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Manga Reread: Hapi Mari [Chapters 21-30]

Other Names: Happy Marriage?!
Year: 2009-2012
Author/Artist: Maki Enjoji
Genre: Josei, Romance, Comedy, Drama

Reviewer’s Note: This review is based on the Aerandia English fan translation project. It contains non-explicit sex scenes and adult themes. Beware spoilers below.

Chapters 21-30, we see numerous revelations. Hokuto’s ex-girlfriend attempts to sow descent between Hokuto and Chiwa. Chiwa does her own investigation into how Hokuto’s mother died ahead of her own ex-boyfriend Asahina explaining what happened in college. And finally, Hokuto and his father talk for the first time in years after it was revealed earlier that his old man has a terminal disease.

Several of the story arcs that were introduced in chapters 11-20 are continued in this week’s reading. Whilst we see some resolution in that regard, there are still the ongoing hangups of Hokuto and Chiwa. The life-changing choice by Hokuto to take over Mamiya Tourism is one that will play out alongside the main arc regarding the death of his mother. Whilst I am well aware of how this plays from my previous reading of this story, the tension and foreshadowing remain.

For those that have been following along with the reading of this manga, what are your predictions for the remaining ten chapters? Feel free to post them in the comments section along with your reasoning. Note that if it involves an alien invasion or oni attacks, I will shake my head in shame. 😀

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Manga Review: Butterflies, Flowers Chapters 11-20

Alternate Names: Chou yo Hana yo (Japanese name), O Butterfly O Flower
Year: 2005-2009
Author/Artist: Yuki Yoshihara
Genre: Josei, Romance, Slice of Life, Comedy

Reviewers Note: Chapters 11-20 of this manga covers the third and fourth volumes of this series. My review also reflects the Serenus-Dreamers English fan translation version.

Warning: Spoilers and stuff…

In chapters 11-20, a wild prince appears! Masayuki’s also discusses Chouko’s period and their previous attempts to get jiggy with it. We also learn more about why Masayuki dislikes “the prince” so much. Chouko’s brother is his usual bizarro self (seriously, why does he take such an interest in his sister’s underwear?) whilst the resident “prince” from childhood and Masayuki help out at the restaurant. Also, we see an important discussion on the subject of suppositories. We are then introduced to the boss of the company…

Chapters 11-20 shall be henceforth be known as “Dafuq did I just read?” It deviated from the previous ten chapters by upping their use of humor relating to body functions and body parts. It was a little weird coming off of what I had read of the story already.
Whilst I don’t mind humor, it felt like the author changed their focus for the series. Perhaps Yoshihara’s editor suggested the changes or maybe a small dog decided to give its expert advice on the subject of Josei rom-coms. Either way, it felt like promises made earlier in the series for more serious material were cast by the wayside. That being said, I want to see how far the series plummet before I cast it aside completely. Perhaps it is that little part of us that finds train wrecks fascinating. Don’t tell me that you don’t, you liar! 😀

So yes, chapters 11-20 were weird AF but I guess that I will be reading more of this series. I guess that I must be a masochist or something. But hey, at least I have some other manga to cleanse my pallet. Keiko really needs this! *tear*


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Manga Reread: Hapi Mari [Chapters 11-20]

Other Names: Happy Marriage?!
Year: 2009-2012
Author/Artist: Maki Enjoji
Genre: Josei, Romance, Comedy, Drama

Reviewer’s Note: This is some nudity this time around. If you don’t like sex scenes… well, why the hell would you read a josei romance in the first place? Maybe watch Pingu instead or something. Hah! Take that! *frowns* Now I made myself sad. I like Pingu.

Warning: Spoiler alert.

During chapters 11-20, we see Chiwa meet Hokuto’s terrible family, and her get kidnapped by thugs paid by one of his assholes cousins. In the ensuing chaos, Hokuto and Chiwa finally get jiggy with it. Chiwa’s father gets into more financial difficulty and she takes it upon herself to get a job. There, she is reunited with one of her former boyfriends because… drama!!! Chiwa and Hokuto then vacation in Okinawa before yet another avoidable lover’s quarrel. After attending a family business-related meeting, Chiwa get into an argument over starting a family because… drama!!!

There were a lot of ups and downs during this week’s ten chapters. The introduction of the Mamiya family was a huge factor and we saw just how much Hokuto’s grandfather lets his family get away with. He comes off as a weak character in spite of being the head of an entire family and business conglomerate. The introduction of the other family members creates an interesting family dynamic, one that understandably pisses Chiwa off. Whilst these interactions with the Mamiyas provide some over-the-top drama, they do help progress the storyline and allow further character development for Chiwa and Hokuto.

