Afterschool Charisma Vol. 1

Author: Kumiko Suekane

SigIKKI; ISBN: 978-1-4215-3397-1

Afterschool Charisma Vol. 1

I was intrigued with the premises of this manga. Afterschool Charisma, is about a special school that only enrolls certain kind of students: clones (except for Shiro Kamiya, an actual human).

The series starts off with Marie Curie, who instead of wanting to further her studies in radioactivity (like her original), wants to study music, like Mozart. Shiro encourages her to pursue her dreams of music, he even offers to talk to his dad, who works at the academy. Suspiciously, his dad agrees to help Marie Curie out, by offering her a transfer to a new school the next day. We later find out that Marie Curie was “trashed,” in order to create a new version that is more true to her original.

This chapter leads to a whole new issue that the manga tries to address. What will happens to a clone that chooses his or her own destiny? Judging by Marie’s Curie’s tragic demise, I guess it can’t be that good.

Another issue the series addresses is that will the clones die like their originals? An example is how clone President Kennedy, gets assassinated just like his original.

I have to comment that, as I progress further into the volume, it simply gets darker. Cults, suicides and terrorist groups are some of the things that occurred in this volume.

One of the things I like about this volume is the relationship between Shiro and Hitler. You’ll be surprise at clone Hitler’s personality. As opposed to the ruthless dictator that his original was, Hitler seems to be a bit shy. He told Shiro that they are both really similar; they are both the odd man out. Hitler, who can’t seem to makes friends with other clones because of his original’s sins, and Shiro who is the only human in a clone high school.

The only problem that I had with this volume is being introduced to too many characters at once. The author should have slowly introduce the key characters one at a time, instead of throwing them all in one chapter. Also, Mozart kind of pissed me off. Even though he’s a “prodigy” why is it that he judge Marie’s dream of music? Even though it wasn’t mention in the manga, I presume it was because of all the pressure his teacher was giving him to live up to his original, whereas, Marie has no pressure at all. Well like they say, “Karma is a b****,” because by the end of the volume, he takes his own life.

I really enjoy this series, but i have a feeling that this story is just going to get ever more darker. It won’t take long for me to find out because I have volume 2 in my TBR pile.

Grade: B

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No Touching At All (Yaoi)

Author: Kou Yoneda

June; ISBN: 978-1-56970-1850

No Touching At All

No Touching at All is a story about a shy man named Shima who just started a new job. He meets his boss, Togawa,  in an elevator, and wasn’t impressed with him all all since he reeked of alcohol and cigarettes. But soon, his unruly boss invaded his every thought. Shima is torn because of past failures in love and doesn’t know how to treat Togawa as a new potential love.

The reason why Shima gets a new job is because he had relationship with a “straight” co-worker at his old job. When their relationship became known, Shima’s Ex quickly made it seem like Shima was the one who seduced him into a relationship. I generally felt bad for Shima in this situation because the person he thought he loved, quickly denied the existence of their love. Shima then has no choice but to give his love, and his job, so that his ex could move on with his life.

This whole situation caused Shima to act towards Togawa indifferently, since, he didn’t want to have another relationship with a co-worker. A lot of missed signals occurs, and at first Shima’s and Togawa’s after work relationship seem to go down the path of doom, but eventually they both realize that they truly love each other.

Shima, honestly, annoyed me at first. He just really didn’t know what he wanted with Togawa. He thought that Togawa was just playing around with him, and would leave him when he was bored. That was why he was normally indifferent to Togawa’s advances towards him. When he finally realize that he needed Togawa beside him, was when Togawa got a promotion and moved away from him.

Togawa on the other hand, in reality, if he was real, he probably be the kind of man I tend to avoid. Nobody wants to be near someone who reeks of alcohol and cigarette smoke all the time. So I could definitely see Shima’s first impression of disgust towards him. I would like him as a boss though, he seems laid back. lol

On a side note, I felt sorry Onoda, who had a crush on Shima. We all knew his crush will never be realized.

No Touching at all, was really different from all the other Yaoi I’ve read in the past. To me, it was simply more grown up. The reason I think so is because it involves an older cast of characters, and also instead of involving sex to advance their relationship, It seems like this story moves more on the character’s developments and emotions.

