Tag Archive: drama

Manga Review – Hot Gimmick

Hot Gimmick
ホットギミック
AIHARA Miki
Shoujo – Drama, reverse harem, romance, mature
12 Volumes / 4 Omnibuses (complete)
Viz Media

Summary:

Hatsumi’s family lives in company housing and fears crossing the wife of a company executive. Hatsumi’s peaceful life is threatened when their son, Ryoki, learns a juicy bit of gossip about her family. Desperate to keep him quiet, Hatsumi finds herself as Ryoki’s slave. Perhaps her old friend Azusa can help stop Ryoki’s harassment? If not, maybe her brother…

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Manga Review – Your Lie in April [Redux]

Your Lie in April Volume 1

Your Lie in April
四月は君の嘘 (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)
ARAKAWA Naoshi
Shounen – Drama, psychological, romance, slice-of-life, tragedy
10 Volumes (complete)
Kodansha USA

Summary:

Kōsei was considered a piano prodigy. After his mother’s death, however, he froze during a competition, and Kōsei hasn’t played the piano since. Two years later, he meets a girl playing the melodica. This encounter forces Kōsei to once again answer the call to music.

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Manga Review – The Prince in His Dark Days

The Prince in His Dark Days 1

The Prince in His Dark Days
王子様と灰色の日々 (Ouji-sama to Haiiro no Hibi)
YAMANAKA Hico
Shoujo – Drama, gender bender, romance
4 Volumes (complete)
Kodansha Comics USA

Summary:

Atsuko knows all too well the meaning of poverty, unlike the rich boy and his friends she happens to encounter one day. The young heir, Itaru, notices that he and Atsuko look just alike. When he later disappears. Atsuko is drafted as his stand-in. But living the prince-like life is not as easy as she thought, as Itaru and his companions have their own burdens to bear…


Review:

The Prince in His Dark Days will be a series I’ll mourn for for years to come.

Not because anyone died or anything; the manga just ended too soon.

On one hand, I can kind of understand why this series wasn’t a big hit in Aria magazine. Aria definitely has a wide range of series (anything from the smutty Ani-Imo to pure comedy like Manga Dogs), but The Prince in His Dark Days has a down-to-earth maturity that doesn’t really prove to be an escape from reality. (Once you disregard the odds of meeting your opposite gender doppelgänger of course.) I wish the manga had been moved to a josei magazine where the subjects it tackles might have been appreciated more. The Prince in His Dark Days isn’t about heart-pounding romance or Ultimate True Love. Instead, the manga deals with a group of young people who are struggling.

“Struggling? But Itaru is rich, isn’t he?”

Yes, he is. But he and his friends/retainers Nobuhiko and Ryô each have their own issues to make their days gray and dreary. They are all dealing with attractions and preferences they wish they could hide — or outright abandon. Being so short, the manga doesn’t dive deeply into LGBT issues, but it does confront them directly. One character, for instance, monologues about getting aroused by the thought of men being attracted to him. Yet, despite the fact he knows what he likes, he still wants to keep this aspect of himself hidden. It’s an internal conflict I’m sure many readers can relate to, and again, it’s nice to see his type of discussion as something other than fujoshi fodder.

On the other hand, Atsuko is too busy worrying about physically surviving to deal with anything like attraction. Her poor upbringing means she doesn’t have the money for “luxuries” like showers. This, of course, affects her ability to make friends. Her father spends his days drinking, lashing out at his “damn juvenile delinquent of a daughter”. She blames her father’s rage on the fact her parents fell in love and had her, and now he’s left alone to raise her. So Atsuko makes money the only way she can: scamming skeevy perverts. No wonder she’s already become jaded to love at her age.

Of course, her heartstrings are tugged when Itaru orders Ryô and Nobunari to drag Atsuko with them, and Nobunari objects to the rough treatment the other two are giving her. He gives her his shoe in a sort of a reverse-Cinderella situation, and Ryô later manipulates Atsuko into playing Itaru by saying Nobunari will be blamed for the Nogi heir’s disappearance. Atsuko agrees to fill in as Itaru for six months* or until he returns.

