Last time, I discussed manga-ka and their libraries of work which I want more of in the U.S., but this time I sticking with individual titles. I’m tackling modern shojo titles that were released in the U.S. but did not get a complete release. It is so sad! I don’t hold out a lot of hope for these to see further release, but they are certainly ones I’d like to own all of in English if it were up to me.
Now I know I said I’d focus on individual titles, but Nari Kusakawa is one of my favorite manga-ka. Three of her titles were licensed by CMX (oh lord, how I miss them!) and two made it to completion. Recipe for Gertrude and The Palette of 12 Secret Colors are absolutely worth picking up if you can find them.
Anyway, my favorite is Two Flowers for the Dragon and as luck would have it it was not finished. Perhaps more torturous is that it was so close! One book away from the end CMX closed up shop.
Two Flowers is a fantasy about an oasis kingdom ruled by people descendant from dragons. The current heir is bright and mischievous Shakuya who possesses magical abilities and also transforms into a dragon when under emotional strain. We join her in the story when a few things are occurring 1) her presumed-dead-for-five-years betrothed reappears, 2) a conspiracy against her kingdom arises, 3) and secrets about her family begin to emerge. This all leads to a great journey to uncover the truth.
Romance also plays a big role in the series. Shakuya already has a new fiance since her first was presumed dead. Each of her hands sports a flower tattoo symbolizing her betrothals. Because of her dragon blood they bloom based on her feelings and she has one year to figure out which one of her suitors is to be the one.
I desperately wish another publisher would jump on the Kusakawa bandwagon.
Honestly of all the titles on this list, this one not being rescued surprises me most. But with the recent partnering of Right Stuf and TokyoPop‘s undead body maybe being in limbo will change soon. They got a good start with the first 8 volumes seeing release.
Maid Sama is over-the-top shojo in fine form. Misaki is the first female student body president of her recently converted-to-co-ed high school. The guys run rampant led by Usui so she has become a thick-skinned dictator to deal with them. At the same time, Misaki is desperate for cash because of her family situation prompting her to work at a Maid Cafe. Obviously, she wants to keep this a secret but one day her rival Usui happens to see her in uniform leading to blackmail.
Both Misaki and Usui are insane characters playing off each other perfectly. They have so many abilities it is hard to keep track. Misaki is stubborn and perfectly capable making her battles with Usui about who has the upper hand at that moment. She is no push over, when she and the other maids get taken hostage by robbers, she busts heads (before Usui busts down a wall). Usui is ridiculous beyond reason, not only he is hot as can be, he is the best student in school; the most bad-ass fighter; a master chess player; a high-class chef; and (my personal favorite) is able show up anywhere at anytime (they actual reference and joke about this). And believe me the list goes on and on.
I love that Maid Sama doesn’t just go half way to insane, it is full-throttle!
This was one of CMX’s last licenses and as such they didn’t get very far with it. Only two of its six volumes saw release. This is a very cute, sweet, and fairly simple series about a new couple.
Tiny Shinobu accidentally spills a drink on scary-looking Koguma’s bag so when he asks her for a favor she doesn’t feel she can refuse. Turns out that his family owns a kimono shop and she is the perfect size to help them sell their wares to a new, younger crowd of customers. Shinobu quickly learns that first impressions are deceiving and there is something gentle and sweet about Koguma.
These two begin dating in the first book which is refreshing. They are still learning about each other, but they are doing it together. Shinobu softens Koguma’s appearance which broadens their friendships and school life. Also you get to see lots of beautiful kimonos as they work at the shop!
This TokyoPop release is probably at the top of my charts. Not only is it far from finished in English, but the final volume of the U.S. release ends at a major turning point. Though you could read it as an ending in some ways. Any way, I’m not satisfied only knowing half the story!
Nostatsu Junkie follows fledgling model Naka who has the body and moves down right, but when she tenses up she has the face of a criminal. She is part of the same agency as popular, cute, and sweet model Umi. One day Naka discovers Umi’s secret, Umi is really a foul-tempered boy who is also the student council president of Naka’s school. In exchange for her silence, Umi promises to pull Naka to the top of the fashion world along with him.
Naka and Umi make a great team as it happens. Naka starts to further her career along with Umi. Naka falling in love with Umi causes her to both be more calm and more nervous depending. As for Umi, his masculinity starts to show through as he falls further in love with Naka. It is conflict after conflict in the world of fashion.
Despite being a romance, I consider Nostatsu Junkie to be mostly a strange comedy. That’s not to say I’m not invested in Umi and Naka’s bizarre relationship, I am very much, but it is just such a wacky series! It is filled with slap-stick-like humor, mile-a-minute dialogue, and more than its share of weird characters.
It is a guilty pleasure I can’t quite give up.
Again, another CMX series that was canceled with just one book to go! Venus Capriccio is a simple story though pretty melodramatic.
Two childhood best friends, very different from each other, but both with a love of the piano start to realize their feels for each other. Takami is a tomboy who grew up close with her brothers giving her a tough and boyish exterior. Akira is a pretty boy who is a year younger with a lithe build and a (usually) gentle demeanor. They go to piano school together making them sort of rivals but Akira is considered a prodigy. Still they struggle in their relationship as well as their desires to create music.
What I like best about these two is their acceptance of who the other is, neither is trying to change.
In all honesty, I could have probably made an entire list of CMX titles—already three of my five highlighted here are from them—but I wanted to stick with modern shojo (otherwise this post would be a love letter to Swan). In a lot of ways, getting only part of a series is worse than never getting it all. You know you are missing something! Also seems like partially released series are less likely to be picked up by other publishers.