Grade: B

What’s in my swag bag on 02/20/11?

I made a trip downtown today, and I JUST had to grab some Manga from two of my favourite Manga stores. I have to admit, I went a little nuts…LOL.

Here are the all the manga I picked up today:
* Full Metal Alchemist Vol. 7-9
*Karakuri Odette Vol. 2
After School Charisma Vol. 2
One Thousand and One Nights Vol. 6
Bride of The Water God Vol. 6
Ooku Vol. 3
Sand Chronicle Vol. 7
Blood Kiss Vol. 2
Dengeki Daisy Vol. 1
Grand Guignol Orchestra Vol. 2
Ludwig II Vol. 1
Madness Vol. 1
When the Heaven Smiles
Amnesia Labyrinth Vol. 1

I`m looking foward to reading Bride of the Water God, and Dengeki Daisy, since I heard such great reviews about this series.

On a side note, I`m 12 volumes away from reaching my goal of owning a 1000 Manga. The only problem is my diminishing space I have left in my room…

Red River Vol. 23

Author: Chie Shinohara

Viz; ISBN 978-1-4215-1723-0

Red River Vol. 23

I kind of forgot how good this Manga can be. The last time I read a volume of this series was probably sometime early last year. For a shoujo, this series is just simply thrilling.

Yuri is finally reunited with Kail after spending sometime in Egypt, after learning that Nefertiti has fallen from a position of power. Yuri has evidence of Queen Nakia’s betrayal of the Hitite empire, a letter that she had sent to Nefertiti in Egypt.

Nakia’s scheming follower Urhi, has caught on that Yuri brought home evidence that would put Nakia in trouble, thus, he hypotize one of Yuri’s servant to steal the letter and destroy the evidence. Fortunately, Ilbani is a clever man, and made a duplicate of the letter which was destroy in place of the real one. I hope this leads to the end of Queen Nakia’s reign of power because honestly, she’s starting to get quite annoying.

Kail declares to Yuri that he hopes this war with Egypt would be the last war his empire will ever fight during his reign. It’s a noble declaration because it seems like Egypt is not going to give up anytime soon.

The Hitite Empire faces off with Egypt in an all out war. Kail finds quite a few allies, such as the Prince of Darkness, now King Mattiwaza I, and also his brother Prince Telipinu. Even though the Pharoh of Egypt is leading his army, Kail’s real enemy is General Ramses. Unfortunately, for Egypt, The Pharoh is a complete idiot when it comes to leading an army, and lead his entire army into an obvious trap that Kail had set up. Funny thing was that Ramses warned him of the trap, but the Pharoh simply said that there was no way that he would lose because he was leading the army.

At the end of the volume, Kail declared that he’s not after manslaughter, but rather a peace treaty, which is one step closer to Kail’s vision for his empire.

There’s not much bad things I can say about this series. I love how exciting this series is, and I felt my heart sting such as the situation with Yuri losing her baby and having to let Kail know. I laugh at all the rights part, especially when I found out that Yuri’s twin servant has been sharing the same lover.

With only 5 volumes left to the finale of this series, I hope this series continue on in such a good note.

Grade: A

The Name of the Flower Vol. 2

Author: Ken Saito

CMX; ISBN 978-1-4012-1597-2

The Name of the Flower Vol. 2

This volume of The Name of Flower is something special. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Out of all the shoujo manga that I’ve read in the past, this is possibly, one of the most realistic take on romance I’ve ever read.

In this volume, Chouko finally realizes her feelings towards her guardian, Kei. This realization of love causes for Chouko to feel awkward around Kei because she simply doesn’t know how to act in front of someone she loves. Kei, of course, becomes aware of her feelings of him and slowly tries to move away from Chouko’s presence.

In order to get away from Chouko, Kei reluctantly accepts to take a trip with his editor, Akiyama. Unbeknown to Kei, Chouko has joined a club that idolizes Kei as an author. The club decides to stalk Kei on the trip in order to get a picture of him to post up on their wall. During this trip, I believe that Kei finally realizes that he has feelings for Chouko. Throughout the whole trip, his mind wanders off to think about Chouko. I honestly don’t know how an author’s imagination work, but, Kei thought about Chouko so much that he imagine that he kiss Chouko. Funny thing about this situation, was that in reality, he did kiss Chouko.

