Maid Sama by Hiro Fujiwara
Don’t let the title deter you, just about anyone can find something to love about Maid Sama. Ayuzawa is the president of her mostly male, and out of control, class which she rules with an iron fist, but after school she makes extra cash working at a maid cafe. Usui the leader of the boys discovers her secret causing mayhem, blackmail, and a bevy of other insane things to occur. What makes this great to read is that the Fujiwara doesn’t take it seriously, it is over the top all the time and pokes fun at itself. Usui is just too awesome for the human race, practically being a mary sue with all of his abilities. He is a super bad-ass fighter, he is a world class chess player, he can cook up a storm, he is incredibly good-looking, he leaps off the school roof and has nary a scratch, and he has the inexplicable ability to show up at just the right moments. By the way you will discover all that and more about him in just two volumes! A major thing that keeps this manga fun is that Ayuzawa is strong, stubborn, and able to take take of business. While Usui definitely catches her off guard in the love department, in the rest of the world she is a force to be reckoned with so there is this constant battle of who has the upper hand. Maid Sama is a delight to read and will have you throwing your hands up at its ridiculous antics. Sometimes you need a shojo manga that is cranked up to 11. This is that manga.
Hitohira by Izumi Kirihara
My favorite joke from the TV show Just Shoot Me was, “I would do my self-confidence exercises but I know they would never work.” That is part of the reason I really like Hitohira so much. It is a very good look at what a person with low self-esteem is like. It is also a positive story of how someone with low self-esteem can get out of the downward spiral of depression and grow into someone stronger.
Mugi Asai is immediately scouted by Nono Ichinose, the president of the Drama Research Club, after she is accepted to Kumataka Art Academy. She and Kai Nishida are essentially shanghaied into joining the club. Nono’s goal is to take the enormous amount of raw potential she sees in Mugi and shape her into the talent that Nono knows she can be. The major obstacle is that Mugi must realize she has the potential to grow before anything can change. Mugi also soon learns that there is a proper drama club also at the school and whose goal seems to be to shut down the Drama Research Club.
Aurora Publishing does not seem to be doing so great so I wanted to bring a little attention to one of their best titles. Hitohira is an excellent blend of intense drama, subtle romance, and light-hearted comedy. The characters are all delightful and easy to empathize with. I really felt a strong connection to Mugi and constantly cheer her on throughout the series. I have said and done so many of the things she has done so her story seems so very real. The story is very good at pushing all my emotional buttons without being manipulative or saccharine. The soft tones of the art add to this overall mood of the manga. This is a wonderfully warm series that I feel everyone should check out.