While most gender bender situations are played for a laugh, The Prince in His Dark Days absolutely does not. There is a little bit of humor because Atsuko is a poor girl now having to learn high class etiquette. However, much to Ryo’s surprise, Atsuko is completely dedicated to her “job”, perhaps too much. She actually starts working out just to bulk up and look more masculine and starts smoking to lower voice.

Wow… just wow.

But while she claims it’s just because she’s being paid, Atsuko admits it’s because she is moved by everyone’s dedication to Itaru… and because she received a “thank you”. She’s so devoid of positive human relationships that a simple word of appreciation makes her want to work hard, acting in ways she really doesn’t want to. Yet she isn’t portrayed as some kind of savior for the Nogi household. So many swapping-lives stories end with the two characters each realizing how good their original lives were, Here, however, Atsuko and Itaru realize they have to make their lives better. Itaru may have been the one to physically run away, but he and Atsuko — as well as Ryô and Nobunari — have all been running away from something.

Now for the *.

While Ryô mentions that he was hiring Atsuko until Itaru’s birthday, the manga ends at his coming-of-age ceremony three months later. While the manga has a fabulous story with characters you can’t help but empathize with, the series desperately needed another volume or two at least. Yamanaka must have known her magazine rankings were low, as fortunately a resolution isn’t crammed into two chapters or anything. However, a lot of plot points are left unresolved, and The Prince in His Dark Days does waste time on a couple of new characters. One rich boy discovers Atsuko’s identity, so I imagine he was meant to have a larger role in the story. The drama surrounding Itaru’s mother is all but abandoned, and Nobunari hardly appears in the final volume. Very disappointing. At least both Atsuko and Itaru remain interesting characters up to the very end, and you aren’t left with an open-ended ending.

The manga also has a habit of not fully explaining everything. Atsuko mentions she only saved up 13,000 yen for the school trip, but who knows how close or far away she is. I’ll be giving another example below.

This is Yamanaka’s first shoujo work, but not her first manga. If you look at the art, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn she is primarily a BL artist. Her characters have those angular faces and eye styles that shounen-ai and yaoi manga tend to have. What is more unusual is her approach to Itaru and Atsuko. While many characters remark on their similar appearance (well, more like believe Atsuko is Itaru), the two in the manga are show to have different hair colors. Itaru’s hair is light, and the second volume shows him with blonde hair. What, no one could say, “Hey, you dyed your hair!” or something? I imagine people would think black hair is more appropriate for a businessman, and Itaru wasn’t close to a lot of people, but still…

Also, the manga leaves plenty of holes, especially in the first chapter. For instance, we already know she’s going on dates to get money. She leaves school after getting a lecture, and this happens:

The Prince in His Dark Days page 16We learn later why she avoids touch, but it just seems like a huge jump from an invitation to a mad chase. Then it took me a few times to figure it out, but I guess she kicked him, and then she lost her shoe. But, uh… where did the door come from? I guess despite the darkness — which makes it look like a night scene — she’s in a mall-like place? Then she goes back outside? And I guess her commenting about messing up comes from her overreacting? It just feels like something is skipped, and even the fact she lost her shoe is easily missed.

Translation:

One thing I always love about the twins’ work is they usually have dedicated translator’s notes. This series is no exception, explaining a lot of the references and any dialogue changes they made to make the adaptation run smoothly (like about Japanese pronouns). Accent marks are included in names.

I did not like the use of Times New Roman (or whatever font it was) for the inner monologues and foreign comments. Times New Roman just doesn’t look good in a comic or manga in my opinion.

Final Comments:

I don’t think the rushed ending is enough to dissuade me from recommending The Prince in His Dark Days to interested readers, but I do think readers should be prepared to be let down. The plot was excellent, and it’s a shame that the series was wrapped up after only four volumes when so many junk manga go well beyond that mark.

JManga had released Yamanaka’s 70% of First Love is…, and Renta licensed His Romance of 500 Years.

Manga Review – That Wolf-Boy is Mine!

That Wolf-Boy is Mine!

