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Multi-manga Review: Shojo Beat Edition

January 23, 2010

So…since basically all the manga I got for and bought after Christmas was shojo (and almost all of that was Shojo Beat), I figured it was time to do a giant review of the SB manga that I got. Today’s reviews are Black Bird volume 2, Beast Master volume 1, Kimi ni Todoke volume 2, and The Gentlemen’s Alliance + volume 10.

Black Bird volume 2
by: Kanoko Sakurakoji
published by: Viz Media – Shojo Beat imprint
from the back cover: Kyo, the head of the Tengu demon clan, is Misao’s only chance for survival. But even though she has sweet memories of him as a childhood friend, she has trouble reconciling them with the man he has become. Despite the strange attraction she feels for Kyo, can she trust her life, let alone her heart, to a man who only cares about the promise of her blood?
my ramblings: I was pleasantly surprised when reading this. I hadn’t re-read volume 1 before reading this one (simply because I accidentally left volume 1 at school), and had completely forgotten how much I love Kyo. He’s not just some uppity boring male lead, he’s ridiculous and perverted (and while normally that would frustrate me, it works perfectly for his character). Also fun this volume is the introduction of Kyo’s vassals (or as Misao calls them, “Host Club Tengu”, which is much more fun).
While I think it’s rather obvious that Kyo loves Misao for who she is and not because she’s the “bride of prophesy,” I can definitely see where that would cause a serious snag in their relationship (and it most certainly does), because no on wants to think that they’re only with their partner because it’s benefiting the other person and not for love (that’s just depressing). I think my favorite chapter in this volume is the last one, where Kyo gets jealous of his vassals and tells Misao all sorts of ridiculous stories about them (some of which I believed until told otherwise, haha).
Viz did a perfectly fine job; I don’t remember anything problematic, and there were translation notes for anything that I wasn’t really sure about. On a sort of random note, this volume is the only one of the 4 in this review that has that matte finish that I’ve been seeing more often, and I like it. With the plastic coating on manga, I’ve had problems with it rolling up at the edges on my older copies, and this doesn’t seem like it will do that, while the images are just as nice looking as on those with the plastic coating.
The series is still just as smutty as ever (though it’s still just rated T+, so it’s not anywhere near what it could be), but if you don’t mind that and are up for something rather hilarious, I definitely suggest Black Bird.

Beast Master Volume 1
by: Kyousuke Motomi
published by: Viz Media – Shojo Beat imprint
from the back cover: Leo Aoi looks like a crazy animal with wild eyes–and no one at his new high school will go near him! He does seem to have a special connection with animals though, which intrigues overzealous animal lover Yuiko Kubozuka. In reality, Leo isn’t as frightening as he appears, but Yuiko finds out that he goes berserk whenever he sees blood! Will Yuiko be able to get through to Leo during these violent fits? Or will Leo’s ferocious side eventually devour her?
My ramblings: This series got some crazy good publicity, and seems to have done fairly well for Viz so far. Everyone seems to have the loved the first volume of this only 2 volume series, and I suppose I see why. However, I am not fully on “Team Beast Master” just yet. I did like a number of things about the volume, but I’m not going to sing it’s praises like most other people, because I didn’t absolutely love it. It’s fun enough and the humor is good, but at times it rather bored me, and that doesn’t happen very often (granted the first time I read it, it was 4am and I probably wasn’t awake enough to fully enjoy it, but still).
That being said, Viz did a fine job with the volume, and I have absolutely no complaints about the translation or how well the volume flowed. I will get the second volume (it seems kind of a waste not to get the second volume of a two volume series), but I’m not sure I can suggest this right now.

Kimi ni Todoke volume 2
by: Karuho Shiina
published by: Viz Media – Shojo Beat imprint
from the back cover: Rumors start flying about Sadako’s new friends claiming that Yano’s been around the block and Yoshida’s a former gang member. And the source of all this tattle? Sadako herself! Will Sadako retreat to her former life as a loner because of a simple misunderstanding?!
My ramblings: If you’re a shojo fan and you’ve never read Kimi ni Todoke, I don’t know where you’ve been, because it’s one of the best series out there now! I really don’t think there’s anything to dislike about this series, it’s adorable, the whole cast of characters is fantastic and well characterized (and I do mean the whole cast, not just some of them), the art is fantastic, and it’s a series that always leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. I really hope Viz (or someone) picks the anime up for an America release too, because every time I read Kimi ni Todoke, I end up smiling or crying or any range of emotions, it’s just that kind of story.
In this volume specifically, Sawako’s growth is especially showcased (what with her standing down people who are spreading the rumors), and I love that. At the beginning of the series, she’s not the kind of person that would go up to strangers in order to tell them that they’re saying something that isn’t correct and I think that her growth makes her a fantastic role model for girls (I especially feel some sort of connection, because talking to random people is not something I do in real life at all).
As usual, Viz did a fantastic job with this volume, and the only complaint I have is that they refer to Sawako as Sadako on the back cover (yes, that’s her nickname, but I don’t think it’s really the best choice, but that’s probably just me). Things that I did really like though include the nice translation notes in the back and I’ve gotten rather attached to their habit of  editing all sound effects, since it makes things much easier to read. Volume 3 comes out February 2!

