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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Sorcerers & Secretaries Volume 1

Sorcerers & Secretaries, the debut graphic novel from web cartoonist Amy Kim Ganter, is a charming story of a young New Yorker whose dreams of fantasy conflict with her everyday life. Nicole is going to business school to please her mother and working as a receptionist to pay the bills. The only thing in her daily life she enjoys doing is daydreaming about the adventures of a kind sorcerer and then writing stories based on her dreams. This creative outlet […]

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Off*Beat Volume 1

Tory’s a really bright kid with some really strange hobbies. He documents everything in his notebooks, and he’s obsessed with the new neighbor, Colin, another 15-year-old who moved in at midnight. Tory convinces his mother to switch him to Colin’s school, necessitating a two-hour commute from Queens to Long Island every day. There, Tory breaks into the guidance counselor’s office to find out more about the boy he’s fixated on Tory eventually gets to know Colin by using his perfect […]

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Tokyo Boys & Girls Volume 4

When I reviewed Tokyo Boys & Girls volume 1, I called this series “enjoyable high school soap opera”. By this installment, though, it’s closer to family drama. Mimori’s still trying to date Haruta even though Kazukita keeps interfering. The latest source of confusion occurs when Mimori thinks the lonely Kazukita is sick. She rushes over to his apartment to take care of him, because she’s that kind of young-mother-in-training, and Haruta finds her there. The real conflict, though, is driven […]

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