Case Closed Volume 3

I’m a little lost. At the end of volume two, the kids Conan was forced to go to school with were threatening to investigate his deserted home. (I say “forced” because even though he has the mind of an almost-adult, he looks like a six-year-old.) I took this to be a hint toward the next storyline; apparently, it was just a joke, since volume three opens with Conan, Rachel, and her dad on a cruise ship, returning from an island […]

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Case Closed Volume 1

Jimmy Kudo, high school junior, idolizes Sherlock Holmes and solves mysteries for the police department in Case Closed, a long-running manga action comedy by Gosho Aoyama. After trailing bad guys to a mysterious meeting, he’s knocked out and poisoned. Although the villains meant to kill him, they instead turn him physically into a six-year-old boy. He winds up working with an incompetent private investigator, the father of the girl he has a crush on, while a mad scientist tries to […]

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Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances

Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda attracted me because of its lead character. Yukino is top of her class in just about everything until Soichiro, a similarly over-achieving boy, comes to her school. She learns to deal with her jealousy of him and her own growing self-awareness of the motivations driving her success. Their rivalry becomes love within a few books, after which the story turns to their friends, which is where I began losing track of […]

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Boys Over Flowers Volume 1

Tsukushi is a middle-class student at an ultra-elite high school in Boys Over Flowers. Her schoolmates are dropped off by chauffeurs and carry designer bags costing thousands of dollars, while she works part-time just for spending money. The school is run by a clique of cool, rich, and handsome students who ostracize anyone who displeases them. Tsukushi’s innocently good heart manifests through her huge, round eyes (resembling out-sized marbles) and her braided pigtails. She feels everything intently, allowing the inequities […]

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Genshiken Volume 1

I’d heard good things about this series by Kio Shimoku, but I found it disappointingly predictable. It’s a manga about being a fan of manga and anime, so its first strike is violating my self-referentiality rule. (In general, I find that comics about comics are more likely to disappoint me. They often indicate a lack of creativity and an author having a hard time coming up with fresh ideas, although for all I know, this is a well-respected and -established […]

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Nodame Cantabile Volume 1

Although containing more subtly-drawn characters than many manga series, Nodame Cantabile by Tomoko Ninomiya left no significant impression on me after reading. Shinichi wants to be a conductor, but he’s currently studying piano to improve his overall skills. (He also turns out to be quite the violin virtuoso when the plot demands.) Nodame is the girl next door, an untrained piano genius with a pigsty of an apartment. She’s driven by appetite, stealing other people’s lunches and loyal to whichever […]

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Legal Drug Volume 1

The newest series by fan-favorite art studio CLAMP features pretty boys working at a drugstore. Rikuo saved Kazahaya’s life when he almost died from exposure in the snow. In Legal Drug, the two now share an apartment, work together, and demonstrate the kind of “he’s so frustrating!” relationship that hints at deeper feelings of unrecognized attraction. Their boss, a psychic, sends them off on extra jobs to find mysterious artifacts, aided by Kazahaya’s ability to see visions based on memories. […]

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Hikaru no Go

This competition manga features a student learning to play go and appreciate all the tradition that comes with it. Although firmly within the expectations of its genre, the characters are so likable, the art so well-done, and the competition so compelling that it’s an addictive read. Story is by Yumi Hotta and art by Takeshi Obata. Fujiwara-no-Sai was an instructor of the Emperor a thousand years ago until a rival Go teacher’s cheating drove him to suicide. Sai’s yearnings to […]

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