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Book Review: Kill the Boy Band

Book Review: Kill the Boy Band

Book Review: Kill the Boy Band
Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: February 23rd 2016
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

Just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That's why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying. We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him-his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets. We were not planning on what happened next. We swear. From thrilling new talent Goldy Moldavsky comes a pitch-black, hilarious take on fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make-or break-the people we call "celebrities."

This is one of those books I wanted to like so much. When I heard about it, I was super excited, but the reality is the book just doesn’t live up to the hype. In fact, it’s highly problematic.

Before I truly dive into what I had issues with, I want to mention that Moldavsky does weave an interesting murder-mystery tale. I was intrigued by the basic plot and it held my attention enough to finish the book. However, whatever potential it had was lost in passages that upset me.

I’m not going to go into the fat shaming because Sarah over at Women Write About Comics did a good job of that already. Anything I would have pointed out, she already has. I will admit that the tackle scene did not bother me as much as everyone else. Mainly, it’s because by this point, I was already outraged by the fandom passages, which I’ll talk about in a moment. However, the passage that did get me was this:

Her appearance was one of Apple’s main hang-ups. That was what she saw in the mirror everyday and the conclusion she always jump to when things didn’t go right in her life. And, I’m certain, it was always a reason she chose Rupert P. —-  out of all the Ruperts —to love the most. I had a theory that choosing which boy to love in a boy band has a lot about a person…..I think April loved Rupert P. because she couldn’t even envision herself being loved by one of the cute boys. She loved him because he was the only one who she thought could possibly love her back.

I think that boy bands don’t worry about having a snaggle-tooth of an ugly member in their otherwise perfect row of teeth — boys — because they know that there are girls like Apple out there. Girls who really don’t like themselves enough to aim higher.  (p 82-83)

No, just no. No. No. No. And I know, there’s a spark to truth in girls thinking they can’t aim higher, but this is because society continuously tells girls like Apple they’re not good enough. Can we please just stop pushing this ideology? Please and thank you.

All right, so fat shaming. Check. Making fandoms look like crazies? HUGE CHECK. I’ll be honest, this is where the book lost me. I know people will come at me and say BUT IT’S A SATIRE, but it didn’t work well as one for me. There are too many moments that speak of reality and what is actually happening in the world of social media that are quite scary. For example, threatening tweets. Here’s the passage about the type of things that Isabel sends:

Isabel’s infamous tweets range from the cartoonish and impossible:

I’m going to pull ur tongue out of ur mouth wrap it around ur neck n strangle u w it so hard ur eyes will pop out. i will pee in the sockets.

To the quaint:

get your funcking hands off him bitch I will cut u. # RupertLIsMine  (knife emojis)

To the cryptically disturbing:

I watch u in ur sleep. (p 24-25)

To me, these are too real. I know people who get tweets like this–or worse. There is nothing funny about them. It’s scary and disturbing and wrong. I suppose if you didn’t know social media well enough you would think they were over the top, but they’re not and they’re many people’s reality. And while the main character does seem to condom those tweets, that type of attitude is basically what Isabel is all about.

The picture of fandoms that Moldavsky paints wildly varies depending on where you are in the book. At one point we get this

There was no point being a fan these days if you weren’t willing to go the extra mile for your idols. It wasn’t enough anymore to send them fanmail and kiss the posters above our beds. These days you weren’t a true fan until you engaged in Twitter death threats and endless stan wars. The fandom landscape was peppered with land mines, and there was no other way to navigate it but to walk until you hit one. You come out the other side a little crazier, yeah, but you’re also stronger. You are a true believer. You’ll do anything for the object of your affection. (p 32)

And then no more than 30 pages later we get this

Other people may have seen fangirls as crazy teenage girls obsessed with a fad, but they couldn’t understand the small but important joy you can get from indulging in these fandoms. They didn’t understand that a new gif of Rupert K. grinning at you could be the difference between a crap day and a beautiful one. They didn’t get the friendship that forms, the community of people who shared in your same joy. Maybe it was obsession, but it was also happiness; an escape from the suckiness of everyday life.  (pg 63)

So, which is it? Are they crazy obsessed teenagers or just a community that finds joy together? I suppose you could argue for both, but that second quote? Man, that’s what fandom is all about. That quote really hits at the heart of what they’re are and why people love and cling to them. When I saw that passage, I had hope that Moldavsky was going to give me something good. Instead, she goes back to painting them all as crazy. In fact, when a plea is sent out to the fangirls by one of the Ruperts to help find the missing Rupert, the girls start climbing the scaffold and busting into the hotel. I suppose you could argue that the over-the-top is where the whole satire/humor comes in, but to me it felt more like shaming than anything else.

