An Early Look at Just My Luck by Temari Matsumoto Manga Review

 

Title:  Just My Luck

Author:  Temari Matsumoto

Publisher:  TOKYOPOP

ISBN:  9781427802798

May Contain Spoilers

Asahi has nothing but bad luck.  Only a purifying kiss from Rokujou-sensei, the school’s divination adviser, frees him from his run of misfortune – temporarily, any way.  When Rokujou’s childhood friend accepts a teaching position at the school, it seems that Asahi’s luck has gotten even worse!  Where’s sensei and his magical kisses?

Containing three chapters of Just My Luck and two other separate short stories, this book has me reaching for my rose colored manga glasses very early in the volume.  Overlooking the fact that Rokujou was Asahi’s teacher, and how much I dislike that particular plot device, the author also introduced Asahi’s mysteriously forgotten past.  While it did help explain Asahi’s terrible run of bad luck, it’s just a little too convenient that he would forget almost his entire childhood before moving to Tokyo.  It was a clumsy way to extend the story another chapter, and add a little conflict to Asahi and Rokujou’s budding relationship.

I did like the introduction to Rokujou’s character.  The other students find him a little scary and rumors abound that he practices black magic.  This makes it extremely difficult for Asahi to recruit new members to the Divination Research Club, but Rokujou doesn’t really seem to mind, as it means that he gets Asahi to himself.   Sadly, the promise of his eccentric personality was left unfulfilled, and both characters were rather ordinary and uninspiring.

I loved the concept of a hero being cursed with extremely bad luck.  Too bad it wasn’t focused on a little more.  Instead of enhancing the plot, other than the first few pages, Asahi’s misfortune wasn’t realized at all.  It seemed like a waste of to not display how truly awful his luck was. 

In Mechanism of Love, a reclusive toy maker is given an android by his sister in an attempt to force him out of his shell.  The android is stunningly gorgeous, and as the two spend isolated days in the remote mountains, the toy maker finds himself falling in love with his mechanical companion.  This story also featured a traumatic event from the lead’s childhood, which caused him to stop trusting other people.  I enjoyed this one, and thought it wrapped up in a satisfying manner.

School Uniforms and You is about school nurse, Ogasawara, and the object of his affections, Sugiura.  Ogasawara has a school uniform fetish, and Sugiura just happens to look quite fetching in his.  Ogasawara invites Sugiura to tea every day so the two can spend time together.  As Sugiura begins to develop feelings for Ogasawara, he’s thrown into a state of confusion when the nurse doesn’t even give him the time of day when they run into each other outside of school.  Horrors! Sugiura isn’t wearing his uniform, and now he thinks that Ogasawara only likes the clothes, not the man in them.  I thought this was a pretty cute story, too.

While not earth shattering, Just My Luck provided a short escape from reality.  Despite their lack of substance, the characters were likeable, and the chapters all had happy endings, but I really feel that the author could have done more with the title story to make this book stand out.

Just My Luck will be on store shelves in October.

Grade:  C+

Rated for Mature

Review copy provided by TOKYOPOP

Spell by Hyouta Fujiyama Manga Review

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Title:  Spell

Author:  Hyouta Fujiyama

Publisher:  June

ISBN:  9781569708064

May Contain Spoilers

When college student Takamasa Natori is dragged to a mixer by his friend, Takeda, he never expected to fall in love.  He meets Junpei Kisugi, and the two immediately hit it off.  Abandoning the party, they head over to a bar for a few drinks.  As their friendship grows, Takamasa is surprised by his tumultuous feelings for Kisugi.  Has he finally fallen in love?

I liked this look at Takamasa and Kisugi’s friendship as it slowly blossomed into love.  Their road to romance wasn’t without its bumps, but the situations seemed natural and the resolutions to their problems were believable.  Takamasa, after meeting classmate Kisugi, is bewildered by his feelings for the other man.  When he learns that Kisugi is bi-sexual, he’s confused about their relationship.  After initially avoiding his new friend, he realizes that he’s being a fool, and comes to accept Kisugi for who he is.

As they continue to hang out together, Takamasa learns that Kisugi is dating an older man, and that throws him into utter confusion.  Why is he bothered so much that Kisugi is dating someone?  It’s not like he’s attracted to him, or wants to have that kind of a relationship with him.  Or does he?  It’s that kind of inner turmoil that made this book so compelling; Takamasa at first denies his feelings, and then, after he is forced to face that fact that he’s in love with Kisugi, he just can’t bring himself to share his feelings with him.  Instead, he drives himself nuts making excuses for not being direct with Kisugi.

Takamasa’s childhood friend, Yasuha, has secretly been in love with him for years.  When  she first learns of Kisugi, she’s bewildered why Takamasa would be spending so much time with him.  She’s hurt as their relationship suffers and a perplexing void begins to yawn between them.  After glimpsing Takamasa and Kisugi in an embrace, she’s mortified; how could this be?  She’s loved him forever and he’s too blind to see it.  Yasuha’s position isn’t helped by Takamasa’s family.  Whenever they can’t track him down, they turn to her and expect her to nag him into contacting them, and he starts to look at her as a bit of a harpy.  How sad to have your romantic aspirations sabotaged by your crush’s clueless family.

