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Manga Review: 1/3 no Kareshi

Year: 2007
Author + Artist: Ako Shimaki
Version:  Tenchi-Tachi [English translations]
1/3 no Kareshi Online: MyAnimeList, KissManga, MangaFox
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, School

1/3 no Kareshi, also known as My 1/3 Boyfriend, is one of several Ako Shimaki stories released in an anthology entitled Suki no Naru made Matte.

This very short story follows Rei, a girl in her third and final year of high school that has yet to ever have had a boyfriend. With growing pressure from her peers, she is at a loss because she has no clue as to how to go about it. When a strange situation leads to a cute guy, Yuuya,  blackmailing her over an embarrassing photo, she is placed in an odd situation. This eventually leads to some smoochy moments.

With all Shoujo Romance stories, the focus is on the female lead. Much in all as the female lead was an okay character (if a little dense), I found myself wanting to learn more about the male lead. I’d have recommended making it a two-part story in order to develop their relationship more and to show us more about Yuuya.
To the plot and pacing, I really think that the shortness of the story led to things getting rushed. As cute as this story is, the length really did mean that some opportunities for great storytelling were lost in an effort to meet the page-count requirement. This seems like a bit of a shame and also a bit strange given that a few anthologies published around the same time period often included multi-part stories. These stories were more successful because they took the time to tell us more about both characters and developed their relationship more.
To the artwork, it dated the publication but was high quality. The lines were neat, backgrounds fitting well and characters easily defined without relying heavily on those silly archetypes that we see so often these days. All in all, I would say that it was more than acceptable for conveying the story as it now stands.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a short but cute Shoujo school romance, then you might appreciate this manga. However, keep in mind that the shortness of the story doesn’t give much room for character development. If you read this story, feel free to discuss it in the comments section.

Feel free to post any recommendations for short-run, one-shot or longer run manga. I am always looking for something to perk my interest and appreciate folks sharing what they’ve read and enjoyed.

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Manga Review: Gokko

Year: 2003
Author + Artist: Konoko Sakurokoji
Version: Waatame Shoujo Scanlation (1st story) + Haruhime Scanlations (remaining installments) [English translations]
Gokko Online: MyAnimeListMangaFoxKissManga
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Drama

The following review is based on my own personal tastes. It is opinion only and each person should make up their own mind if they decide to read the series.

Gokko is a collection of four Shoujo Romance one-shot stories. The stories are varied though each is based in modern-day where four very different couples develop and accept mutual attraction. The obstacles that each of these couples face is distinctly different because these individuals lead, as I said before, distinctly different lives. Some of these obstacles are related to social status, misunderstanding and “knowing oneself”.

Though this may not be the best one-shot collection of Shoujo Romance that I have read, it was highly enjoyable. I found myself liking each couple which is the first step in keeping me interested in a story. I saw no issues of questionable consent, one of my  big turn-offs for modern romance manga and anime. To me, focusing on sex rather than developing the relationship between two characters seems like a cheap way to avoid telling a story about two people. Konoko Sakurokoji avoided this very modern problem for the genre.
To my actual issues with these stories, I found that the first and fourth story seemed a bit too short. These two stories could have easily been expanded to two parts each in order to give enough room for us to understand the couple in each. Also, I wish that we could have seen more of the thoughts of the male protagonists in each of the stories as this would have allowed us to get more into their heads. But this latter desire would have also created problems for marketing given that the stories were to be marketed as Shoujo Romance. Shoujo tends to focus on the internal workings of the female character due to the demographic being young adult and teenage females.

In conclusion, this series is a pleasant read for folks looking for Shoujo Romance focusing on people rather than sex. It would also be a great introduction for newcomers to the genre. Be sure to avoid if you are looking for stories focused on sex, but note that there is an abundance of series out there that does meet that particular need.

If you decide to read this series of short stories, feel free to drop me a line to let me know what you thought of it. Also feel free to post any recommendations for short-run, one-shot or longer run manga. I am always looking for something to perk my interest and appreciate folks sharing what they’ve read and enjoyed.


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Manga Review: After Morning Love

Year: 2008
Author + Artist: Mitori Fujii
Version: Dangerous Pleasure Scanlation Group
After Morning Love Online: MyAnimeList, MangaFox, KissManga
Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Slice of Life, Romance

It’s been several months since I last posted a manga review. This time around, I will be reviewing the rather adorable After Morning Love. After Morning Love is a five-part Yaoi miniseries with several one-shots attached. I don’t read a lot of Yaoi series because I usually find myself at frustrated and annoyed at the issues of consent that are rife in this genre. Thankfully, this is not the case with After Morning Love.