That Wolf-Boy is Mine!
私のオオカミくん (Watashi no Oookami-kun)
NOGIRI Yoko
Shoujo – Drama, romance, supernatural
4 Volumes (complete)
Kodansha Comics USA

Summary:

Komugi has transferred to a new school in hopes she won’t end up a social outcast again. That’s going to be hard to do when one of the school idols, Yū, suddenly announces she smells good and keeps sniffing her! But just as Komugi and Yū start to grow close, she discovers his secret: he’s actually a wolf!

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Manga Review – Devils’ Line

Devils' Line Volume 1

Devils’ Line
デビルズライン
HANADA Ryo
Seinen – Drama, horror, mature, mystery, romance, supernatural, tragedy
5 Volumes (ongoing) of 9 Volumes (ongoing)
Vertical, Inc.

Summary:

Tsukasa has been feeling like someone has been watching her. Otherwise, though, she’s a normal college student, and one of her fellow club members even confessed to her recently. When a stranger approaches Tsukasa and her male friend, she’s about to learn that the so-called vampire murders may be aptly named…

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Manga Review – Marmalade Boy

Marmalade Boy Volume 1

Marmalade Boy
ママレード・ボーイ
YOSHIZUMI Wataru
Shoujo – Comedy, drama, romance
8 Volumes (completed)
Tokyopop
Out-of-print

Summary:

Miki’s life is perfectly normal… until the day it isn’t. Suddenly, Miki’s parents decide to divorce and swap partners with another couple, and everyone is going to live together! Now Miki has a cute-but-annoying stepbrother, a guy friend who is acting strangely, and a best friend with a big secret. Love makes people crazy, and it’s going to make Miki’s life even crazier!

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Manga Review – Dawn of the Arcana

Dawn of the Arcana Volume 1

Dawn of the Arcana
黎明のアルカナ (Reimei no Arcana)
TOMA Rei
Shoujo – Adventure, drama, fantasy, romance, tragedy
13 Volumes (complete)
Viz Media

Summary:

Princess Nakaba of Senan marries Prince Caesar of Belquat. But this isn’t time for a celebration: the two countries are enemies, and Nakaba knows that either land would love to see her killed. With only her half-human, half-beast attendant Loki at her side, how long can Nakaba survive? Perhaps the strange dreams she’s having can help…

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Manga Review – Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper

Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper Volume 1

Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper
ファイナルファンタジー零式外伝 氷剣の死神 (Final Fantasy Zero Shiki Gaiden: Hyouken no Shinigami)
SHIOZAWA Takatoshi (story/art), NOMURA Tetsuya (supervision)
Shounen – Action, adventure, drama, war
5 Volumes (complete)
Yen Press

Summary:

Long ago, the legendary warrior known as the Ice Reaper was a cadet who dreamed of joining Class First. Kurasame always believed he was special and destined for greatness. However, as he rises in prominence, Kurasame must struggle with duty, love, loyalty, and justice in a world where those who die are deleted from memories.

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Unlicensed Spotlight – Hakushaku Reijou

Hakushaku Reijou 1

Hakushaku Reijou
The Young Countess
伯爵令嬢
HOSOKAWA Chieko, Fu-min
Shoujo – Drama, historical, romance
12 Volumes (complete)
Akita Shoten (Hitomi)

Summary:

France, late 19th century. Orphan Corinne falls in love with Richard, a blind boy from a wealthy family. But Richard’s friend Alain is smitten with Corinne, and he tries to blackmail her into marrying him. After Corinne learns she is the granddaughter of a count, tragedies, lies, coincidences, and schemes all separate Corrine from her beloved Richard.

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Manga Review – Inu x Boku SS [Redux]

Inu x Boku SS Volume 1

Inu x Boku SS
妖狐×僕SS (いぬぼくシークレットサービス)
FUJIWARA Cocoa
Shounen – Comedy, drama, mystery, romance, supernatural
11 Volumes (complete)
Yen Press

Summary:

In an effort to change herself, Ririchiyo moves into Ayakashi Mansion to be alone. She is surprised to find a bodyguard, Soushi, obsessed with protecting and serving her. While Ririchiyo had no intention of getting close to anybody, all the residents of Ayakashi Mansion must rely on each other to protect their shared secret.

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