Manga Review: Peach Girl

Nothing can express how much I truly adore this manga. I watched the anime first but it will remain one of my favourites for ever because of the themes, art and so much more! ๐Ÿ™‚

Peach Girl

Author: Ueda Miwa

Artist: Ueda Miwa

Genre: Drama, Romance, School Life, Shoujo

Status: Completed

Synopsis:

Appearances can be misleading. Momo Adachi is a normal high school girl looking for love and friendship but people judge her as a party girl who, with bleached hair and tanned skin, has tons of experience in sleeping around. All she wants is to confess to her crush Toji and live happily ever after. But rumours fly and friends, like Sae, turn out to be not so friendly after all. And where exactly does Kairi, the resident school play boy, fit into all of this drama? A story of love, friendship, growing up and learning to love who you are inside.

What I Liked:

Like most of these (if not all) manga reviews, let’s start with the art! If I had to describe this mangaka’s work I would probably describe it as a “classic” manga style. It makes me recall the beginning of shoujo-esque works, like those created in the 80s and 90s (like Hana Yori Dango for example). As a result Peach Girl has a very distinct style to it. The mangaka is absolutely fantastic at creating fe like proportions and depictions of the human form. I know I have said this before about works I have reviewed, but in all honesty this is probably by far the best instance of great transition between life drawing and manga drawing. The way the eyes are done is absolutely breathtaking as although they are overly large like most shoujo works, they are incredibly detailed, resulting in further expression of emotion with simple changes to the lines. I also enjoy when the author intermixes comedic cartoonish depictions of the characters and their faces into the work as this gives a buoyancy and light hearted feeling to scenes that sometimes can sit heavy on the reader. I feel that these parts in Peach Girl are excellently executed and that they integrate very well into the regular art style.

Regarding the storyline, I found that the manga was easily relatable as it depicted a young girl’s high school experience in love and friendship. Yes, there are some overly dramatic parts which are unrealistic, but for the most part I could relate to Momo and her troubles regarding relationships, friendships and of course the most important part – first kisses! In addition to this, I really like that it breaks the shoujo rule of who the main female lead loves and ends up with. Instead of staying with the first man she sees Peach Girl breaks this trope and instead has Momo end up with someone completely different! I feel that this better reflects how life actually works when it comes to love and relationships. There are very few people in the world who stay with their childhood or high school sweetheart for the rest of their days after all (props to. Those who do of course!). Notably, this relatability that Peach Girl has shows in how easily it is adapted into other mediums. For example, this storyline has been applied to this manga, an excellent anime, and several live action dramas (one of the better ones was Taiwanese).

Although often lighthearted in material, this manga does have character development and this does not occur only in the major characters. Best of all, this development is subtly woven throughout the story and as a result is more successful than if characters were commenting on it at every turn. Momo is not a “perfect” shoujo heroine and neither is the main antagonist a perfect “evil” character. I really enjoyed the contrast between Toji’s character and the light hearted Kairi (who is probably one of my absolute favourite characters of all time). I find that through this character development and other plot devices that there are several good messages and attempts made to show how understanding and loving yourself as you are is key to one’s personal happiness. It deals very well with the realities of growing up and dating. And best of all, it shows how one person or event can change your perspective on things in life completely, causing your path in life to change – hopefully for the better! Destined meetings are always thrown out in mangas like this one but I love how this story theme comes full circle in Peach Girl (shhhhh! Spoilers! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

What I Disliked:

Now, for all of my gushing, there are a couple things that don’t strike my fancy about this manga.

Loveย triangles. Love triangles bug the absolute shit out of me. Yes, they make for a good storyline, conflict and character development but I absolutely can’t stand them at times. Peach Girl does its best to deal with the love triangle situation, but even it doesn’t escape my ire entirely. A woman and her life can be totally interesting without needing to have two men fighting over her! Mostly the back and forth gets me just wishing she’d pick a guy already >.< This of course leads to the main focus of this manga: draaaaaaaaama! I like dramatic stories, I do, but sometimes when the characters are going from one devastating dramatic event to another it gets a little old. That said, this manga does it better than most I have read.

For the art, it kind of. Gus me that all of the men are totally bishies. They look waaaaaaay too feminine for my liking and I wish there was more of a distinction between the men and women in this manga. This might be nit picking though because while looking feminine in the faces, they are absolutely wonderfully depicted bodily and in general.

