meganbmoore: (tnkk: get off me i'm reading)
The Ancient Magus' Bride is a shoujo series about a young woman named Chise who has a past of abuse and neglect due to her ability to see supernatural things. through a sequence of events, Chise ends up being taken to England to be auctioned off as a slave to a magician. However, the Magician who buys her, Elias (who happens to be very tall and have an elongated animal skull for a head) tells her that he has actually bought her to be his apprentice (he initially neglects to inform her that he ALSO bought her to be his eventual bride) and that he intends to save her from absorbing too much magic, as she's likely to die within a few years without intervention. from there, they go on a series of adventures involving a variety of mythical creatures, tied in with a conspiracy involving other magicians, as Chise also tries to find out just what Elias actually is, as he isn't human, and isn't like other magicians.

I thought the first volume, though good ,was somewhat stiff and awkward in a lot of places, but it smoothed out the edges in the second volume. I like Chise, Elias and their friends, and find the various plot points interesting, but I'm not really fond of the fact that I'm meant to view Chise and Elias as a slow burn romance, in large part because the relationship comes across primarily as paternal to me so far. There's also the power imbalance and the fact that Chise's emotional issues make that imbalance even bigger, but the series is aware of and handling that aspect pretty well, regardless of the context of the relationship.

There's apparently a prequel OVA series coming out later this year which will come out with later volumes of the manga in japan. I wish it was an adaptatio of the manga plot (Maybe that'll come later? But I imagine the OVAs will be pretty limited in what they can do.) but maybe that will come later.
meganbmoore: (gnsk: sakura reads)
I have no idea what to make of this. Chikage Deguchi is a 31 year old office worker who has never had a boyfriend and doesn't have a social life. She feels pathetic and depressed after a high school reunion, and attempts suicide. One of her classmates saves her, and after hearing her woes, tells her that he's working on a potion that can deage people, and the version he currently has will work for several hours, so she can take the potion and become 15 again, as long as she gives him feedback and lets him monitor her vital signs.

As if we weren't far enough into "WTF??" territory, as a teenager, Chikage, becomes an idol and ends up working with a boy who looks exactly like the guy she had a crush on in high school. He starts to develop a crush on her, which, you know, whatever, but she seems to be reciprocating instead of going "ABORT ABORT!! He is 16 years younger than you at a point in your lives where that makes him less than 1/2 your age!!" To make sure we have a triangle, her other love interest is the high school friend who gave her the deaging potion. Who has a girlfriend already, and almost kisses Chikage while she's asleep and thinks about how cute she is as a 15 year old.

In the afterword, Tanemura says she was asked to make a Magical Girl series for adults, and to hold back on her normal visual flourishes. So, I mean, I guess she succeeded? I'll probably read more if my library gets it just to see if it actually does turn into a trainwreck, but yeesh.

If anyone has read this and has read Tanemura's DYING OF THROAT CANCER series, I'd be interested in hearing how they compare. I understand that one also involves the heroine's age changing and becoming an idol.
meganbmoore: (Default)
What are you currently reading

Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams. The second book in a mystery series about a woman who own a resort/retreat for booklovers, and whose family is secretly the caretakers of rare, secret and banned books. This one has a romance novel convention (it's not called that, really, but that's what it is) in which the most popular author is murdered. I MOSTLY really like it. I say mostly because one of the suspects is a feminist (who has a hitory of being abused) who has many many thoughts and feelings about romance novels and feminism, and that's mostly used to portray her as OTT and irrational. It's offset by having the main character point out defenses for the stance, but it still rubs me the wrong way. Also, the book is not editted that well and has a LOT of typos. My favorite is when some is said to have "died of a heroine overdose."

What did you recently finish reading?
Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire 1-4 by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto. A mini-series set at the very end of and in the months after Return of the Jedi.
I guess even the main character's identity could be considered a spoiler for The Force Awakens?

spoilers )

Seanan McGuire: A Red-Rose Chain. The latest October Daye book, which was truly impressive in its ability to have each chapter make the protagonist's 10 times as screwed as they were in the last chapter. For people who haven't read this but intend to, I should warn that this one dives into some horror and torture territory, and briefly teeters on the edge of becoming a slasher. (Err..."slasher" as in "subcategory of horror genre," not shipping. Though there is some of that too.)

spoilers )
Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry: : Star Wars: Moving Target: A novella about Leia, set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It's bookended with scenes of Leia sometime not long before before The Force Awakens. Pretty much, after EOTS, Leia goes "Ok, collection of strapping sidekicks, go find my boyfriend! I have to help run this rebellion. Luke, please don't lose any more bodyparts. Lando, don't forget that Chewie has my permission to rip off your arm and beat you to death with it if you betray us again. Chewie, don't rip off anyone's arms unless it's necessary. I'm not too worried about you, you're the most responsible one of the bunch."

spoilers )
Norihiro Yagi: Claymore Vol 22-27. This marks the 3rd shounen series I've stuck with from beginning to end (the other two being Rurouni Kenshin and Samurai Deeper Kyo). I remember when Viz released the first volume and I was figuratively shoving it in everyone's faces.

spoilers )

Sarah Prineas: Ash and Bramble. Sold as a twisted version of fairytales in which the amnesiac main character is one of many slaves of the Fairy godmother from fairy tales, forced to create all the clothes and slippers and items that populate fairy tales. This is a good description of the frist arc, but what the book ACTUALLY is is deconstructive meta about fairytales, perception of roles (and rejection of assigned roles) and stories and a pretty dark and messed up take on the idea of Story As Character. It's kind of Ever After High's concept taken to its worst extremes, in terms of how it affects characters. Becasuse of how its set up, characterization can be a bit inconsistent or absent at times, but it's a conscious narrative choice, as opposed to bad writing. I don't think it hit every note it thought it did. But it was a lot more than I was expecting, and a good read.

I read a bit of the Lando comic, but apparently Lando is like Han Solo where, while I quite like him with the rest of the cast, I'm not really interested in him when he's away from them and in full pre-reformed smarmy conartist mode. His Rebels appearances are as close to that as I'm interested in.

What do you think you'll read next?

More Star Wars stuff, probably, and I have a bunch of mysteries and YA/MG books checked out, so those. Not sure beyond that.
meganbmoore: (too many books)
I only went 2 weeks between installments of this this time instead of months. Go me?

What are you currently reading

The Debs of Bletchley Park by Michael Smith. Nonfiction about the women who worked in Bletchley Park during WWII. This one doesn't have a lot yet (I'm about 1/3 through it) about politics and codebreaking, and is instead focusing on how and why various women were recruited, and how they dealt with the everyday life end of things. One story involved a woman being told she was being stationed somewhere else, and when she got there, she sat in a room while the officers discussed whether she should be blindfolded or just transported in a covered car. She ended up being left a the Bletchley Park gates with no knowledge of where she was and no pass. Another story involved two women getting in a catfight over lunch, each shouting that their mutual lover had told her more secrets than he had the other. They didn't stay very long after that. One of the interesting things is that there were so many people that recruitment went from "why hello there, well educated, literate friend of an official who wants to help with the war effort, you come with great recommendations!" to "Hi, you're smart, can keep your mouth shut, and need a job. Sign this document here."

