easier to get along with. (The former artist and boyfriend has been dumped.) This year it’s Bethany’s first time at the show, and Christie’s a lot more comfortable with the atmosphere. Christie’s also seeing more realistically. The professional creator who encouraged her so […]

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Mail Order Ninja Volume 1

The writer, Joshua Elder, intends this 96-page story to be all-ages comedy “like the classic Looney Tunes cartoons”. Unfortunately, that’s not the impression the opening scene of Mail Order Ninja gives. It’s closer to a superhero comic structure, with a humorless (and fairly violent) ninja action scene being revealed to be part of a manga Timothy is reading. The action art by Erich Owen is well-done, so much so that I found the first glimpse of Timothy freakish. He’s typically […]

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