Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stolen Hearts, vol. 1

By Miku Sakamoto
Published in the US by CMX Manga

Slugline: Despite years of reading manga, I am still not sure what the difference is between a kimono and a yukata.

Koguma is the stereotypical big tough guy that exists in every teen manga, so when Shinobu spills something on his package she fears the worst especially when she learns it contained an antique kimono.  Shinobu agrees to work with Koguma to pay for the damages, but rather than doing hooligan-related activity she expected she instead learns that she will be joining him in working at his grandmother's kimono shop.  Given the chance to see him outside of the school where all anyone can see is his looming size Shinobu sees that he is more and they enter into a relationship.  But they both have a lot of work left to do in their relationship and get their schoolmates to see past both Koguma's reputation and the odd appearance they present when together from their height differences

This is a fairly light and fluffy school romance manga, mostly because the relationship is in the honeymoon period where everything the other one does is cute and perfect.  This manga feels more like an all ages title due to the combination of a somewhat educational storyline about the kinds and a how-to of wearing kimonos, and in that Shinobu's focus seems to be getting others to see past Koguma intimidating appearance rather than their own romance.  Koguma is a softy, an emotional blank that happens to look big and tough who is anything but.  His grandmother as a background character who is obsessed with money, seems to be more interesting than him.  Despite the weak romance element, there is still something about the manga that keeps readers' interest despite the face the elements and characters individually do not.

Stolen Hearts, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Lizard Prince, vol. 1

By Asuka Izumi
Published in the US by CMX Manga


Slugline: Dating outside of your taxonomic Class should require a PG-13 rating

Canary is Linaria's princess and has reached marriageable age while the neighboring Gazania also has a unmarried prince but Heath has a bad reputation.  Canary is only willing to meet Heath to berate him, but he has no desire to do that and switches places with his magical talking lizard, Sienna.  Sienna is charming while masquerading as Heath and convinces Canary to visit him again.  Heath is surprised by Sienna's actions so he decides to be rude to Canary to drive her away.  Canary sees through his deception and declares her love for Sienna, which lifts a curse to reveal that he is Heath's brother.  But as Sienna gets closer to Canary they are forced to rely on his lingering ability to turn into a small lizard to solve problems for their kingdoms and for themselves.

This title straddles the line between shoujo for teens and a more all ages title.  All ages titles stay away from deep relationship/sexual issues to keep their rating while most shoujo titles have to go into those waters because their whole point are relationships.  Not to say that shoujo titles are solely about teens trying to hook up but they still delve deeper into relationships than the relatively platonic love that Canary and Sienna seem to share.  The title reads like a shoujo but after a while it feels that something is off and that confusion sabotages the story.  The shoujo aspects should have been further submerged or been embraced fully.  This makes this title perfect for the tween age bracket, those who are not quite ready for a 13+ title but who desperately want to be.

The Lizard Prince, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand