A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{August 26, 2012}   Comics and manga of the week (55)

This week is all about shojo, tragic or funny, love is put to the test again and again. But is it me or are there a lot of cross dressed boys in my manga selection this week? Out of 10 manga, 4 have main male characters who frequently dress as women and 2 more have at least one scene with cross dressed boys. I don’t know if this says more about shojo manga or about my tastes… On that note, on with the reviews.

From Five to Nine, volume 1 (French) by Miki Aihara

  • Junko is an english teacher who dreams of living abroad. Marrying a buddhist monk is the last thing that she wants to do. But even after she refused their arranged marriage, Hoshikawa won’t give up on her. I’m a big fan of Aihara. I love her simple, expressive style and her convoluted romances. But I’m still on the fence about this one. I like Junko, she’s ambitious and she owns her sexuality but the monk infuriates me. He’s a textbook creeper: he follows her, doesn’t take no for an answer, he’s jealous and he’s a terrible mansplainer. He has his occasional moment but it’s far from enough to make up for his failings. If she ends up with him, I will be very angry. (This volume also includes the first of our cross dressed boys.)

Je ne suis pas un ange, volume 2 (French) by Ai Yazawa

  • Midori’s feelings for Akira have finally been returned but his lingering feelings for Miss Maki, their art teacher, strains their relationship. Will she be able to keep her angelic smile? This volume also introduces Midori’s friend Ken (who readers of Gokinjo will recognize). Yazawa really has a rare skill for creating quirky, attractive men: I’d have a hard time picking between Akira and Ken. A great volume, though I cried a great deal. (Number of cross dressers: one picture and two mentions of Ken performing in drag.)

Koibana, volume 3 (French) by Nagamu Nanaji

  • Despite her hatred of men, Hanabi can no longer deny her feelings for Chikai. But she is unwilling to hurt another girl, Chikai’s girlfriend, in pursuit of love. Love seems to be in the air, all of Hanabi’s friends are beginning romances… which disappoints me a little. Part of what I liked about the first volume of this series is that some of the girls had interests other than pursuing boys. (Number of cross dressers: none)

Lily la Menteuse, volume 2 (French) by Ayumi Komura

  • Hinata has gotten used to the fact that her boyfriend likes to wear women’s clothes but their relationship is tested when they meet each other’s families and when a new rival for their love appears. Your standard romantic comedy with a twist. I would like the series more if I didn’t get the uncomfortable impression (though I may be wrong) that the author thinks of cross dressers and homosexuals mainly as comic relief. (So much cross dressing in this series: it’s the main premise. As a bonus, we get two cross dressed girls as well.)

Ma Copine est Fan de Yaoi, volume 5 (French) by Rize Shinba and Pentabu

  • This was an unsatisfying finale to an unimpressive series. There are even two chapters right in the middle about new characters only tangentially related to the main plot. The best I can say for this volume is that there were fewer terrible stereotypes about yaoi fans. Seriously, does anyone treat their boyfriend like that? I didn’t hate this series; I felt barely anything for it at all. (Number of cross dressers: one brief mention of a cross dressing incident in the previous volume.)

Obaka-chan, volume 5 (French) by Zakuri Sato

  • Just as things begin to heat up between Neiro and Tokio, a strange girl from his past appears at school. Kaya kidnaps Tokio and tries to force him to marry her. Neiro must turn to Shin, the boy who broke her heart, in order to save him. This series never fails to bring a smile to my lips. Neiro may not be smart but she’s strong, independent and loyal and she never gives the boys the chance to save her: she saves them instead! The series is full of humour and it never forgets that love is a little silly sometimes. (Number of cross dressers: none… but Neiro does dress up as chinese cabbage and I feel that deserves comment.)

Orange Chocolate, volume 2 (French) by Nanpei Yamada

  • The childhood friends Ritsu and Chiro continue to switch bodies periodically leading to some awkward situations. But just as they learn how to stop the process, two fox spirits appear, furious that they have refused their wish. There is a bit more romance in this volume and with the introduction of the spirits, this is starting to look more like Les Princes du Thé. I still don’t like it as much as Yamada’s previous series but it’s good fun and I love a manga about traditional japanese dance.
    (And yes, where there’s traditional japanese dance, there are more cross dressing boys)

Papillon, volume 4 (French) by Miwa Ueda

  • We learn one more reason why Ageha’s twin sister, Hana, resents her. Things seem to be going well between Ageha and her new boyfriend but Hana is soon causing trouble in that relationship as well. Ueda’s art is beautiful as usual but she has a rare skill for making messy relationships and truly despicable characters. And yet, Hana is somehow becoming more sympathetic. (Number of cross dressers: none)

Princess Jellyfish, volume 5 (French) by Akiko Higashimura

  • Shu gets the otaku girls involved in a school play and debuts Tsukiko’s jellyfish-inspired line of clothing. This continues to be a funny, unique and touching series. I look forward to every new volume. (And Shu is yet another cross dressed boy… and man does he pull it off with panache!)

Puzzle, volume 11 (French) by Ryo Ikuemi

  • Kanna finally discusses the death of her childhood friend with Roku and tries to deal with her feelings of guilt. The stress of it all causes her to temporarily lose her hearing. A beautiful series, heartbreaking series but, as I’ve said before, I have a hell of a time keeping the characters straight from one volume to the next. (Number of cross dressers: none)

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