Manga of the Month: Kowloon Generic Romance

Kowloon Generic Romance by Jun Mayuzuki

While the story of Kowloon Generic Romance does take place in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City, it is anything but generic.

Real estate agents Kujirai and Kudou work side-by-side day in and day out at Wong Loi Realty Co. dealing with eccentric residents and maintaining the properties around the neighborhood. There’s more than a little sexual tension brimming between the two but Kujirai isn’t quite sure what to make of Kudou or her feelings for him.

Kowloon Walled City is a character itself. Based on the real area which was demolished in 1993, Mayuzuki brings the walled city back to life in vivid detail using a nostalgic 1980s art style. An immensely crowded place filled with shops, restaurants, apartments, vice, crime, and maze-like corridors, it is a place that has inspired endless curiosity. In the KGR version, the neighborhood is also dealing with two corporations trying to exert their influence on it. The walled city is a place where the past, present, and future collide.

From the start you’ll figure out that the title is a bit tongue-in-cheek as little details about the setting are just off. And by the end of volume one the story really starts to reveal itself. Honestly, I hope I have you intrigued because I don’t want to give away too much. As soon as I finished the first book, I wanted to read it again with the new information.

Part romance, part comedy, part science-fiction, part mystery, Kowloon Generic Romance blends so many things that it becomes hard to define but it all intertwines mirroring the walled city’s mesmerizing existence.



Manga of the Month: Wandance

Wandance by Coffee

Stories centering dance have a long history in manga especially when it comes to ballet, but Wandance takes us out of the formal theater and into the world of student led dance troupes highlighting hip-hop, house, breaking, and other styles and fusions of street dancing.

During his high school club fair, Kabo ignores the dance club presentation as it reminds him of an embarrassing episode in middle school. Later when he sees fellow 1st year student Wanda dancing by herself on the school grounds, the joy of dancing hits him. As Kabo and Wanda become friends, they realize neither of them is always comfortable communicating verbally. But dancing is a way to communicate, too.

The student led dance club is filled with dancers of all levels, but the best of the best are aiming to compete with other schools. Kabo is a novice and sticks out due to his tall stature and being one of the few (and currently only regularly attending) guys in the group. However, through a supportive club president, Wanda’s presence and partnership, and Kabo’s own self-determination he soon leaves behind his self-consciousness and embraces his love for dance.

Kabo is an earnest and sweet person so watching him gain self-confidence is really rewarding. I quickly became invested in Kabo and Wanda’s growth as dancers and their budding romance. The ease they feel with one another and their deep connection is beautifully depicted.

Manga-ka Coffee uses a fresh, frenetic line style that gives movement, energy, and a fast pace to the dance sequences. Plus, Wandance integrates plenty of dance theory, ways of approaching dance, and instructional sections into the story in a way that feels natural and helps you see each character more clearly. All of this for someone like me with zero dance knowledge has been illuminating.

Wandance is part coming-of-age manga and part sports manga, and doing both types of stories justice!


Manga of the Month: Urusei Yatsura

Urusei Yatsura by Rumiko Takahashi

I could have always made Urusei Yatsura a manga of the month. There was nothing stopping me. While Ranma is what really made me a hardcore anime fan it was Urusei Yatsura that solidified me as a Rumiko Takahashi fan. As one of my favorite manga of all time it has always been a simple choice. It was always a question of when more than if. I was just waiting for the right time and this just seems to be just the perfect moment. With the premium Viz rerelease of the manga coming out regularly and the new anime on TV this seems like the best time to talk about Rumiko Takahashi’s major break out hit.

Ataru Moroboshi is the unluckiest boy in the world and probably the most horny as well. These two qualities come to a head when he is chosen as Earth’s champion in a game of tag against alien invaders. When he catches the alien princess and saves Earth but accidently becomes engaged to the electric oni, Lum in the process. The town of Tomobiki soon becomes an vortex for aliens, monsters, and all sorts of other weirdness. Atatru is trying his best to get an alien girlfriend or two but his fiancĂ© is determined to keep her “darling” in line.

For better or for worse Rumiko Takahashi’s later series always have a much tighter theme and flow. You have a fairly good idea what your going to get in any chapter of Inuyasha or Maison Ikkoku. But Urusei Yatsura feels much more like jazz in its freeform nature. One chapter could be a sexy comedy about aliens, the next is nothing more than a giant set up for a pun with folk creatures, and the next chapter a touching romantic interlude. The only main theme is that the Urusei Yatsura cast are horrible people who are very amusing when they are horrible to each other.

There are some classics of manga and anime which are amazing pieces of history that give the reader a far greater understanding and context for the medium as a whole but can feel like homework. They are rewarding in the end but you have to put in major effort truly digest them. Urusei Yatsura is a key foundation of modern shonen romance and comedy manga but it also just darn fun to read. It is simultaneously educational and entertaining.

Plus Shinobu is the best Rumiko Takahashi character ever. This is a fact. If you disagree you are just wrong.