Check it Out:

http://manga.animea.net/ura-peach-girl.html#.U_faBfldVhI

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Manga Review: Rokomoko

I literally just finished this and *needed* to post a review of it right away! โค

Rokomoko

Author: Ueda Miwa

Artist: Ueda Miwa

Genre: Romance, Shoujo

Status: Completed

Synopsis:

In this manga, Hiroko is child hood friends with Tomoko, a bright and beautiful third year middle school student who is always lucky in love. At 16 Hiroko always feels like she needs to be seen as the older sister figure – even going so far as lying about her dating history! Although this is the case, Hiroko has never had a relationship and unfortunately has a mole underneath her eye that makes men think… ahem…. certain thoughts about her. Just when Hiroko is starting to fall for Takeru, a classmate who runs a broadcasting session during the lunch hour, she finds out that he is dating Tomoko!

This manga is seriously a sweet story about the trials between two childhood friends who happen to like the same guy and how one should deal with insecurities that arise in life.

What I Liked:

I really adore this manga style! This author is one of my absolute favourites (I just need to get through writing reviews for al of her work and you’ll see how much I adore her โค ) and the art style is so refreshingly cute! The large eyes and soft lips convey a multitude of emotion in every line and the blushes make me think of romance and love โค Each character is distinct in their creation and the body proportions are perfect and reflect excellent artistry. I really love it when the art style is not so ridiculously unreal or simplistic in their designs. It really does show a passion and expertise in a mangaka’s work as a result.

In regards to the plot, this type of manga where two girls love one guy is overdone but Ueda brings a fresh look to this point of view. Instead of being bogged down in who should get the guy in the end, the author focuses on what is truly important, the relationship between the two girls and the feelings behind their actions. She focuses on the insecurities which drive a person to do certain things (ie. be dishonest) and how they should strive to overcome that. This is an excellent manga that shows a snapshot into the lives of the main characters and is a perfect example of the right number of chapters ( 8 ) for a story to progress effectively through the plot points. At no point in time did I ever feel that this manga was being rushed through or that it was skipping from one sudden dramatic point to another in hopes of keeping readers awake. I always find this mangaka’s work to be so refreshingly honest and down-to-earth, which is better than some shoujo’s I read *coughcoughrichboypoorgirlplotlinescoughcough*

I love this manga majorly because it makes me squee like crazy – I get all giggly and gush about the romance that is contained within its pages! And most of all, I love that this manga makes me squee the first time I have read it – a really good sign of a good shoujo manga!

What I Disliked:

Is it bad that at one point I was totally rooting for the secondary male character to take away Hiroko and sweep her off her feet? What can I say, I’m a sucker for the underdog ๐Ÿ™‚

Back on track though, there is seriously nothing at this point in time that I can say that is negative about this manga – beyond I want more!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Check it Out:

http://mangafox.me/manga/rokomoko/

Confession

Ok, so, as I once wrote in my ‘About’ section once upon a time this was to be a place to get things off my chest in hopes of doing so in real life eventually. I haven’t done that too much and have been focusing on Manga Reviews (which I have finally felt motivated to write again, go me!) but I feel like I need to go back to the roots of what this personal blog was supposed to be about: a step forward to being honest to the people I love in the “real” world.

So here is my first confession in a long long long time, one which I haven’t ever told anyone:

I compulsively pick my skin.

I recently (within the past year and a half) found out that the compulsive actions which was the picking of the skin on my chest, arms and face is actually a disorder or condition which falls under Trichotillomania, often associated with hair pulling.

I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning, I don’t even know what causes it or why I still do it even though I know what it is now.

All I know is that I compulsively attack the skin on my chest (I’m female) and this leads to a brief feeling of accomplishment followed by despair, disgust, and shame. I don’t like going swimming anymore or wearing clothing that emphasizes my cleavage. I’m also super self conscious when it comes to intimacy due to this. I’m pretty sure that it is caused by stress and anxiety as it started when I started feeling for anxiety in the rest of my life and I have noticed that it increases in frequency when I’m really anxious.

I want to change though. I’ve tried a few times to self-correct my behaviour and it always leads to disappointment when I fail to do so. I want to change this routine I’ve stuck myself in and the first step is to admit the problem. Although I feel sort of cowardly doing this through the internet, this is my pre-first step. I need to verbalize, and I use that term loosely, the problem and then start changing things. Then maybe I can feel comfortable about verbalizing this issue to my family doctor and my family in general with out feeling incredible amounts of shame.

I also have started looking into treatment, support groups, and self-help techniques that might actually work beyond simply telling myself to stop ๐Ÿ™‚

So here I am world, and I’m terrified.

Manga Review: Himekei Doll

I recently re-read this because I had a craving for a manga about fashion ๐Ÿ™‚

Himekei Doll

Author: Sakisaka Mea

Artist: Sakisaka Mea

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School Life, Shoujo, Smut

Status: Complete

Synopsis:

Ayumu loves the fashion line [BanDit] created by Renji because of what it did to help her self confidence. As a result Ayumu chases after Renji by entering the same fashion design high school as him. After a disastrous first impression (she kisses him!), Ayumu is unswayed in her adoration of Renji. Ayumu’s personality, earnestness and own talent help to persuade Renji to look beyond first impressions and thus begins a whirlwind adventure which takes them to rival companies, Paris and eventually their future!

