Keiko Online

Blog Home of D.L. Owens


1 Comment

Manga Review: Kare wa Diablo Vol. 3

Alternate Names: He is Diablo!, Kare wa Diovolo
Year: 2010-2011
Author/Artist: Kayoko Shimotsuki
Genre: Shoujo, Urban Fantasy, Comedy, Romance, Drama

Reviewers Note: Volume 3 covers consists of chapters 9-12 with a bonus chapter at the end. This review is based on the S2 Scanlations English translation. >insert spoiler warning here. No, seriously…<

In the third and final volume of Kare wa Diablo, Meiko and Lucifer (with the help of a “Shiba Inu”) play doubles tennis with manga-otaku Uriel and Johan; Lucifer engages in some shenanigans at the school play; and Lucifer’s sister Michael pays a visit (Homicidal SisCon, anyone?) ahead of a battle between a transformed Meiko and Michael. Queue a rooftop kissy scene between our two main characters after the destruction wrought by Michael has been fixed by God.

Whilst the final two chapters of this series redeemed it slightly, the whiplash caused by the story going from over-the-top humor to very serious material has been a bit of an issue throughout this series. This all-or-nothing approach takes weakens a series that began with an interesting premise. There is no getting around it.

Herein lies the corpse of Kare wa Diablo. No longer shall I gaze upon your pages. No longer shall I see Meiko occasionally gaining superhuman strength from eating Anpan whilst random stuff happens around her. You promised so much but fell headfirst into a pit trap. You shall not be missed.

With this in mind, I have decided to not do a review of the entire series as originally intended, as I think that I have gone over the strengths and flaws of the series in sufficient detail already. I will, however, say that this series began at an eight and ended at a six out of ten. Well, at least it isn’t the abomination that is Butterflies, Flowers… 

Advertisements


3 Comments

Manga Review: Okobore Hime to Entaku no Kishi Vol. 2

Alternate names: The Leftover Princess and the Knight of the Round Table, The Leftover Princess and the Round Table Knight
Year: 2013
Author / Artist: Kaori Katsuki and Rinne Ishida
Genre: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance, Reverse Harem

Reviewer’s Note: Volume one consists of chapters 6 – 10 of this 17-part series. This review reflects the Aqua Scans English fan translation.

In volume 2, Leticia ventures to the nearby kingdom of Illstra to attend her airheaded cousin’s wedding to Third Prince Severio. On the way, her father has arranged to have her servants poisoned in order to “test her nature”. She requests her father’s estranged former knight, Craig, to accompany her and Duke Barchet on the visit. However, when she arrives, she learns that her idiot cousin has run off with a scam artist and that Severio has left in search of her. She sends Duke Barchet to deal with the search whilst she runs interference at the castle. In the process, she moves ever closer to becoming the “heartbreaker queen” that was mentioned in earlier installments.

After the introduction of the major arc in volume one, this series mixes things up a bit with a short story arc set in another country. We see Leticia and her associates bring to bear the various tools at their disposal to deal with the current political situation. It plays out nicely and shows that they are more than capable of solving problems away from home.
There is also less of a supernatural element this time around, focusing more on politics. Whilst we don’t get to see everything that is happening in the background, we do, however, get to see the results in spectacular fashion. We got a taste of this in volume one but it is even more prominent in volume two of the series. It works well, making me like this series even more.

HAREM Observations: I find it curious that this series isn’t categorized as a “reverse harem” for many manga searches even though all of the necessary elements are there. As such, I’ve decided to change the genre section for the series to reflect this. Feel free to offer rebuttals if you disagree with the reasoning I offer below.
On numerous occasions during the first two volumes, Leticia shows her poker-face during various moments with Duke Barchet, the leading man of the series. However, there are numerous other suitors vying for her affections as well, ranging from knights to noblemen. On top of that, Queeny keeps pretending that her round table knights are her lovers to give herself wiggle room to deal with her own investigations. Each of these scenes moves the story forward as well, giving them a point in the overall plot rather than simply being used as fan service. Whilst fan service elements are quite common in harem and reverse harem series, a good writer makes good use of scenes to fit multiple purposes.

Verdict: This is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. I knew that I liked it after the first volume, but it somehow managed to get even better. Alas, there are only two volumes to go before the series is completed. I was predicting that I would grow attached to the series… I am really glad I have a bunch of other titles lined up after I am done because I will need a rebound manga. *sniff-sniff*


1 Comment

Manga Review: Mission of Love Vol. 2

Alternate Names: Love Mission, Missions of Love, xx Me!
Year: 2009-2015
Author/Artist: Ema Toyomo
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life

Reviewer’s Note: Volume Two of this manga covers chapters 5-8 of the series. Beware of possible spoilers.

In volume two, we see Yukina’s expert manipulation of Shigure after he attempts to use her weakness (the removal of her glasses) to get back at her again. As Shigure grapples with his own growing affections for Yukino, her cousin Akira is dealing with his own jealousy at their growing connection.

