Hitohira is an really enjoyable ongoing manga series by Izumi Kirihara. I read book one and two and third comes out in February. Mugi is an ultra-shy, high school freshman who gets roped into joining the drama club which is in desperate need of new members to remain active. The drama club president sees hidden potential in Mugi and her powerful, beautiful voice despite her having no interest in acting. She is technically joining the drama research club because there is already an active rival drama club at the school. Mugi has to struggle with her self-doubt which makes her want to leave the club against verses her want to be friends with the members. There is also a blossoming romance between Mugi and Kai, the other freshman club member. The comedy, the drama, and the romance are all low-key which makes the series quite realistic. Even the wacky characters are mostly within the bounds of realistically wacky. I might have liked the series a little more simply due to the fact that I can see a good deal of myself in Mugi. I have found myself saying many of the things she says. Word for word. Either I am a flat human being or Mugi is a well-written character. This manga is proof that something good can come out of Comic High!. Luckily there are previews for the first and second books online. Oh, there is also a 12 episode anime by Xebec M2 which I have yet to see.
I finished I Shall Never Return, a short 5 book BL series. Ken is, among other things, selling his body to anyone who’ll take him at the beginning of the story which stems from his desperate longing for childhood friend Ritsuro. Ritsuro is a good student, a considerate son and brother, and a good-looking guy. Their relationship as more than friends starts off rather oddly as we find out Ken is continually stealing Ritsuro’s girlfriends just to get his attention. However, the story quickly moves to them fully exploring their feelings for each other and the many bumps in road of Ken’s bad past, Ritsuro’s insecurities, and deciding on their futures. The amount of sex is frequent, though less so in later volumes, and semi-graphic but no full-monty to be seen. The art is well done, however people will note the early 90’s style of it. It isn’t a distraction and at most gives you a chuckle from time to time about certain characters’ clothing choices. I Shall Never Return plants itself firmly in the melodramatic romance sector early on with the classic bad boy/good girl (or in this case, guy) scenario. And while we know the idea is that a good guy can change a bad boy, it isn’t left up to interpretation as Risturo boldly declares aloud he will change Ken! The first two volumes are more shallow drama to lead to sex but it becomes increasingly more engaging after that. We get to really see the hardships of growing up, letting go, and attempting to understand another person. This all does lead us to happy and hopeful for the future ending. Take a look for yourself as Aurora publishing puts of previews of each volume (1,2,3,4,5).
I had seen the Shikabane Hime anime and had found it very plain but Ask John kept saying how much more he liked the manga it was based on. I felt that the concept had potential and so I started to read the manga to see if it was different enough for me to get into it. I read the first 5 chapters and I have to say that John was quite correct. The anime and the manga are two very different animals that are only the same in premise and starting points of the characters. Makina is sort of the stereotypical action girl but an enjoyable one so far. She is obviously the protagonist in the manga with her taking down corpses with duel machine guns frequently. Keisei, the priest, shows up fairly often. Keisei’s younger brother, Ougi, so far has been nothing more than a minor character but it has been hinted he will be more important as the series goes on. The anime seems to try to make Ougi a more main character from the beginning which diminished Makina awesomeness in what I saw of the anime.
I watched Strait Jacket which reminded me greatly of 90’s OVAs. This was just fine by me since I was basically going in wanting some violence and explosions and not much else. Though it actually didn’t have enough action as I would have thought it would. They give us a brief rundown at the beginning of how tactical sorcerers came to be and the state of the current world with demons and terrorism. Leiot is a rogue tactical sorcerer on the wrong side of the law and completely infamous for it. When a dangerous situation threatens the city Tristan asks him to intervene despite his status. She then proceeds to become a thorn in his side for the rest of the show. He also has a weird side kick and a rival tactical sorcerer who of course he has to team up with at some point. The show is nothing spectacular but certainly not anything to moan over.
They have finally gotten back to putting Kara no Kyoukai on DVD. Movie number four is Void Shrine and mostly acts as a transitory piece between the past and the present of Kara no Kyoukai. It begins just a few minutes after the end of the second movie. We see how Shiki deals with the loss of her other personality and how she comes into the employ of Toko Aozaki. The movie is as well-animated and directed as the other three so far. Being a transitory piece it feels a little lighter than the others but it was still enjoyable. It continues the slow building up to the major fight scene at the end while having little action before hand. If this were not seven movies long I was be 100% sure some one would license it in the U.S. Anime companies usually like flashy theatrical movies with a philosophical bent while still containing supernatural action. Will the Type Moon price tag keep this from getting licensed in this harsh economic time?
Finished The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I liked it. It was good.
Tis the season so that is why this is the pic of the week: