Yokai Manga

I have read so many manga lately, and barely talked about any of them (which is such a shame because I am afraid I won’t remember most of them), Anyways I am starting with these because I am continuing to read them and thus remember the story line.


Reimei and TobariAke no Tobari by Momo Chidori

This is a web-comic (fully colored) that follows the story of Tobari, a fox demon that dreams of creating a word where humans and demons can coexist. He loves humans, especially after meeting a young girl and befriending her (but she dies of old age once he comes back to the town she lives in). He befriends the town’s local priest Reimei. Tobari becomes Yokai Leader of the Shinonome Mountains, and together with Reimei starts to work towards the dream of creating paradise for all. The characters are lovable, and the art is wonderful. I am really enjoying the story so far. Tobari and Reimei find themselves facing opposition from both yokai/demons and human beings, but slowly bring both together through handwork and friendship. But seriously, look at how cute they are (left is Reimei and right is Tobari).

4be39f06df7959a4e03e32f18db92f58Kanojo wa Rokurokubi by Nieki Zui

Another really cute, almost slice of life romance manga. This story focuses on Kanoi Natsuki, a rokurokubi (demon girl whose neck becomes long when they fall asleep) who has a crush on her childhood friend (who is perfectly human). This world seems to also have a mix between humans and demons, only in this case it is almost normal and set in the modern era. The story is pretty light and very silly and funny at times. I love Natsuki’s friends who are both demon girls (though you only find that out as the story progresses). I also really enjoy learning about different less known mythical beings. The drawing style is cute and very round looking. The characters are not the delicate looking kind found in most shoujo, but it is still very cute. So far, I am on chapter 18 and the love story still has not really kicked in (it has been a little prevalent in the last 2 chapters, but not really), so I am not to sure if this is a romance. Either way, it is a really enjoyable story and also one of the few manga from the spring that I have continued.

mokkeMokke by Kumakura Takatoshi

Last but not least, we have this story which focuses on two sisters who live with there grandfather. Shizuru is the older sister (in junior high) who can see monsters that other people cannot see. Her younger sister Mizuki, on the other hand, cannot see the monsters, but is easily haunted by them. Each chapter focuses on a little episode of them dealing with monsters that either haunt Mizuki or other people. In many cases, Shizuru wants to help others, but her grandfather (who also deals with monsters) use his wisdom to guide them and keep them from getting involved with the supernatural and divine. One of my favorite chapters really took me by surprise with how serious it was and almost existential in a way. I really like this one, because it is like a slice of life mixed with mythology, and yet it adds some deeper stories inside too. I highly suggest it.

-Blog Barista

Summer Reads: Mostly Love Stories

So usually over the summer and winter vacations, my sister and I try to fit in as many books as we can. This summer I was a little busy studying and failed to read that many, but I still have enough for a full review post for today. I read mostly Regency novels (which is a genre that TheBetterCup loves, and I realized this summer is my favorite type of love story). I also read a few books my little (about 17) brother suggested, but for today I will list nine books I enjoyed over the summer.

1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

1So, I read this book in the very beginning of my summer break (some time early May). It is book 1 of three entitled All Souls Trilogy. I was not super interested in it to begin with to be honest. My sister suggested I try it by a recommendation of a friend of hers. I really love books that have the Witch culture involved (and even things like vampires and stuff), but only if its not really about love and more about like the freaky and bizarre. This story is more a love story then it is about the strange. The very beginning was really great. I liked the characters and the story line, but the more in love the characters fell, the less I liked the story. By the end, I did not want to continue to the next book. It was not horrible or anything. I just really stopped caring about the characters (even though I really did like the plot premise). The story is about a scholar named Diana Bishop who studies history of alchemy at the Oxford Bodleian Library (in England). She is a witch by birth, but tries her hardest to have nothing to do with witch craft and magic. One day she calls out books to study and is accidentally given an old manuscript that is encased in magic (that she is able to break). Afterwards daemons, witches, and vampires alike begin to harass her (all of them believing that they have the right to the book, but need her to break the spell on it). Of course, she meets a handsome and kind vampire and a love side story begins. Personally, the story was not well written enough to be really great, but I enjoyed it for the most part (especially the beginning). The pseudo history parts were great and so was the science stuff. I think they could have had a simpler love story, something that panned out more at the end (after working together efficiently together as friends to fix the issues), but that is only my opinion. I just wanted more about the Craft and less about the love story.

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

1Okay, so everyone probably knows the Fault in Our Stars by this point. I am not even sure I need to make a post. This is a book my brother suggested. My family members are all really into reading, and my brother was always the odd duck who hated to read. He really tried, reading any book we would suggest and reading any book given from school, but it always seemed like a chore for him. Then one day, he picked up this book to read so he could talk to a girl about it (typical teenage boy wants to impress a girl) and BAM, he couldn’t put down the book until he finished. He loved the book and the characters, and then began reading more books by John Green. He found more books by other authors that were similar and now he is a regular bibliophile like the rest of us. All it took was to find a genre to his liking (which ended up being very sad teenage love stories and coming of age), but point is he found it. I was never planning on reading this book (mostly cause cancer has always been a touchy subject with me), but since he loved it and wanted to talk to someone about it, I jumped at the chance to share something with him. It was a great book, I enjoyed it, and of course John Green is a good author. I don’t really want to say more about the book, other then it was good and wonderful. But what I really liked about it is the fact that this book helped my little (17 year old and almost a foot taller then me) brother finally read, and I am so grateful to John Green for that. I am probably gonna read some more books in this genre in the future, to connect with my brother, and I think I probably will enjoy most of them. If you don’t know, the story is about teenagers with cancer. It is funny heart warning, and really pulls on your heart strings. You have been warmed you will love this book, but cry a lot.

3Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, and Greg Call (illustrations

1Since I read my brother’s favorite book, I promised my mother, father, and sister the same thing. I still haven’t gotten to the books my parents recommended, but I did read Peter and the Starcatchers (TheBetterCup’s favorite). Peter Pan is my sister’s spirit animal. I can think of many characters that truly represent my sister’s personality, but Peter Pan is the personification of her soul (no joke). This book is one of her favorites, and to be honest it is a fantastic story. Kids and adults could enjoy this story. I have seen people try and compare this to Harry Potter (which is a good series in its own way), but honestly, I don’t really like Harry Potter as much as I liked this series. The story is a prequel to the story of Peter Pan that you probably know. Its the adventure of a young orphan who sets sail abroad the Never Land (a ship carrying a magical treasure). Witness an amazing journey, partake in theatrical and frightening battles with Pirates, Native Amerindians, and English Seamen, and enjoy a magical tale of the fearless little boy who never grows up.

4. Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

1The rest of the stories were all Regency novels (love stories during the time that Napoleon was gaining land and influence, and England was separated from the rest of Europe as consequence). These are some great stories. If you like anime and manga, Regency novels may be your cup of tea as well. Usually the love stories are simpler and there are other problems involved that need to be solved before the characters fall in love (at the very end). I personally like these type of love stories over things like the Discovery of Witches or Twilight were the love story just kind of becomes an obsessive focal point of the plot. These are cute and fun, and all the main character girls are different and likable (so are the main male characters). This one in particular is by far my favorite Regency novel. The main female (Kitty) was less pushy and reckless then some of the other girls and felt like a normal girl (not obsessed with high society, but willing to try it out for fun). And Freddy (main male) had to be my favorite love interest thus far. He was not your typical Byronic hero (who I love by the way). Instead, he was frank and a simple man (maybe a little dandy, but not to extreme either). I think he was really well balanced and pretty understanding (not just barking orders and keeping a sour face all day). He tries hard for the people he loves (even going out of his way when he would really rather not) and is basically so friendly everyone likes him. And did I mention he is humble? Seriously the best character trait in world for me is to be humble. And unlike other Byronic heroes, people didn’t look up to him (respect him or fear him) and he was not particularly talented or anything, just nice. Heyer does a great job making characters, most of the guys have a whimsical side to them that anime/manga story board artists should learn from when they decide to make the cool and angry character that acts a little mean). Anyways, Cotillion is about Kitty Charing, a young girl who will inherit a great fortune from her caretaker as long as she marries one of his great nephews. She is in love with Jack (the favorite great nephew, but also a player and an asshole), but unfortunately none of the great nephews really want to marry her. To make Jack panic and propose, she asks Freddy (another of the great nephews who tries to live life with as little conflicts as he can) to pretend to be her fiance *soundslikesomemangaplot*. Soon, she gets herself mixed up with other peoples’s love stories and starts to wonder if Jack is really the right guy for her. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with a Regency love story, but this is one of the best.

5. Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer

1This was my second favorite of the Regency novels that I read. I loved the main characters (who were both mature and found humor in everything), and I especially loved having older characters for once fall in love. It gets old always having 18 years old falling in love or a young girl and an older guy (not that I hate those, I still like reading them. But it is fun to mix it up more). This is a fun story, where two people find themselves at the marrying age and then get mixed up in a lot of silly and stupid situations before just saying ‘fuck it’ and deciding to be together (despite all the shit that make up their lives). I liked this one cause it was fun, entertaining, and easy to cheer for each of the characters. This story focused on Sir Gareth Ludlow, a Byronic hero with a sly and almost childish sense of humor, who decides to marry a girl he has known most of his life (now that he is in his thirties, his original fiance died seven years prior, and he should be having a family). On his way to propose to Hester (who acts all simple and obedient, but who is really rather sly and who is about to refuse his ass), he meets a beautiful young girl who is unattended and decided to help her get home. This opens up a world of trouble for Hester and Gareth, but gives them the opportunity they need to decide who they love and what they want in life. I don’t want to say much else, because this love story is a little more complicated, but its definitely fun and adorable.

6. The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

1Another one of the Regency novels by Heyer, this story was also fun and charming, but with a twist. The Reluctant Widow is more of mystery story, with murders, intruders breaking into the main character’s home, fake marriage, and stolen documents that can cause England’s lose in a war with Napoleon. It was a really interesting and different take on the typical regency novel, yet funny and enjoyable. In this story, Elinor (a young woman who though born into the higher class, has now ended up needing to work as a governess to live respectably). While traveling to her new job, she accidentally gets mixed up with Ned Carylon, who wants to hire her to marry his dying cousin. In a strange turn of events, Elinor accepts and gets herself involved in a complicated political problem and dangerous plot. All through the story, the characters keep a light and humorous feel. I really enjoyed it, and even if you are able to figure out who is involved in the messed up story, their reasoning are more complicated and harder to figure out till the end. This was my least favorite of the three, but still super enjoyable. I loved Elinor, who was sarcastic and prone to anger (which was funny), and all the other characters were fun too.

7. Cecily (Regency Trilogy #1) by Clare Darcy

1One of three stories, Cecily was my favorite characters (though the story was the simplest of the three and the girl had poor decision making written all over her). I still really enjoyed the story, and liked the characters. This was Darcy’s first publication, and I think she did a great job. Lots of reviews I have seen seem upset by how clean and chaste this romance is (simple, straight to the point, pretty ‘dull’), but I disagree with the sentiment. I don’t think any of those things make this a bad story. I liked that it was a little different in that way. The great part about Regency novels (like manga/shojo) is that it follows the equation that makes it fit the genre while changing things to keep it interesting and different. I mean, having a simple story every now and again is fun, sweet, and endearing. It would be no fun if all you ever read was angst love stories (got to throw in a Cinderella fairy tale and an adventure now and again). Keep it spicy. The story is about Cecily, a young girl with an innocent face who is now coming out as an actress on the theatrical stage. An aristocrat and leader of high society in London, Robert Ranleigh finds himself introduced to her (because of a silly bet) and ends up helping her try and get a respectable job as a governess, but of course things don’t go as planned.

8. Georgina (Regency Trilogy #2) by Clare Darcy

2The second story of the trilogy, Georgina felt like she was more prepared to maneuver between the complicated social groups of the high class then Cecily was. This was also a good story and very fun. In this story, Georgina Powers is being heckled by her rude grandmother and extraordinarily subservient mom into marrying rich (they are already rich, but they wanted an even richer and more respectable suitor). Upset with Georgina, her grandmother sends her to live with some distant relatives for a while in Ireland to force her to reflect on her mistakes. There she meets Mr. Shannon a good man with a bad name who Georgina can’t help but get involved with. Georgina seemed to have a good head on her shoulders, and I really liked her. I just wish she didn’t believe some jealous lady so easily when it felt so obvious that she was the least trusting person possible. The ending was also the best part. I love having the Grandma told to basically fuck off.

9. Lydia (Regency Trilogy #2) by Clare Darcy

1The last story on this list (thankfully cause I was finding it hard to continue and explain so many stories that i read months ago), Lydia had to have the most interesting characters of the bunch. I mean the main hero was the type of guy to laugh at almost everything (he barely got upset) and the heroine was completely out there. She was sassy, sure of herself, and really sweet in her own way. She was definitely the most reckless and the least ‘proper’, but I really liked that, and this was TheBetterCup’s favorite of the group. Lydia is an American young lady, who has entered Regency London by storm. She and her family are completely out of the ordinary and like to keep people on their toes. She is outrageous and catches the attention of the rich, thirty year old, Lord Northover (who laughs a lot, takes life in strides, and was once in the military). The story is basically a lot of misunderstandings that need to be fixed, because you know when you don’t act ‘proper’ people assume the worst of you. I loved the ending and the characters were really fun.

-Blog Barista

I have this as the background art to my computer. I love how patriotic it makes me feel, and All Might is so Youthful.

I have this as the background art to my computer. I love how patriotic it makes me feel, and All Might is so Youthful.

My Hero Academia- by Kohei Horikoshi

all mightI saw this, and on a whim saved the name so TheBetterCup could read it. I saw the word ‘hero’ and figured it would either be something she really liked or a total flop. I didn’t even look over the plot summary, or check the reception of the manga. Well let me tell you, My Hero Academia blew away all my expectations. With the end of Naruto, I kept thinking ‘What is the next line of amazing shonen?’. I figured that I would never be able to enjoy another huge shonen like we did with Naruto, but I am so very glad to say My Hero Academia is the manga that will take the place that Naruto left behind. The story and characters are amazing, and most importantly the message is perfect and executed wonderfully! I love the entirety of this so much and am so excited to continue reading it! Most of all, I more excited to share my love for this fantastic manga to share it’s  awesomeness.

Also side note, Masashi Kishimoto (creator of Naruto) and Horikoshi keep giving me feels with their interactions (Kishimoto drew a picture of Deku and Naruto and Horikoshi wrote a farewell comment for Naruto). I just can’t T-T, the Will of Fire has been passed down. And the anime for Boku no Hero Academia came out!

villianPlot:

The story is actually based off of an one shot created by the author which I also recommend highly because the story was awesome! And, reading that first is a great base to read this story.

The story takes place in a world where people are mostly born with strange genetic mutations called ‘quirks’ which grant them special powers. This leads up to a Hero culture, where there are many who use their quirks to protect others and some use it to harm others. Izuku Midoriya, known as Deku, is a regular middle school student, but he has no quirk. Never the less, he dreams of being a great hero and protecting people from danger. He is first to jump in and save people, even though he has no ability to do so, and All Might, the world’s greatest Hero, sees this. He decides to give to Deku his own quirk, “One For All”. The story follows Deku on his journey to become a true hero and learn to use his quirk. He meets the next generation of heroes and fights the newest threat, a league of villains bent on destroying everything he loves.

Characters:

There are so many characters, all of which are extremely lovable and amazing. The author describes each one individually through out the story at the end of the chapters. I mostly like how the more major characters are interesting and feel well developed. For instance, Kacchan seems psychotic and ‘bad guy’ material, and yet he is one of the characters who would never be anything but a hero. They are all beautiful spirits of youth.

boku-no-hero-academiaArt: 

The art is bulky and like you would imagine typical shonen to be, but I love it. Its extreme, its exaggerated, and it fills with movement and emotional impact, especially the fight scenes! The author is amazing. Its also extremely colorful.

DekuOverall:

I loved this. TheBetterCup loves this. This is on the level of our love of Naruto. I recommend you try it out.

-Blog Barista

I can’t actually express how much I love this manga and soon to be anime. The manga is dynamic like Naruto, the expressions are extreme like One Piece, and the characters are full of flaws and are as youthful and determined as ever. The plot is deep and profound, looking at what truly makes someone a hero in an age where heroes are celebrities and a dime a dozen, and the art is a wonderful shonen style that hints at American super hero comics. I highly recommend this.

-TheBetterCup

 

I love All Might. He is the Maito Gai of Boku no Hero Academia. Everything about him screams American patriotism (go figure) and Youthfulness. He is just a normal guy for the most part, but in his super hero form, All Might is amazing. He is sincerely heroic and almost ridiculously energetic. He is basically the stereotypical American hero, constantly smiling and constantly optimistic. He won’t ever give up and has faith that Deku never will either. Even his relationship with Deku is like Maito Gai. Deku like Rock Lee had no real innate ability like everyone else, and yet with their teachers and strong wills they prove they can be true heroes/ninjas without it.