The art, while not stunning, was serviceable.  The character designs are a little clunky, and there’s not much attention given to background details.  The page layouts were interesting and kept the romance moving along.  The cover is cute, with Kisugi playfully sprawled over Takamasa’s shoulders, and this illustration prompted me to purchase the book.  The production values are high; the book has a removable dust jacket, the paper is a nice, sturdy stock, and the oversized volume fits nicely in my hands.   

Grade: B

Rated for Mature Readers

Delivery Cupid by CJ Michalski Manga Review

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Title:  Delivery Cupid

Author:  CJ Michalski

Publisher:  Boysenberry Books

ISBN:  9781597410298

May Contain Spoilers

Boysenberry’s first yaoi release, Delivery Cupid, is a collection of short stories.  Four of them are interconnected, sharing recurring appearances by God and his faithful white angel, and the final two are stand alone stories.  All of them were cute and entertaining, giving a light-hearted spin on heavenly match-making.

The title story, Delivery Cupid,  stars the half-angel, Tsubasa, and the lecherous Norimasa.  Tsubasa is trying hard to earn his wings and become a full angel, but he’s not having much luck.  God gives him one last chance to successfully complete an assignment, and he even tries to make things easy for him.  Tsubasa’s a cupid, and he’s given a low level target and three arrows to make a little love magic.  Only God made a tiny mistake, and gave Tsubasa the wrong file!  Then, while Tsubasa manages to strike the evil Norimasa with an arrow, he trips and jabs himself as well!  Are they a match made in heaven?

Love Beam is about the shy Kuwano, who has a secret crush on hunky schoolmate Takakura.  After saving an old man from being run over by a car, he’s given an enchanted gun that shoots love beams and causes the person that’s shot to fall in love with him.  A little skeptical, Kuwano learns that the gun works a little too well, and is soon beset with guilt as Takakura falls for him.  How can this ever be true love?

Cinderfella: A Fairy Tale was one of my favorites in this collection.  Poor college student Daisuke is in love with rich boy Yuu, but their worlds couldn’t be further apart.  Daisuke delivers papers to Yuu’s estate, which he kisses lovingly before shoving them through the paper slot, only to watch in horror as Yuu’s vicious dog rips the papers to shreds.  When God chooses Daisuke as the lucky person of the day, he agrees to grant him any wish.  When Daisuke’s invited to a party at Yuu’s, will he be able to make his dream of loving Yuu a reality?

With You Forever was another stand out.  Kazuki is terminally ill and has spent most of his life in the hospital.  He meets Kurou, a black angel, by chance, and the two strike up a friendship.  As they share their dreams and goals, their friendship deepens into love.  Then Kurou learns that Kazuki’s life will end in just a few hours – will the two forge a love that defies death?

The first stand alone chapter, Ai Scream, has college student Riku falling for high school senior Kyosuke.  Riku operates an ice cream wagon in the park, all the while daydreaming about Kyosuke.  With summer drawing to a close, will he have the guts to confess his feelings for Kyosuke?

The last chapter, Under the Star Light, was another favorite.  Ryo has just been fired from his job as a waiter at an exclusive restaurant.  In his despair, he’s approached by Tetsuya, a homeless guy who lives in the park.  As the two unlikely companions share an evening together, Ryo begins to wonder why he’s so attracted to the other man.  This was a really sweet story with two likeable characters.

The art in Delivery Cupid is uncluttered, with attractive character designs. The guys are all hotties, especially Kurou.  CJ Michalski uses a staggering variety of panel shapes and sizes to keep the reader’s attention focused on the pages.  There’s also plenty of humor contained within the book, punctuated by Tsubasa’s failed attempt to be the perfect cupid.  The panel with the two astonished men clutching at their hearts was so funny.

Grade:  B

Rated for Mature – 18+

Review copy provided by Boysenberry/Broccoli Books

Hate to Love You by Makoto Tateno Manga Review

 

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Title:  Hate to Love You

Author:  Makoto Tateno

Publisher:  Deux

ISBN:  9781934496015

May Contain Spoilers

Masaya Konoe and Yuma Kazuki are bitter rivals. Their families have been fighting for generations, and they have carried on the competitive tradition.  When they were children, however, they secretly met by the river that divides their estates, and Masaya has cherished the meeting ever since.  When Masaya learns that Yuma is to be engaged to Akiko Tojoin, he’s thrown into confusion.  Is he jealous of Yuma or Akiko?