The Gentlemen’s Alliance +
by: Arina Tanemura
published by: Viz Media – Shojo Beat imprint
from the back cover: Haine’s family has been reunited, but the estranged Togu family still retains many of its secrets. Shizumasa and Takanari are increasingly at odds with each other as each one tries to win Haine’s love. Will the twins ever be able to reconcile when they’re both in love with the same girl?
My ramblings: Things I especially love about this volume in particular: Haine finally picks Taka-kun (I’m much more a Taka fan than a Shizun fan), the fact that they use the word “text” and not “mail” (because as far as I’m aware, that ‘s what is usually meant when the Japanese say mail), the MisuFo sketch at the end, and the adorable 4komas. :]
Things I didn’t like: That Taka has to hurt Haine to save Shizumasa D: , that Arina’s radio show doesn’t work anymore, and that there’s only one more volume of The Gentlemen’s Alliance + left! The Gentlemen’s Alliance + is arguable one of Arina-sensei’s best works, and the only volume that is better than this one is the next, but since it’s not out until May, catch up on the series before then and get your Arina fix now.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Rebecca permalink
    January 23, 2010 12:45 pm

    I’ve been thinking of reading Beast Master from all I’ve been hearing. I thought it’d be longer than two volumes so that makes it more tempting to pick up. Kimi Ni Todoke is an amazing series! I love Sawako and I really admire her. She’s not what you typically see in shojo-her hearts in the right place, she’s smart, a hardworker and honest.

  2. January 23, 2010 7:12 pm

    >_>; *crawls back under the rock she came from*
    I haven’t read or watched Kimi ni Todote, though I’ve heard very good things about it. In the future I plan on reading it if that helps make me any less of loser ^^:

    Black Bird and Beast Master are definitely two titles I am interested in (I remember reading a preview of Black Bird back when Shojo Beat was around and liking it). Good to see they got positive reviews from you ^o^

  3. January 24, 2010 9:14 am

    I love the volume 2 of KimiNiTodoke . Friendship arc~ Ah it’s such an awesome series.

    I hope they have the bonus short story for Shinkuro at the end of the last volume. I liked how we actually learned about why the twins are akaward to each other.

  4. January 24, 2010 7:56 pm

    @Rebecca: KimiTodo is just fantastic; There’s really no other way to put it. :D

    @sylphalchemist: Oh noes! You HAVE to read it~! :D It really is one of the best series I’ve ever read, it’s just so adorable, you can’t help but fall in love with Sawako and the whole cast. :D And yes, plans to read it definitely make up for not having read it. ;]

    I think that’s why I got the first volume of Black Bird too, haha. It’s so much fun, as long as you don’t take it too seriously (cuz of…ya know, the sorta smutty parts…). :]

    @warriorhope: I love it too~ It makes me happy that Shiina-sensei focuses on friendship so much as well as the love story part.

    Oh gosh, I have the Japanese version of volume 11, but it’s at home, so I can’t check! D: I’m almost positive that it did though… :]

  5. January 25, 2010 11:11 am

    KnT- I’m gonna wait till after the anime is finished before reading the manga to see how much better it is. But I already cheated and read the latest chapter cuz I was too curious, lol. XD;

    Very glad that vol. 2 came out nice, though. I love the cover (yay~, awesum trio BFF~ x3) and couldn’t agree more on how you described Sawako. It’s funny cuz the most hesitant one is actually the bravest character. Ahh~, I love Sawako! <3

    Shinkuro – YAY! Shizun on the cover~! *love* Only one more volume! I hope it comes with something special since it's the last and that makes me sad but it makes it all the more special I JUST WANT THOSE DECK OF CARDS OR A POSTER OR SUMTHIN’! *crazy*. And yeshie, you’re correct on them using “mail” instead of “text” (it sounds better when the Japanese say it for some reason, imo xD;).

    Ooo, I want to see this MisFo sketch and is there any news of it being licensed yet since SDC is almost done? :/

    Other than that, I agree on Shinkuro being one of her best works to date. I have a hard time deciding which one I’m fonder of. This or TSK but overall, it’s gotta go to SDC in the end. ^^

    • January 25, 2010 12:44 pm

      The anime follows the first 2 volumes almost exactly from what I can tell (past that I’m not too sure), but it really is a faithful adaptation. :]

      I really like the cover too~ There’s a chapter title page in this volume that almost matches the cover (except in it Yano-chin and Chizu-chan are doing Sawako’s make-up and hair and it’s just adorable!).

      According to the editor the last volume will come with a special postcard (not a poster, but heck it’s better than nothing~).

      No word on MisuFo or SHK yet. :[ Probably nothing until con season really kicks off now.

      I really like TSK too; I think think if it had been longer and more played out, it would be my favorite.

  6. Rin permalink
    January 25, 2010 11:14 pm

    Oh god I loved Beast Master. I remember when my friend recommended it to me one day. Now I’m surprised it’s licensed.

    I’ve read a few chapters of Kimi ni Todoke. I just decided to watch the anime though (shame). I still haven’t gotten to it.

    • January 26, 2010 12:51 pm

      So you definitely recommend it then? I’ll definitely give it another try then. :]

      You should definitely read the manga too~ Though the anime and manga have been super close so far (from what I’ve read of the manga), so you’re not exactly missing too much. :]

  7. Amber permalink
    August 23, 2010 8:48 am

    WOOOOOOO GOOOO BBBBLLLLAAAACCCKKKK BBIIRRDDD :)

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