Anytime I read nonfiction about Bletchley Park, or read or watch fiction in which the OSA plays a part (which most certainly does not include TV shows in which the protagonist blithely violates the OSA and reveals BP secrets to the agents of a foreign government in a show of poor codebreaking in what is apparently meant to be a Moment of Cool*) i'm amazed not only by the scope of the OSA, but also by the fact that it actually worked. You had people working together for years, sharing boarding house rooms, spending their free time together, etc, and they NEVER said a single word about their work. Not only that, but this app;ied to family members, and people who married other people who worked at BP or remained lifelong friends after, and they just...never said a word about it for decades.

Getting back on topic, the books isn't lightweight, but is less dense than a lot of WWII nonfiction. It does, though, assume the reader has a general knowledge of Bletchley Park and the OSA. It's a good read, so far, and would probably be liked by most interested in the subject.

What did you recently finish reading?
K: Stray Dog by GoRa and Gohands. A prequel to the first season of the K Project about Kuroh. It's mostly Kuroh having various adventures (including a Shounen Cooking Battle) while looking for the new 7th King. The first few chapters are pretty "LOLs that Kuroh..." but it turns more serious towards the end as it catches up with the anime. Based on the content and art, I thought this was shoujo, but it's apparently categorized as seinen.

Star Wars: Skywalker Strikes by Jason Aaron & John Cassaday. TPB collecting the first 6 issues of the current Star Wars series from Marvel, which takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The first few issues feature Luke, Han Leia and Chewie sabotaging one of the Empire's plants when Vader shows up and makes things go terribly wrong (Lots of "Anakin! Stop trying to kill your kids!" from over here, while also approving of Leia ordering that her father be shot down.) In the last couple issues in the collection, Luke goes off to do some angsty soul searching stuff while Han and Leia go off on a separate mission.

spoilers )
I enjoyed this more than I expected to. I remember that when I was still reading a lot of superhero comics, I recognized that John Cassaday's art was good and warranted the praise he got, but just couldn't get into it myself, but I liked it a lot here. i do have some issues with Leia's characterization,though. At one point, Leia makes a decision that, while understandable, we know will go very very wrong. Thatin and of itself was fine because of what it was, but it's framed as if she should have just listened to Han in a way that made me uncomfortable. In another scene, it comes across as if she tends to badger Luke into going on missions, which I don't think fits at all.

Kamisama Kiss vol 14-19 by Julietta Suzuki.

spoilers )
A Dance With Danger by Jeannie Lin. One of Jeannie Lin's Tang Dynasty series. In a previous book that I haven't read, the male lead attempted to assassinate a warlord and is now on the run. He goes to a magistrate friend of his and ends up in a compromising situation with the magistrate's daughter, and they have to get married. At this point, I was very confused because I had really liked Lin's first few books (haven't read the last few before this one yet) and this was reading like a Regency Romance with the numbers filed off, and the cover blurb had given me the same impression. Then the magistrate tries to have him assassinated because having a wanted criminal in the family doesn't actually appeal to him a lot. At this point, I girded my loins, my experience many many 80s and 90s romance novels telling me to expect vengeful abduction and accusations.

Instead, Our Hero goes "welp, I actually was starting to really like her and think we might have cute kids, but she actually is way better off without me, and I do need to warn some people about the angry warlord hunting me down..." and takes off. Our Heroine, for her part, figures out what happened and decides that she is TOTALLY NOT OK with her father trying to assassinate her husband and runs away from home, finagling her way aboard our Hero's ship.

His pirate captain ex-girlfriend finds all this incredibly entertaining.

A lot of the plot is a carryover from the previous book, with a bit of setting up for future books, but I wasn't lost with the plot despite the heavy reliance on the earlier book. Despite a less than great start, I ended up liking it a lot.

What do you think you'll read next?

More manga and Star Wars comics, library books.

*Not, I'm not over that one episode of Agent Carter yet, WHY DO YOU ASK?
meganbmoore: (too many books)
I haven't done the Wednesday reading Meme in ages, but I'm going to try to get back in the habit of doing it at least semi regularly.

What are you currently reading
Carlene O'Neil: One Foot in the Grape: First book in a mystery series about a photojournalist who takes over her family's winery. Dramatic neighbors abound. I'm only just to the murder, but I'm enjoying it so far.

What did you recently finish reading?

Neil Gaiman: American Gods: I remember this being a huge thing when it came out, and may have been pretty into it if I'd read it then, but I mostly found this to be an interesting idea told in a way that I didn't find interesting, with characters that mostly bored me. I also found Gaiman's detached recounting of incredibly awful things happening to people-mostly to women and POC- to be offputting. I mean, it wasn't bad, it just didn't work for me, aside from a few parts.

Rick Riordan: Blood of Olympus: The last of Riordan's Heroes of Olympus books and, as far as I know, the last in the Percy Jackson series? I was surprised by how low the body count was, but certainly not disappointed, and was glad Raina finally got a lot of page time. Riordan seems to forget that Jason was supposed to be the nominal lead (or colead with Percy, I guess) of this series, and that's ok. I did enjoy this series a lot, possibly more than the first, sdespite never developing an attachment to Jason.

Lauri Robinson: The Bootlegger's Daughter: A romance novel set in the prohibition era. A federal agent goes to a bootlegger's resport undercover to find a mobster, and falls for the bootlegger's daughter, who actually runs the resort. Entertaining, but I was thrown off by how 2/3 of the book take place over 2 days. It seems most romance novels I've read in recent years take place over a short period of time. I remember when most historical romances took place over the span of months or even years.

Noelle Stevenson: Nimona: Nimona is a graphic novel that was originally a webcomic about a young shapeshifter named Nimona, who is assigned as sidekick to Lord Ballister Blackheart, the kingdom's Official Villain, as his sidekick. Ballister was a hero in training until he lost an arm at the hands of his friend, Ambrosius Goldenloin, in a joust. Ambrosius says it was TOTALLY AN ACCIDENT and Ballister says it was done in a jealous rage. Add to this that Ambrosius is the kingdom's main Romantic Hero, and they don't talk much now, except for occasions when Ambrosius tries to arrest Ballister. Ballister is the most moral person in the book and really against random killing. Nimona is really REALLY into being a future supervillain, and prone to turning into various animals that and eat or trample guards, much to Ballister's dismay. It starts with LOLarious hijinks with the honorable and moral villain and his tiny murdering sociopath sidekick trying to expose an evil plot by the organization that runs the kingdom. Then it escalates into illegal experimentation, and legends with darker undertones, and possibly conspiracy theorist lady scientists, and ex-lovers working out epic misunderstandings and drama and trauma and destruction all over the place. I mean, it's great, but boy does it escalate.

Victoria Jamieson: Roller Girl: Graphic novel about a 12 year old girl named Astrid who has always done everything with her best friend, Nicole. When Astrid decides to enroll in Roller Derby Camp for the summer, she assumes Nicole will come with her. Instead, Nicole enrolls in Ballet Camp, and befriends Astrid's nemesis, Rachel. So Astrid lies to her mother that Nicole is going with her, and that Nicole's mother will be picking her up from camp every day (she walks home instead). At camp, Astrid has enthusiasm (sometimes, so much work!) but not much in the way of talent. The book is mostly about a 12 year old growing up and figuring out that life doesn't always going the way you want, but that that isn't always bad. And roller derby. Lots of roller derby.