 

 

Socks Goblin by Manmulsang

SocksThis is another really wonderful manwha. This one in particular is very light and fanciful which is reflected in both the story and the art style.

Plot:

The story takes place in the Island of Four Seasons. In this island, there are four villages: Spring Flower Village, Blazing Sun Village, Five Color Autumn Leaves Village, and the cold Snowflake Village. The main character is Sujin, a sweet, optimistic, and dainty young girl who decides to take the adventurous opportunity of working in a Bigfoot Bank in Snowflake Village. She leaves behind her family and beautiful spring home and moves far away into the cold big city filled with strangers. Following behind her is a mysterious creature that eats her socks.

In the beginning, a grandmother is telling this story to her children and this reflects the very story book feel of the webtoon. The characters are all so likable, and most of them are not to extreme in behavior (which is a pet peeve of mine in manga). I really loved Sujin’s neighbor and her land lady. He is super cute and I love his facination with the coean, it feels very mystical. The land lady on the other hand is awesome and gives off a magical appeal similar to Witch or the Waste or Yubaba.

The story is a fantasy romance webtoon that focuses on Sujin’s day to day life in a new world.

sockArt:

I love the art style. It is very colorful and pretty and appealing. Everyone is super cute, and it looks more like a manga style art then webtoon’s usually seem. The magical and the normal aspects all seem to flow together so well, and the art emphasizes that magical sensation. I especially love the backgrounds. The Spring village was gorgeous and looked rural. While, the Snow Village is a dark colored and very steam punk inspired, and yet it looks so magical.

Overall:

I adored this webtoon, and plan on continuing it. I am especially excited to see the romance section of the story. I feel like based on the character’s personalities and with the refreshingly slow pace of the romance, it will be a calming and loving romance. This is a new favorite of mine.

Go check it out!

-Blog Barista

My Girl by Sahara Mizu

my girlMy Girl is a seinen, slice of life drama following the life of Kazama Masamune, a single 23 year old man. He has a meek and kind personality, and he works a mundane office job. Early on the readers learn that Masamune met the love of his life, Yoko, when he was in high school. Though Yoko is four years older then him and an active and strong character, the two fall in love when Masamune carves Yoko little ladybugs from erasers. However, one day Yoko decides to leave and study abroad, leaving Masamune waiting for 5 years till she returns. That spring, he learns that Yoko has passed away and happens to meet a little 5 year old girl named Koharu. It turns out Koharu is his daughter raised by Yoko in secrecy, while abroad.

The story follows around 4 to 5 years of Masamune’s life, while raising Koharu. We see him struggle with the loss of Yoko, with becoming a father, and with his life in general. However, we also see his relationship with Koharu blossom over their love for Yoko and ladybugs, as they make new friends and learn what it means to be a family.

The author is the same person who wrote Tetsugaku Letra, one of the Blog Barista’s most favorite manga. The art style is similarly as colorful and unique. Even though this is not the usual story I would read, I fell in love with Masamune and Koharu from the moment I saw the first few pages. The art is pretty, and the storyline is emotional, often hitting a few nerves, such as when Masamune struggles with his youth passing him by. Over all, this has become one of my favorites, and I highly recommend reading it.

TheBetterCup

Cute New Favorites- Romance Edition

I love reading romances and I love stories about sweet, innocent, and more realistic love. I went through so many romance manga in the last week, many you will see in another post, but two of them really caught my eye and ended up becoming brand new favorites of mine.


stand upStand up by Yamakawa Aiji

Furuya Utako is the main character of this manga. She is a very tall (5 ft 6 in) high schooler with big ears, who is shy and reserved, because of past child teasing. She slowly starts to befriend Harada Naoyuki, a good natured and extrovert boy who sits next to her and who wants to be her friend. The story basically follows their relationship as they befriend each other and start to like each other more.

I loved the drawing style so much, its unique to the manga but still very cute. I also loved the character. Its hard to make a realistic love story still be different then other stories, and its hard to make realistic characters who don’t fall flat. Personally this one succeeded in both accounts, and for that reason, I find this an interesting manga. The boy character, who is supposed to be your average everyday popular kid, comes off more as an extroverted and likable character. Even his friends don’t stand out as weird or bizarre as characters in manga tend to do. And how often do you get a main character girl who looks more like a little monkey, with her ears and long limbs, and not the perfect cute girl. I really loved it and plan to continue reading this one.

StellaFlowerStella to Mille Feuille by Watanabe Kana

Another fantastic manga. This love story focuses on Ginga, a freshman in high school who feels that his past was heavy and traumatic, but learns that even though he may have had problems with his controlling father, his life was not all that bad. When he moves out to go to high school, he meets his new neighbors including an older (I think she is 23 years old) woman and her young (7 year old) niece. Her strong and hardworking personality helps him learn to make friends and he slowly falls in love with her.

I liked this love story. Its hard to find manga where there is a heroine in her 20s, mostly one that falls in love with a younger man. I am still not a fan of high schoolers and adults being together, but its ok as long as you don’t think to much about it. The art is pretty, but not extraordinarily different. I love the character personalities (though I can see some of them being slightly annoying, like the one girl who is in love with her sister’s boyfriend), but outside of that I loved the manga and plan to continue reading this.

-Blog Barista

Magical Girl Manga: Stuffed Animal Additions

I really love magical girls, and these are some that TheBetterCup suggested and most of them are connected back to adorable plushy beings. This is a short post, but the manga are so worth checking out. Also fun fact, kigurumi is the Japanese term for a costumed character and is the word commonly used for the animal onesies that have been popular lately.

CompletedKigurumi by Kurokata Kei

This manga focuses on Makoto, a young middle school boy who enjoys (and is quite talented) in creating stuffed animals. Lately, many have been dying by an unknown disease called Sudden Death, where a perfectly healthy people suddenly die of heart failure, and no one understands why. After a case of sudden death hits a crowd surrounding Makoto, he witnesses the true cause of the disease: giant stuffed bears brutally murdering and eating the people. Together with a small stuffed bunny and a strong bat wielding girl, he learns the true nature of the mysterious Sudden Death.

TheBetterCup loved this manga (I think it is her favorite of the group), and I for the most part also liked it (though its not my favorite). The characters and the plot are very unique with the boy being the main protagonist, but a very feminine theme (stuffed toys) as the main theme. It was a great way of mixing this horror bloody murder and cute fluffy beings. It is a seinen horror and has the art and feel of one. Its not as psychological as Puella Magi Madoka Magica or as violently gory as Mahou Shoujo Apocalypse, but it is still pretty dark. We loved it and plan to continue reading it.

 

KigurumiBoKigurumi Boeitai by Hoshino Lily

The plot for this manga focuses on a young girl named Hakka. She, among other students, have been chosen (because of their pure hearts), to help aid in protecting the Earth from strange creatures invading from another dimension and stealing the hearts of people consumed with desires. Each of the three student (2 girls and a boy) are teamed up with a large (and adorable and sassy) stuffed animal to battle the creatures. Though the students don’t fight, they help the stuffed animals transform for battle through a kiss, in which case they transform into handsome young men.

Of course I would like this manga. The art style is so adorable. The people are long limbed, big-eyed, and have large noses. I love it, and this is my favorite manga on this list. The character personalities are fun and diverse, and the plot still manages to make you laugh and leave deep themes. Its like your basic magical girl, but with a new twist to the plot. TheBetterCup also loved this, but she doesn’t like Hakka as much as I did. She may come off as annoying to some, but I found her refreshing. The students don’t do battle, but she always manages to jump in and be active participant. She is not strong enough to fight physically, but she still tries. I like that youthful spirit. We loved this and plan to continue reading the manga.

 

 

71uWKIf9tPLKatsute Mahou Shoujo toAku wa Tekitai Shite Ita by Fujiwara Cocoa

The story follows Mira, the right hand man and brains of an evil organization trying to destroy the Earth. Facing his new enemy, the magical girl Byakuya Mimori, he falls in love with her at first sight. The story follows him as he fails to follow out command to destroy the magical girl and instead help her out in her difficult situation.

I still counted this with the stuffed animal magical girls, because the magical girl’s familiar (side kick creature) is a giant kirugumi like creature that smokes and takes advantage of the magical girl’s poor economic status to get her to fight. This was an awesome manga! It probably would have been a favorite if it lasted longer. The manga is left incomplete  at the third volume because the author passed away. This was another unique take on the classic magical girl, where the main character is the male bad guy that falls in love with her. The art is also super cute. I loved it and wish it could continue.

