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Hollowspine

I'm Reading Comeeks

I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc.  And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.

Three Takes on Relationships in Manga

Love at Fourteen, Vol. 1 - Fuka Mizutani By Anda Sadanatsu Kokoro Connect Vol. 2 (Tra) [Paperback] - Anda Sadanatsu Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 10 - Fumi Yoshinaga, Fumi Yoshinaga

Love at Fourteen is about two recently turned fourteen year old middle school students.  They've been friends since grade school, but find now that they are getting older their relationship is turning from one of friendship into a budding romance.

 

Viewed by their classmates as very 'mature' because of their physical appearances though makes things difficult for them.  At first they just want to maintain their status as friends, but can't fool around and joke as they used to, because they must remain 'cool' and 'mature' as their new reputations demand.

 

However, after school they can just be themselves, but soon the border between their mature school selves and their familiar after-school selves starts to blur and they feel uncomfortable with the childhood games they used to play.

 

The story is very sweet and funny as the two stumble into their teenage years, trying to keep their new relationship a secret and having slightly awkward 'dates.'  Not much action in this one though, it is very much a slice of life comic, devoid of the various hijinks that populate most girls' manga (you know mistaken gender, bungled plots by jilted exes, secret identities, etc.), but there is a small other plot involving another boy in the class finding out about the two, which gives a bit of depth to the plot.

 

Kokoro Connect (Vol. 2)

The story so far is about a group of five students that got thrown together since they all wanted to start their own club, but couldn't find enough members to do so.  Their 'culture club' starts experiencing a weird thing, they start switching bodies.  Of course, this uncovers a lot of secrets between the members.  The culprit turns out to be an alien who is conducting an experiment on the kids.  The members try to get on with their lives surviving the seemingly random switches between their bodies and trying to figure out what Heartseed (the alien) wants with them.

 

In both volumes a couple characters are focused on and our main character, a helpful guy, named Taichi, tries to help everyone out with their issues.  It kind of reminds me of Genkaku Picasso where the main character has to find out everyone's issues in order to solve his own.

Although it has this sci-fi body swapping twist, the problems the characters are dealing with are real world problems, so it's a bit slice of life too.  The characters are well rounded and have complicated and complex lives and issues.  Those alone would make compelling reading, and with the unknown desires and interests of Heartseed to ponder makes this a series I'm eager to continue reading.

 

Ooku vol. 10

 

The final volume of Ooku brings us full circle.  I'll write without spoilers, just about the series in general. 

 

Ooku takes place in a speculative alternate history of medieval Japan.  In this Japan a horrible disease called the "Red Faced Pox" has killed most men in Japan.  The shogunate has been forced to take a lady heir and Iemitsu, a female descendant, became Shogun.

 

In order to keep the blood of the Tokugawa clan going men are taken from all over the country to be hidden away in the "Inner Chambers" to keep them safe from the Red-Faced Pox, basically to use them for breeding fodder for the Shogun.

 

Gender issues are discussed throughout the series, but form the main object in the earlier volumes and then become a background to the political intrigue that prevails in the rest of the series.  It is a very interesting series, something that I would definitely like to read all at once now that it is complete.  

 

All at once is probably the best way to read this series as it spans such a long time period and goes through so many characters.  It can be confusing at times keeping the shoguns, chamberlains, Councillors and consorts straight, but the story is well worth it.  

 

I feel sorry that the story is done and although I'm disappointed in the final act of the story, it also made sense and was a good way to end the series.  Just looking at the evolution of the covers gives a sense of the ending.  Ah well, it was fun while it lasted!