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MANGA REVIEW: Jiu Jiu volume 1 by Touya Tobina

Story & Art: Touya Tobina
Publisher: Hakusensha/Viz
Rated: T+ for older teen
Volumes: 1/5

Dear readers,

It’s been a while since I picked up a new shoujo title so after looking around a bit, I decided to give this a try. I admit I don’t often read shoujo manga much these days but it’s good to revisit the genre every now and again.

Takamichi Hachiouji comes from a family of demon hunters. As a child, she was considered unnecessary. Her older twin brother was to inherit everything so the rest of the family paid little attention to her and told her she didn’t need to bother with learning anything. Then one day her beloved brother died while protecting her, and now the unwanted child has become the heir.

jiujiu01Her brother’s death left a mark. Takamichi doesn’t want to get close to anyone so she’ll never have to experience the pain of loss ever again. As an important member of the family, she’s assigned bodyguards but due to her difficult personality, she burns through them like butter. After losing yet another set of bodyguards, she’s finally given twin jiu jiu — half-human, half-demon creatures that take the shape of wolves — to raise.

Three years later, the pups have grown up and can take human form. In fact, their human forms look roughly the same age as Takamichi herself. (Dog years, after all.) The twin brothers, Night (Yuugure) and Snow (Setsu) want nothing more than to accompany their mistress everywhere and protect her from all threats. Takamichi just wants to be left alone. And so begins the story of an aloof girl from an established family of demon hunters and the two shapeshifting brothers who refuse to leave her side.

I wasn’t initially sure what to make of this manga. It starts off very manic, throwing Takamichi’s backstory and the jiu jiu brothers’ antics at us all at once. I thought the pace didn’t really settle until halfway through the volume. I suppose that’s not surprising. I find that a lot of manga has frenzied pacing at the beginning.

But I was lured in by Takamichi. I’m a big fan of prickly heroines at this stage in my reading life, and here we have one. She’d rather be alone. She overhears other family members criticizing her and she lets it roll off her. She’s armored her heart so she can’t be hurt again.

And that’s where I was charmed. Even though Takamichi cannot be bothered by other people, raising Night and Snow has unwittingly introduced a weakness to her emotional armor. I thought the relationship between the three of them was lovely. Takamichi raised them out of obligation — if she didn’t agree to take them in, what would happen to them? Nothing good, that’s for sure. But unlike the bodyguards who’ve left her time and again, the brothers saw through the cold exterior she presented them. Instead of being pushed away, her attitude made them more determined to earn her praise.

The brothers are your typical shoujo manga archetypes. As brothers, they’re opposites. Snow is easygoing and laid-back. Bespectacled Night is serious and respectful. As the two major guys in Takamichi’s life, they’re contrasts. The one thing I liked was that the manga does touch on the brothers’ relationship with each other, in addition to their relationship with their mistress. They both want to please Takamichi but there’s also a certain amount of competition between them. It’s nothing overt but it does come out at times.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see romance develop in the future. It is a shoujo manga, after all. I’m a little iffy at seeing any romance between Takamichi and either of the brothers. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened given genre conventions and tropes and all, but the thought makes me a little uneasy. She did raise them and even though they look like teenage boys in their human form, they’re still only three. My brain shies away at the thought.

The art took a little while to get used to but I found myself liking it by the end. I’m particularly fond of the flashbacks depicting Night and Snow as puppies. Night’s puppy form was adorable since his wolf shape has two light spots near his eyes – hinting at the need for glasses in his human form.

While I’m not sold on the idea of romance developing in the future — and who knows, maybe it won’t — I did find myself intrigued by Takamichi and her burgeoning self-awareness and self-acceptance. I also liked that even when the brothers were in human form, they acted like wolves — and immature ones at that. None of the cliched alpha male stuff here. They want to play frisbee and go for walks. It’s cute. I’m interested in finding out more and on board for the next volume. B

My regards,
Jia

AmazonBN

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

8 Comments

  1. Estara
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 09:21:34

    It would be interesting if the mangaka actually played with that stereotype – as in, when they are four years old their human bodies are in their early 20s or so ^^. I’ve read mixed reactions about this one and the first chapter I read wasn’t bad but also not especially gripping. Maybe I should give a whole volume a try, though.

    Oh and I’ve finally been able to buy Urameshiya, I want to add. I also quite liked the old-time josei Madame Joker at jmanga ^^.

  2. Jia
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 19:27:06

    @Estara: I can understand why this title gets mixed reviews. It’s a little quirky and a bit uneven but I’m willing to give it a couple more volumes before I decide. Reading shounen manga’s trained me well, I guess.

    I saw that the new volume of Urameshiya was available on JManga finally. I have to get that eventually, too. So much manga, so little time.

  3. Andrea
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 21:52:43

    Jia, have you tried Ashita no Ousama (Tomorrow’s King)? It’s a Josei about a girl who wants to be a playwright – very different from the usual manga fare.

  4. John
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 22:47:43

    This looks so cute. I haven’t read manga in forever, although I just picked up the first volume of Fruit’s Basket at the UBS a while back for when I have some free time. It looks so fun. *sigh*

    Jia, have you read a manga known as Hibiki’s Magic? There are only two volumes that I know of, and I’ve only read the first one, but it’s one of my favorites that I go back to time and time again. It’s quirky and features a lot of little vignettes about a cast of characters that centers around a heroine named Hibiki who learns how to be just a bit braver as she harnesses her magical powers…and makes tea. It’s very cute, a bit quiet, and I’d love to see your take on it (even if you hate it).

  5. Jia
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 09:10:31

    @Andrea: I haven’t but that sounds amazing. Thanks for the rec!

    @John: I haven’t heard of that one either. It looks like that was one of TOKYOPOP’s titles. Sigh. Oh, TOKYOPOP.

  6. Estara
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 14:57:29

    @Andrea: Wingtip Cafe scanlations are all really interesting, aren’t they ^^. I really liked Oishii Kankei and Real Clothes which they are doing now. I hope JManga licenses those as well. Oh and Ohimesama no Yurikago is by the same mangaka as Ashita no Ousama!

    Or have you actually seen that licensed somewhere in English?

  7. Andrea
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 19:47:46

    No, haven’t seen them licensed. I suspect that most Josei wouldn’t have the marketing legs to get licensed. [And even then, mightn't be licensed for my region - so frustrating when I signed up for legit web-based manga and 99% isn't available for my region.]

    One thing I’m really enjoying at the moment is the discovery of Korean webtoons. Though I still can only read scanlations, the webtoon income model (based on pageviews) means I can read stuff that isn’t licensed to the West and still contribute to their model by visiting the original pages. Am enjoying “Tower of God” particularly at the moment, and have also enjoyed Kubera and Pink Lady.

  8. Estara
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 10:28:59

    Korean webtoons are just strange for me to read as yet, but then I’m not a big webcomic reader. I’ve been lucky that Korean manhwa is more popular in Germany than in the US and we’re getting a few series that were stalled or never started in the US. So I’ve gone for their version of shoujo manga fantasy a lot – like Ciel, which was licensed by Tokyopop for a time.

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