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Manga First Impressions: Wild Ones and Fairy Cube

Dear Readers,

I got some first volumes of some shoujo series from Viz for review. I’ve not read any of the series, so I’ll just be providing my first impressions based upon all the Vol 1′s, a couple at a time.

Wild Ones by Kiyo Fujiwara. Viz. $9.99. T for Teen (innuendo, some cartoony violence). 6 volumes (still ongoing in Japan, 2 volumes out here)

I’m a sucker for yakuza (Japanese gangster) stories, especially the ones that are comedy so I was looking forward to this manga. Unfortunately this one, unlike Gokusen, didn’t have much special to make it rise above the rest.

The main character, 15 year old Sachie, is orphaned and trying to figure out what to do when her presumed-dead grandfather shows up and asks her to live with him. She’s a little shocked to find out that he’s the head of a yakuza family, and she is his heir. She finds herself thrown into this family of idiot gangsters with hearts of gold and decides to try to live as normal a life as possible. Unfortunately for her, her new bodyguard, the young and handsome Rakuto, is as nutty as the rest of the gang and just won’t leave his “princess” alone.

This is pretty typical shoujo ‘fantasy’, with pretty average drawing. The character is no doormat, but she is a Mary Sue. The gangsters adore her –she can do no wrong even when beating them up, because they’re proud she’s yakuza– and she’s worshipped by her bodyguard who’s also the student council president who of course met her and fell in love when they were children (though she doesn’t remember him). There doesn’t seem to be anything here that I can’t get in countless other shoujo series, so I’d give this a very average C and recommend if you want to read it to do so at the library.

~~~~~~~~

Fairy Cube by Kaori Yuki. Viz. $9.99. T+ for Older Teen (violence, no sex). 3 volumes (complete in Japan, just starting here)

I’m a big fan of Kaori Yuki’s. She’s the mangaka of the very popular Angel Sanctuary and Count Cain / Godchild series. She has an intricate and expressive style of art, and her stories are often gothic in tone, occasionally veering into the macabre. They don’t always work, sometimes sinking under the complexities she can layer into them, but when they do work they’re better than much of what’s out there. But there’s one thing for sure about her stories, and that’s that you’ll get angst, angst, and more angst, and teenagers eat this stuff up. This one is no exception.

This is a series of hers I hadn’t read. As usual, the premise is a complex one. Ian’s mother was a fairy. No one believes it. But she left him a legacy of a twin spirit who hates him and the ability to see fairies. It’s an ability that got him named Ian the Liar and abused by his father. No one except Rin believes him. She’s a girl his age and his one true friend and love.

The twin spirit, Tokage, makes Ian’s father murder Ian, and Tokage takes over the body sending Ian into the spirit world while he lives Ian’s life and hurts those Ian loves. Ian finds out that a number of fairies have done this, and the device they use is the fairy cube, a dormant state that lets them lie in wait for a body to possess. Ian makes a deal with a devil of shopkeeper who holds the cubes. He gets a body of his own and revenge, but in return he must betray the world.

To be honest, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the plot I read in this first volume. Trips to Faery and battles with monsters from Celtic mythology, a battle between the Seelie and Unseelie court taking place in the human world, plots to rule the world, plots to rule the high school. No one is who they seem. Everyone has ulterior motives. Everyone has an angsty back-story to explain their behavior.

This story is definitely intriguing, albeit a little confusing. I have no idea where’s she’s going with it or even if she can manage to hold it together, but this first volume shows enough promise that I’m going along for the ride. B+

Sincerely,

ジェーン

(Jān)

These volumes can be purchased / pre-ordered at most any bookstores, but I like Anime Castle and their prices: Wild Ones and Fairy Cube

reads any genre as long as the books aren't depressing. Her preferred reads these days are in manga format and come from all manga genres, but she especially likes romance, doubly so when there are beautiful men involved. With each other. Her favorites among currently-running English-translated manga series include NANA, Ze, Ouran High School Host Club, Junjou Romantica, Blood Alone, Vampire Knight, Skip Beat, Silver Diamond and anything by the holy triumvirate of BL: Ayano Yamane, Kazuma Kodaka and Youka Nitta, including any scribbles they might do on the backs of napkins.

12 Comments

  1. Rhonda Stapleton
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 12:46:42

    I love that you’re reviewing manga, too. I eagerly look forward to those posts!!

    Thanks for the heads up on these!

    ReplyReply

  2. JaimeK
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 13:59:56

    Being new to manga, but really wanting to give it a try, I look at all of them out there and I just don’t know where to start. Any suggestions?