This week’s four chapters showcase yet again how focused Yukina is with her writing, especially in lieu of her archnemesis Dolce overtaking her in the cellphone novel popularity ladder. We also see a bit of a eureka moment, wherein she learns the value of the unexpected in developing tension in literature. Whilst we saw her ability to turn the tables on Shigure in the first volume, this time around, we see her growing more and more impatient to figure things out. She wants to understand what love is, something that Shigure points out in the fifth chapter that she has to figure out for herself.
We also see Akira featuring more prominently in volume two. Whilst I like Shigure and Yukina, Akira is becoming a more interesting character to me. He offers a pleasant, innocent contrast to the male and female leads. It is easy to empathise with him as well, given how close he is to Yukina. However, I am well aware of how best friend characters are often treated in shoujo series. They are rarely the focus of the story. Instead, that honor usually goes to bad boys and/or ice queens.


1 Comment

Manga Review: Kare wa Diablo Vol. 2

Alternate Names: He is Diablo!, Kare wa Diovolo
Year: 2010-2011
Author/Artist: Kayoko Shimotsuki
Genre: Shoujo, Urban Fantasy, Comedy, Romance, Drama

Reviewers Note: Volume 2 covers consists of chapters 5-8 with a bonus chapter at the end. This review is based on the S2 Scanlations English translation. >insert spoiler warning here<

In volume two of this series, Asuma / Asmodeus, that douchebag fallen that appeared in volume one, makes his grand appearance after acting in the shadows. He now attempts to get back at Rui / Lucifer by trying to destroy the bond between the other fallen’s relationship with Meiko. In the process, it only “makes their bond stronger”. It also results in Asman taking a liking to her ahead of being forced into a witch contract with resident swashbuckling cosplayer Toutsu by Lucifer. After that, an arc about the cultural festival introduces two new characters. Meh…

This week’s installment is a case of diminishing returns, as the story is becoming weirder. In an effort to add in lots of things to the story, such as the cliched Cultural Festival arc, it is all over the place narratively. We do see a moment of brilliance in the form of a flashback to Rui’s past with his former witch Lillith. The form of him being cut in half by Michael whilst protecting her is sobering even if the rest of the chapters undo much of this.
This brings us to the question of how many things a series can include before the mess of ideas overpowers the story. I think that the first volume did okay even if it wasn’t brilliant. In volume two, the story is diluted to the point where the goodwill built up in the first volume is being undone. This is a shame as well because the series had a decent premise.

Verdict: I am downgrading this series from eight to seven Aguris. I cannot justify keeping my rating as high as it was because the second volume was a bit of a letdown. Perhaps the third and final volume will give this series some well-needed TLC. I suppose we will have to wait and see.


1 Comment

Manga Review: Conflict Lover

Alternate names: Lovers in Conflict, Furachi ga Chishiryou, Ibara no Kanmuri, Akegata Kimi ni Omou Koto, The Crown of Thorns, A Rude and Lethal Injection, Conflict Lovers, I Think About You at Dawn, Wild Rose’s Crown
Year: 2012
Author / Artist: Satoru Takamiya
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Comedy, Drama

Reviewer’s Note: My review reflects the Blue Flor and Shoujo Crusade English translation. It includes sex scenes.

For those interested, the author/artist Satoru Takamiya has about a dozen romance genre anthologies under her belt beyond this title.

Conflict Lover is a short anthology consisting of a three-chapter story (A Rude and Lethal Injection + Conflict Lovers) and two single-chapter stories (The Crown of Thorns and Akegata Kimi ni Omou Koto). Unfortunately for me, the fan translation that I read was missing was the last short story called Akegata Kimi ni Omou Koto.
The first of the stories, a three-chapter story, focuses on the “political marriage” of high school student Sagiri to 24-year-old Sanada Soushi after her sister who was originally engaged to him runs off unexpectedly. Sagiri now has to deal with her own hangups and concerns about whether she will make a good partner. However, her mischievous hubby is more than up to the challenge of convincing her that he legitimately cares about her. This comes off as a charming comedic romance story with a snarky male protagonist that comes off as playful and caring. Of course, this is playful and caring by shoujo comedic romance standards, which also includes “the lewds”.
As for the first of the shorter stories, I was annoyed by it but it shows that Satoru Takamiya can write something more dramatic (in this case a romantic drama set in the Showa era) than the more comedic tale of Sagiri and Soushi. In my case, I find these romantic dramas to be a tad too artsy for my taste. It is more of a personal preference thing more than anything else. Some of you might like the theatrical elements of it, however.
To the artwork, the character designs aren’t really unique and they feel slightly ugly for my own personal preferences. However, you can still tell characters apart from each other whilst conveying action and emotion. As much as I enjoyed the storytelling elements, the artwork did still let it down somewhat. This is a shame because Satoru Takamiya is obviously capable of telling a variety of different stories.

The question is: Do I like Conflict Lover enough to read more of Satoru Takamiya’s other titles? In this case, I would provide a resounding yes. Whilst I appreciate good artwork, the story is more important to me. I can forgive mediocre artwork if the storyteller put in effort on telling a compelling story with interesting characters. I do not, however, recommend it as an entry level shoujo series due to the artwork, sex scenes and adult themes therein.


