Modern Shojo: Narutaki’s Most Wanted Part 1

The full title of this post should probably be “Modern Shojo: Most Wanted, That I Want That I Could Think Of At The Moment (Part 1)”, but somehow that didn’t seem catchy. This post was inspired by one over on Shojo Corner called “One Hit Wonders . . . in America” which featured manga-ka who’ve only seen a limited release of their works in the U.S. So I decided to talk about a few off my own wish list.

Aya Nakahara

Nakanara’s popular series Love*Com (Lovely Complex) was lucky enough to be released by VIZ fully. It is one of the best romances in recent memory by showing two people actually becoming friends, having commonalities in their lives, and then falling in love. Of course it had a healthy dose of humor and a unique and relatable lead, Risa.

Nakahara actually has an extensive catalog of titles. She tends to go with pairs of unlikely people whether it be romances or friendships. Some of the titles I’d like to see: Hanada, too perfect girl meets uncouth boy; Nanaco Robin, imagine Kozuki from Love*Com (with a bad attitude) in a cute romance; and Berry Dynamite, idol duo who are friends on stage and enemies off.

At the very least I hope we get the new Love*Com manga that was recently announced.

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Odette Loves Asao

After a satisfying conclusion to the series Karakuri Odette—a quirky comedy manga about a robot who starts going to school and trying to learn about humanity—I began reading the manga-ka’s comments. One stuck out to me in particular: “My favorite guy character was Yukimura [a first year that has a crush on Odette], so I was excited about getting him together with Odette. But he wasn’t very popular with the readers, so I decided to give up on that idea. And ever since I’ve been afraid to give my lead character any kind of male love interest as another main character.” I was a bit thrown off, forget Yukimura, there was a romance in the series that played out great! Did she not write the manga I just finished reading? Did she completely forget about Odette’s interactions with Asao? Maybe it is one of those humble statements, but really she is selling her love piece of the story short.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #115

I am not exactly sure what I was expecting with Amnesia Labyrinth 1 but I know it was not this. The story was by Nagaru Tanigawa who wrote the Haruhi Suzumiya books. Narutaki and I were interested because it was being sold like it was a creepy murder mystery. And the book does not lie about that. The fact of the matter is that it probably underplays how utterly messed up this book is. If you go in expecting the happy-go-lucky antics of Haruhi Suzumiya you will be in for a shock. The story has two faces. There is the mostly lighthearted investigation of Souji Kushiki and Sasai Yukako trying to discover who has been killing the most gifted students at school. While there is a dark undercurrent in this half of the story it is mostly upbeat. But the second half of the story resolves around  Souji Kushiki and his family and that is always hyper sexual in the most disturbing way possible. All three of his sisters are clearly engaged in some form of sexual relationship with him. It is really odd in the fact that I am not sure how much these scene are played for the purposes of titillation and how much they are just supposed to be flat-out creepy. They are always seriously creepy. Whenever one of his sisters is flirting with him (or in one cases sleeping with him) there is a distinct feeling that everything going on is very unnatural and sick. But at the same time there is also an air of eroticism in these scenes. I don’t know if it is going for both at the same time or if I am selling short the nudity and sex for just being there for the sake of nudity and sex. But you have to be aware that this is present in the series before going in. There is an intriguing possibly supernatural mystery going on but some people are going to be turned away but the omnipresent twisted sexuality of the manga. The art is oddly variable. At times backgrounds are detailed and complex and other times they are utterly non-existent. Also for some reason the art remind me of a really professional done doujinshi in the character designs and page layout. Overall I can’t place my feelings on this manga. All I do know is that this is not Haruhi.

I had heard of Amnesia Labyrinth probably for the same reason as anyone else has, it is written by the Haruhi author. I also knew it was a mystery series so of course I was curious about it. The book starts with the death of a third top-of-the-class student who we learn later was a friend of Yukako who runs the The Intelligence Committee (which has exactly one member). Souji has just transferred back to the school and also is readjusting to home life and eventually gets swept up in Yukako’s desire to find the culprit. That sounds all well and good, but everything about this series is creepy and it makes you suspicious of everything and everyone involved; I know you wouldn’t think it from that top picture but it is true, in a certain way it is playing with your expectations. Though I won’t say the series doesn’t start out with a not-quite-right vibe, it only becomes more pronounced as the volume continues. Despite things like the clear harem aspects of the series, an enticing mystery is woven in the first volume that made me want to know the answers but kind of afraid to find out. Why did Souji leave previously? What’s with this crazy incest family? Who is that guy who looks like Souji? Why is Yukako so attached to Souji? Does Harumi have multiple personalities? Some of these are actual questions and some of these are my speculations, but I like a mystery that is this meaty. I won’t lie though, the sexual situations in this title made me very uncomfortable, but at least for the moment I’m giving Amnesia Labyrinth the benefit of the doubt because I think we are supposed to be uncomfortable. So turn those pages quickly! I really had to mull over my feelings on this book, but I came to the conclusion that at least for the moment I want to continue. Continue reading