Modern Shojo: Narutaki’s Most Wanted Part 2

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.

Two Flowers for the Dragon

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.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #058

Finally picked up books 3, 4, and 5 (along with 6 through 14) of Swan and am happily diving in deep with it. Even just a few books in, the competition has really been upped a notch as our dancers compete in Russia for both the chance to prove the Japanese have talent and also for a spot in an upcoming Russian revival. All of the rivalries so far have been fair, on the level, but fierce and make each push themselves harder than before. However, they have not leaped into sabotage or foul play which is a easy direction to take such things especially in a series that is as highly melodramatic as Swan is. It is rather amazing how much emotion, suspense, and progress Ariyoshi Kyoko packs into these volumes. Even the tragic downfall of a key player is handled deftly and while Masumi’s fate seems sealed in her future those spinning around her are a different story. Its a beautifully rendered story with some of the most dynamic page layouts I’ve ever encountered. Swan is a highlight of shojo manga that shouldn’t be missed and that I can’t personally put down.

Since I was not doing anything this Labor Day Sunday and Scott kept talking about it, I decided to go see one of Reni’s Japanese “Maid” Shows at Top Tunes. When I got there there was a line to get in and Scott mentionedit was one of the better turn outs. I think being a lazy Sunday before Labor day helped a lot. There was a one drink minimum as a charge which was reasonable, plus Scott and his friend finished off enough drinks that I was covered. Top Tunes itself was distinctly a bar with karaoke as opposed to a karaoke bar so there was a bit of crowding to get up front but nothing unmanageable. Reni sang a mixture of her own songs and anime songs. I got to hear Let Me Be With You from Chobits, Tonari no Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro, and Interstellar Flight from Macross Frontier. Of course she did the Ranka dance because otherwise it would not count. She also did three of her own songs one of which Scott helped write. She also had backup maid dancers for some of her songs which was amusingly odd. Overall it was a pleasant experience, the songs were cute and I got to hear Interstellar Flight which is always great. I definitely would not travel too far to see such a show but anyone in the NYC are might want to give it a look if for nothing else curiosity. I have never been to Akihabara so I don’t know how authentic the experience was but I assume if you went to a similar event in Japan it would be quite the same.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #041

Overall I really enjoyed Toradora!. The last episode capped off the series as well as I could have asked. Everything came together and there was a distinct feeling of closure. I may have not liked everyone in the show all the time but I came away with a positive reaction to all the characters overall. The ending wasn’t shocking because I felt it was telegraphed from episode one. Heck, just one look at the title should have given you a clue. The thing was every step of the way brought a smile to my face. It was a well done show. I liked the dialog and the humor. The series parts were often high melodrama but it worked even though I know it turned off some people. I will definitely buy this when it comes out on DVD and watch it again. It is one of the best recent shonen romance shows. I would also like to see someone license the light novels. I guess I have something to pimp at Otakon and AnimeNEXT now.

I saw some of the art from March on Earth at New York Comic Con and was instantly struck by its adorable quality. I resolved to pick it up instantly. The story follows Yuzu who is the sole guardian for her nephew after the untimely death of her sister (who had been caring for Yuzu after the death of their parents). So we aren’t starting out on the happiest of moments and the story is mostly a series of her trails through caring for a young child. Most of the comedy comes from the neighboring family who she often spends time with. The older son is hilariously in love with Yuzu and is constantly acting like a lovesick loon at an attempt to get her attention. It was a decent start but almost every chapter is about the same thing, the bond between her and her deceased sister, how she will stay strong, etc. and sometimes using the exact same dialogue and scenes to convey this. WE GET IT ALREADY. It comes off clunky and its most entertaining parts aren’t at the heart of the story.

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