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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.

Shoujo Overload

Otomen, Vol. 13 - Aya Kanno Whispered Words - Takashi Ikeda

I read about ten volumes of Otomen back in January and it's taken me this long to recover from it.  Otomen is very sweet, and if sweet-tea is your cuppa, well Otomen is just about as good as it gets.


The story follows Asuka, a young boy who loves girly things.  His favorite activities are sewing, reading shoujo comics and making lunch for the girl he loves.  Ryo receives Asuka's homemade lunches with gratitude, whenever she tries to cook things end up exploding!  Her favorite things are action movies, sports and since her family runs a dojo she's awesome at karate.  


You'd think it'd be simple for these two to get along together, but Japanese gender roles don't allow for man to like girly things or for a girl to fail at baking, sewing and homemaking.  It's especially tough on the pair since Asuka's mom is the chairwoman of their school, and after her ex-husband ran off to become a woman she's determined to raise Asuka as the manliest man, an example of Japanese Samurai honor.


I do feel slightly annoyed that while Asuka gets to have his cake and eat it too, being excellent at both baking and judo, whereas Ryo has amazing strength, but couldn't mend a button for her life.


However, she also seems to have less trouble accepting herself just as she is, sure during the series she does attempt here and there to dress up, cook meals or seem cute and delicate, but for the most part she remains true to herself, jumping in to rescue anyone in need, even if by fending off a wild boar she doesn't seem delicate or dainty.


The series is rife with typical tropes and scenes.  There are lots of disguises, reveals, cases of mistaken identity, wrong assumptions leading to drama, trips to the amusement park, beach and mountain inn.  However, even though it's typical in many ways, if you had to read one completely shojou series this would be a top recommendation from me.  It brings up some good points in the discussion of gender identity and self-acceptance.  


If you enjoyed Hana Kimi you'd probably like this too.  Check out Library Wars while you're at it.  May want to schedule a dentist appointment at the same time.



Whispered Words Vol. 1 & 2


Two volumes doesn't seem like a lot right?  How could I be overloaded by just two?  These things are wider than a cellphone in the '80s.  Yeah, that's wide. 


Whispered Words is a typical shojou manga, with one difference.  It's about two girls rather than a guy and a girl.


Ushio likes girls, the cuter the better.  She's constantly on the lookout for the clutzy, delicate girls who have adorable habits and wear cute clothing.  Sumika is anything but, she's the class representative, which means she's smart, strict and orderly.  She's also the daughter of a famous karate school and got the nickname "Violence Murasame" for defending Ushio - a feat that became more and more legendary.  She's not Ushio's type at all, which sucks, because she's had a crush on Ushio since elementary school.


What follows is the basic typical shoujo hijinks.  The adorable model Ushio has a huge crush on turns out to be a male classmate forced to dress in drag by his little sister. Other crushes on both girls get in the way, yet also force them to reconsider how they feel for each other.  Sumika is constantly trying new schemes to make herself cuter, more delicate and better at girly things such as baking and sewing, at which she always fails miserably (like Ryo from Otomen).


In Volume two even more characters are introduced and things start to really ramp up dramatically.  There are tears, mistakes and even broken bones!  We lose sight of some of the other story lines (such as the model/cross dressing guy) to make room for the budding romance between Ushio and Sumika.


Eh.  It's okay, but pretty predictable stuff.  It is nice that we have a shojou-ai version of the typical teenage romance stuff though, so that's good.  



Anyway.  I think I'm about shoujo'd out for now.  Time for some DBZ or Naruto or something with tons of battle scenes!