Patrick Carman, The Land of Elyon series. MG series about a girl named Alex who spends her summers in a border city walled off from the wilderness, snd likes to spend hours and hours exploring the city's labyrinthine library. sadly, thre is little library exploration, but lots of having adventures in the lands beyond the city. Very enjoyable.

Joyce and Jim Lavene: Perilous Pranks, Murderous Matrimony, Bewitching Boots, Fatal Fairies: Up to the current book in a cozy mystery series set at a RenFaire that's open all year and has permanent residents. I really enjoy these books despite the main character having flares of internal misogyny at times (though she does finally seem to become aware of it in the latest book.) Perilous Pranks introduces supernatural elements into the series, which stayed and are becoming increasingly prominent. I don't object, I suppose, it just seems odd to so suddenly switch to that when earlier books made a point to contrast fantasy and reality.

Fujiwara Cocoa: Youko x Boku SS Vol 1: Manga series about youkai and their bodyguards. I watched the anime based on it a few years ago, and based on my recollections, the first few episodes of the anime follow the first volume of the manga pretty faithfully, though I seem to recall the anime having more "cutesy" fanservice and fetishism. I put off reading it for so long because I know the current plot is actually a prologue to the main plot, and wasn't sure how I felt about getting there.

There are other books that I've read and not posted on since I last did this, but I'm too lazy to go through all my tags to see if I missed something I should comment on.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have a bunch of mysteries, romance novels and YA novels checked out from the library, so those, and I intend to do a lot of manga bingeing in the near future, since I haven't read much in recent months.
meganbmoore: (too many books)
What are you currently reading

Currently in between.

What did you recently finish reading?

Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. finished reading this, and it remained pretty enjoyable throughout. I'd like it if they did more rebels prequel books, particularly of Hera and Kanan acquiring Zeb and Sabine.

Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase. Third book in a series (I haven't read the first two) about three sisters who are French dressmakers and marry incredibly rich British lords. Entertaining, like most Loretta Chase, but the concept stretched believability a bit much for me, even for a Window Dressing historical Romance.

Cloche and Dagger and Death of a Mad Hatter by Jenn McKinlay. First two books in a mystery series about two cousins who run a hat shop. Cousin A became internet-famous thanks to a youtube video in which she's flinging handfuls of anniversary cake at her supposedly-single boyfriend. Depending on who you ask, she's either "a total nutter' (used frequently in the books by characters who have seen the video, but not a view supported by the narrative) or a feminist icon and symbol for women who discover they're dating cheating louses. Cousin B is the creative, free spirited cousin prone to leaving for weeks on end without a word to buy rare feathers, or spending her entire savings on crystals, both to be used in hats. People keep dying while wearing their hats, but more people keep buying them. More overtly humorous than a lot of the mysteries I've been reading lately, and very fun.

Tonari no Seki-kun vol 1-2 by Takuma Morishige. Manga that the anime I watched last year is based on. Studious girl has a neighbor in class who is always bringing absurdly complicated and involving things to do instead of paying attention in class. She tries to ignore him, but keeps getting caught up in his antics. Pretty much like watching the anime. (Which is not a bad thing.)

What do you think you'll read next?

I should probably devote the time I'd normally spend reading on RW for the next few weeks. (no Dear Author letter yet, only prompt in the signup is a brief one for a fandom I'm not familiar with. Insert panicky Megan.)
meganbmoore: (too many books)
What are you currently reading

Still about halfway through Star Wars: A New Dawn, as I haven't had much time to read it since mentioning it the other day.

What did you recently finish reading?

Mizuho Kusanagi: Akatsuki no Yona Vol 9-11: A bit odd to be reading these volumes while watching the anime, which is far, far behind the manga, of course (and unless there's a second season, the anime won't get to this point)

spoilers )

Joyce and Jim Lavene: Wicked Weaves, Ghastly Glass, Deadly Daggers and Harrowing Hats: This is a very fun mystery novel series set at a Renaissance Faire. The main character, Jessie, is a professor who spends her summers at the Faire, which is permatently situated at an old airforce base that's been renovated. Every once in a while, the series slips into "those RenFaire folks are kinda weird," but it's mostly "those RenFaire people who live there year round get a little bit caught up in the things they love sometimes." It's pretty fun, though, and I give it kudos for being one of the few "cozy mysteries" series where dead bodies turning up a lot actually does affect people's willingness to go to a place.

Gauntlet by Ellery Prime and T2A: The first Sparkler Monthly offering for me to complete! This is one of their prose offerings. Clio has recently moved to the big city and is striking out on her own for the first time. One day, she's harassed on the street and is offered a refuge of sorts buy two men named Jack. The "refuge" ends up being a prison called The Gauntlet, where Clio and others are hunted by people who want to perform experiments on them. I was really into the first half, but less so the second, which is set in a different part of The Gauntlet, and had a different setting. It was good, but ended feeling more like part one as opposed to the full story. We never learn the true nature of The Gauntlet, and we're teased with subplots and following up on the fates of certain characters, but they aren't actually followed through. I'll read a sequel, or anything else the writers produce for the webzine, though.

Windrose by kosen, ch 1-4: Windrose was my favorite of the Sparkler Monthly first chapters I read in their sampler several months ago. Danielle is a young Spanish woman who travels to France in search of her missing father. Along the way she meets a dashing pair of siblings, Angeline and Leon, who are considerably less kind and honorable than they initially appear to be, and she soon learns that there's a lot more to her father's disappearance than she thought. It's pretty much a straight-up swashbuckling adventure, written for and mostly about women.

Well Read, Then Dead by Terri Farley Moran. First book in a mystery series that decides to combine bookstore/bookclub lady detective with cooking mysteries to have a protagonist who owns a book-themed cafe. Very enjoyable, though I don't really have anything to say about it.

Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams. The first book in another mystery series, this one set at a resort for book lovers. The protagonist, Jane, decides to have a murder mystery weekend, only to have the winner of her scavenger hunt end up dead. Then she learns that her family are the super secret custodians of hundreds of rare and unknown manuscripts, and have been for centuries. It's just that no one thought to tell her this until she was in her 30s. This is apparently also a very very very dangerous job, because the family librarian informs her that it's time to learn martial arts and archery and all about the secret passages in the manor house. And that she has to get the Super Sekrit Secret Society tattoo. A booklover's Id ran wild with this one, but I see no reason to object.

What do you think you'll read next?

I'm guessing more sparkler monthly and mystery novels.
meganbmoore: (7 seeds: matsuri/ryo)
When I saw Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun on the list of upcoming anime around the middle of last year, I wasn't sure whether to expect something awful, or something wonderfully hilarious. Sakura Chiyo has a crush on her classmate, Nozaki. When she confesses her crush, she words it as being his fan, so he gives her a signature for another name altogether. Later, he asks her back to his apartment and has her work on backgrounds for manga pages. When she gets home, she realizes that the signature he gave her is that of a popular mangaka, and she soon becomes one of his many assistants, while still trying to figure out how to get across that she has a crush on him. (Her second attempt at confessing goes about the same as the first.)

