Baby & Me Volume 2

This second volume opens with a story that unfortunately doesn’t really demonstrate the appeal of the series. Takuya’s being harassed by a classmate due to a misunderstanding over a girl. Little brother Minoru is irrelevant to much of the story, although his presence does demonstrate that Takuya, who won’t be teased or otherwise badgered into fighting, will do whatever’s necessary to defend his charge. I enjoy watching the two interact; Takuya’s learning to take care of another, dependent human, and […]

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Tokyo Boys & Girls Volume 5

The series concludes in this volume with a distinct lack of resolution or satisfaction. The family drama from volume 4 is solved with a little conversation, not a bad message, but the way Mom’s attitudes turn on a dime make her seem a bit… unhinged, at best. Creepy brief bit of dialogue between Mimori’s parents: Dad: Leave them alone. They’re only going to talk. Mom: No! I won’t allow her to see that delinquent! Dad: Stop it, Mama! We’re adults! […]

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Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga

Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga by Koji Aihara & Kentaro Takekuma hides useful information about creating and analyzing readable, marketable comic stories inside savage parody of the industry. Inspired by the crap people read and publish, two manga creators decide to lay bare the secrets of success, using the rationale “if they can do it, anyone can”. They aim to create popular series that become anime, spawn character merchandising, and make them rich. The first lesson is therefore choosing […]

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Steady Beat Volume 1

Steady Beat is a fascinating blend of a wide variety of elements and influences: teen romance, manga, and political drama. Sixteen-year-old Leah has grown up in the shadow of her big sister Sarai. Even when Leah scores an important goal during the school soccer championship, her glory is short-lived, as her varsity captain sister is coaching. To be fair, Sarai gives Leah a chance to demonstrate her skills and responsibility, but Leah gets distracted by a discovery that will change […]

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Case Closed Volume 11

Volume 11 is a great place to sample the Case Closed series by Gosho Aoyama, since this volume contains three complete cases and the solution to a fourth, with no cliffhangers. The first chapter shows boy detective Conan concluding a case from the last book. Like many of his stories, it’s Encyclopedia Brown-like — if you can find the single wrong item or recall the obscure knowledge that forms a clue, you’re well on your way to solving the case […]

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Crimson Hero Volume 2

Since this is a sports manga, here comes a key competition in this volume: Nobara challenges the boys’ team. If she scores against them, they promise to stop harassing her while she’s trying to rebuild the girls’ team. The two other girls she’s managed to interest are wowed by her confidence, while a sympathetic boy chides her for her lack of patience. Both qualities are necessary to make her a viable protagonist and drive the story forward at a good […]

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Aishiteruze Baby

Kippei’s an easygoing guy who just happens to be the crush object of most of the girls in his school. They hit on him constantly, but he likes Kokoro, an attraction fueled and complicated by her refusal to play along or pay much attention to him in return. His life becomes much more complicated when he’s told to take care of his cousin Yuzuyu, an adorable five-year-old whose mother, Kippei’s aunt, has deserted her child after her husband’s death. I […]

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Peach Girl Volume 1

Sometimes it’s not just the comic that determines whether you like it or not, but the circumstances in which you find it. Peach Girl by Miwa Ueda was one of the earlier manga series I flipped through, but it wasn’t until the story was reissued in the right-to-left “authentic” format that it clicked with me. Perhaps that’s because I’ve gained a new appreciation for and am much more familiar with shôjo teen romance, or perhaps it’s because the art reads […]

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