However, we still see some of the following convenient elements:

  • Small World for Ex-Boyfriends: Chiwa seems to meet a lot of exes in her travels.
  • Mean In-Laws: We see this played out so often in manga series. Whether in Shoujo or otherwise, it seems that all rich in-laws are assholes.
  • Sexually Aggressive, Horny Husbands Club: It is self-explanatory. There is a lot of pushing onto beds.
  • Spouses that don’t talk to each other: Seriously, most of the drama in a lot of these mangas are because the couples aren’t open with each other. That being said, it is a cliche that most readers of shoujo and josei have grown used to because it would be boring if the couple could immediately work things out.

In conclusion, chapters 11-20 of this reread saw a lot of action in regards to moving the storyline on and in character development. It also saw Chiwa and Hokuto’s characters becoming more of a couple, a desirable trait for a mature romance story about a married couple. All in all, a memorable and action-packed ten chapters.


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Manga Review: Butterflies, Flowers Chapters 1-10

Alternate Names: Chou yo Hana yo (Japanese name), O Butterfly O Flower
Year: 2005-2009
Author/Artist: Yuki Yoshihara
Genre: Josei, Romance, Slice of Life, Comedy

Reviewers Note: Chapters 1-10 of this manga covers the first two volumes of this series. My review also reflects the Serenus-Dreamers English fan translation version.

Butterflies, Flowers is another random romance series that I decided to start reading recently. Whilst I did read the first chapter of the series a few years ago, I never really took the time to read further. I guess I was distracted with several other series that I was reading at that time.

Years after her clan lost its real estate fortune, Chouka Kuze learns that the task master of a manager at the office that she works at is none other than Masayuki Doumoto, the older servant boy that she befriended as a child.

This is a somewhat innocent josei romance. Whilst I did enjoy it, the lack of conflict made it a little boring. The artwork was a bit dated as well, and there was a tendency for some of the characters to look fairly similar. I’d put this series as above average, but still worthy enough to continue reading because I liked most of the characters in this story.


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Manga Reread: Hapi Mari [Chapters 1-10]

Other Names: Happy Marriage?!
Year: 2009-2012 (for completed series, not just the chapters reviewed in this post)
Author/Artist: Maki Enjoji
Version: Aerandia Scans (English translation)
Genre: Josei, Romance, Comedy, Drama

I remember reading this series many years ago over at Mangafox. As one of my first introductions to josei romance manga, it led to me searching for more series in the same vein over the preceding years. Since then, I have enjoyed a host of other manga, ranging from romance to horror. Yet, this series remains a personal favorite.

Chiwa Takanashi has spent most of her life in a constant state of work. She works multiple jobs in order to cover her father’s debt. It leaves no time for a social life and she doubts that she will ever have enough time to do regular stuff like dating.
When she is fired unjustly from a night position as a hostess, she soon learns that her boss at her day job needs to marry her in order to inherit the company. He is none other than the guy that had her fired, an arrogant man with little regard for those around him. She initially refuses, but when debt collectors come to the home that she occupies with her dad, Hokuto comes to the rescue. So begins the reluctant marriage of Chiwa to Hokuto Mamiya.

To begin with, the setup is a standard cliche for romance over the past few decades. However, I love the two main characters a lot more than several other series that I’ve read in recent years because their mindsets are relatable. We also see a good supporting character in the form of Taeko.

  • Chiwa is rather tolerant but inexperienced when it comes to relationships. She makes assumptions about Hokuto which create a lot of the drama in the first ten chapters. She also desires more control over her life for various reasons. She thinks that Hokuto desires a marriage in name alone in order to secure his inheritance down the track. She also thinks that Hokuto looks down on her.
  • Hokuto is also tight-lipped because of not only his family background but also out of necessity due to work. This unwillingness to reveal certain parts of his life also means that Chiwa often resorts to asking other people about him, such as Taeko. Learning to be more open with Chiwa is a big hurdle for somebody just as independent as she is.
  • Taeko Souma is Hokuto’s childhood friend and secretary. She is also an occasional cross-dresser. She is a standout because of how she helps Chiwa and Hokuto to get to know each other. She also has a bit of playful mischief to her.

