Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

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Manga of the Month: A Silent Voice

June 20, 2014

A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima

narutaki_icon_4040 How long should one punish themselves something they did as a child?

Ishida is an ex-bully, who became bullied himself during elementary school, who has now isolated himself as he drifts through high school life.

Shoko is the girl Ishida and his classmates bullied due to her hearing impairment.

Ishida seeks Shoko out, all these years later, in order to apologize before ending his life. But when he does, he suddenly finds himself making a meaningful human connection and that snowballs into another connection and another and another all which change his outlook.

Despite how serious all of that sounds, and by all means A Silent Voice is thoughtful in the burdens all of its characters carry, the series creates people who aren’t simply downtrodden.

The beginning of the series is an angering and painful few chapters as you watch Ishida and his friends bully Shoko. It is kind of hard to believe that you will empathize, believe in, love Ishida.

But you will.

This series is lovely and brilliant; poignant and surprising. There is light and hope in the series in such unexpected ways. Each character has darkness lurking, but the series creates fully realized characters that are more than a sum of their problems. The ability to connect so fully with Ishida is testament to the writing. The people from Ishida’s past, and his mistakes and how he deals with them, are incredibly complex. It isn’t so easy to dismiss people or to rebuild your life, and it is doubly hard for a boy who doesn’t truly believe he deserves better.

A Silent Voice is a hopeful, buoyant story about changing, forgiving, and accepting yourself and others that doesn’t runaway from creating characters with very real problems.

~ kate

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Manga of the Month: Orange

April 1, 2014

Orange (オレンジ) by Ichigo Takano

narutaki_icon_4040 This was the first title on the Crunchyroll Manga subscription that was on my “most wanted” list. It takes off from a common idea: what if you could tell your high school self some important information and change the future. In this case, Naho receives a mysterious letter in the mail from her future self which quickly proves itself to be real by predicting the events of that day perfectly. A new student arrives, Kakeru, who instantly becomes a part of Naho’s group of friends. But the letter warns Naho that Kakeru will not make it to his 18th birthday and begs her to prevent this from happening.

“From here on in, please make Kakeru happy
as often as you can.

I’m sure that’s what will save him.”

There is a darkness, a sadness, in Kakeru after his mother’s suicide, which we learn happened on his first day of transferring to the new school. He hints at his pain and his smile is always melancholy but he never opens up. That is he doesn’t in the past that Naho is reading about, but slowly she starts to gain the confidence to ask Kakeru about his life and his feelings. Along with her friends she might just be able to pull him back from the brink.

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Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha: Wrath of Konkon

March 26, 2014


(Watch Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha on Hulu for free.)

hisui_icon_4040 If you asked anyone what their favorite series from this season was you would get a wide selection of answers but Kill la Kill and Space Dandy will probably come up the most. On the other hand if you ask Kate she will say Kuroko’s Basketball because . . . well she is Kate. BUT if you ask what was the best NEW show of the season we would both pick an anime that is sadly overlooked. It is a wonderful mix of comedy and romance. A series based on a seinen manga with a shojo appeal. That show is Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha is easy to dismiss as the “spirits and humans” story of the season to fill for a lack of a new season of Natsume’s Book of Friends or Mushishi but that is selling the show short. Konkon has an infectious joy that sets it apart from the pack. Unlike some other the other anime and manga in the genre that either go for a gentle melancholy or a soft warm glow like Kamichu! and Gingitsune this show goes for the laughs first and foremost. But at the same time there are some strong romantic undercurrents and well as solid friendships to bring it all together.

narutaki_icon_4040 It is funny to use “nice” as a way to describe a show I want others to watch, but Inari Konkon Koi Iroha is nice. Nice like it wraps you up and makes you feel good while watching it. You might find yourself sighing in contentment while viewing the show even.

But that’s not to say niceness is the only quality the series has to offer. Inari Konkon Koi Iroha is a nice, hilarious, fun, and sweet story featuring wacky gods, new loves, and the bonds of friendship.

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Manga of the Month: Basara

February 4, 2014

Basara (バサラ) by Yumi Tamura

narutaki_icon_4040 Before anyone even thinks it, I know this series is woefully out-of-print. However, I was finally able to read more of it thanks to the library so I’m hoping others can do the same. And amazingly, it is available digitally!

Basara is a classic, fantasy series set in a future (yup!) Japan which has been devastated by war and environmental destruction. A loss of energy and technology has pushed people back to a simpler time and allowed for the country to be conquered by the harsh, oppressive Saffron Clan. In the desert region controlled by The Red King, there is a small village with a prophecy about The Child of Destiny that will lead the people against their oppressors.

That child is a young boy named Tatara. But unlike some other stories, this king does not let it go unchecked or laugh it off, oh no he roots out the rebellion while the child is still young. Tatara is killed when the village is attacked; the army leaves believing they have eliminated their problem. (This part, by the way, is very violent and sets the tone for much of the series.) But Tatara’s twin sister Sarasa makes a hasty decision: pretend she was killed instead, and become “Tatara” with the help of a small group who know the truth. Sarasa sets out to unite the villages and bring down the tyrants who have taken so much from her.

Sarasa becomes “Tatara” in everyday life, so much so she can start to forget herself. The exception is when she sneaks away to the secluded hot springs; on one such visit she meets a boy her age and ends up starting a distant love affair. Little did she know the man she met is The Red King whom she has sworn to destroy; and little did he know she is The Child of Destiny he is so desperately trying to snuff out.

Sarasa is wonderfully headstrong, and so fearless to the point of undervaluing her life. She has lost her identity and it shows so well as she becomes the idea of “Tatara.” Sarasa struggles with all the aspects of her life she has lost: the villages’ relief that Sarasa died instead; the constant masquerade; not being able to experience developing into womanhood in any normal way. But even if it stemmed from a lie, she is truly changing the course of her world and doing things she never thought herself possible of. She is surely a better “Tatara” than the namesake ever would have been.

The melodrama is high as the manga barrels toward revolution. Sarasa sets in motion a bloody conflict, spanning the continent, which is fraught with secrets and danger. And of course many surprises along the way, do not believe for a second The Red King is what he seems. An epic fantasy sure to satisfy.

~ kate

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