Thursday, July 02, 2009

A review in 4 parts: part one, manga

An assortment of girls stuff, yaoi and horror.

Strawberry Marshmallow by Barasui
The boyfriend asked me to read this as he thought some of it might be a bit dodgy and he wanted my opinion. Well I read it, and although some parts are a bit odd I wouldn’t say it was morally suspect.

It’s a story about 4 teenage girls, one aged 16, the rest are between 11 and 12, who are all good friends. The odd thing is why a 16 yr old is friends with 11 and 12 year olds, and also that the 16yr old is drawn to look much the same as the younger kids. The last point is explained at the back of the book as the author says he can only draw kids.

It doesn’t have a plot as such, just snippets of the girls’ days. It’s fun though, quite humorous and a bit madcap. There is a ferret, and a hat with cat ears and a girl getting dumped in a rubbish bin and unable to get out. I particularly liked the panel where the 16yr old yells at the readers that a 16 year old shouldn’t be smoking.

It reminded me of Azumanga Daoih, which if you haven’t read, you should go read now. Definitely a keeper.

The Moon and Sandals by Fumi Yoshinaga

This is a really lovely and really touching story. It’s yaoi, but not focused on sex, more about a few blokes’ relationships. It’s prettily drawn, the men all look like adults which is good, and it’s just a great story. Not a lot else to say really.

Shinobu Kokoro by Temari Matsumoto and I’ll Be Your Slave by Miki Araya
Both Yaoi and merely ok. Far more sex in these than in The Moon and Sandals. They both have plots, but it’s all very teenage. When you’re just starting to work out who you like and what you like, and start constructing fantasies you’d probably come up with plots such as these.

Shinobu Kokoro is about a ninja who gets seduced by his master, in the guise of teaching said ninja about an undercover assignment which basically involves lots of sex with a bloke. I’ll be Your Slave is set in a modelling agency. The boss finds a new model and sets about doing anything to keep him happy, which turns into sex, and being his slave.
The art is pedestrian, both the younger dudes in each book look very young, which I think is a standard way of drawing yaoi, but it doesn’t do anything for me and at times makes me rather uncomfortable.

Not particularly recommended, but some scenes are good.

The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu
In the aftermath of an earthquake a whole elementary school vanishes leaving a hole in the ground. This book is mostly set inside the school where the kids and teachers are trying to find out what has happened and work out where they are.

The art is brilliant and the story is creepy. There’s a very real sense of impending doom and despair. Highly recommended.

The Embalmer by Mitsukazu Mihara
It’s about an embalmer, funnily enough. I read this quite a while ago and am having difficulty recalling the details, but I do know that I found it very intriguing. There’s some real humanity in here.
It’s split into several different stories, each about an individual how ends up dying and is then embalmed. It looks at the individual’s character and how this reflects upon their death and it looks at the family left behind.

It’s very very good.

On another note, I am going to a 4th of July party this weekend, so happy celebrations to all you American folks. I may be playing baseball in your honour.

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