The series COULD be about Sakura endlessly pining over a guy who doesn't notice her, and there is some of that (at one point, Nozaki asks Sakura to describe the guy she likes and she does, explaining that he seems to find her useful and convenient more than anything else. The clueless Nozaki is EXTREMELY unimpressed with her description, and clearly thinks she could do much better) but it's mostly about making a manga and what Nozaki gets his inspirations from, the peskiness of having reality intrude when it comes to manga tropes (darn bicycle laws ruined such important ones...), and Sakura befriending Nozaki's other assistants, who become many of the characters in Nozaki's manga.

The rest of the cast are:

Mikoto Mikoshiba, nicknamed Mikorin, who is another of Nozaki's assistants. Mikorin used to be very, very shy around girls, so he decided to get over it by playing far, far too many dating sims. Now, he makes dramatic, flowery comments and then almost literally dies of embarrassment, and so has even worse problems when it comes to communicating with girls, even though he can technically talk to them now. When he isn't doing this, he's putting on his very best Tsundere face. Mikorin ships Sakura/Nozaki. A lot. Possibly more than Sakura, and he is very invested in finding out whether or not Nozaki reciprocates her feelings, but has been thwarted so far. Mikorin is also the inspiration for most of Nozaki's heroines, which gets rather interesting at times, given the inspiration for some of his other characters. Sakura is one of only two girls he can mostly communicate with normally, and the one he goes to for help when his antics get him trapped in various embarrassing-to-him situations.

Kashima Yu is the other girl Mikorin can talk to. Kashima is a tall, androgynous young woman with a shoujo "prince" personality. Kashima and Mikorin are BFF4evah and considered themselves rivals during their first year of high school, even though Kashima was clearly far superior in all things academic. She's also rather dense when it comes to anything not academic. She's a member of the drama club and is always cast and the male lead, much to the delight of all the drama club's female fans. She's also head over heals in love with Hori, the president of the drama club, though she has yet to identify her feelings as romantic at all. She has no idea about Nozaki's secret identity, or that some of her friends are his assistants, which leads to some...interesting incidents.
Hori Masayuki is the president of the drama club, and another of Nozaki's assistants. In exchange for his manga work, he has Nozaki writes plays for him. The plays always have Kashima in mind as the main protagonist, who is always a prince character. Kashima is entirely unaware that Hori has plays written JUST FOR HER (and he wants to keep it that way forever). Hori used to want to be an actor, but stopped trying out for roles because he's too short to get the roles he wants. He generally seems to prefer being behind the scenes, though. He is frequently EXTREMELY put out over Kashima's antics (which tend to include things like distracting all the girls who are supposed to be working on props with her princely charm, or thinking he wants to be treated like a princess when she finds Nozaki's manga in his schoolbag) but probably returns her interest.

Wakamatsu Hirotaka, nicknamed "Waka", is a first year student, and the last of Nozaki's assistants. He is very sweet and naive and constantly tormented by that antics of Seo, a rude and brash upperclassman who he (obliviously) has a crush on and loses sleep over. He can only sleep to the music of "Lorelei," a member of the Glee club. Waka has never met Lorelei, but claims to be in love with her, and believes she is sweet and kind and calm and perfect.

Seo Yuzuki is one of Sakura's best friends, and the bane of both Nozaki and Waka's lives. She's rude and brash and oblivious to social clues, and is frequently asked to help out various clubs. Unknown to Seo, she isn't asked to help out because of her talents (which she does have), but so that the players can learn how to deal with selfish and unreasonable players. She is also Lorelei of the Glee club, and finds Waka's tendency to compare her to the Lorelei in his head hilarious, Unlike Waka, she's at least somewhat aware that they're interested in each other, and gets extreme pleasure from toying with him. Nozaki adds a genderswapped version of Seo and Waka to his manga, and is OUTRAGED when his readers start wanting him to have them get together, because he very, very strongly anti-ships his characters' prototypes.
There's also Miyako, Nozaki's upstairs neighbor who is a college student and a more popular mangaka than Nozaki. They and Sakura sometimes meeting in cafes and have conversations that confuse Miyako's eavesdropping classmates, who think Miyako is dating Nozaki, who is dumping her for Sakura, and they're all cheerful about it. Miyako's editor is Maeno, a narcissist who is obsessed with himself, tanuki (which he forces Miyako to include in her manga as much as possible) and his personal blog. Maeno used to be Nozaki's editor, but Nozaki is now under a new editor named Ken. Nozaki thinks Ken is an amazing and cool adult and tends to fanboy him. Ken thinks Nozaki is dense, utterly oblivious about the subject matter that he chooses for his manga, and somewhat annoying. He also appears to think Nozaki's manga is terrible despite his popularity. Ken is right on pretty much all accounts.
I've watched all the anime and read the first 5 volumes of the manga, and love it. It's very much an "it is what it is" series, but it does what it does well. Between the anime and the manga, I prefer the anime, but that's more because pure comedy and antics works better for me in anime form than in manga form, as opposed to one being better than the other.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
Akatsuki no Yona is an ongiong (not-yet-licensed in the US, manga series with a currently-airing anime adaptation. There are currently 14 volumes of the manga, but only the first 8 currently have scanslations.

Set in a fantasy version of ancient Korea, AnY is about Yona, a pamper and shelter princess who is in love with her cousin, Soo-Won. Her father detests violence, and has a reputation as a weak king because of it. Yona and Soo-won grew up little different from siblings,a long with Yon's bodyguard, Hak. This is angsty epic shoujo, so of course Hak is in love with Yona, but has apparently never considered expressing it, considering soo-won to be the better match for Yona. The only problems in Yona's life are her red hair (which she hates) and the fact that her father disapproves of her interest in Soo-Won . (He completes approves of Hak, of course, because the mangaka wants to make sure we know what pairing to root for from the start.) That changes one night when she witnesses Soo-Won murder her father, and is forced to flee the palace with Hak.

While on the run, Yona and Hak meet a priest who tells them about the legend of a redhaired king who was served by the four dragon gods, and that the descendants of the dragons still exist, and are waiting for the king to be reborn so they can serve him and help him save the kingdom. Yona decides that a redhaired princess will do just as well, and she and Hak set out to find the descendants, along with the priest's adopted son, Yoon, a self-proclaimed Pretty Boy who serves as den mother for the protagonists, providing all the food, cleaning, medical ministrations, and lectures for the group. (Yoon is also the youngest character. Yoon is very long suffering, and justifiably makes sure everyone knows it.)