What I Liked:

This manga is so cute! The art style emphasizes this by over enlarging the eyes and focusing more on details than the reality of the human form. Although huge eyes in manga is a recurrent theme (and a staple of the shoutout medium) the eyes are particularly decadent in this story. I really do like how much detail the mangaka puts into the eyes and Ayumu’s hair because it emphasizes the thematic storyline which is connected to fashion, beauty and the fashion industry in general. I really enjoy finding mantas which look into fashion and beauty because they often have gorgeous backgrounds and props among the actual characters. There is so much detail in the outfits that are made and worn by the characters that there is always something new to look at and discover.

I appreciate that although this manga appears to start off as a vapid shoujo where the girl pursues the boy, there is actually some character development in Ayumu. Although it is minuscule compared to other characters I have seen (like Tokyo Crazy Paradise for example) there is some growth in Ayumu’s character as she is no longer simply a passive person reacting to what is happening in the world. She begins to be an active participant and an equal with Renji.

What I Disliked:

i think this manga is one which actually has more dislikes than likes for me…

Ayumu’s character in general bugged me. She was a very insecure female lead, as she was dedicated to another person rather than pursuing her own goals. As a result she cries extensively through out the manga, and is even bullied by rivals to Renji. I found extreme frustration with her inability to concentrate when Renji was around her. I get it – he’s the guy you love but damn girl, have some control! It’s like getting into Hogwarts and complaining about all the studying involved to learn magic. I really like strong female leads and thus this is always going to be a pet peeve to me.

In regards to the story line itself, my biggest issue was with the part where Ayumu loses her memory about everything to do with Renji. Seriously? This is such an overdone trope (woman loses memory after male says something negative to her) and doesn’t help to move the story along whatsoever. It just furthers my disbelief that this is something that could ever happen in real life and increases my dislike of Ayumu’s character.

In addition, the ending feels very rushed and did not fully integrate all the elements which were introduced. Suddenly Renji’s father was introduced as a negative influence to the couple and then the story ends? What gives? It’s my belief that the author lost interest ย in the project or was forced to start on something new instead and thus did not give this work the full attention it and readers deserved.

Check it Out:

http://mangafox.me/manga/himekei_doll/

Manga Review: 360 Degrees Material

360 Degrees Material

Author: Minami Touko

Artist: Minami Touko

Genre: Romance, School Life, Shoujo, Slice of Life

Status: On-going

Synopsis:

Mio bumps into Taki, her strange absent minded classmate, after school at the train and prevents him from falling onto the tracks. In turn, he both teaches her about the trails planes leave in the sky and rescues her from being hit by a car the next day on their way to school. Due to these events Mio and Taki begin to talk more and more, setting Mio’s heart aflame! Egads I sound like some sort of harlequin romance writer!

What I Liked:

Nothing new here my friends – the art attracted me! The art style is so simple that there is no trouble figuring out what is going on in the background or trying to distinguish the characters. The simple thin lines are used to create form and this combined with very little shading creates an unique 2-D effect. As a result of these lines I really adore how the eyes and lips are drawn. The eyes in particular only fill up with details when important events are going on, further emphasizing the importance of the dialogue and plot points at that moment in time. In addition, the blushes that the author creates are so cute as they are composed of squiggly lines and shading – they look so so so cute! *squee* Mio looks very soft drawn like this and it emphasizes her feminine attributes without being showy about it – another really nice feature of this art style!

In regards to the plot, it doesn’t feel just like another shoujo romance where the lead female character develops feelings for the male lead. The characters are absent-minded (both Taki and Mio in turn) without feeling contrived or false and the worries that both of them have are very believable. I like that her crush is slow to progress and that everything about their relationship (when it begins) feels mutual. She hasn’t pursued him and he hasn’t pursued her. They simply found that they were like minded in regards to their feelings and they came together as a result. It’s really quite beautiful in my opinion. I also like that she doesn’t get flustered from studying with him and being close to him as a result. There are other mangas out there (like Himekei Doll) which have the female leads being unable to concentrate when the male leads are near. Yes, this is something that happens in real life (I’ve experienced it) but people can control these feelings enough to act like sensible people in front of those they love. By making the characters seem so… flighty, it really gives off a negative impression of women. Oh and speaking of studying, Math! Math is the topic that they focus on which is fascinating because I haven’t really seen other mangas that do so! ๐Ÿ™‚

What I Disliked:

Most of my complaints about manga I have read span across a lot of different stories and authors. So my negativity towards this on, with miscommunication and love triangles, is not particular to this manga. Even though this the case, that I don’t like ย these parts of this manga, I do feel that the author handles them in a much better way than I have seen before. So kudos Minami-sensei!