There are many other passages that I could point out and use, but I fear they would make this review even longer than it is. And honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other issues with race, sexual assault, and homophobia that are being pushed aside because it’s a “satire”. I know this will be a controversial review, but I just can’t support or recommend a book that is this problematic.

Final Verdict: Kill the Boy Band tried, oh did it try, but sadly it failed miserably in my eyes.

GN Review: Friends with Boys

GN Review: Friends with Boys

GN Review: Friends with Boys
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: Feb 2012
Pages: 224
Source: NetGalley

Maggie McKay is starting her first day of high school. Normally this fact would cause anyone stress, but for Maggie it’s even worse because up until now she has been homeschooled. With only minimum help from her three older brothers, Maggie slowly learns to navigate the halls of her high school, including finding the 9th grade bathrooms, the best lunch spots, and where people make out.

Of course, high school isn’t the only thing that Maggie has to deal with. Her mother has also left the family within the last year. A fact that Maggie blames herself for happening. She believes if she had been just more “girly” and done more things with her mother she would still be around. Throw in a ghost that has haunted her since she was a child and Maggie has more on her plate than most people. It’s no wonder she hesitant to all the changes that are rapidly happening. However, with some help from her new friends, Lucy and Alastair, and even her brothers she’ll realize that change isn’t so bad.

Friends with Boys is a great coming-of-age story. Maggie’s emotions were so raw and real that I could relate to her every step of the way. Although, Maggie isn’t the only one dealing with high school “stuff”. From the bully to those being bullied, Hicks shows how peer-pressure and popularity can affect anyone. I loved how she weaved in Alastair, Lucy, and Daniel’s story flawlessly. It never felt forced, but something that slowly came out as she learned about her new friends. I also loved than a year later, Alastair is still struggling with the guilt and remorse for the things he said and did. Yes, he has come a long way, but he still has miles to go.

While I’m on the subject of characters, I have to talk a little more about Lucy. Hands down she is my favorite character of the bunch. She got this quirky cuteness to her that makes me want to hug her to death or pinch her cheeks or maybe both. On the outside she blasts her uniqueness to everyone with her multiple piercings and funky hair, but it was her personality that won me over. From her excitement about ghosts, to her habit of sticking her foot in her mouth, and her love for her brother she easily took the slot as favorite character. Not to mention the way she waved and sat with Maggie so she wouldn’t be alone in a new school. This girl seriously has so much heart it isn’t even funny.

While I loved the majority of Friends with Boys, there are a couple of small issues I have with it. The big one is the ghost. There is so many questions surrounding her it’s not even funny. Why can Maggie see her? What does she want? Why does she follow her around? Will she ever go away? Not to mention how the graphic novel ends with the ghost looking pitifully sad and floating down a path. Does this mean she’s leaving? I’ve gone through it twice now and I still have no clue. My only hope is that Hicks plans to make this a series and that the answer will become clear in the next issues. However, if this is to be a stand-alone, the ending will bother me for some time.

The other thing that bothered me was really very small and I think it was more of a personal interest. I wanted to know why her mom left. Was it a separation? A divorce? Or did she just up and leave them? Is she still close where they can see her or talk to her? Or has there been no communication at all since she left? The flashbacks made her seem quite loving and I don’t know if I quite buy into the “she sacrificed so much she needed to do something for herself” excuse. Again, I’m really hoping this isn’t a stand-alone and that it’ll be addressed as the story progresses.

The last thing I want to touch on is the art. I really like Hicks style. It’s simplistic most of the time. She doesn’t overload it with meaningless detail that just clutter up panels. The way that emotions travel through the characters is just…wow. I could have ignored the words completely and gotten the jest of the story just through their expressions and movements. There are some panels, ones that deal mainly with setting, that have a lot of detail, but I really enjoy her simplistic style more. Without a doubt I will be keeping my eye on new creations as well as checking out old works by Hicks in the future.