Most of the translated volumes are Yona seeking out the descendants of the dragons and winning them over (this ranges from "YOU HAVE RED HAIR. I SHALL SERVE YOU FOREVER." to "Look. I literally fled the country to get out of this destiny thing. THERE SHALL BE NO DESTINED SERVITUDE." She also learned that while her father may have been beloved to her, he may not have been a very good king, making little effort to ensure laws were enforced outside the palace, and providing little defense against attacks from other countries. Before she flees the palace, Soo-Won also tells her that her father had murdered Soo-Won's father years before. I'm operating under the assumption that, having spent more time away from the palace than Hak and Yona, Soo-won had been much more aware of the problems in the kingdom than they were, but hadn't decided how to act until learning about the fratricide. Yona now finds herself in the opposing position: her father was beloved to her, but the country might be better off with Soo-Won as king, and she doesn't actually know much about ruling or politics herself, only having concerned herself with frivolous things before Soo-won's betrayal. She set out on a quest to find the dragons' descendants, but without an actual goal in mind after that. (Hak is having an easier time with the "Soo-Won betrayed us and hurt and killed people I love. I shall kill Soo-won" mentality. Much easier.)

All of this is interspersed with numerous adorable flashbacks of Yona, Soo-Won and Hak growing up together and being adorable babies. And some less-cheery flashbacks for Yona's followers. The anime also frames the first two episodes with flashforwards of Yona and her followers going to war. The last time I got into a manga series this much this quickly was 7 Seeds about a year and a half ago. The only issues I have with it is that it has a very dire case of "Only One Woman." There was an elderly female pirate captain for one arc, but she doesn't seem likely to return, and the only other female character who looks like she may actually shows up from time to time is the wife of a general who Soo-won wins over. Aside from the flashforwards, the first three episodes of the anime are pretty faithful to the first several chapters of the manga. The flashforwards give me hope that the anime intends to actually have a conclusion, as opposed to following the ever increasing trend of just adapting a series to the end of a certain arc and then stopping without resolving a significant amount of the plot.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
Most of this was one very long action sequence taking place over several locations as people kept chasing other people from one island to another.
spoilers )
Side note: I'm pretty sure OP is has the record for the most volumes I've ever read of a single manga series. I think both Bleach and Naruto lost me somewhere in the 30s, and Samurai Deeper Kyo would be the lonest series I've finished, but it wasn't quite 40 volumes total.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
What are you currently reading

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering. Country house murder mystery set in the 30s, with a mystery novel fanboy for the protagonist. So far it's fairly standard for the genre, but enjoyable.

What did you recently finish reading?

One Piece Vol 46-48 by Eiichiro Oda. The first three volumes of the Thriller Bark arc. TBH, I'm finding this arc a bit dull. It's not a long one, though, and the arcs after it sound much more my thing.

Saga Vol 3 by Brain K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I still really like this space opera, though in this volume, I was more interested in what was going on with Gwendolen and The Will and Co than in the mains. But I could really, really do without the series using "cunt" as t he worst thing you can call a person. It tends to sour me for a while and make me put the book down every time. I still get a kick out of a romance novel being a revolutionary text.

I attempted to read another Nancy Drew nonfiction book, The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys but it kept assuring me that Nancy Drew and Mildred wirt were Not Like Other Girls, and actually kinda masculine and really, part boy. Pass.

The first two books of Fate/Zero by Urobuchi Gen. I was watching the anime (after watching Fate/Stay Night) and baka-tsuki took down the A Certain Magical Index book I was reading, so I switched over. I was pretty into it, until I got to the part in the anime with all the choking, and lost interest int he books, though I did finish the anime. (Urobuchi is also fascinated by certain aspects of the human psyche that I just don't enjoy in my fiction, which also played a big part in earlier parts of the series.) I am looking forward to the new Fate/Stay Night anime, as it seems the first series went down the least interesting of the three possible paths of the VN.

What do you think you'll read next?

Not sure. I received I think 12 arrived hold notices from the library, so we'll see. More One Piece once the next volume arrives, and probably more Sparkler Monthly stuff.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
I liked this a lot more than I did Skypeia.

spoilers )
meganbmoore: (Default)
What are you currently reading

Currently on book 9 of A Certain Magical Index.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler. After Alice's father dies, she's sent to live with an "uncle" who she's never heard of before. Her uncle is welcoming, but forbids her to go into his huge library, which is in another building. So, of course, she ends up going into the library (eventually), meets talking cats, a boy who appears to be living there, and gets literally sucked into a book. Or two. Or three. The leads being 12 doesn't save us from a predictable and stereotypical "brave good girl x mysterious bad boy of dubious trustworthiness" baby!romance, but their being 12 does keep a lot of the more obnoxious possibilities off the table. It's not really hard to guess where things are going in most parts, but it was a very enjoyable read, and I thought the take on magic was interesting.

One Piece Vol 24-32 by Eichiro Oda. The Skypeia arc was entertaining, but considerably less involving, imo, than previous arcs. I blame the lack of a central character narrative or goal driving it. Instead, it was more "We shall have an adventure! In the Sky!"

mild and brief spoilers )

Soul Eater vol 1-2 by Atsushi Ohkubo. I watchedthe anime recently and really enjoyed it despite a few issues, so I decided to check out the mainga. Normally, I like the manga better when there's an anime based on it, but this is one of the exceptions. The first volume made me think I was watching a 12 year old run around screeching "BOOBIESBOOBIESBOOBIESBOOBIESBOOBIES!!" a lot (so glad the anime cut way back on that). The second volume cut back on that, but I mostly found it dull. Sad. I'd say I might have just lost what it takes to love shounen action in manga form, but I am reading One Piece, so...

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword and Hereville: How Mirka Met A Meteorite by Barry Deutsch. The tagline for the first of these graphic novels is "Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old orthodox Jewish girl." Mirka lives in a village with her father, stepmother, and a number of siblings and stepsiblings. Her stepmother is well-loved, but annoyingly-to-Mirka focused on Useful Household Skills. And sometimes chests. Everything is normal until she ends up encountering an evil pig in the woods. The evil pig eats her homework and happens to belong to a witch. After which, Mirka's life spirals into fighting trolls, winning swords, and outwitting meteorites. All of which Mirka loves, but is actually very, very terrible at. Thankfully, that very large family of her's is not window dressing, and her siblings keep getting pulled into her adventures, and her stepmother offering advice, even if she doesn't actually know that the reason Mirka is getting advice is because "Oh hey, you kid is actually going to use this advice to go fight a troll that wants to eat her." These books are delightful.

Attempted to read Love Roma. It starts with the protagonist going up to a girl in his class who he's never even spoken with and asking her out. When she turns him down due to the fact that they've never spoken and she doesn't even know his name he pretty much badgers her into agreeing to walk home with him with the whole class cheering him on. The series thought it was cute. I was incredibly skeeved.

I think I already posted on everything else that I read.

What do you think you'll read next?.

More of A Certain Magical Index (I should actually SAY something about the series at some point...) and the next arc of One Piece.
meganbmoore: (loch: rong +jade stick)
Twin Knights is the sequel to Osamu Tezuka's Princess Knight, and is about Princess Sapphire's twin children, Princess Violetta and Prince Daisy. Mostly Princess Violetta, though. With only one volume, it's shorter than its predecessor. For better or worse, it's also much less prone to random sidetrips, and so also much more comprehensible.  I am not using a spoiler cut because I'm assuming no one actually cares about spoilers.