Matsuno, a salaryman, wakes up after a night of drinking to find a young man in the bed next to him. Rin is a prostitute that tries to extort money out of Matsuno by implying that they had sex. Matsuno doesn’t remember having sex and it becomes clear that Rin is trying to con him. In spite of this attempted scam, the kind-hearted Matsuno soon finds himself feeling protective of a young man that he learns barely survives from day to day. Although Matsuno is “not gay”, he has to navigate his own growing feelings for Rin. Misunderstanding abounds as the pair try to muddle through their own feelings for each other.

After Morning Love is an odd story. As mentioned before, most of my issue with the genre is the issue of consent, but I would also extend that to a focus on sex rather than building a real relationship and character development. These are also issues that I have with Shoujo though.
Right out of the blocks, I had the sense that this story would be different. The whole con thing gives us a sense of what Rin is willing to do in order to avoid spending a night in the street. Matsuno’s feeling of protectiveness also gives us a sense of how good of a guy that he is. Over time, we also get to meet several other characters and see what Rin is trying to avoid.
As for their relationship. it is easy to see how the pair complements each other. However, they will need to deal with their own personal obstacles first. For Matsuno, it is acknowledging that he is in love with Rin. He will also have to figure out some of the misunderstandings between them because he is unfamiliar with some of the terms used specifically in the gay community. Matsuno is also concerned about the age thing even though Rin is old enough to go to college. Rin will have to deal with his own fear of rejection that plagues much of their courtship. He was kicked out of home by his dad for being gay and feels unloveable.
After Morning Love reminds me of the series Higouhou Junai, otherwise known as Pure Love Outlaw which I last read about five years ago. Pure Love Outlaw is a series that I remember with great fondness for its thoughtful and mature depictions of same-sex relationships. If folks can think of similar Yaoi series, then feel free to post recommendations in the comments section.

In conclusion, After Morning Love is a really adorable, well-paced story with characters that were easy to care about. If you are looking for a mature romance that happens to be between two male characters, then I highly recommend this series.

I am currently looking for a regular manga series to review on a weekly basis. I encourage folks to send in their recommendations from my existing list as well as any other series that they can think of. I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with.


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Manga Review: Love So Life

Year: 2008 – 2015
Author + Artist: Kaede Kochi
Version: XscansX (English scanlation)
Love So Life Online: Wikipedia, MyAnimeList, MangaFox, Kissmanga
Genre: Shōjo, Slice of Life, Romance, Drama

After several months, I have officially completed the Shōjo series Love So Life. As such, I am bringing you this review of the entire series rather than one for the final chapters followed by a later full series review. That seems a little inefficient overall.

When hardworking TV news reporter Seiji Matsunaga has his two-year-old twin niece and nephew dumped at his home by his recently widowed older brother, he takes it upon himself to care for the pair. When juggling his work life and the care of the toddlers becomes too much, he turns to a sixteen-year-old girl at a nearby orphanage for help. Shiharu is the oldest orphan at the institution and had to contend with the early loss of her father followed by her mother a few years later. With those fond memories of her time with her mother to guide her, she attempts to provide good memories for Aoi and Akane whilst also negotiating her growing romantic attachment for Seiji who also grapples with his own attraction to Shiharu in lieu of their age difference and the possible implications if they decided to become romantically inclined.
What will become of them when the twins move to the home of their maternal grandparents? Also, what happened to their dad? And what is with that Takeru guy?

This is a really adorable series. Most of you will have read some of my previous ten-chapter reviews of this series and likely get an inkling of why I really adore it. For those that don’t, I will attempt to elaborate.
First, I really like the characterisation. The characters are normal people with their own problems that are explained meaningfully over time. Even the least likeable character Nao had understandable motivations even if he was highly annoying a lot of the time. As mentioned in previous posts, Takeru is my favourite character in the series for some weird reason.
Second, we see the plot progressing in a steady fashion with numerous “ticking clocks” for our characters to negotiate. The drama makes sense even if it began to drag on slightly toward the end.
Third, the realistic concern over age difference and the possible implications of a relationship. The romantic elements are obviously an important focus of the series. However, we see an adult actually considering the problems of pursuing somebody that is underage. In this case, Seiji also has further concerns related to his job and the possibility of Shiharu getting kicked out of the orphanage for indecent conduct. The series does manage to portray both Seiji and Shiharu as responsible individuals and address their situation in a thoughtful manner.