 

I felt the post was really short, so I am adding some bonus magical girl manga that were also fun to read. They aren’t stuffed animal related, but they were super cute magical girls and thus need to be shared.

Bonus:

MagicalChangeMagical Change by Homerun Ken

Manaka Hiromi is a high school boy with magical powers helping protect the world from the Devil King. He and his team members (a girl with an awesome and not cute weapon that changes monsters to candy and a boy with an adorable and girly weapon) are unhappy with their magical powers though, especially Hiromi whose power is to turn into an extremely strong but sexy magical girl.

The story is pretty funny, and a good twist on the magical girl/magical boy genre. They are silly characters and for the most part it has an ok manga with pretty shonen art. It was an alright, but we probably won’t continue reading the manga

 

Hope you enjoy,

-Blog Barista

The Angel of Elhanburg by Aki

Oh my god, Aki is one of my favorite mangaka in all of the history of manga! If you go back to my earliest posts (almost 2 years ago), you will see I have a post on Olympos which is one of my most favorite manga ( http://www.espressocomsaudade.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/olympos-by-aki ).  The Angel of Elhanburg is a beautifully drawn, and amazingly written, one volume story of two friends and an angel.AngleofElhanburg

The Angel of Elhamburg is a short, but bittersweet story with a small (more insignificant plot) and major characterization. This is a common aspect of Aki’s writings, and actually, this story and Olympos have the most mixed review because some find it boring. I personally adore this sort of story, it takes a lot of thought and focus on the story to understand what is being said.

Plot:

The story opens up on Lalvan and Madeth, two friends from childhood who are now moving into an old, but enchanted castle after taking down the previous king. Madeth is the new king, though he has no royal blood, no education, and no skills (other than really good people skills). Lalvan is his childhood friend and knight who has many skills and can see spirits and angels. And since he could remember, they have always blessed Madeth. For all of these reasons, Lalvan is extremely jealous of his friend, but his feelings constantly conflict with his loyalty causing him to be a little cowardly. King Madeth, who respects Lalvan, knows all of this (though he acts like he doesn’t), but their friendship quickly falls apart when Madeth accuse Lalvan of being the father of his first born son Perseus (Lalvan may be jealous, but he is not bad enough to do that, and on top of that Madeth probably knew the whole time, he just couldn’t understand why Lalvan was not willing to take credit for all of the things he did/his skills).

So Lalvan leaves and many years pass before they meet again. But the meeting is not a happy one, as Lalvan has finally come to face his problems and realize how much time he wasted and the friendship they threw away.

GorgeousFinal Thoughts:

This is a story about a pair of friends who can see each others’s flaws, who sees that their ideals and values seem to be conflicting with each other, and who can’t seem to settle their own conflicting emotions until its to late. And its through the angel that they are all connected.

I loved the story and would recommend it 1000 times over. The art is absolutely amazing, as you would expect of Aki, and the colored images are also extremely stunning. Of course, her stories are short, but pack a mega-punch that leaves an ever lasting impact.

I know most people would probably start this and get frustrated/agitated/annoyed and not finish it, but I still suggest you try it.

-Blog Barista

Summer of the Ubume by Natsuhiko Kyogoku

Even though TheBetterCup and I read a lot of books and manga, one of the genre’s we don’t try to much of is mystery. It is not that we don’t like the genre, it is just a little harder to find some that aren’t really cliched. This was one of the first mystery manga that I tried, and man did I love it. I stayed up till 3 am finishing this manga.

UbumeBefore I get into the plot, I want to explain some of the parts of this that made it really cool read. So in the very beginning, the characters set up the story by discussing the story of the Ubume. Ubume is a Japanese yokai (mythological monster, folktale demon, etc) of ghostly woman carrying a baby. She is said to try desperately to get others to hold her baby, and once someone does she disappears. The baby then gets heavier and heavier until it is too heavy to hold, and becomes a boulder, crushing the person. This myth is told to the audience early on into the story, and is meant to give certain meaning to the mystery for the rest of the story. The use of mythology and other discussions, add a level of meaning to the story (so that our reasoning and understanding of the mystery would be surreal). I really liked this addition.

This is a mystery novel that is not really a mystery novel (where you try to solve the crime). Once you start reading, you start to believe that the story is not so much a mystery, but a book whose plot is moved along by the supernatural. In the end though, this was more about understanding certain characters psychologically (especially the side characters, and not so much the protagonist Chuzenji).

Plot:

The story follows Sekiguchi, a freelance writer, as he investigates the rumors of a woman whose husband disappeared mysteriously 1 and half years ago and who has been pregnant for about 20 months (swelling up bigger and bigger). He is helped out by his friends Chuzenji (a temple priest and bookstore owner as well as the protagonist of the series) and Reijirou (a detective, and ex-military man who has a strange sixth sense).

The plot is extremely simple, but is soon made complicated with strange and almost supernatural and psychological twists. This slowly get explained through logical theories by Chuzenji. Lots of the theories remind me of NBB classes, physics classes, and religion classes. At some points, these explanations feel like a stretch, but it doesn’t deter from the plot all that much. They actually lend an almost sci-fi touch to match with the more psychological based elements.

Ubume2Art:

I really liked the art style. The characters are so interesting, with great facial expressions (especially Chuzenji), and sometimes, the characters (especially the girl who comes and asks for the detective’s help), look kind of realistic with a film noir sort of feel. I don’t know if that made sense, but I really like the drawing style. Also, I loved the setting of the manga. It seems to be based after in some time in 1950’s (like it is after World War II), but I am not to sure about the exact time period. I really loved how the setting was drawn and how it adds to the feel of the manga.

Final Thoughts:

The very beginning is really dense with theories, that are setting up ideas for the latter end of the story. It honestly did not bother me much, but for some people it may feel like a slow start that may stop them from continuing. I suggest if you try this to read to about the point where Sekiguchi visits Reijirou, because that is when the main mystery starts to really form.

All the theories, I thought, were a really good touch. I loved how he deconstructed the supernatural, and it almost felt like the author had read Levi-Strauss and Geertz before. I really enjoyed this, and I plan on reading the other parts of the series as well.

Highly recommend

-Blog Barista

Fun, Feel Good Manga (Review pt. 3)

I feel like I should soon do one post that is not about manga, but for now please bare with me. I have some more manga that I have read recently, and for the most part they are some what varying in genre. I really regret having read so many (attempting to write about a lot of them feels daunting).

TogetherAlways Together by Isshiki Makoto

This is a oneshot manga about two distant cousins who are close friends. Both of them are pretty obese. Momoka Node realizes that her size is getting the way of her love life (she over heard her crush and his friends talking about her, and she was not very confident to talk to him even before). She confides in her friend and distant cousin Ippei Noda that she wants to change (he became obese after he stopped judo). Though he didn’t feel the need to diet, he decides that they should go on one together to make sure that Momoka can successfully reach her goal.

It was a pretty cute manga. For the most part it was sweet and pretty normal. The one thing that was off putting was that at the end it hints that Momoka starts to like Ippei. It only felt weird because they described themselves as cousins, but its a distant relation so it may be ok. But anyways, I enjoyed reading this and would recommend it.

IbaraIbara no Kanmuri by Kamio Youko

This is an interesting one about a girl who sees strange things. One day, she is told by a demon that she will need to collect human negativity so as to feed the demon (and allow him to climb up the ‘corporate’ ladder that is demonic social status. It turns out that he grandfather made a contract with him so that she could live past the age of 5.

I didn’t hate this, but honestly I didn’t like this either. The manga story is so so, and the characters are not very memorable. I don’t care to continue it, and I would recommend anyone try (even though it doesn’t mean you won’t like it). Overall, I just found everything from the art to the execution to feel lack luster for me. But there was one thing I did like. I enjoyed how the manga focused on this concept on what is evil and how it is associated with humanity. It was a dark, but a nice touch to the other wise overly played girl-working-for-mean-demon story. I also liked that the main character female put her foot down from the start and made sure emphasize that they were now partners (not slave and master).

TanakaTanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge by Uda Nozomi

This manga was pretty cute and the characters were a little odd. Its about a listless young man who is sluggish and lazy and his stoic but caring friend, Oota. Together they go through some pretty silly little episodes. Its mostly a comedy and slice of life web manga. Its published by Square Enix (creators of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts) and actually an anime version should be coming out about next month of this year. The drawing style is pretty much adorable. There is not much else I can say about this. I think it is a nice web manga, but I probably won’t keep reading this.