The kingdom is in an uproar because everyone is feuding over which royal twin should be heir. Now-Queen Sapphire and King Franz pray to God for help, but God is on vacation, and left an angel in charge. The angel in question is Tink, the angel responsible for the whole mess in Princess Knight, because nothing says "qualified to run the universe for a week" like total incompetence. In a show of extreme wisdom and competence, Tink writes "Prince" and "Princess" on the ground and drops his bow to determine which twin is the future ruler, and Prince Daisy is the lucky baby.

When word gets out, a "supporter" of Violetta kidnaps the prince and dumps him in a cursed forest. Fearing civil war, Sapphire and Franz decide to raise Violetta as both herself AND Daisy. One day she's the prince, and the next, she's the princess. For 15 years, exactly one person questions why the twins are never seen together (They're being raised separately! In the same castle!) or why no one ever sees both on the same day at all. There are also a pair of brothers named Prince White and Prince Black. You only get one guess at which is Violetta's dashing love inetrest, and which is the villainous bully.

Violetta and Prince White's romance goes about like this:

PRINCE WHITE: Prince Daisy, you are so wonderful and amazing and I want to spend all my time with you. Also, I'm straight and so completely not into you, but you'd be a totally gorgeous girl. Do you have a sister, by any chance?
VIOLETTA: As a matter of fact, I do.
PRINCE WHITE: Does she look like you?
VIOLETTA: Well, we are twins...
PRINCE WHITE: I am totally and completely and eternally in love with your sister even though we've never met, purely because she looks like you. BTW, I'm still straight.
PRINCE WHITE: *gets injured*
VIOLETTA: Hello, here I am at your sickbed as a girl. In a dress. Meeting you for the first time.
PRINCE WHITE: You are obviously the twin of my precious and beloved Prince Daisy, for whom my love is completely platonic! I am in love with you.
VIOLETTA: I'm ok with this.

Eventually, there's a rebellion and Violetta and her parents get locked in a tower. Somewhere in there, she learns that she actually DOES have a brother named Daisy (because apparently no one ever bothered to tell her why she had to be a boy every other day) and sets out to find him. Along the way, she joins a band of gypsies and becomes a masked swashbuckler named Knight Ribbon, and has various adventures with the gypsy princess, Emerald, who is in love with her.

Daisy, meanwhile, becomes a Disney Princess, after being found in the woods by a deer named Papi. Papi asks a goddess to turn her into a human so she can raise Daisy properly, and is allowed to become human at night only, with the condition that she'll die if Daisy ever learns the truth about her.  There's no particularly logical reason for the YOU WILL DIE, it just is.  And so Daisy grows up in the woods with only his "sister" for company, and is forbidden to leave the cottage during the day. After Daisy's inevitably tragic origin story-complete with all the forest animals loving him and tending to his wounds even though he's a hunter-ends, Daisy ends up back at the palace, being forced to impersonate himself while Violetta is off having all the adventures.

It's less frustrating than Princess Knight in its gender essentialism (though there's still plenty of that) and has a pretty straightforward story that you can actually follow, and keep track of the plot developments. But if you think the person raised and trained to rule for fifteen years will become the ruler instead of the guy raised by a deer, think again. I mean,the angel flipped a coin, after all. Also, the series totally does not end with a romantic splash page of Violetta tenderly adjusting the necklace of flowers that Daisy is wearing for some reason or another as he stares adoringly at her.
meganbmoore: (yuya/mahiro)
This covers through the end of the Barroque Works arc, and is probably a good time to take a small break from the series (I have the next arc checked out from the library, so it won't be too long a break). Despite the high level of genuine enjoyment that I get from the series, the general frustrations that come from reading dude-centric action shounen are getting to me.

spoilers )
meganbmoore: (Default)
I believe this is my first time doing this since just before WisCon. Oops? I blame Flight Rising.

What are you currently reading

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. Third book in a GN series about a girl who ends up stranded in deep space with the Pied Piper, a giant mouse, an battle-mad robot and a giant...blob...thing and saves the universe a lot. Sadly, this is apparently also the last book in the series.

I've started reading the A Certain Magical Index novels, having run out of anime. I should say something substantial about the series sometime soon.

What did you recently finish reading?
The Foundling by Georgette Heyer. This is the book I read on the plane to WisCon. IIRC, I found it very entertaining-the basics of the plot are that an over-protected young duke really really really wishes people would let him stand on his own feet and has a series of misadventures when he goes undercover to help extricate a cousin from a lawsuit-but also frustrating due to,well, the lack of women. The hero's love interest is in about 15 pages, maybe, while the main female character-the titular foundling-is in it more, but isn't respected by anyone involved, including Heyer.

One Piece though volume 10 by Eiichiro Oda. I dunno, do I even need to explain the plot to anyone with even a passing familiarity with anime and manga? This is very entertaining, but frustrating due to the fact that, 10 volumes in, we have a whole one regular female character, and one who's pretty much given a supporting role in the plotline dealing with her own origin story. And Nami's great and all, but most shounen manages to do btter than this. It's especially odd since i checked it out knowing that Hiro Mashima was extremely heavily influenced by his time as Oda's assistant (and boy is it obvious) and within a couple volumes, Fairy Tail was all "here's an avalanche of female characters and most of them are background now, but we have 2 central ones and these others are being introduced in a way that says yes, they will be important later" (which is not to say FT is anywhere near perfect, but, you know...) Surprising no one, my favorites so far are Nami (and i'm vaguely curious about what the big Nami ships are) and Zoro (though I spend way too much time wondering how Zoro fights without lopping off his hand. I wonder if his and that dude from RuroKen who keeps an urumi wrapped around his bare waist trade "how not to kill yourself with your somewhat realistic-for-shounen weaponry" tips. i'm very amused with how, so far, the plotlines go vaguely like this:

LUFFY: HELLO! I want you to join my pirate crew!
Z/N/S: Dude, I said no. I hate pirates. Also, I'm not entirely convinced you understand just what a pirate is.
ACTUAL PIRATEY TYPES: We are here to pillage and raid and kick puppies!
LUFFY: New crewmember! Let's go whomp the bad pirates and show what good pirates with the power of nakama are like!
Z/N/S: Dude, I'm not joining your crew. But I'm down with the whomping.
WHOMPING: *happens with much drama and fanfare and speechifying*
Z/N/S: How did I end up-ok, fine, I guess I joined.
LUFFY: Toldja!
Z/N/S: You're really hard to break up with, aren't you.

(And then there's Usopp, who showed up at the harbor with his bags and tried not to look like he was begging to be asked to come along.)

Five Weapons: Making the Grade by Jimmie Robinson. Tyler Shainline is the 13-year-old son of a famous assassin, who is sent to The School of Five Weapons, a school where the children of bodyguards and assassins go to train for their future careers. All students join one of the weapons clubs, and everyone is eager to see which Tyler will join. The problem is, Tyler is actually Enrique, the son of Shainline's butler, who grew up with the real Tyler. Sent as a decoy by Shainline because an old enemy is hunting for him, Enrique doesn't actually know how to use any weapons, and is actually forbidden to learn how to use any. Fortunately, he has a childhood of playing with an assassin-in-training behind him and a very slippery mind, and sets to outwitting the various students who want to challenge him, as well as trying to solve the mystery of the school's shady principal. Very fun.