In spite of all of the things that I liked about this series, there were a few things that annoyed me at times. The first thing is the artwork. As crisp as the artwork was, there were a few characters that didn’t stand out as much as they could have. The second was an issue with the time-shift that occurred in the last few chapters of the series. This felt a little unbalancing from a reader standpoint. I believe that a montage would have worked a bit better ahead of the outing in the final major sequence. Whilst these annoyances did irritate me, they are in no way made me think lesser of the series.

In conclusion, Love So Life is a sweet slice-of-life Shōjo Romance series with some really neat characters that I recommend to anyone looking for a mature relationship rather than a series that relies on sex scenes or convenient and ridiculous drama. To me, it will hold a special place in my heart for a long time to come. So, now I have to decide what my weekly read will be for now on. This could be tricky…

So, now I have to decide what my weekly read will be for now on. This could be tricky… I could go for another romance series but I’ve devoured a bit of romance of late and I would prefer to mix it up a bit. Perhaps I could read a drama or an action series. Maybe I could go for something involving talking cats that can also shoot laser beams from their mouths and do kung-fu. That’s a thing, right? 😀 Anyway, I will keep you guys posted on what I decide.


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Manga Review: Love So Life Chapters 81-90

Year: 2008 – 2015
Author + Artist: Kaede Kochi
Version: XscansX (English scanlation)
Love So Life Online: Wikipedia, MyAnimeList, MangaFox, Kissmanga
Genre: Shōjo, Slice of Life, Romance, Drama

Sorry about not getting this review out last week. As some of you already know, I had some health considerations that I needed to address. In any case, this will be the second last week before I conclude reading this series. I hope that you’ve been reading along with me.

A bit happened this time around. The first was a visit to their maternal grandparents by Aoi and Akane with Seiji after some help from Shiharu in getting them used to not having her around. We see them meet some relations that they aren’t already familiar with. We then move to the goings-on of White Day. Rio pesters the amusing Takeru, whilst Nao has to contend with his stalker girl. The biggest event pertains to how Seiji decides to deal with his own White Day celebrations with Shiharu. After many weeks of waiting, we finally have a confession in the latter parts of these ten chapters. And man, was it so freaking adorable. Seiji’s character continues to show his maturity in even how he confesses to Shiharu. We still have some way to go before their relationship is stable but it is in a good place leading up to the final instalments of the series. This will be slightly complicated by Seiji’s brother showing up unexpectedly after two years missing. The last sixteen chapters are sure to be a doozy!

Well, we finally have a confession from Seiji this week after a long time grappling with how he felt about Shiharu. I loved the way that this scene played out a LOT. We won’t have Shiharu’s answer for at least a little while but I do think that the payoff will be worth it. Any drama from here on out will relate more to the side arcs and simply distract Seiji and Shiharu for a little while before the twins leave Seiji’s household.

I have obviously been enjoying my own manga readings. There aren’t a lot of manga that has drawn my attention near as much as this series has. I will go into it in a bit more detail when I complete the series but suffice it to say that I will sad when I turn the final page of the last chapter.
What are you reading at present? I’d love to know about the series that you look forward to with each new instalment. If you have recommendations, feel free to let me know and I will look into each suggestion. Catch you guys next week!


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Manga Review: Love So Life Chapters 71-80

Year: 2008 – 2015
Author + Artist: Kaede Kochi
Version: XscansX (English scanlation)
Love So Life Online: Wikipedia, MyAnimeList, MangaFox, Kissmanga
Genre: Shōjo, Slice of Life, Romance, Drama

It is our newest ten chapters of Love So Life, drawing us closer to the completion of the series. If you’ve been reading along with me, perhaps you feel the same level of attachment as I do. Then again, perhaps not.

In this week’s instalments, Seiji and Shiharu prepare the twins for when the Aoi and Akane go to live with their maternal grandparents. We also see the two spending their second Valentine’s Day together ahead of Seiji’s birthday. Finally, Seiji and Shiharu prepare the kids for a family gathering with their grandparents and other members of that side of the family.