    ReplyReply

  3. (Jān)
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 14:06:46

    JaimeK, Do you read American graphic novels? If so, which do you like? Or if you don’t like them why not? What kinds of books do you prefer, genres and styles?

    ReplyReply

  4. JaimeK
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 15:29:48

    I have only read The Sandman. The Fairy Cube sounds interesting. I like romance, sci-fi, fantasy, dark fantasy and the like. I like anything out of the norm, but solid story, if that makes any sense?

    ReplyReply

  5. (Jān)
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 16:24:24

    JaimeK, that makes sense. Though the Japanese idea of solid story isn’t always the same as the Western one. For romance, you might like Mars (not to be confused with MAR). It’s got a darker, more realistic tone to it.

    20th C boys is an oddball SF story about children who pretend to save the world from a terrible danger, only to find out 20 years later that what they imagined is coming true.

    Battle Royale is extremely dark SF, upsetting to the max, a Lord of the Flies type story that’s harder to read than that. If that’s your cup of tea.

    Fantasy out of the norm would be Mushishi. I’m watching the anime now and love it. There isn’t really an overall story arc, just a bunch of shorts about the Mushi, ghostly lifeforms that sometimes interact with men and are the basis for many folktales. It’s a great show, and an excellent manga, but there’s no action. It’s slice of life that echoes the feelings of Japanese folktales, so you have to like that.

    There are lots of dark fantasies that are good. Death Note, which is supernatural thriller, is one lots of people like. I read all 12 volumes non-stop through the night.

    Hellsing is dark fantasy of the vampire sort, somewhat campy and fun, very violent, Dracula vs the Nazis. Pet Shop of Horrors is episodic dark fantasy, where people buy pets that will make their dreams come true and get what they deserve.

    Blood Alone is a very sensitive dark fantasy about a young vampire girl and the vampire hunter who protects her. It’s really well told.

    Cantarella is another dark fantasy, this one based in reality. It’s about Cesare Borgia, only he has a demon after his soul. The art in it’s really lovely.

    For really scary dark fantasy, Uzumaki. It’s just downright creepy.

    OK, that’s all from the top of my head. You seem to have the same tastes as Keishon. She might be able to recommend something more. :)

    ReplyReply

  6. JaimeK
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 17:04:27

    Jan (sp) – thanks so much for the recommendations. While waiting I ordered Crimson Spell, one by Amy Kim Ganter and Love Mode..all of which seem up my alley. I will look into all the others – off the top I looked at Cantarella and it looks like something I would like and I will have to look at Blood Alone because that sounds good too.

    Again, thanks very much.

    ReplyReply

  7. Liviania
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 17:46:30

    I still need to pick up Fairy Cube – I adore Kaori Yuki. Most of those you recommended to JamieK are favorites of mine, so I’ll have to pick up the ones I haven’t read. Maybe I’ll give Blood Alone another chance. (It looked fantastic, so I started reading it, it didn’t connect with me, and I never finished. Yet so many people love it I feel it deserves a second chance.)

    ReplyReply

  8. (Jān)
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 19:38:37

    JamieK, I forgot the Amy Kim Ganter. I would have recommended it. I’m glad you picked it up.

    I wasn’t sure if you liked M/M so I didn’t mention the other two, but they’re favorites of mine. You’re aware that the first book of Love Mode has non-con in it? It’s of the mistaken identity variety, not anything done out of cruelty or a power play, but it still upsets some people. But the first book contains only one of the couples of the series, and while I love them the second book and couple start the heart of the series for me.

    If you enjoy The Crimson Spell, the second volume wherein things turn darker is coming out in August.

    ReplyReply

  9. (Jān)
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 19:40:52

    Liviania, if you like thing grittier, the series does turn more that way as it progresses and we learn about the hero’s past and his involvement in the vampire hunting cultures, and the wars between them and the vampires.

    ReplyReply

  10. Estara
    Apr 10, 2008 @ 09:36:04

    Just to name two for the romance and fantasy side:
    -mostly romance: Fruits Basket
    -mostly fantasy: From Far Away
    REVIEW: Manga: Romance with a Capital “R”: From Far Away by Kyoko Hikawa

    ReplyReply

  11. Manga
    Apr 10, 2008 @ 16:11:20

    Hey!, I agree and would further point out that when Manga Thursday is factored in, it’s a slam dunk!!!

    ReplyReply

  12. Russ Stebner
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 02:46:57

    There is definately a whole lot to know about this. I can see you made nice points in the features as well.

    ReplyReply

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