AlienKiss x Death by Kanou Yasuhiro

This one was my very favorite one out of the group. I honestly did not expect to like it much. I went on a limb on this one, since I usually stay away from supernatural manga and also ecchi manga (I usually hate that sort of stuff). Anyways, this one out did itself. The plot is both different and entertaining enough to make it pretty good, and I really like the main character. This is the first ecchi that I honestly enjoyed.

Its about a young high schoolboy who gets involved with this mini alien that was transporting 5 evil alien prisoners. The alien prisoners have taken over the bodies of 5 ‘loser’ girls in middle school (about 2 years ago) and have been trying desperately to go back to their home planet (doing experiments on people and controlling others). When these aliens take over human bodies, they attach to the tongue of the person. The young man and his little alien ally must now try to save those girls and capture the prisoners before they can escape (or hurt anymore people). To do so, he needs to kiss them and let his alien detach the prisoners from the mouth of the other person, but the only problem is that he can’t seem to get near women (of course you see where all of this is going). It sounds a little ridiculous, but the story is actually fun. Its an ecchi, but the weird parts are for the most part pretty infrequent. Its pretty funny and action packed, and some how even I liked it. I will continue reading this.

 

mikakoMikako-san by Kyou Machiko

This manga felt like something TheBetterCup would like. It is a slice of life, but the kind that only takes snip-its of the day to day, so not everything really makes sense.  It really focused on some, unimportant, daily life events of a strange girl named Mikako.

There aren’t many chapters out right now, maybe like 8. So, I can’t even be too sure where the story is going to go. It is listed as a Seinen and a Romance, so we know she will fall in love. Anyways, its pretty cute and light, so I would recommend someone read this if they got some extra time. The manga cover art is extraordinarily pretty, with this airy sort of water color sort of design.

MafuyuOresama Teacher by Tsubaki Izumi

I actually tried to read this manga a while back. I didn’t really get hooked the first time. Reading through it now, I rather like it. I especially love the characters. They are all extremely funny, and I was cracking up for th emajority of the time that I was reading this.

This is an action comedy manga about a yankee girl named Kurosaki Mafuyu. She used to be the leader of the gang back at her school, but was kicked out for fighting. Because of this, she is sent to one of the only few schools who accept trouble makers. Now she is determined to be a normal high school girl (she was only a yankee cause it was what she was good at, but she is such a simple and sweet girl), but she soon finds out that her home room teacher is a child hood friend. He was the one who got into fighting, and now he’s keeping her from having an ordinary life.

The story is cute and the characters fun. Its pretty cliched in execution, but its fun. Mafuyu and her friends are also pretty awesome. And you see the picture to the side? That is a hard core delinquent crying. I thought this was cute.

AjinAjin-chan wa Kataritai by Petosu

Ok so this last manga was about a man in his early thirties (maybe late twenties) who works as a professor at a high school. In this world, there are special beings called Ajin (popularly known as demi by the youths). They are born of normal humans, but some how end up being slightly different. In this school, there are 4 demi: a vampire (whose twin sister is average human), a dullahan (whose head is detached from her body), a Oni (who seems pretty normal, she just has cold skin), and a Succubus (whose is actually a new professor who just transferred in and really wants to be able to show affection, but can’t because of her affect on people). The story goes on, as he helps them through their normal (and not so normal) teenage dilemmas and with their problems that come from being different.

The story is extra cute, and I love anything with folklore and mythological creatures. I really hope that the succubus teacher can get a little bit of affection soon (like a hug or something).

I guess looking back, seven manga in one post is not so much. I just wish I was better at describing things.

-Blog Barista

Tetsugaku Letra by Mizu Sahara

tetraToday, is the first day of my Spring Break. Actually it starts in about 20 minutes. Right now I am in class as we compare sexuality in Ancient Greek religion and Taoist religion (and whether or not they contrast in ethical substance). Anyways, yesterday I read a few manga that I really enjoyed, and I feel that I need to have individual posts for each of the really good ones. This particular manga is one of my absolute favorites (I would love to own them in English, but I am not sure if it has officially come out in English).

Letra1Plot:

The story is about Ichinose Kimitaka. He is a first year high school student, who feels a little lost (he hates himself a lot). In middle school, he taught his friends how to play basketball and found his friends were getting more skilled (as he fell behind). He was frustrated and jealous and overheard his friends saying that they wished he would suicide. From then on, he blamed himself and his feelings of jealousy as having ‘polluted’ his life.

Upset, Kimitaka went to the bridge to throw away his red basketball shoes (in frustration), but meets a tall girl throwing away her dance shoes. He learns that because of her height (and large appendages, feet, and hands), she cannot become a flamenco dancer like she dreams of doing. She too feels frustrated and a sort of self hatred. Kimitaka trades shoes with her and tells her to try basketball out (since her size would help her).

As he enters high school, Kimitaka discovers that the girl’s life changed so much because of their meeting, and he suddenly realizes that he was the one that let his own life become sad and stagnant. Now he wants to go after his own dreams, and show to the girl how much his life changed.

Characters:

The main character is Kimitaka. He is, like many of the young characters, just a man in his new found youth struggling within himself and socializing with others. Personally, he seemed a little pessimistic, but was still empathetic person. Like most shonen tend to be, Kimitaka is just in need of a push to reach for some goal, and in this case its through some soul searching that he realizes on his own accord that he needed to change. He ends up helping the other characters that become his friends. I really liked him. He seemed pretty normal, not ridiculously talented or extremely strong willed or even unrealistically happy.

Kimitaka meets lots of characters, but the most important would have to be his two new friends and the young girl. Ichikawa Tsubura is a young man in Kimitaka’s class who is on the heavier side. He has some self esteem issues, but is kind, understanding, and considerate. He is a sweetheart, and will go to any extent to help a friend. Kikuchi Hana is another classmate who is stoic and can’t be bothered most of the time. He also has self esteem issues that came about when he began puberty (and led to him losing his dream and even to an eating disorder). He is actually really kind and silly, willing to go any extent to be less pitiable and show gratitude for his friends. Lastly, there is Fujimoto (the tall girl who plays basketball). She is a tall and lanky girl, who also lacks confidence (due to her huge size and soft spoken almost stoic demeanor). Fujimoto is a hard working high school girl, who just wants to be able to be depended on by someone.

LetraArt:

I love the art. Again the characters are mostly lanky, but in this case you can see the more ‘shonen’ like tone. What I like most are the really pretty covers on the volumes. They are super colorful and pretty and I really love them. Also, the parts where he dances are really cool.

Final Thoughts:

At first, I thought that maybe this manga was going to be silly. Its weird that the author picked flamenco dancing, and Kimitaka and his friends all seemed to suffer from mostly minor problems (not so much the bullying, but the fact that small problems affected their personal view of themselves heavily). But I realized, that is what made them so sympathetic. We have all probably been there: one point in our lives where we give up because a bunch of small things add up, and we don’t feel like we are enough. And the simplicity of the story line also really helps. Sometimes the simplest plot can be the most touching, especially if its executed well. Here I really like the interactions between the characters. Its refreshing, even though its a pretty dour at times, and I really just want to cheer him on so he can meet that girl head on and with some confidence that their meeting meant a lot to him.

 

2847196217863844321353703939I found it weird, but I really liked this manga. I think this is definitely a favorite of mine. It felt weirdly sad while also very motivational in a not so loud way. Its almost whimsical in a way, while still being more realistic. I don’t know if that made sense, but mostly this just makes me want to work hard, even though things won’t always turn out very well (or even mediocre level of average). I especially feel a simple happiness. I mean, there was one point where he was crying and holding those ridiculously gaudy, red girl shoes. At that moment, I think he realized how much of his life he just let slip because he felt he wasn’t good enough. It was sad, but cute and really moving, but in a simple way.

-Blog Barista

Bunch of Young Love (Review pt. 2)

See I told you I read a lot of manga a lately! And many of them I don’t even plan on commenting on cause they were just that bad. Though the last post (on magical girl manga) had more that I disliked, this one has more that I really enjoyed. If you are into romance manga, which I hope you would be by this point see the title of the post and all, then you will enjoy many of these!

HadiHadi Girl by Miyabi Akino

Hadi Girl is about Sae, an extremely shy high school girl who is also really tsundere (but not as annoying as usual). Much like Shougo Chara, Sae makes a wish to break out of her shell (so that she may fall in love) and get visited by a little angel and has an egg. From then on, Sae must work to help hatch the egg by fulfilling little lovey-dovey challenges with guys (like holding hands or hugging) or she will never be able to fall in love again.