Check it Out:

http://mangafox.me/manga/360_degrees_material/

Manga Review: Air Koi

Love is in the air…

Air Koi

Author: Nanajima Kana

Artist: Nanajima Kana

Genre: Drama, Romance, School Life, Shoujo

Status: Completed

Synopsis:

Nina has been running around her high school taking identical photos of the one her crush, Hayashino-senpai sent her. She is unable to see Senpai until she finishes this game of sorts. Taro, a boy in her class, finds her one day taking a photo and decides to help her finish the task. But what is really the story behind these photos and Nina’s crush? Who is Hayashino-senpai and why is Nina doing all of this for a guy Taro says doesn’t love her back?

Also included are two short stories by the same author.

What I Like:

This manga is very very short. It feels like a snapshot of Nina’s life. The art though is impeccable and done in a fairly popular style. The multiple delicate thin lines help give the manga a good feeling of depth in both relation to the art and to the feelings that are expressed by Nina towards her Senpai. And although Nina cries a decent amount, I don’t find it too frustrating because of the way the tears are drawn. Over all the art is really nicely done and even more so when you look at the backgrounds. They are highly detailed and allow for the reader to fully believe that this is an actual setting in the actual world. It’s a nice change from some mangas which utilize backgrounds very rarely and often have shading or blank white spaces behind the characters.

The plot itself is very sweet but sad. It has a tint of melancholy attached to it, even from the very beginning and while this may deter you from reading it, I think it is one of pros of this work. It is such a sappy shorter story that I think it is a good palette cleanser from some of the more heavy and intense mangas out there (like some of the psychological, dramatic ones which can be found).

The last two chapters of this work are dedicated to short one-shots. These one-shots are decent in length, plot and art though I definitely prefer the first over the second. The first one-shot is about confession and love and I really really enjoy the main female lead. She is so funny and cute and these qualities make her endearing to me. It feels like a story that could actually occur in reality which is nice. The second one on the other hand I don’t like as much, probably because the female lead is so…. apathetic. She is in love with the idea of being in love and I don’t like that attitude as it can lead to complications – which is what exactly happens! as well, there is the cliche that two people meet and they are almost instantly in love with one another. This bugs me a lot about shoujo mangas often. It’s ok once in a while but I really do wish that they could develop a *new* trope to explore!

What I Dislike:

I think the main issue I had with this work was the “falling in love instantly” trope and that there wasn’t a clear progression from the end of the story to the epilogue. There needs to be a smoother transition between the end and the future. I do recognize though that this was likely published initially in a manga and that they have a space limitation on the number of pages but I do wish that it could be expanded upon. It could be a really interesting multichapter work.

Check it Out:

http://mangafox.me/manga/air_koi/

Manga Review: Orange Marmalade

A better story than twilight ๐Ÿ™‚

Orange Marmalade

Author: Seok Woo

Artist: Seok Woo

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama, School Life, Shoujo, Slice of Life, Supernatural, Webtoons

Status: Completed

Synopsis:

“The story of a female vampire trying to live a normal school life, but what will happen when she bites the school’s most popular boy?”

I think the entire story is pretty much summed up in the above line. There are so many other little things going on in this story, but that is the major premise and adding any other detail may ruin the wonderful surprise that is this webtoon – the first webtoon I read by the way! ๐Ÿ™‚

What I Like:

I like the format of this webtoon. It takes some time to get used to since it is one long art post rather than pages in regular manga but it helps one get into the mood of the story without any interruptions which is really nice. You can only see this format on the official website mind you – mangafox (the link below) separates the one post into several smaller pages.

The art style is very clean, fluid and smooth. The result is a beautiful simplification which manga does not often have because of the multitude of lines and stark black and white. The colours included in this manwha are an excellent addition that allows for a further expression of what the characters are feeling and how they are experiencing the world. As well, the backgrounds are often based off of real photos which the author has simplified or altered using their own particular art style. All in all, the art alone keeps dragging me in!

I enjoyed the plot line of this story too. It seems really simple at the start but it gets more complex as more people are let in on the secret that the female lead is a vampire in a vampire-phobic society. It’s nice to see how characters adapt, change and learn from their mistakes, which is not often see in a lot of manga or comics in general.

What I Dislike:

I really disliked how slow the updates were because I was always itching for more! Now that it is officially done though, I find the ending a little lackluster. I would have loved to see more epilogue that what was given as I feel that it was too simple for a complex issue of difference and prejudice that was brought up within this webtoon.

Check it Out:

http://mangafox.me/manga/orange_marmalade/