Because of this incident, the relationship between Kei and Chouko begins to strain. Not knowing what to do with Chouko’s feeling for him. Kei starts to find another place for Chouko to live. He reminds Akiyama that Chouko was only suppose to live with him until she finishes high school, and that the agreement had only been extended a little bit. Adding to all this confusion, we meet a mysterious person name Iori, who apparently caused Kei to go into a deep depression at the start of his career as an author.

What I like most about this volume is Chouko’s interaction with her club members. We meet a book loving nerd name Yousuke, who obviously has a crush on Chouko because every time he’s around her he gets tongue tied. Could this be a love triangle I’m sensing? To further prove my thesis, Kei made sure that Yousuke knew that Chouko was in love with him, when they were both soaking in a hot spring. Kei wouldn’t make this statement, unless he felt threaten by the presence of Yousuke in Chouko’s life. I kind of like that Kei has some kind of competition in terms of Chouko’s love. Maybe, it will allow Kei to realize how important Chouko really is to him. I mean, he wrote a book about her, right?

The one thing that bothers me about this series is that Kei is such a blah person. He never smiles and he has no facial expression, except for his “blah” face. With the appearance of Iori, I have no idea how his relationship with Chouko is going to end up. According to the next volume’s preview, it looks like Chouko is taking it hard.

Regardless of such a boring hero, I still find this series to be charmingly bittersweet. Not only that, this is probably one of the only shoujo manga I know that is kind of realistic (I know the whole loving your guardian in a romantic way thing, is so not normal, but still…). I could only hope for Kei to Chouko to have a happy ending, but by the looks of it, it’s not going to come easy for the pair to find peace.

Grade: B+

Skip Beat! Vol. 20 – 21

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Viz; ISBN: 978-1-4215-3072-7

Skip Beat Vol. 20

Skip Beat remains to be one of my most favourite series of all time. I love both the external and internal struggles that Kyoko has in order to achieve her dreams of becoming an actress. In this volume, we get a glimpse of Kyoko struggling to understand her new role as a girl who has everything, but is bored with life. She can’t seem to connect with the character because she never felt bored in her entire life.

December 24th is around the corner, and Maria (Lory’s Granddaughter) doesn’t understand why Japan, a non-christian country celebrates Christmas. The truth behind her complaints is that Maria’s birthday is on the 24th, which also happens to be the same day that her mother died in a plane accident. She feels as if she doesn’t deserve to ever be happy on her birthday.

Kyoko realizes the reason behind Maria’s unhappiness about her birthday, and propose for them to have a thank you party for all the people that they were thankful for throughout the past year. Lory eventually had his way, and ended up making the party big and glamourous.

At the end of the party, we finally meet Maria’s workaholic dad. Maria never invited her father to the party because she feared that if she asked for her dad to come to the party, he would also die in a plane crash, just like her mother. We finally see Maria and her dad somewhat solving their misunderstanding. It’s nice to see Maria finally happy to receive her father’s love.

When midnight rolled around, It’s Kyoko’s birthday. Ren was the first person to congratulate Kyoko and give her a rose as a present. Moko had no idea that it was Kyoko’s birthday, but luckily she had a present set aside for Kyoko for christmas. I actually enjoyed Moko’s reaction towards Ren giving Kyoko a gift first. She made sure that Kyoko liked her gift better than Ren’s.

What I like the most about this volume is that we see development among the side characters. We get to see Maria reunite for her dad from overseas, which she was scared of seeing. We also get a glimpse of Moko trying to buy a girly gift for Kyoko, even though the idea of purchasing such a girly gift revolts her. It only proves that Kyoko is actually an important friend to Moko.

Skip Beat Vol. 21

We’re finally back on track to Kyoko’s career, opposed to Maria’s and Kyoko’s thank you party that took up most of volume 21.

Kyoko is in a state of bliss the next day after her birthday. She have never received any presents on her actual birthday and this causes her to be in an extremely good mood. Because of this, she ends up being late for a group rehearsal for her new drama called “Box R”. This doesn’t leave a good impression on the other cast members of the drama, especially since the director didn’t even scold Kyoko for being late.

