Manga of the Month
Living Game by Mochiru Hoshisato
Raizo Fuwa has his life turned upside down when the company he works for is going to change their offices. The building his office was going to move into collapses because of shoddy construction before they can move in. Raizo’s boss decides to temporarily move the whole office into Raizo’s apartment until they can find a new building to move into. To add to his problems his boss agrees to hire the 15 years old Izumi Hiyama as a favor to a friend. Since Izumi is a high school drop out she cannot get anyone to rent to her. This eventually leads to Izumi having to move into Raizo’s office/apartment with him. Raizo slowly finds himself falling in love with Izumi who has an enormous crush on him but his office workers and friends keep interfering with every aspect of his life. Living Game is the story of Raizo and Izumi trying to find somewhere to call home.
Living game takes the housing crisis of the time and uses it as a repeated plot device, as a tool for social commentary, and an allegory of the major theme of the manga as a whole. Everyone in the series is looking for somewhere to live but it is always a metaphor for their struggle to find their place in life and in society. I really like that three tiered approach.
Living game is not the greatest manga but it’s much different than a majority of the manga that you can read in the U.S. today. It is a sweet seinen romance with a good mixture of comedy and drama. I like that the pace is brisk but never feels rushed. Raizo and Izumi’s lives are always moving forward. They are constantly changing and growing. All too often romantic comedies will spin their wheels going nowhere to draw out the plot. Raizo and Izumi lives are always organic. They grow into themselves and grow together at a natural pace. I really recommend it to people who liked Maison Ikkoku and any other more adult romantic comedy.
Anime of the Month
Princess Tutu by Hal Film Maker Studio
This is one of those rare shows that was not adapted from a preexisting manga. A duck is transformed into a girl and hopes to fulfill her desire to protect the shattered pieces of a prince’s heart. Ahiru is awkward (as can be imagined) but full of energy, determination, and love. For once it is the prince who needs saving and that is the task set before her. Princess Tutu takes on the role that is traditionally male, but she is absolutely female. She accepts her fate willingly and has a sense of duty despite her personal feelings and the realization that once her role is played she will no longer exist. While love is one of the central themes to this series, what starts out seemingly simple becomes a complex and dark look into the hearts and minds of many characters. Princess Tutu is a perfect fairytale full of magic, love, and mystery. And true to form it is has the darkness that inhabited original fairytales.