To the artwork, whilst it was similar to a lot of josei that came out around the same time, the character designs are solid. Whilst it wasn’t special, the artwork did its job well. I could easily tell characters apart, the backgrounds had sufficient detail to convey locale and mood and it didn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out. This latter point is important if you want a person to continue reading your series.
To the plot, we saw a few things happening in the first ten chapters. However, the drama wasn’t drawn out for too long. This gave the story a feeling of progression rather than stagnation. The most important factor is how these elements allowed Chiwa and Hokuto to start trusting each other. Whilst the pair still have a long way to go in the story, they are beginning to see each other as a partner to lean on.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed returning back to Hapi Mari. Whilst I am some way from finishing this reread, I can see why I took a liking to it in the first place. I really look forward to rereading the rest of the series over the coming weeks.


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TV Review: Please Love the Useless Me

Year: 2016
Episode: 10 episodes. JDrama series adapted from a Josei manga series (English sub version)
Other Names: Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai
Online: Wikipedia (Re: Manga)MyDramaListAsianWikiIMDB
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life, Drama

Yes, I know that it has taken me close to a year to finish this series. A lot has happened over this time. I’m not saying that it was aliens… but it might have been aliens. 😉 Anyway, I watched the last two episodes this morning and felt compelled to post my thoughts on the series.

Michiko Shibata (Kyoko Fukada) is a 30-year-old unmarried virgin that is heavily in debt due to some poor choices. When her former boss Kurosawa Ayumu (Dean Fujioka), comes to the rescue with a room to stay in and a part-time job at his new restaurant, Michiko is forced to reevaluate her life. In the process, she makes a bunch of new friends, adopts a cat, and must come to terms with her feelings towards Kurosawa. Also, she has to deal with her fascination with meat.

This series is a live-action adaptation of a manga series that I read several months prior to watching the show. It can be easily described as a romantic comedy but is a lot more than that. I won’t go into such silliness as “it is a way of life” or other such nonsense, but the series leaves a lasting impression long after you’ve finished an episode or read a chapter of the manga. It is a warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when you recall a pleasant memory or spend quality time with a loved one.
The casting was excellent. Fukada and Fujioka were spot-on for the roles of Michiko and Kurosawa. They were backed up by a host of other talented actors and actresses, such as Ono Takehiko as Koida Kazuo, Suzuki Takayuki as Terui “Teruii” Manabu and Nonami Maho as Ikushima Akira. Director Hayato Kawai had a lot of talent to draw from during the filming of the series, with the cast of veterans having a fun script to work with.
To characterisation, I liked each character. Sure, each has their flaws, but these flaws also add to their charm and often contribute meaningfully to the story. It isn’t very often that I can say that. In Please Love the Useless Me, characters aren’t demonized or made to be villains just so that we would root for one of the characters. Being a “love rival” doesn’t necessarily make your competition a bad person. And sometimes a character creates their own problems by making poor choices such as not being sceptical of what another person is saying. This approach worked for me.
Whilst there were noticeable changes in the live-action version, these changes were meaningful and managed to hold true to what made the manga a compelling and entertaining read.  One character that appeared in the manga is deceased, creating some interesting opportunities for storytelling which were taken advantage of. Whilst I initially thought that this change was for the sake of brevity, it offered something meaningful to the story. Whilst some changes were actually for the sake of brevity, they still held true to the spirit of the manga, making this one of the better live-action adaptations that I’ve come across in recent years.

Whilst there is likely to be a few things that I missed out on during this review, I have to say that it is one of the best Asian drama series that I’ve seen to date. I haven’t completed Goblin yet but I am guessing that the two series will be on par as far as entertainment value is concerned. In any case, I recommend this series to anyone with a love of romantic comedy and slice of life stories.

Have recommendations for other series? Feel free to drop me a line via the contact page or by commenting. I look forward to hearing from you guys.

 


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Manga Review: Atashi wa Sore o Dekinai

Year: 2004 (4 parts, three stories total)
Author + Artist: Maki Enjouji
Version:  Viscans [English translations]
Online: MyAnimeListKissMangaMangaFox
Genre: Josei, Romance, Drama, Smut

Atashi wa Sore o Dekinai is an anthology of three Josei Romance stories. It features sex scenes and the classic “main guy is a jerk” cliche so common in both Josei and Shoujo. Whilst I do have some issues with the characterization in the three stories, the artwork is attractive and the characters are easily defined by Maki Enjouji. I wouldn’t say that it is a bad collection but I wouldn’t say that it is good either. If you are looking for an introduction to Josei Romance, there are certainly better anthologies and long-run series out there.