Though not much happened in terms of conflict during these ten chapters, we see Rio and Takeru encouraging our hesitant couple to finally acknowledge the elephant in the room. At least Seiji and Shiharu didn’t have to content with Nao again this time around. Though, I suppose that some of that issue was dealt with during the ten chapters that I read last week. However, the lead-up is still dragging on a little bit longer than one would like.
Here I am, wondering if I was ever hung up over a boy for as long as Shiharu has been since she figured out that she liked Seiji. That being said, I am not in my late-thirties now with my teen years somewhat blurred by several decades. What I do know is that my relationship with my husband need had the same complications as that of our fictional couple.

Anyhoo, that is it for this week. I will be reading this series until the end, leaving us with two weeks left to go. I suspect that the payoff will be worth it.
If you have any manga suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments section. (Try to avoid hentai, please. I don’t have an issue with it but that is more for my personal time rather than something that I’d like to review for this blog.) I look forward to checking out some of your recommendations. I will need something to read after I am finished reading Love So Life and I will go over the priority list and your recommendations as I get closer to the end of the current manga and might even move to multiple manga each week if need be.


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Manga Review: Love So Life Chapters 61-70

Year: 2008 – 2015
Author + Artist: Kaede Kochi
Version: XscansX (English scanlation)
Love So Life Online: Wikipedia, MyAnimeList, MangaFox, Kissmanga
Genre: Shōjo, Slice of Life, Romance, Drama

Hello again! It is that time of the week again where I take a look at the weekly manga instalments. We are in the final adorable weeks of the series Love So Life. Time to blubber like a child. WAAAAHHHHHH! Okay, maybe that is an overreaction, but even this close to the conclusion of the series, I am feeling a little sad. It is time to buck up, though, and get on with the job! (Yes, I totally needed to give myself that pep-talk.)

Shiharu receives some excellent relationship advice from an old lady living down the road from Seiji that she and the twins befriend. Spurred on by his reflections of the time before the twins came into his life, Seiji has dinner with his rather sweet and weird ex-girlfriend, Ayumi Fujita, helping them both move forward in their lives. Little Akane also discusses divorcing her reluctant boyfriend Kenta during dress-ups.
We move to Nao being grilled for mathematics notes before being pestered by that stalker girl. He finally does something to make his feelings to Shiharu plain, leading to some awkward moments for the two of them. She confides in Rio and considers the evidence that would have made his feelings obvious to anyone else but her. Finally, Shiharu talks to Nao and apologises for not being able to reciprocate as she already likes somebody else. (He knew that already, but whatever…)
Finally, Rio gets relationship advice from two girls at school. She explains the lack of something as simple as a schmooch for the five months that she’s been dating Takeru in spite of her numerous attempts to facilitate such moments. >queue hilarious flashbacks< We are once again shown just how much of an odd (and dense) guy that Takeru is. Rio finally plucks up enough courage to explicitly tell Takeru, clearing up his confusion as to what constitutes an appropriate moment for such things, resulting in an adorable kissy-moment.

Oh, my. This was a really eventful ten chapters. It is nice to finally deal with that elephant in the room that was Nao. I am grateful that it didn’t drag on for a longer period of time because that would have resulted in me wanting to throw my computer monitor out of the window in irritation. (Okay, maybe my second monitor.) We also have a revised deadline for the twins leaving for their maternal grandparents now as well. All of these things add up to some significant story developments.
As I have mentioned before and you have no doubt noticed in a lot of drama, some writers often drag things out too long. Thankfully, Kaede Kochi has not made this mistake with Love So Life. We also see the “dreaded ex” as a discarded notion, much on par with how former lovers are dealt with in series such as Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai (aka Please Love the Useless Me). I find this way of dealing with previous relationships somewhat refreshing as it refuses to demonise former relationships unnecessarily. Sometimes the ex isn’t a villain. Of course, sometimes they are but that is not the point that I am trying to make here. Unnecessary drama is unnecessary, period, and reeks of cliche.

So, now I have to deal with the last few weeks of reading the remaining chapters of this series. I think that I have made it obvious time and time again that I am suffering a little bit of grief over the upcoming conclusion of the series. However, that is all a part of reading a good story. You get attached to the characters. Much in all as you want them to achieve happiness, you will also miss them when they are gone.