Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gakuen Prince vol. 1 by Jun Yuzuki review

Gakuen Prince vol. 1

Author/Artist: Jun Yuzuki

Publisher: Del Rey

Rating: OT – ages 16 and up

Genre: Shojo, Comedy, Drama, School Life

Grade: A-

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org/. Check it out! ***

Jyoshioka Private High School, a.k.a. as Jyoshi (or Joshi) High, was once an all girls school but within the last few years they've started admitting guys. The girls outnumber the guys like no other and so to try and keep things somewhat quiet, all of the guys are in S-class. Every girl in school wants to be in S-class, except Rise Okitsu. Rise's goal in life at Jyoshi High is to be invisible. It seems that she was bullied in her old school and wants to avoid it in her new school so to hide her stunning good looks she pulls her hair up in pigtails and wears clunky glasses.

Azusa Mizutani has recently enrolled at Jyoshi High not really caring that it was once an all girls high school. He seems indifferent to the whole thing. But little did he know that he would soon become the target of hormonally charged, sex crazed girls. After being chased around twice in one day, he runs into Rise who was hiding in a storage room. Rise is the only girl who doesn't seem to be at all interested in Azusa so Azusa tries to convince the wild throngs of girls that he and Rise are an item. Does it work or will the throngs of crazy girls take it out on Rise?

I'm going to be straight up honest with you, when I first read Gakuen Prince I was so unimpressed. I perused several reviews of this manga and they were all glowing. I just didn't get it. I do admit that I don't read a lot of shojo manga and when I do they are usually comedic stories and have girls with personality. But I've recently changed my opinion of Gakuen Prince after reading a manga that is the ultimate in soap opera and the one of the main female characters is a complete doormat (*cough* Nana *cough* *hack*). Gakuen Prince is smart, funny, and gorgeous. I am so glad that I gave it another chance.

Rise is hilarious. She wants to be invisible but at the same time she wants to be able to tell people how she really feels. So when she's caught in those situations she comes off looking awkward yet it is so funny. Mizutani is a clueless guy and doesn't really understand the consequences of his decision. It is a well-crafted story with beautiful art. Not only is it nice to look at and fun to read but it shows how cruel girls can be. Not only physically but also psychologically. Bullying is a real problem and when you are dealing with girls, you have no idea what you're getting yourself into. Luckily Rise shows an amazing strength and piece of mind to help Mizutani even though Mizutani doesn't realize what Rise is having to put up with.

You can expect some great manga reading when you read something from Del Rey. They are of pretty good quality and are easy to read and hold. They always leave the traditional honoriffics and even have a page explaining what they mean. At the end they have a section with translator notes to either give explanations on what they may have changed from the manga or notes on the Japanese words that they left in story. Sometimes they'll even give you a preview of the next volume in the traditional Japanese form. Del Rey is definitely one of the better manga publishers on the market.

If I had written this review when I first read this title it would have been very negative and I wouldn't have recommended it. Now that I have seen the light in regards to Gakuen Prince I can definitely recommend it. But I must warn you that it is Shojo with an edge had is thisclose to being smut. I would advise you that you'll probably want to follow the age recommendation of 16+ and it is shrink-wrapped which usually means there might be something you might find objectionable in it. But definitely give this manga a chance. It is truly a unique manga with great humor and is a bit edgy. It's worthy of your time.

***Review Copy provided by Del Rey***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Naughty But Nice by Naduki Koujima review

Naughty But Nice

Author/Artist: Naduki Koujima

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Drama, School Life

Grade: C+

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org. Check it out! ***

Mr. Wakasa is Kakeru Kiba's homeroom teacher. Everyone loves Mr. Wakasa, he's handsome and kind. But Kakeru is a bit of a klutz. Because of this weakness of his he learns that Wakasa is not the kind teacher he sees at school but is actually a bit of a jerk. What happened was Kakeru was out running errands for his mom when he saw someone that looked like his teacher being threatened by thugs. But this man was drunk and rather rude, so how could it be Wakasa? Just as the thugs go to punch out Wakasa Kakeru ends up distracting everyone, slips on a can, and pushes Wakasa into a river. Oops!

Feeling guilty, Kakeru takes Wakasa to his home. Once Wakasa wakes up he seems to be suffering from amnesia. Since Kakeru knows who he is Wakasa takes advantage of the situation by preying on that guilt and makes Kakeru take care of him. But once Wakasa's memory comes back he's still a jerk towards Kakeru. It seems that he behaves the way he does is because he had to be on his best behavior around his step-brother, but he's really a jerk in sheep's clothing (I know that's not the metaphor but this describes him the best.) Kakeru is the only one who gets to see the Wakasa behind the mask. Because of this Wakasa is determined to make the moves on Kakeru and he doesn't know how to deal with this!

Also included in Naughty But Nice is a one shot called Bouquet of Love. It is a sweet tale of a building owner who falls in love with a florist that works in a shop in one of the buildings that his family owns. There's one downfall to falling for a florist though, the owner is allergic to flowers.

There are a few things that define Naughty But Nice as typical Naduki Koujima. First, it's the art. Her ukes always have ginormous eyes that take up half of their face, but are well defined. She stated that she spends a lot of time working on the eyes to really bring out the emotion (I read that in one of the authors note sections at the end of one of her books…I think). Next is when her ukes are protesting they seem to grow fangs and look like adorable small, threatened animals. And trust me she has nailed the protesting uke and has turned it into her thing. Which brings me to my final point. It seems that in almost every Koujima-sensei title that I've read contains a very forceful seme and a loud, somewhat annoying, contradicting uke. I wonder if sensei is trying to corner the market on the "tsundere" character. She's definitely mastered the "Your mouth is saying no but your dick is saying yes" type of story. Out of the two stories in the book Bouquet of Love is the better story. It's a bit more believable and the relationship starts out more normally. Plus we don't get the rape=love story line.

Naughty But Nice is the first of three in a series so there is always the hope that things will improve. For another insight into the story be sure to read April Kimm's review!

***Review Copy provided by Deux Press***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***