Tuesday, April 26, 2011

For the books that bloom

Ok, I totally meant for this post to occur in May and before Earth Day (since I forgot *shakes head at self*). Still, this means that I am at least doing what I promised myself to do and have started blogging more worthwhile stuff and not my complaints and gripes at daily life! Despite my continual hiatus status, I actually had been attempting to read more between the horrors of survival in RL (yes, yes, complaining again).

For romance novels, I’ll admit, I’ve only been following a few of the authors that I felt were a “sure read” instead of my usual self-indulgent-swallow-all-books-whole preference.
As of late, I’ve read quite a few non-fictions with topics which hit close to home, piqued my interests, or were on my TBR for a (long long) while.

Also, as an attempt to expand outside of my foray, I’ll probably drop in a few movie and t.v. series I’ve been watching. Mostly the latter. *rubs hands in glee*

Where to begin?


Hahaha, did that come out of nowhere or what? I know I’m weird that way.

So, some quick and dirty manga reviews. FYI, some of these English rights have not been bought yet, so they may not be available at your local bookstores. Instead, I followed a lot of them via online English translations (free!), or read them in the original Japanese format (sorta free, but my Japanese reading skills went to the crappers).

Beast Master by Kyousuke Motomi

Series, 2 volumes. Complete. Romantic comedy.

Yuiko Kubozuka, 17, is an avid animal lover. Much to Yuiko’s everlasting pain, the animals never seem to reciprocate her love (let’s just say she loves animals so much, the animals get freaked out). On one random day, she meets Leo Aoi, a guy that seems more animal than man where all animals seem to love him and later finds out he’s a new transfer student to her school (his looks really freaks out everyone). And this is a fun-filled, weird adventure of two weirdos and their slice-of-life high school adventures.

I’ve personally started following this author a long time ago and have greatly enjoyed many of her series. As the author herself likes to say, she loves drawing idiots. Hahaha. This is a simple fun series with a little mystery (mostly about Leo and his past that is not really that mysterious). Some action and blood, but it does not overwhelm the overall cuteness. The two books are mostly small short stories that show the development of Yuiko and Leo’s relationship as they mature.

Both characters are rather fascinating in their own way. Yuiko loves animals, but animals hate her. Leo scares all people, but animals love him. There are many secondary characters that are equally interesting and funny. I would have like the series to be longer as I often go back and read this series when I’m bored, tired, want a laugh, etc. It’s not a heavy series that makes you over think, but it does contain a few nice subtle contexts.

Bloody Kiss by Kazuko Furumiya

Series, 2 volumes. Complete. Paranormal, comedy, romance.

Kiyo Katsuragi, 17, just inherited an old, semi-broken down mansion. She decides she may as well live there then figure things out. On the first day she meets the two resident vampires that her grandmother took in because they had nowhere else to go, Kuroboshi (half human, half vampire) and his “servant” Alshu (more like guardian).
A minor twist to the vampire story. Apparently, a vampire can only take blood from one human whom they call their “bride” for them to fully “mature” (i.e. reach their max power). Vampires want blood, but it does not seem like they need blood all the time. And they can eat normal stuff.

I was really surprised to see this in the bookstore the other day that I couldn’t resist. Again, I followed this author way early and I’ll admit my shallowness, I did it for her drawings. It’s so smooth and elegant, I enjoy the eye candies. The story could use some more clarification, but I don’t want to give anything away. Think of it as short stories of the same characters compiled in two novels with minor character development.

Overall, I like this author because the characters always got spunk even if they have some sad backstory. The main female character, Kiyo, is all alone and looked down upon by no fault of her own. Instead of turning into some wimpy, low-self esteem, weak girl, she has goals and strength. Kiyo wants to be a lawyer and is perfectly capable at kicking butt. Don’t get me wrong, she has her weepy moments, but hey, it’s manga.

It’s a refreshing and cute manga with quite a few funny moments in there and, of course, clichés. Still, this is a simple fun read that I often enjoy re-reading when I just want some mushiness and random fun. Oh, and a werewolf comes into the story much much later. XP

What actually got me into this author is Tropical ni-Koiiro, a two part short story included in the Bloody Kiss. :D It is a short story about two high school students stranded on an island. I know I shouldn’t, since there are so many loopholes, but I just like it so much. Lol.
Maybe I should start having some grading scale. Not sure. Then again, I probably would only gush about stories I like and not talk about anything I’m not too fond of.