Kyoko ends up being seriously depressed during her next job, which then inhibits her from preforming Mio properly. She then tells Ren her problems, and Ren just told her to do her best, and she’ll be okay. She doesn’t understand why Ren is not scolding her, so she ask him why he didn’t scold her. Ren then gets agitated and tells her if she can’t get serious about acting as Mio, she should just go home. Ren’s assistant thought that Ren was being too harshed on Kyoko, but Ren knew that it would only spark Kyoko’s determination to continue back on track.

Kyoko has a hard time filming her new drama. It turns out that the director only wants Kyoko to act as Mio in her drama. Kyoko doesn’t understand why he would want that, since her new character is someone totally different from Mio. It turns out that Kyoko has no idea on how to act as a normal teenage girl. She grew up in a Japanese Inn and learnt how to behave like a proper japanese girl. The director got fed up with Kyoko not being able to be a normal teenage girl, and decided to film all the scenes where Kyoko is acting like Mio first, cause he knew that she would act it out perfectly. Kyoko can’t seem to understand her character, especially since, the Director only wants her to act like Mio. Seeing Kyoko’s confusion, Amamiya (another cast member) tells her that she should ignore the Director’s directions, and just act the way she feel suits her the character the most.

I got a feeling that Amamiya is another one of Kyoko’s enemies, since she deliberately plotted to turn the Director and the other cast members against our heroine, Kyoko. I honestly don’t mind Amamiya presence since, it’s just going to be another obstacle that Kyoko has to go through in order to because a 1st rate actress in the entertainment industry.

The only thing that I’m a little bit disappointed in is that there has been absolutely no develepment between Ren and Kyoko through the last two volumes. Come on, this is a shoujo manga, so where the heck is the love? lol.

Mad Love Chase Vol. 1

MADLOVCHA01What’s on the back: Meet Kujou Yamato. Sure, on the outside, he appears to be your average teen, pursuing love and happiness in his school’s hallowed halls… The problem is on the inside: Kujou is really Kaito, the prince of the demon realm, who has escaped to the human world to avoid a marriage he wants no part of. Kaito’s dad, furious, sends a clumsy trio of demons to retrieve him, and a mad love chase ensues…And it’s going to take a lot of luck and cleverness to avoid being dragged back home.

Review: I have no idea why this manga is called Mad Love Chase. Majority of the people chasing Kujou are guys and they are definitely not in love with him. Regardless of the name, this manga was so silly that it was quite funny.

Prince Kaito along with his cat, Rebun, runs away from a marriage that he does not want, and escapes to the human world to find himself a lot smaller than his usual self. With this disguise no one can tell that he was the former prince of the demon world, unless, they strip him and reveal the tattoo on his back.

Kuyou, formerly Kaito, finds himself enjoying his new lifestyle, where he lives freely and can fall in love with any girl wants to. Funny thing is that his taste in woman is quite bad. He befriends one of the demons, Asakura, but he doesn’t realize that Kuyou is the prince he’s looking for. Along with Asakura, there are two other demons disguised as a janitor and a student on the lookout for the prince. Along with his fiance and her goons, this manga is packed with comedy.

I enjoyed this manga for it’s comedy aspect, but that’s about it. To me, there’s no real plot to this story. Sure, Prince Kaito is on the run from a potential marriage, but that’s about it. I don’t really see a development in the story. All the characters are just too silly, especially the Janitor, who’s really an old pervert. Regarding, Kujou’s fiance, I can see why he’s running away from her. Even the King of the demon world knew that he can’t upset that woman, unless he wants to be killed. I wouldn’t want to marry her as well.

The art reminds me of Yaoi, which is because the author has produced other Yaoi works. I like it, except for the fact that at times I find the drawings a little busy. I tend to prefer artwork that are clear and easy to understand.

Final Thoughts: This manga is passable, but, in the long run it has nothing to offer except it’s comedy. The summary in the back got my attention, but in this volume it doesn’t really deliver. Hopefully, in the next volume we see an improvement in terms of plot.

Overall Grade: C-

 

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