I actually really loved this manga and plan to continue reading it. It may be a little cheesy, but the story is really cute (just like the characters). I like Sae and the boy that she falls for. the drawing style is super cute with big eyes and almost chibi like bodies, and the plot line is a great idea. I am very glad to have started this one and recommend that you try it out also!

LoliipopHatsukoi Lollipop by Matsumoto Kaori

Another of the manga that I really enjoyed! Hatsuoi Lollipop is about a young high schooler named Seo. She goes to a nice school, with cute friends and lenient school rules. Everything is great, except for the annoying guy named Narusawa Shin who sits behind her. She finds him hard to deal with, but quickly falls in love with him.

The story may feel a little rushed (by chapter 2, she is in love), but it was fluid enough that it wasn’t a big deal for me. The story is cute, and I really like how the characters interact. The drawing style is also really pretty, and I love the way the main character female looks (so cute). Its only on chapter 3 right now, but its still very enjoyable. I also really liked how we get to hear from the guys perspective, instead of just the girl fretting over whether or not she liked him. I really loved the way the characters were drawn, with big eyes and lanky bodies.

FujiFujiyama-san wa Shishunki by Ojiro Makoto

Fujiyama-san is a really, really tall young girl who plays volleyball for her middle school team. She is sweet and a little naive (and quite stoic), and she has a childhood friend named Kanba who plays practical jokes and is a little runt. One day Kanba peaks into the ‘girl locker room’ and sees a little more of Fujiyama then he expected.

This story is a little different then I expected, and I liked it a lot more then I thought. It is a seinen (written for older men) and is from Kanba’s perspective with bulky characters. It is also an  ecchi which you can see in lots of the chapters. But even in this way, I really liked it. It tells the story of young ‘love’ with the curiosity and prepubescent sexuality that you may expect in reality. The characters are innocent and sweet and I found this actually really refreshing. This one may be the one on this list I liked most.

TaroTaro-kun was Kou Miete Igai to xxx Desu by Ichikawa Shou

This is the last one I read, and the last one I am writing about (even though its technically the fourth one you are reading about cause I put this out of order). Anyways this is a really cute story about a young girl (whose name slipped my mind) who starts dating a boy named Taro after he moves into her apartment complex. He is a typical half Japanese, half American with perfect blonde hair (cause that’s how genetics work) and piercings (cause Americans) lol. He is super shy and bad with people so he is always scowling, and thus everyone thinks he is a scary yankee. but in reality he is a gentleman and a sweet heart.

I love the fact that the girl lead is straightforward and wants to be physical (while still wanting to the guy to be in control cause its what she wants), while the guy is shy and awkward and all about staying pure. I also really liked the kids. The two highschoolers take care of the neighborhood kids after school, and those kids are really wise for their age. For toddlers, they give way to much advice in love and being adults (really silly but cute). I hope its only a one-shot, cause they story can’t go for long with out being repetitive and getting too silly, but for now it is really nice.

TsuruTsuru Tsuru to Zara Zara no Aida by Tsukiko 

This one was refreshing in a cute sort of simple way, with a light and airiness to the story line. Tsuru Tsuru is about a young boy, named Takumi, who goes to an all boys middle school, and whose parents run a pet shop for reptiles and amphibians. One day he meets Saya, a young girl from the all girl’s middle school, who is super cute and delicate, and who loves reptiles (and amphibians). Soon they start dating, and the story follows them as they get closer.

This is a slice of life sort of story, and is mostly from Takumi’s perspective. Its cute and nice. I am not sure if its something I really want to keep reading, but I would recommend it.

PochiPochamani by Hirama Kaname

This one was another cliched shoujo, that focused on a slightly chubbier main female lead and a guy who prefers larger women. Honestly I am not too sure what to say about this one. I didn’t like how everyone seemed so upset with how the main male lead was interested in a girl who was chubby. She was sweet and nice, and reality his preference is not that weird or wrong. I also didn’t like how big a deal they made it. It was not like she was ugly, dressed badly, or had a sour disposition. She was chubby, that was it. And not chubby like her fat was in the worst places. She was well proportioned and her fat was placed nice enough that she was still attractive, because she was an attractive girl with some meat. I don’t plan on continuing to read this. It was just so so.

And how is it all these manga girls get cute boys to fight over them, even when they are considered so ‘unacceptably not pretty’ in pop culture?

PopBeauty Pop by Kiyoko Arai

This is a typical and cliched shoujo manga with your angst filled male leads, reverse harems, and a female lead who seems indifferent and distant while also being extremely talented. It was a fun read if you’re bored, but its not that interesting. Though I say this, I still read it all to completion. Its about Kiri Koshiba who is completely uninterested in a lot of things, and also really talented hairstylist. Of course she goes to a special school that gives too much freedom to a select few students (the main leads) and with a lot of adults and students acting like hair styling is EVERYTHING in this world. Some of the characters are grossly annoying (like the cutey boy who does nails and the narcissistic perfume one). Its about as silly and ridiculous as most shoujo rom-coms from the 1990-early 2000’s. If you enjoyed stuff like Skip Beats (which had a better plot then this), then try this one out too.

 

 

-Blog Barista

Heap of Magical Girls (Review pt. 1)

I think it goes with out saying that I have read to much manga in the last three weeks! I have to tests, one tomorrow and one on Friday, and here I am writing this instead. But I just can’t help it! There are so many good (and bad) manga that I enjoyed and really want to share. So here is one of three posts that focus on the manga reviews of this month.

DaisukiDaisuki Desu!! Mahou Tenshi Kosumasu by Minazuki Suu

This manga is about Akikaze Cosmos, a little girl who works in her mother’s hostel. She is mature and responsible and lives with these crazy, older characters that include a silly high school girl, a college drunk (she always wears a witch hat) and a twenty year old pervert (who Aki loves). Aki lives a normal life, in a small town surrounded by a nuclear desert that is attempting to swallow up the town, but one day she becomes a magical angel to save the town and all the people she loves.

I did not like this one so much. The characters are annoying and basic (in an unrealistic sort of way). Its nice to see a main character fall in love with a man that is not the typical love interest, even though he is almost a decade and a half older, a huge pervert, fat and gross. It has an interesting story line, that seems creepy sci-fi, but it loses me with the characters. I definitely won’t continue reading this manga.

GyoushouninMahou Gyoushounin Roma by Kurazono Norihiko

This manga was pretty interesting idea. It focuses on this mysterious girl who is collecting the greed of humans by fulfilling wishes using magical items. She seems like a magical girl: she has the little strange but cute creature, magical charms and items, and seems to be helping people. But the end result, after fulfilling their goals, always seem a little negative. This has a ‘monkey’s paw’ sort of feel.

The main character’s name is Roma. She doesn’t seem to care much about the people, and she may not be human (not too sure). I really liked the plot though. It takes the idea of magical girl and makes a little twist to it, but I am not to sure I will continue this manga.

OnnaMahou Onna ga Kuru by Hagio Nobuto

Another manga I don’t plan on continuing, and actually I really disliked. It had such a good chance of doing well too, but its Ecchi and gross, and it doesn’t take it’s plot as seriously as I would have liked. Sakazaki Riko is a 31 year old magical girl (once known as Magic Girl Collie) who is past her prime. Her power was the ability to become an adult, and when she was a young girl, she used it to help lots of people. Now though, she is an adult and her powers are of no use. So single and skill-less, Riko and her other past-her-prime magical girl roommate are searching for the love of their lives (hopefully successful and rich) before they are past that time too.

I liked the idea of what magical girls do after they get older, but I just wish this was not as silly. I like the comedy to an extent, its just that Riko seems desperate and gross, and very materialistic. If the story line was more serious, and we had less nakedness, maybe it would be easier to sympathize with Riko.
OreMahou Shoujo Ore by Moudama Chokusen

Saki is a fifteen year old girl and rising idol. She learns one day that her mother was once a magical girl, fighting for mankind, but is unable to continue now that she is older. A scary yakuza type guy turns out to be her mother’s old magical girl mascot, and he gets Saki to become the next magical girl. Problem is, magical girls are not that magical and actually have to fight fist to fist, so when Saki transforms she becomes a strong man in a magical girl outfit called Magical Ore.

These magical girl manga keep getting more and more creative as time goes by. I also found this one’s plot had a lot to offer. I am not too sure how it goes as you delve deeper into the plot (as I stopped at chapter 2), but hopefully it is successful. I for one will not continue reading this though. the character bored me (she was annoying), I am not a fan that the boy love interest is in love with her guy form (its funny, but I don’t read shonen ai), and most importantly, there is so much going on sometimes that I get a little lost. So though this maybe did not stick to me, I still think you should give it s try and see if you like it.