We’ll see.

Now, for a series still ongoing and NOT in the US, but ultimately a favorite… hehehehehe.

Faster than a Kiss by Meka Tanaka

Series, ongoing. Romantic comedy.

Fumiko Kaji, 16 and her bother, Teppei, 5, lost their parents one year ago. Tired of being shuffled between relatives, she gets the bright idea to run away (*shakes head at the mindset of 16 year olds). While being propositioned by some old man (a really big problem in Asia these days), her homeroom teacher Kazumi Ojiro, 24, was the only one that seemed to care enough to not only look for her, but pretty much “rescue her” by accepting her crazy proposition to get married when he kicked the old man away.

Fumiko meant it as an angry outburst to shock/scare him away, but instead, her teacher showed care and more than anything, can make her little brother Teppei happy. So, they went into a marriage of convenience and there starts their daily life of keeping the marriage a secret as well as their growing attraction.

Oh ho, for a shojo(girls) manga, this author is male! A huge rarity, much like male writers for romance novels. And you know what? This author is awesome. I love all his stuff. Love them all. Yes, this is a may-december romance. The author loves this kind of stuff and I have got to say, this series was done really well. Fumiko, Teppei and Kazumi somehow became a family that just fits. This storyline could have had a LOT of room for mistakes and problems, but the author executes each aspect very very well. He grows the cast of characters, each distinct and all of them (including the secondary characters) matures. Even so, the core personality of each character remains so true, I cannot help but believe whatever the author tells me. It has its shares of clichés, especially when it came to representations of Americans, but the author still develops them so well it’s hard not to like each character.

There are so many good things about this series I don’t even know where to begin. O_o

Fumiko is a very straight-forward, somewhat violent (only because she believes in standing up against injustice), but very loving and kind. She loves her little brother Teppei and that was what made the idea of her marrying her teacher believable. Fumiko would do anything for the people she loves. It takes time for that part of her to come out though and she develops from a loner to having very good friends that are willing to stand up for her. Fumiko begins to fall for her teacher, but is still too innocent to understand a serious relationship, which she fully admits to. Many of her attempts (such as making food) are hilarious.

Kazumi is a great teacher, hard working, smart, and very loyal. Yet, he’s a pervert and shameless tease to Fumiko (he makes her and Teppei cosplay –i.e. dress up, in exchange for making them dinner). He honestly started taking care of Fumiko and Teppei out of concern and kindness and they create the warmth of a family he lacks (lost of slow revealing of backstory, including *secrets*). As he feels himself slowly drawn to his underage charge, Kazumi actually fights it tooth and nail because he wants to do the right thing. It’s a great struggle and I just want to see him fail. Hahahaha.
Teppei…oh Teppei. He’s just so adorable and sweet. A future genius and heartbreaker indeed.
I really don’t know what to write except to gush non-stop about this series. It does not require too much understanding of Japanese culture, but quick fyi, girls can marry at the age of 16 in Japan. I think you just need an adult’s consent…

I love the side characters from their neighbor Ryuu (one of Kazumi’s best friend since high school, their neighbor and a kindergarten teacher that also helps take care of Teppei), to three of Fumiko’s classmates that become her closest friends, even the guy that has a crush on Fumiko gets some development. So many things to love about this series… family dramas, forbidden love… It is full of humor, but deals with serious issues in life. Somehow, I’m always drawn towards this type of stories. Yes, life sucks. Yes, horrible things happen, but I love it most when characters stay strong and are still willing to laugh, to cry, and live.

If you have time and are interested in the world of online manga, I would definitely recommend this. And if it ever comes into the US…well, I’ll just be having 2-3 copies of this series. Japanese, Chinese and English. Lol. I can only read one though. O_o

Well, now this does not feel so quick anymore… Next author I should introduce is Yoshihara Yuki, another great author I love. She gots smex. Ehehehehe.

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