Tokyo Crazy Paradise Vol 1-10 by Yoshiki Nakamura. AKA, "The very cracktastic scifi mafia series Yoshiki Nakamura did before Skip-Beat. The basic concept is that Tsukasa, the daughter of two police officers, who was raised as a boy (because women are more likely to be victims of violence than men) becomes the bodyguard of her classmate, Ryuji, after her parents die and she and her brothers end up on the street. (I'm not entirely sure whether Tsukasa identifies as male or female, or has even but a lot of thought into it, but the manga refers to her as a girl.) Ryuji, who has been in classes with Tsukasa for several years, has known that Tsukasa is biologically female for some time, but never let her know, and is Secretly In Love with her. And...hijinks? Tsukasa, Ryuji, and Ryuji's fiance, Asago, are all supposed to be 14, but everything-personality, how they interact with others, appearance, etc-all works much better if you ignore that and pretend they're all in the 16-18 range. I like it a lot, but also get frustrated by some things, like how not only are Asago and Tsukasa the only female characters, but they can't stand each other. Part of that is because of Skip-Beat, and how Kyoko pretty much makes ALL her rivals, professional or otherwise, fall for her. And things keep happening that make me think Tsukasa and Asago might start becoming friends, and then it doesn't happening. I aware of some later plot developments, and am more interested in getting to those than the "things happen to challenge Ryuji's leadership/Asago's standing as his fiancee, and they have to find out what's up with this latest drug, but Tsukasa will bash everything into obedience" which is what's happened a few times.

Princeless vol 1 by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin. First volume in a series about a princess (the 6th of 7) who's confined to a tower by her father until a princess strong enough to rule the kingdom rescues her from the dragon hired to guard her. She decides she's tired of boring princes who don't last 5 minutes against the dragon, escapes the tower, and sets off with the dragon to resuce her 6 sister's from their respective towers. Said princess happens to also be black, and possibly lesbian. It can be a bit heavy handed in its "wtf, fairy tales?" moments and th bit where the princess and her future girlfriend go on about women's fantasy armor keeps going after the point has been made until it's almost beating you over the head with it (uhm...maybe less so on that front if you haven't had many long and detailed discussions of the topic itself) but this was extremely enjoyable.

The Bughouse Affair and The Spook Lights Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. The first 2 books in a mystery series about Sabina Carpenter, and former Pinkerton agent, and John Quincannon, a former Secret Service Agent, who now run a detective agency in 1890s San Francisco. largely solid and enjoyable, though they don't offer anything hugely new to the genre. I'm also annoyed by the romantic subplot. Not because it exists-normally I'd enjoy it-but because so far, it's Sabina being very firm about refusing to become romantically involved with her business partner, and John being convinced that if he just keeps hinting hitting on her and openly mooning, she'll miraculously change her mind, even though she keeps telling him to knock it off. I'm pretty sure we're meant to see it as Sabina being stubborn and trying to not give in to the inevitable, as opposed to John ignoring her her repeatedly stated and reinforced choices and wishes.

What do you think you'll read next?.

More Index and One Piece.
meganbmoore: (levy writes)
Last post before WisCon, no idea how much/if I'll be posting while there.

What are you currently reading

In between.

What did you recently finish reading?

Two Ever After High books, The Storybook of Legends and Unfairest of them All by Shannon Hale. Like the webseries it follows the daily lives oof the children of fairy tale characters who are destined to repeat their parent's stories, regardless of how sucky those destinies may be. The protagonists of most stories, naturally, are delighted by this, and the villains and side characters are less so. Like the webseries, the plot revolves around Raven, the daughter of Snow White's Evil Queen, deciding that she isn't having any of that, and the fallout from her decision. The webseries focuses mostly on Raven and Apple, Snow White's daughter, but also spends a lot of time on the daily lives of other characters. The books are almost exclusively focused on Raven and Apple and there's a lot less of the other characters and their issues (I understand there are standalone books for younger readers that focus on the other characters, but my library didn't have them), but there's also a lot of emphasis on Raven and Apple's friendship and the rejection of "destiny." There's also Raven's mother, who went "off script" and tried to take over all the fairy tale kingdoms, and the mystery of two sisters who also rejected their story (one was supposed to kill the other and then die horribly herself, and they weren't having any of that at all) and what happened to them.

Zita the Spacegirl and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. Graphic novel series about a girl who gets sucked into deep space trying to rescue her friend from alien abduction, and ends up saving the universe a lot while trying to get home. Her sidekicks include a giant mouse, a couple of robot, a giant...claylike dude, a sentient infant spaceship, and the Pied Piper. Piper is a sometimes unscrupulous scientist/inventor who just happens to have a magic flute, and toothpaste that creates doors. Rumpelstiltskin also makes a brief appearance, so I guess a galaxy far, far away is where the child stealers of fairy tales go. There's also Piper's ex, Madrigal, a mysterious space gypsy who holds a grudge. These are FUN. I look forward to future installments.

One Piece volume 1 by Eiichiro Oda. Entertaining, needs more girls. My library has the first few dozen volumes, so hopefully I won't burn out before I read all of them.

And Shion no Ou, which I posted on separately.

What do you think you'll read next?.

I have a Georgette Heyer book to read on the plane to WisCon, and then my nexus is stuffed full of manga, lightnovels, and a few other things.
meganbmoore: (bend it like beckham)
Shion no Ou is an eight volume seinen manga about shogi and murder. No, really.

The main character, Shion, is 13 and hasn't spoken since she witnessed her parents murder nine years ago, and was found literally surrounded by blood, the only clue being several shogi pieces lined up in a way that suggested the killer placed them there, and might be a shogi player. In addition to losing her voice, Shion was left with a fear of blood strong enough that her first period go catatonic from shock, and she doesn't have clear memories of the incident. After her parents' deaths, Shion is adopted by her neighbors, her piano teacher and her teacher's husband, a shogi teacher. (In case you are like me and alarm bells start going off at "murderer is shogi player and adopted father teaches shogi," rest assured that the series never even acts like it might consider going there.)

The main plot begins when Shion enters the women's shogi league to become a professional player. There she quickly befriends two slightly older teenaged players-Saori, a girl from a privileged background more interested in pursuing shogi than her family probably cares for, and Ayumi, who is actually a boy, but pretending to be a girl because female players win smaller rewards in tournaments than male players do larger rewards, and he has to pay for his mother's medical bills. She also get the attention of the current meijin (top male player) who wants to see how she does. Not long after Shion starts entering tournaments, she starts receiving threats, which make the police think that her parents' murderer is someone close to Shion in the tournaments who fears recognition.