GN Review: Possessions: The Better House Trap

GN Review: Possessions: The Better House Trap

GN Review: Possessions: The Better House Trap
Possessions: The Better House Trap by Ray Fawkes
Series: Possessions #3
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: Feb 2012
Pages: 90
Source: Publisher

Enough is enough. Gurgazon the Pit Demon has been welcomed, nurtured, fed, and complimented. Gurgazon can tolerate no more! The time has come, once and for all, for escape! The Lewellyn-Vane house has been mapped. The plans are laid out. The ghosts are ready. The only thing that still stands in their way is... The butler. But is Gurgazon prepared for him this time? Can he really be defeated? POSSESSIONS BOOK 3: THE BETTER HOUSE TRAP is the third in the YALSA award-winning slapstick series by Ray Fawkes

 

Gurgazon is back up to her old tricks in Possessions volume 3. Her newest scheme for escape includes getting Mr. Thorne out of the manor. With a little help from an old friend and a lie, Thorne leaves on a hunt for a new house member. Of course, he doesn’t know that it’s a trap that will end in his disposal. While he is out the spirits begin their plan for escape and breaking one trap after another. It looks like freedom may just be in their reach… I won’t ruin the ending, but I will say I was surprised and screaming at the huge cliffhanger. I’m not sure I can wait a year to see what happens next!

This latest installment was no disappointment from the rest. There weren’t as many laughing out loud moments, but the scheming and hi-jinks were there 100%. I like that we’re learning more about Thorne without really learning anything about him. Fawkes is slipping in tiny hints here and there and I can’t wait until it’s fully revealed. I’m not quite sure myself what Thorne is, but I’m leaning on the side of a wizard. It would explain his slow aging and smelling of magic. I’m sure I’m totally wrong, but it’s still fun to guess!

Fawke’s simplistic style continues on with the third volume. This style works very well for the series. The panels are usually filled with the characters and sparse detail for the background. Considering how one-track minded Gurgazon is the panels work to keep you focus on her plans. This time around the panels were done in pink accent. If my theory is correct this is because the Pale Lady’s back story was introduced this time; boy, is she all about girly stuff such as dresses and shoes, which is one of the reasons she is now dead. I’ll be interested to see if the accent color/character continues in the next volume. There should only be two more back stories left (maybe 3 if you count Mr. Thorne) so it’ll be interesting to see what colors come into play. Of course, my theory could be wrong and merely coincidental. I suppose volume 4 is where the truth where be found.

If you haven’t picked up the Possessions series yet, I highly recommend it. If you have, be sure to leave me a comment telling me what you think!

 

Valentines Day = Cybils Love

Valentines Day = Cybils Love

First, Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Second, if you haven’t already heard the Cybils winners were announced today. Working on the GN panel was an honor and I’m extremely happy who won! We had some really great titles, a few I was even really torn on, but ultimately two stood above the rest. If you haven’t seen yet,  our winners were


Zita the Spacegirl
by Ben Hatke (MG)

Zita the Spacegirl’s appealing combination of humor and sci-fi adventure already has kids begging their librarians for the sequel. It’s got everything: aliens, robots, critters from the cute to the weird to the scary, and a smart, self-sufficient heroine who’s unfailingly loyal to her friends whether they happen to be human, robot or giant mouse. The visual storytelling is just as appealing—the drawing style is loose and open, and the fun character design and sound effects add liveliness and humor. There’s enough action, novelty, and color to keep younger readers interested, and enough thoughtfulness to satisfy more sophisticated readers, making this a terrific choice for a wide range of ages.


Anya’s Ghost
by Vera Brosgol (YA)

Ghost story—check. Snarky but fully rounded protagonist—check. Believable teen characters and behavior—check. Humor—yep.Anya’s Ghost has the perfect blend of story elements and it deftly layers several classic teen literature topics in a relatively short space. The themes of fitting in at school and in life, avoiding toxic friends both earthly and unearthly, and learning to come to terms with who you are, are nicely underscored by the fact that Anya is an immigrant. At the same time, Anya’s interactions with the ghost add suspense and the perfect amount of creepiness. The art style is simple, engaging and funny, and works well with a monochromatic format. A fast-paced read that doesn’t skimp on story.

If you haven’t read either one, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend grabbing a copy. They’re great GNs and well worthy of winning.

