Manga of the Month: Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate Cosmos (チョコレートコスモス) by Nana Haruta

narutaki_icon_4040_round I had been hoping for more of Nana Haruta’s romance manga to make it into English. I’m a big fan of her series Cactus’s Secret which was released by VIZ a couple of years ago. Chocolate Cosmos is part of VIZ’s fairly new and small section of digital only releases.

Sayuki is a sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued girl who is really a romantic at heart. While on a trip to the beach with friends, she meets and falls for a guy working at a chocolate banana stand. The feelings seem mutual. But it turns out that guy is actually one of her teachers.

Chocolate Cosmos is pure fantasy in regards to dating your teacher, one in which things can work out pretty OK without any consequences. But the extra touch that makes Chocolate Comsos a little special is actually Sayuki’s exploration of her own feelings and her relationship with a different boy completely.

Sayuki spends a lot of the manga examining what she wants and how to go about it. There is pretty much no question who she has romantic feelings for (and whether he has them for her either), even with her childhood friend Yushi in the mix. But what I found refreshing was the slow reveal of Sayuki’s past feelings for Yushi and how things have changed for her. Their final conversations about those feelings are very satisfying and tread a less familiar path.

The melodrama of the series is very low-key and interspersed with a lot of humor which is why I enjoy Nana Haruta’s stories so much. Chocolate Cosmos is just the type of romance manga one wants to devour in a lazy summer afternoon.

~ kate

Manga of the Month: Fate/Apocrypha

Fate/Apocrypha (フェイト/アポクリファ) by Akira Ishida

hisui_icon_4040_round I would just like to mention that July is the month of my birthday so I would kindly ask that everyone take this Manga of the Month as a bit of a gift to myself.

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Manga of the Month: Barakamon

Barakamon (ばらかもん) by Satsuki Yoshino

narutaki_icon_4040_round There are a few rare occasions in which you will find me enjoying a, what could be termed, “slice of life” series. In Barakamon, the combination of comedy, small town life, and just a hint of forward progress for Handa makes the series absolutely endearing.

When young, master calligrapher Handa takes a swing at a critic, he is pushed off to the countryside by his manager until things blow over. While there Handa actually thinks about the critic’s words and begins to rediscover who he is as an artist.

This is all facilitated by Handa’s interactions with the many colorful people of the town chiefly elementary schooler Naru who is the first person to befriend “sensei” driving him crazy with her rambunctious antics. There are high schoolers and best friends Miwa and Tamako who are charming in their mildly malicious tricks. And semi-delinquent Hiroshi who probably comes closest to being a peer and friend to Handa. Plus, a whole array of other semi-recurrent eccentric folks for Handa to play off of.

Satsuki Yoshino does a great job of changing up the pace of each story. Sometimes is centers around a calligraphy project of Handa’s, sometimes is a problem one of the townspeople is having, sometimes unexpected visitors arrive, sometimes we learn a bit about the past, sometimes it is a lazy day, and so on and so forth. Whatever it may be the comedic timing always pulls it together.

At the same time, there is always an undercurrent of sentimentality only coming to the forefront in single passing moments. It is there just enough. This let’s Barakmaon feel like more than a situational comedy.

I always catch myself smiling about Barakamon long after I’ve finished a volume. Barakamon is a true delight.

~ kate