1 Comment

Manga Review: Okobore Hime to Entaku no Kishi Vol. 1

Alternate names: The Leftover Princess and the Knight of the Round Table, The Leftover Princess and the Round Table Knight
Year: 2013
Author / Artist: Kaori Katsuki and Rinne Ishida
Genre: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance

Reviewer’s Note: Volume one consists of chapters 1 – 5 of this 17-part series. This review reflects the Aqua Scans English fan translation.

Okobore Hime to Entaku no Kishi is a series following Princess Leticia, the newly-appointed heir to her kingdom. She has been chosen by her father due to the various issues that picking either of her half-siblings, the first and second sons of her father would likely cause. Armed with knowledge gained through conversations with the monarchs that came before and after her, she attempts to gain twelve knights to act as her round table as per tradition. However, her pick as the first knight, Duke Barchet, is resistant to the idea of becoming her flunky. As the machinations of an ancient enemy seek to destroy her and the kingdom, she will need to draw upon the knowledge of the past, present and future. The future Heartbreaker Queen will need to be on her toes.

Firstly, the first volume provided plenty of background for the female protagonist. The worldbuilding and lore were delivered in a timely fashion rather than suffering from the dreaded infodump. We also see Leticia’s curious conversations with the other rulers of the country initially providing their own share of questions. This aspect was a little confusing at first but it became clear what was happening by the third chapter. This time travel aspect was a little weird but I can now appreciate it. The MC and the other rulers have to keep verifying which part of the timeline they are experiencing, showing that there are limitations to using these discussions to gather information.
To the characters, Princess Leticia and Duke Barchet have some nice chemistry in the first five chapters. Her three brothers and Duke’s protege also provide a lot of interesting moments. However, we don’t see many interactions with other characters. This makes the world feel a little lacking in population. Sure, there are some main characters, but the story would be slightly more interesting if it included more cast members that they interacted with. I suspect that we will see more characters being introduced in the remaining chapters of this series.
As for the art, the character and world design was pretty much standard. However, the linework is clean and it easily conveys action and emotion. Whilst it is your standard European-inspired fantasy world, it is still sufficient.

Verdict: The first volume of this series has enough going for it that I will continue reading it. I liked the worldbuilding, characters, and plot. I am, however, concerned that I will get attached to it and then go through the peculiar mourning stage that many readers suffer from when a series that they like comes to an end. Why the heck am I thinking so negatively when I still have three more volumes left? Lame! Super-lame!


1 Comment

Manga Review: Mission of Love Vol. 1

Alternate Names: Love Mission, Missions of Love, xx Me!
Year: 2009-2015
Author/Artist: Ema Toyomo
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life

Reviewer’s Note: Volume One of this manga covers chapters 1-4 of the series. Beware of possible spoilers.

Years ago, I saw this title on Mangafox but never got around to reading it. At the time, the series was also still being released. Most anime and manga readers dislike waiting around for new installments of their favorite franchises, and I am no exception. This mindset can also be a bit of detriment because a good series may suffer due to that desire for immediate gratification. In any case, I decided to finally give Mission of Love a run and am enjoying it so far.

The premise is simple enough After her readers demand more romance in her stories, of a teenage cellphone writer, Yukina Himuro, is at a loss as she’s never been in a relationship before. Shigure Kitami is the student body president, a rich kid that has decided to make a game out of manipulating the gullible girls at school, all documented in his notebook.When Yukina comes across his notebook, she discovers that she is the last name remaining on his conquests list. She confronts him and decides to blackmail Shigure into helping her with “love missions”. It begins a game of cat and mouse game as the two attempt to outwit each other.

The school setting for this series is pretty standard, a high school with idiotic teenagers doing idiotic things because teenagers are exactly that – idiots. We see all of the girls fawning over Shigure because he tells them what they want to hear. This lack of skepticism makes them easy prey for his womanizing game. Yukina’s disdain for this behavior also means that she doesn’t feel guilty about blackmailing him. The two begin a cat and mouse game, wherein Shigure and Yukina try to outwit each other.
The plot progression is solid so far, with there being just enough information to move the story forward. We also see the same approach with the character development. Both of these aspects give plenty of wiggle room for storytelling in future volumes.
The artwork for this series isn’t anything special but it is easy to differentiate between characters and environments. We also see the appropriate use of mood and gestures to help convey action and emotion.
In the first four chapters, there are some neat moments wherein we see Yukina’s people-watching skills (a common bit of advice for writers) and imagination to deal with Shigure’s ploys to get out of the arrangement. It is a lot of fun and allows the two main characters moments to shine. As such, the first volume comes off as intelligently written whilst still being in the scope of how a high schooler could behave and still fit into the shoujo category.

Verdict: The first volume is an entertaining read that I look forward to reading more of in the future. It promised to be a slow-burn romance with two characters with very different goals and so far it seems to be delivering on that promise.