GN Review: Possessions (Bk 1 & 2)

GN Review: Possessions (Bk 1 & 2)

GN Review: Possessions (Bk 1 & 2)
Possessions: Unclean Getaway (bk 1) & The Ghost Table (bk 2) by Ray Fawkes
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: March 2010 & 2011
Pages: 91

Meet Gurgazon the Unclean, the cuddliest little pit demon ever trapped in the Llewellyn-Vane House for Captured Spirits and Ghostly Curiosities! This pit demon may look just like a cute little 5-year old girl, but it isn't interested in playing checkers with other ghosts. The Gurgazon is determined to escape! Will the house contain it? Or will the world of peace and friendly bunnies come to an end as the Gurgazon exacts its revenge?

 

Being the newest member of the Llewellyn-Vane House, Gurgazon isn’t so…shall we say whipped? The other four paranormal entities have been in the household for years and have had their spirits essentially broken. The hundreds, perhaps thousands, of failed attempts don’t stop Gurgazon though. She (he?) is determined to make an escape happen. Gurgazon spends hours brainstorming ideas and getting the others to bend to her will. However, Mr. Thorne (their sort-of butler/babysitter) is always one step ahead, which is why escape attempts usually fail. Although, I’m pretty sure that Gurgazon’s motto is “if first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. She may be accepting friendship (and ice cream) by then end of book one, but you know that Gurgazon has several more tricks up her sleeve.

In book two, we get to meet the Specter Collectors Society aka little old women who collect spirits. That’s right. They’re all little old women who ooh and aah over spirits as if they were babies. I’m pretty sure they’ve all got a couple of screws loose. While the plan plot doesn’t surround Gurgazon trying to escape, you can still see her plotting during the dinner party (and after). Book two is more about how these old biddies treat the entities as if they were pets, rating them on their scariness/what kind of “show” they put on. We get to meet some other “collections” who are basically all stuck up. You would think that because they were all trapped by this Society they’d be working together, but they would rather belittle and compete against one another. It was fun to see the Llewellyn-Vane House gang team together to put the other spirits in their place. They’re such oddball spirits, but I can’t help but root for them. I have a feeling that if they continue to work as a team, they may just figure out a way to escape.

As a whole, I’m completely enjoying the Possessions series. Gurgazon is one of those in-your-face demons that either has you cringing or laughing. I love how she’s all like GURGAZON IS THE GREATEST BOW BEFORE ME while the others just sort of shrug and ignore her tantrums. Seriously, the pit-demon truly acts like a 5 year old most of the time. Though, in a way that’s part of the problem since, you know, 5 years old aren’t all that terrifying most of the time.

The other spirits are fun as well. I like that Fawkes is slowly weaving in their back-stories into the novels. Each little tidbit he offers fleshes them out more and more. I still feel as if there is a lot we don’t know yet, especially about Mr. Thorne. I have so many questions about him it’s not even funny. Like who he is and why des he “babysits” these spirits. Not only that, but I’m interested in how and why the Specter Collectors Society got started. How do you simply decide one day that’s it’s a fabulous idea to start collecting poltergeists and demons? I’m interested in the paranormal as much as the next person, but this seems like an extreme.

As far as the artwork goes, Fawkes style is simplistic. Most of the panels lack a lot of detail and focus mainly on the characters. That’s not to say simplistic is bad, in fact, I think it works quite well for this series. The Possessions Series is more about what hi-jinks Gurgazon is getting into, which makes it fitting that the panels focus mainly on her. I do like the many faces of Gurgazon, even though she is stuck in terrifying mode half the time. (No one else really has a face beyond Mr. Thorne) The coloring for the panels are done in black & white with an accent color. I do like how the accent colors change from book to book and that they seem to correspond with whose back-story is introduced. So book one is green for Gurgazon and book two is blue for the Ice Field Lights. I’ll be interested to see if this theme continues as the series progresses.

If you haven’t read the Possessions series yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a fast paced series that will have you laughing at all the mischief. I think tweens/teens will highly enjoy these GNs and I plan on adding them to my collection ASAP. Be sure to let me know if you have read the series, I’d love to hear what others think!