While this was a beautifully illustrated book, I didn’t find the plot overly engaging.  Masaya is your typical timid, over-reacting drama-queen whose inability to express his feelings, or even decide what his feelings are, makes for all kinds of problems for the young couple.  Yuma is a big meanie, too, and I disliked him enough that I started rooting for Masaya and Akiko to get together, even though I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  There wasn’t much chemistry between the two leads, which made for a tepid courtship. 

Also, there were too many characters tossed into the three chapters comprising Yuma and Masaya’s romance.  Instead of creating some tension and livening things up a bit, all they did was clutter up the pages.  They weren’t really used effectively, and it seemed that they were present only to provide some stale obstacles for Masaya and Yuma to have misunderstandings about.

Makoto Tateno’s art is always a treat, with attractive character designs and gentle details that don’t overwhelm the panels.  Her illustrations are comprised of delicate lines and sparse backgrounds, drawing attention to the expressions and emotions flittering across her protagonists’ faces.  The page layouts use white spaces to add dramatic effect, and the panels flow smoothly from page to page.

As for production notes, the paper is a nice sturdy stock, and its a pleasantly crisp white.  The cover seems too stiff, though it’s glossy color illustration of Masaya and Yuma, detailed in pastels and subtle shades, is quite eye-catching.  I noticed a single typo, which I overlooked the first time I read the book.  The dialog flowed smoothly, and the fonts used were more appealing that those in Walkin’ Butterfly. Overall, this is an attractively put together package.  It’s just too bad that the story seemed so listless.

Included is the short story,  You Can’t Call it Love, which I found a little disturbing. Stalkers are creepy. 

Grade: C

Rated for Mature Readers

 Review copy provided by Deux

801 Media AX Wrap Up [Press Release]

For Immediate Release

Summer is almost over, but the fun is just about to begin!

Los Angeles, CA, July 17, 2007 – Anime Expo is over and the ladies and gentlemen of 801 Media Inc. are happy to announce new titles for 2008.

The Prime Minister’s Secret Diplomacy by Youka Nitta

January 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1-934129-15-9

Yoshinaga’s genius and his gift for political maneuvering have helped him ascend to the higher spheres of the Ministry of Foreign affairs at an early age. As for Shiraishi, the prestige of his family as well as his dedication to his job has also led him to an early career in diplomacy. Yoshinaga is Shiraishi’s future brother-in-law as he is soon to be married to his sister. When the two meet in Thailand, a stunning tale of love unfolds.

Love Circumstances by Aco Oumi

January 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1-934129-17-3

Yamaguchi and Takagari have recently moved from close friends to boyfriends… All is well, but Yamaguchi is worried. Takagari seems to love him…too much?! That in itself wouldn’t be a bad thing at all, if it wasn’t for the fact everybody else might find out they’re a couple! A striking tale of hidden love!

The King of Debt by Sanae Rokuya

February 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1-934129-16-6

Souta’s friend, Taketora, is chronically bad at managing his finances. Ever since the two met in college, Taketora has never ceased to borrow money from Souta. Money that he never gives back, of course. And it’s not like Souta is rich or anything either, he can barely get by with the money he makes at his student job. But whenever Taketora makes that face, Souta is unable to resist… Worse yet, now Taketora is saying that rather than returning the money, he’ll repay Souta…with his body?!!

A Foreign Love Affair by Ayano Yamane

March 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1-934129-18-0

Japanese yakuza clan heir Ranmaru just got married on a lavish cruise ship, but things aren’t as they seem. The marriage is just for the appearances, and he ends up getting drunk and spending the night not with his bride but with the sexy ship captain. When the two men meet again in Italy, it is the start of a spectacular love story.

The President’s Time by Tamaki Kirishima

April 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1-934129-19-7

Mutsuki inherited his father’s company eight years ago. He’s been doing fine as a CEO, but there’s one thing that has always been a shadow lurking over him: He never accomplished his father’s last wishes. Just before dying, Mutsuki’s father told him “go and become the ultimate evil boss!” But Mutsuki is so kind that his daily attempts of training to commit evil deeds are a complete failure. Will he ever succeed, or will his father’s last wishes be forgotten? Especially now that Mutsumi has met the beautiful Torii, and that he is falling for him….

Weekend Lovers by Kiriko Fuwa

April 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1-934129-20-3

Koutaro is a carefree young temp worker, while Asahi is seven years older and an elite salaryman. Due to Asahi’s busy schedule, the two men can only be together for two weekends every month. One day, Koutaro accidentally breaks Asahi’s glasses. For the first time, he gets the see Asahi looking vulnerable, and he realizes that the glasses are something his lover needs “so much that he can’t live on normally without them”; now Koutaro wishes he could be that important to Asahi…

For more information, please visit www.801media.com.

Also as a bonus to our readers who purchase titles directly from 801 Media Inc., all orders will come with a free gift with each order starting July 23, 2007. For more details and information, check out the 801 Media Inc. blog at www.801media.com/801/blog/ or the 801 Media Inc. store at www.801media.com/801/store/.

801 Media Inc.

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