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.
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+