HeroOre to Hero to Mahou Shoujo by Sogou

I have seen this one before, and actually I read the first chapter once, but never continued. Now that I try it out again, I really like the story line. This is a web manga about a young man who wants to be a hero. One day he finally gets the chance, but when he transforms into his hearts image of a hero, he becomes a little girl. Reluctant and embarrassed, he continues to fight monsters and strives to become a great hero like he dreams. Along the way he meets other hero (including a high school girl and an old lady) while having to battle monsters and other hero who have gone a stray.

This one also has a interesting story line, and I actually enjoy it. I will continue reading this manga. I like the characters, and I like the art style which looks like sketches. As of now, the story has not progressed to far into the main point of the plot, but I feel like it will go very well.

-Blog Barista

Kengai Princess by Aida Natsumi

kengai2I should really do a mythology post soon; it has been a while since I did one. I have been reading a lot of manga lately and have hardly talked about 1/5 th of them, but Kengai Princess is one I really liked, so I thought I should share.

Plot:

Kengai Princess is about Meguro Mito, a young girl who is kind of ugly (not because she is over weight, but just in general). She has little self-confidence and loves discussing otome games with her two best friends. She often gets bullied, but makes friends with a boy in her class after he sticks up for her. The first half of the manga is all about how she falls for her friend while growing as a person (and she becomes a little less ugly just by becoming more confident and happy). The second half is when she goes to high school. She exercises and learns to use makeup and becomes extra pretty, but this part feels more like basic romance manga tend to be.

Character:

kiMito is the protagonist of the manga. She is a young middle school girl who loves otome games and is not very pretty (she has a chubby face even though her body is average weight). She is often bullied and does not do well socializing. After becoming friends with Kunimastu-kun, she slowly grows into a ‘normal’ girl and gains confidence in herself. When she goes into high school, she works extra hard for her high school debut. She exercises, learns to use make up, and gets cute clothes. She has a great personality that can be pretty funny at times, especially after she stops putting herself down so much.

kisKunimastu is the classmate that saves Mito. He is an athletic young boy who seems stoic and cool, but is really just a simple sweet heart with little to say. He is kind and can be friends with just about anyone, and sees the good stuff about people. He and Mito become great friends, and he protects her many times when getting bullied (even beating the shit of one boy after he tells Mito to kill herself. This makes him go berserk because his own mother died, and he couldn’t take this lightly). I personally like him best.

kissKanata is the second boy that Mito falls in love with. He looks just like the young man in her favorite otome game. He is a basic shoujo male protagonist. He is rich and mean with a tragic back story. He sleeps around and treats Mito badly, but gives her advice that allows her to grow (and she in turn gives him advice to grow too). Personally, I am not a fan. He is as typical and cliched as a target for shoujo love can get, but oh well.

Art:

I like the art. Its nothing extra different (seems like many other shoujo artstyles), but it is still super cute. I especially like how Mito is drawn. Even after becoming prettier she is still drawn differently from the other girls (round face) and lots of characters have small little imperfections which is nice.kengai-princess-27-pic-8

Final Thoughts:

kengaiTo put this simply, I liked the manga. The very first part was the best. It felt like it would be a normal shoujo where the ugly girl falls for the average (not too rich or smart or talented) cute boy who like her for her. But instead, she gets rejected and has to continue on in her growth. Then she gets into high school and it becomes your basic otome game, shoujo romance, and its still great! I also liked how she really was ugly to begin with. She was not chubby or a glasses girl who was technically cute. She was unfortunate and drawn to be that way (I loved that she was not fat, cause I hate how they always use being ‘chubby’ means you are ugly and unattractive which doesn’t work when the characters are still cute). I am really glad I started to read it and it quickly became a favorite romance manga of mine. If you like romance manga, especially the kind where the main character female is not to annoying, then I really recommend this one.

-Blog Barista

 

Mahou Shoujo of the End by Kentaro Sato

Half way through the week, I am thankful the weekend is almost here. I really feel I need to buckle down and focus more on my work and studies, but as I am saying this, I am in class focusing on the wrong stuff. Oh well, I would like to give a little preface on this: I hate horror/psychologically f*** up manga. It is my least favorite genre on the face of the planet. I try my best to ignore it. Every once in a while, I want to be spontaneous and try something new, and I make the mistake of trying another. I cant imagine finding any of these good (or at  least continuing the manga for long). This one is a horror manga, and I read it because its about magical girls which is my absolute favorite.

101Plot:

Kii Kogami is a dull high school boy. He seems to hate how ‘normal’ or ‘average’ his life feels, but he is the type of person who will go out of his way to avoid adding stress to his life (even ignoring his friend being bullied). One day, as he is looking out the window, he sees a little Lolita girl attack and kill his professor. An Apocalypse begins. Soon the world is taken over by murderous magical girls, wiping all human life. It turns out that magical girls are descendant of a single witch, and their blood was somehow used to create this end of the world.

10Character:

Most of the characters die. I want to say about three or four of them are major characters, but I am not to sure. All I know is that the story is hella messed up. Plot twists everywhere.

Art:

Its well drawn, but extremely gory. The fan service is also too much, but you can get past that. The magical girls are pretty impressive. They can be creepy and cute at the same time, and take a dark twist to what magical girl powers are like.

Final Thoughts:

This is horrific, but really good as far as horror stories go. I loved this! I honestly thought I wouldn’t, but after getting deeper into the plot, I fell in love. At first it feels sickly and gory, but it got so good so fast. The twists really make it worth it, and I love the magical girls!

-Blog Barista

Valentine Manga

This is extra late, but I figured I wanted to make a post about romance manga and manhwa that were fun to read and February is the best time of year to do so. These are all mostly really sweet love stories and great shoujo/josei stories.

Picture1Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai by Nakahara Aya

I loved the characters so much, thirty year old love story

This is a  josei manga that focuses on a 29 year old unemployed Shibata Michiko. She wastes all her money on a frivoulous university student after losing her job in a company (it went out of business). One day she meets her old boss Kurosawa, one that she hated because he was so strict, and he ends up helping her get her life back together. Along the way, she ends up trying to help him too.

I love how the characters interact with each other; they are just so funny. And I also like how simple the story feels up until now. The fact that they are older helps keep the story grounded and more real world (though the fact that Shibata is almost thirty, never had a boyfriend, and acts like shes a middle schooler in love may be the most unrealistic part). The art is pretty cute, and the characters are great because they aren’t delicate or shy high school characters. They are sarcastic little bastards and really sweet at the same time.

Picture2Tsubasa to Hotaru by Haruto Nana

Such a sweet story, high school level

The manga is about Tsubas Sonokawa, a high schooler who is rejected by the upperclassman she loves because of her ‘extreme’ personality. Just like the previous manga, this girl too shows affection by being as helpful as possible and trying a little to hard. Through some events, she ends up becoming manager of the basketball team and makes some great friends with the players. This is cute story, simple like some of the better shoujo tend to be (no extremely rude or narsistic male characters who fight a lot with the girl or treats her poorly). I like most of the characters and even root for the other guy that falls in love with her. This isn’t my all time favorite shoujo romance (Ao Haru no Ride and Say I Love You are much better), but this one is still really great if you like this genre! I love the drawing style too, especilly the side profiles.

Picture3Our Relationship Is… by Lee Yun Ji

Colorful love story, university level

This was definitely my favorite of the bunch. I found the characters easy going and very relatable. This is a manwha that focuses on two friends, Do Gayoung a girl who is also nicknamed Pig and Han Woojin a guy nicknamed Hanwoo (beef). Both are in university and have been friends since high school. Slowly, Do Gayoung realizes that Hanwoo means a lot to her and she begins to develop feelings, but he has his sight set on a super cute friend of hers. Right now I can’t help but to root for Do to end up with Hanwoo. The two of them have such a wonderful friendship and it feels more real to think of people who have known each other for a while to fall in love (instead of like most manga where it is a little rushed). The story is going at a great pace, and it is so cute. The art is pretty and its all colored in light pastel colors that make it extremely aesthetically pleasing. I love it and plan to continue reading when new chapters come out :D.

 

 

The first two characters had something in common. Both Tsubasa and Shibata were the type of girls to go overboard, to try and do everything in their means to help, and were ‘extreme’ in their affections. I really liked them for being that way. To be honest (though we may not all be that extreme), I felt a little bit of a connection to them, and I feel like maybe lots of other people can imagine a time where they did something similar.