A large chunk of the series takes place during a large tournament open to all shogi players of both genders, both professional and amateur. There are a lot of shogi details in the series, some of which went over my head, but not so much that I couldn't follow the sports parts. For the most part, I really really liked it and thought they did a good job balancing the sports, crime and psychological parts. I was disappointed, though, that most of the investigating is done by the men, with Shion doing little investigating herself. Most of her plot related to the mystery of her parent's death is her realizing that some of the things she had associated with her adopted father and/or her biological parents may have been things the killer taught her, as he was apparently alone with Shion for several hours after killing her parents. But Shion does figure out who it was on her own without actually actively investigating, so that redeemed that part for me a fair bit. The series is also largely light on fanservice (there are several shirtless scenes for Ayumi, but they're mostly "in case you forgot, this really is a boy") but for a couple volumes, Saori's breasts start...well, ballooning. She isn't particularly drawn more provocatively in general, her breasts were just suddenly each the same size as her head, and then they returned to normal after a while.

It's a very good series, but probably one that will never be licensed.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
It's been a while since I did this, and I posted separately on a lot of what I read since the last time i did this, but I think this is everything else since then.

What are you currently reading

Shion no Ou. A seinen manga that's probably best summed up as "mute girl becomes professional shogi player to find her parents' killer," which is both technically accurate and a misrepresentation. i'll say a lot more when i'm finished, probably, but I'm enjoying it a lot.

What did you recently finish reading?

Bride of the Water God vol 14 by Mi-Kyung Yun. So much drama (some of which I find hilarious, though that's not the mahwaga's intention)! So much pretty! Sadly, I am not well versed enough in Korean mythology to completely following all the celestial shenanigans.

Kimi ni Todoke by Karuho Shiina Vol 17-18. Adorable awkward misfits manga is still adorable.

brief spoilers )

Dogs: Bullets & Carnage Vol 8 by Shirow Miwa. it's too long between volumes for me to keep track of all the genetic experimentation reveals and 30 or so people named Naoto running around straight in my head, but I'm ok with that, because the entertainment level is high. I'm also pretty sure the main point of this volume was to make sure all the readers shipped main!Naoto/Heine.

Strobe Edge Vol 1-10 by Io Sakisaka. A very cute and sweet shoujo manga about Ninako a girl who, like most of the other girls in her school, likes a classmate name Ren. Through a sequence of events, the two become friends, but Ren has a girlfriend who he's devoted to. Rather than chase after him or be jealous, Ninako decides to just be friends with Ren, and see where life takes her. Ren, thankfully, is not a cold aloof jerk like so many school "princes" in shoujo manga are, though some characters who haven't bothered to actually interact with him assume he will be. It becomes more conventional in the later volumes, but largely manages to avoid falling into some of the more irritating pitfalls other shoujo romances do, despite later volumes getting somewhat bogged down in "I cannot let the person I like know I like them because this other person likes them, even though the person I like has not implicated by word or deed that they have any interest in this other person."

Hero by Alethea Kontis. Sequel to Enchanted, and about the 6th sister of the family, Saturday, who is abducted by a witch's Raven who mistakes her for her heroic older brother, Jack, and taken to the witch's mountain, where she meets a prince who was enchanted by the witch's daughter to take her place. It has fun with the almost literal genderswapping, but doesn't seem quite sure what it wants to say about gender conformity. It's a more cohesive whole than
meganbmoore: (proper ladies deliver justice via flying)
Kurono Ran's older brother was the "First Knight," (aka, bodyguard/butler) to Ohtori Sei, heir to the Ohtori empire. When he died protecting Sei, Ran decided to live her life as a man (because girls can't be knights) and be Sei's First Knight. As the main part of the series begins, Ran and Sei enter high school which is also their testing ground. The enemies of the Ohtori's also attend the school, and are permitted to make attempts on Sei's life. In addition, there are 11 other Ohtori knights who can challenge Ran for her position as Sei's First Knight. They do this in a dueling arena called Avalon that just happens to be on the school grounds. After the first duel, no one in the school finds it odd at all for students to carry around swords, challenge each other to duels, or dash off to the arena to try to kill each other. But only lazy weirdos skip class to read manga on the roof.

I went into the series thinking Ran was trans based on the description, but she seems to regard herself as a woman who has to live like a man to achieve her goals. (Other's probably interpret it differently?) Despite this, Ran is consistently drawn like a shoujo bishounen, is very tall, and has broad shoulders and is fairly muscular by shoujo standards. There are also numerous chapter pages depicting her in traditional "hot shoujo hero" poses, and her and Sei in conventional romantic poses. The mangaka, Nishikata Mai, also includes Sei's fiance, Ibara, to try to convince us that they're totally straight despite all that and multiple dramatic speeches about their eternal devotion to each other and how Ran will stay by Sei's side FOREVER to help her achieve her goals for the Ohtori organization. The engagement is for business purposes and arranged by their fathers, but Ibara and Sei appear to be casual friends at the start of the series, but become closer as it progresses. Ibara also learns that Ran is a girl early on, and decides that the uptight but funny knight is uptight and funny and totally hot.

There is, pleasantly, absolutely no triangle to speak of there. In volume 2, Ibara starts making "But you're a girl, and I'm a man, and I should protect you!" noises and I started to fear that this would be like the other manga of Nishikata's that I read, Venus Capriccio in that it had a really good first volume that subverted a lot of shoujo tropes, and then everything went south from there. Thankfully, Ran informs him that "THAT IS NOT HAPPENING, SIR (and if you continue in this vein and progress to trying to interfere with my work and/or keep me from dueling, I shall punch you out and never ever forgive you)", reads him in on the situation, and says he should shape up and help Sei by behaving better and helping them watch for attacks on Sei. So he does, and apparently not to impress Ran, but because he thinks she's right and wants to help. He has more "me man, you woman" moments in the series, but they tend to be milder after the first set down, and he gets over them. Late in the series, Ran has to fight a duel that she's in considerable emotional turmoil over, and against an opponent who might be physically more skilled than her, but instead of attempting (too hard) to interfere, he believes in her and her belief that she can handle it, and goes off to take care of his own business. When another guy in love with Ran shows up and tries the " you are a girl and I and a man and I should protect you" bit (and is given the same setdown) he also tries to claim that Ibara is interfering and not letting Ran do her thing, and which point Ibara essentially informs him that there's a difference between supporting and interfering. And also that he likes his teeth right where they are. (Ok, he doesn't say the last, but he was thinking it.)

The Revolutionary Girl Utena references are numerous (and also, as you may have noted, there are a few Arthuriana references scattered throughout) and she doesn't even try to hide it. I mean, the title translated into English as something close to "The Flower Knight," it has a genderbending heroine who is constantly being challenged to duels to maintain her position as the second female lead's protector, and Sei's family name is even "Ohtori." It might as well be called "My Love Letter To Revolutionary Girl Utena."

It's far from perfect-it regularly starts skirting close to "romance will cure Ran of her unwomanly ways" and "absolute heteronormativity is how all things must eventually go," even though it almost always safely bounces back. In addition, while it has the common shoujo and shounen trope of portraying charcter growth and having the protagonist gain confidence and a greater sense of self through friendships, all those friendships are male. While there are a couple of minor female antagonists early one, every major character other than Sei and Ran is male. Despite that, though, I feel it does much better in the endgame than many genderbender manga do, despite the romance angles, it always prioritizes Sei and Ran's goals and desires over romance and the male characters, and I really really really liked it.


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