Bonus Stuff:

Picture4Witch Workshop by So Hee Park

So so art and story, but it is interesting and unique

I also read this manhwa. It was OK, but I don’t think I would continue reading it. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend it, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. The story is about 3 families that have been cursed for 400 years, because of a really creepy situation that happened in Europe between a witch and a noble family. The main characters girl, whose name escapes me now, has no idea about the full story, but its about her and two other guys (one who is the descendant of the noble family and one from a Korean family that is meant to protect the witches) as they try to fulfill their own personal goals. Its hard to explain the story with out giving away too much. The art is ok, I am not a fan, but the colors are really pretty.

 

Check them all out!

-Blog Barista

Shuumatsu no Laughter by Tanabe Yellow

I just took an hour out of my day to read as many chapters of this manga that I could, and let me tell you: I am in LOVE! This is an amazing story; I don’t even know where to begin.

Shuumatsu no Laughter means Laughter at the End of the World. It follows a young man named Luca, a demon who hunts other demons, and his kid sister about 20 years after a great monster with a thousand mouths tried to swallow the world. After the monster was killed by the church (swords of light), many human beings became ‘infected’ and thus became immortal demons. This plot is truly breath taking, with twists that will really get you hooked, and the art is stunning! Yellow Tanabe is an amazing manga writer, and I hope she continues to make such amazing stories in the future. This one is unique and I loved the characters (Luca and Haru). I don’t know if the series is on-going (I think it is not to be honest), but I really hope it is because I can only see this becoming more and more successful.

Chapter1The most important part of this series (since it is so short) is the characters. A major theme is understanding how people interact with one another and how they judge one another. Especially in the case of the two main characters, one who looks/acts like a demon and the other the personification of innocence. It also focused greatly on what fear is, and who are to blame in situations where both parties act out of spite and anger/fear. And through this, it brought into question the humanity of the demons and of those shunning them.

I really loved the plot, and wish I could tell you how it goes, but I think its best you read it on your own. Trust me its awesome!

-Blog Barista

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

This was supposed to be written by TheBetterCup, but she is a little to busy to do so. We got this book recently (if about 3 months ago counts as recent), but we know that the book is fairly popular and well known by this point. Anyways, Nimona is a great fantasy comic book with an unique art style and story line, that we feel lots of people can enjoy.

nimona

The story is a mix of sci-fi and fantasy (which is TheBetterCup’s favorite genres) and focuses on a story of a super-villain who meets a young girl who wants to be his side kick. The super-villain, a mad-scientist, isn’t all bad though, he just plays the part given to him and was actually a knight once. But the titular character, Nimona is a young shape-shifter who doesn’t seem to operate on the same moral code has him. Together they learn a lot about each other, the meaning of god and evil (and what that means about a person), and the types of institutions that affect a person’s ‘morality’.

The story is fun and actually really hard to put down. It also does a great job of showing the grey-area of reality and morality. Its extremely funny, and the characters are really lovable even though its not a very long book that has time for characterization (but the author does a great job anyways). I love how the story took a twist in the end, and completely ended in a way that at least I didn’t see coming. I just wish that the characters could have been together longer, but I hope that their lessons in life at least made sure that they were happy.

Well I hope you guys check it out (if you hadn’t already),

-Blog Barista

Birdmen by Tanabe Yellow


birdmen-6842905I only started reading this a week ago, and it took me about 2 days to catch up to the most recent chapter. I am only making a post about it now because I finally got a little time to do something that was not for school. Right now, I should be tutoring and technically I should be finishing an essay I was working on for a class, but I would much rather take 30-ish minutes to do this instead.

This is an amazing manga, and I am enjoying about every aspect of it. It is a sci-fi, shonen, slice of life manga. The story is about Eishi Karasuma. He is a pessimistic but lonely 15 year old. One day he decides to skip class with his only friend is Miksada Kamoda (a youthful but sweet fourteen year old who is often mistaken to be part of gangs). While out they meet an energetic girl (she is pretty basic) named Tsubame and her friend Rei (a rich pretty boy). While in the bus, they get in a bus accident that nearly cost them their lives. But low and behold they are saved by a mysterious winged boy, and of course their lives change drastically.

The art is beautiful, especially when it involves the mysterious winged birdman, and I love the characters. I feel like the story is not as easy to predict as most other stories tend to be, and I am so grateful for that. It feels funny one moment, and then the story gets dramatically darker as the small details add up. This has a tad bit of magic mixed with action and basic life problems, all the while being super science like. I am so excited to continue reading this, and I hope TheBetterCup picks it up soon so I have someone to fangirl of it.

I hope you guys check it out,

-Blog Barista

Recent Book Reviews

b4Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

This was a collection of 24 short stories, most of which were fun and enjoyable. For the most part, I read through this weekly and didn’t feel bored or compelled to stop. Like most of Murakami’s works, it has a surrealistic (full of magic) and mundane quality to the lives of the characters. The stories ranged from dealing with deaths, to sex, to marriage, and identities. My only problem is that I wish I understood the meanings for some of the characters and their stories (like why did this happen or what does it mean that that happened). My favorite of the short stories were A Poor Aunt’s Story, A Perfect Day for Kangaroo’s, Tony Takitani, Chance Traveler, and Shinagawa Monkey (my least favorite is the one about the Ice Man). Reading these felt like having a night-full of many dreams where you always wake up before you get a definitive ending.

b2

Zipporah, Wife of Moses by Marek Halter

This follows the story of Moses from the perspective of the wife Zipporah, a Cushite and daughter of Jethro (high priest of the Midianites). Most of the story is the author’s creation (things that aren’t mentioned specifically in the bible such as the really mean sister of Zipporah or how involved Zipporah was in getting Moses to listen to God). It was a really interesting twist on the biblical story and it gave many of the characters a little more depth then what some one may be used to. Personally the author’s writing was shit, but oh well. Also I felt that a man writing a sex scene from a woman’s perspective felt kind of ridiculous (but again oh well). I liked it and plan on reading the other two books from this trilogy.

 

b3The Trouble with Magic by Madelyn Alt

Maggie O’Neill; an extremely annoying, preachy, full of herself and equally as closed minded young woman, loses her job (from what seems like a lack of hard-work) and instead gets a job working in an antique shop owned by a nice Wiccan woman. Very quickly into the story (maybe even less than forty pages in and during Maggie’s first day at her new job) Felicity (the Wiccan woman) becomes suspect of her sister’s murder. The main character feels hypocritical and most of the characters are under developed (even for a short mystery novel). It is written completely in first person (which is hard to do well so you can only imagine that this was poorly done) and felt like an amateurs fanfiction (trust me though there are a lot of fanfic better than this). The story line had potential, but was rushed in the beginning and slow in the end. I really couldn’t finish the book to be honest and would never recommend it to any one. Though I say all this I still think that it may not be all that bad, and maybe some one else will find it better book than I did.

b1Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose

This is a historical nonfiction book (I really like these sort of things) that focuses on the story of Lewis and Clark’s expedition west (mostly from Lewis’s perspective). At times the story was a little boring, mostly cause the author added to much of his opinion and unneeded flowery words. But I really did like the book and by the end really felt for Lewis. Once the book got to the actual expedition, the story got way more interesting and for the most part I liked it (still every now and again I may have stopped and cared less for the book, but that may just be because nonfiction can be boring at times when politics and such get explained). As far as nonfiction go, this one is not my absolute favorite but I would reread it.

b6Neverwhere by Niel Gaiman

I LOVE THIS BOOK! It has to be one of my new favorites; a mix of urban fantasy and amazing adventure. Richard Mayhew is a young businessman living a dull life, with a dull job and a dull relationship. One day, while out on a date with his fiance, he does one kind deed to a stranger and his entire life gets turned upside down. He enters a bizarre world below London called Neverwhere and gets involved in a new and wonderful adventure. The characters are well written and well developed. The story is amazing and I can’t think of any complaints. I recommend anyone to try this wonderful book. If you aren’t into reading, then try the audiobook. Niel Gaiman reads it in the audiobook and his voice acting is fantastic and really brings life to each of the characters.

b5Left Behind Series by  Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

I read all thirteen of the books in this series during the summer. I actually really enjoyed it, even though I still have some complaints. The story focuses on a pilot named Rayford Steele and his other friends during the Apocalypse (of Biblical proportions). The books were fun to read for the most part (especially the first half) and their are a lot of characters being presented. My only problem is that the story got boring by the end. Since the characters knew they would win in the end (Jesus would defeat the Devil) and the Devil was not as scary as he should have been, it just kind of felt like ‘what’s the point of fighting or making an effort’ no matter what they still will win and still go to heaven. That was my biggest complaint.

 

 

Hope you guys had a great day.

-Blog Barista