 

GN Review: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things

GN Review: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things

GN Review: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things
Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things Series: Courtney Crumrin #1
Release Date: May 2003 (rereleased March 2012)
Pages: 128
Source: NetGalley

Meet Courtney Crumrin. Uprooted from her home in the city, her parents have relocated them to a well-to-do suburb to live with their ailing & creepy Great Uncle Aloysius. Only he may not be as sickly as he claims to be. Courtney quickly learns there is more than meets the eye in her uncle home including things that go bump in the night. Told in four different chapters, Courtney slowly learns about the otherworldly things living around her such as goblins, changelings, and talking cats. (

I’m rather sad that it took me so long to discover this graphic novel series. I fell into instant love with this volume and quickly devoured the rest of the series. Courtney’s world is a great look into the darker, grimmer side of magic. The creatures/otherworldly things are not cute and cuddly in the least. While some play nice with Courtney and Uncle Aloysius, the majority have no sympathy or kindness towards the human race. Even Courtney finds herself in several sticky situations that would have led to disastrous results if not for her uncle.

Courtney, while a loner, is an overall likable character. Yes, she’s mouthy and messes around with stuff she shouldn’t, but can you really blame her? If I discovered magical books and beings, I’m pretty sure I would be seeking out more information as well. She is, however, a tad bit reckless. She has a tendency to leap without looking, something that will get her in trouble as the series progresses. Aloysius is also a great character. There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding him, but it’s obvious he cares about Courtney in his own gruff way, especially since he is always quick to come to her rescue. The only reoccurring characters I don’t like are her parents. Seriously, I wish I could stuff them in a bag and throw them in out for the trash man. They only care about themselves, money, and social standing. They way they treat Courtney is sometimes infuriating (more so as the series continues then in this first volume).

As for the artwork, Naifeh does not disappoint. I love the level of depth in the panels and could spend hours just soaking in all the little details. He not only establishes the characters, but the world around them as well. While I am a huge fan of the simplistic style, I do love how Naifeh made me feel like I was in the world. The version I read had the first part in full color done by colorist Warren Wucinich. I’ve always felt like full color brings graphic novels to a whole new level and Courtney Crumrin is no exception. While the black and white panels work fine, the color ones pop off the page for me. I will be excited to see the first volume in full color come March.

If you haven’t given the Courtney Crumrin series yet, I highly recommend it. The four volumes are fast paced and enjoyable from start to finish. Of course, if you have be sure to leave me a comment letting me know what you thought!

Manga vs. Anime: Black Butler

Manga vs. Anime: Black Butler

It’s time for another Manga vs. Anime edition. This time our star is Black Butler. I’ve watched almost all of the anime episodes and am shocked (okay maybe not that shocked) to see how fast the anime veers off-course from the manga. There are only 6 (soon to be 7) volumes of the mange out in the US right now, but after a bit of research there should be at least 12 volumes and it’s still marked as ongoing. So, who knows how many volumes it will eventually end up with. The anime only covers roughly the first five volumes, even though there are 24 episodes in season one. Honestly, this kind of excites me because I hated how the anime ended. I have renewed hope that the manga will end up on a completely different course.

Today I’m going to cover the first 3 volumes/6 episodes. There anime goes off in it’s own direction after that, but there are episodes later in the season that cover volumes 4 & 5, but I’m not sure I’ll cover it in a post. It’s a side story at best and I’m not sure I want to do the comparison, but we’ll see.

When I say that the anime covers the first five volumes, I should say roughly. Almost immediately they make up their own story line. In the manga chapter one is about introducing the main players and showing how good of a butler Sebastian is. Their guest, Chalus, is meant to be highly impressed and brings something important to Ciel that comes into play later. (More on this in a bit) It’s short and to the point, which is perhaps the problem.

There wasn’t enough meat to make this first chapter into a full episode so they needed to expand, but in the process completely changed it. Their guest is now an Italian man running one of their companies in India. It seems like he is reporting in, but in fact he has already sold the company and is trying to swindle Ciel out of more money. They also add in this horrific game where the pieces the man lands on (broken leg, ghosts, being burned in a fire) end up coming true. This episode has always kind of confused me, especially since at one point Sebastian is locking the man in an oven, but in the end he is seen limping away from the manor screaming. I wish they had kept the Chalus story line and just beefed it up a bit, especially since he comes into play in chapter 3 in the manga. However, we do still get to see how impressive Sebastian is including the very cool remove the tablecloth scene.

Chapters 2 and 3/4 are flopped in the anime. Episode two goes straight into the drug/kidnapping storyline that is told in chapters 3 & 4. This is where I’m not sure why they took out Chalus because the item he brings back from Italy is what helps Ciel nail the mobster. The flop in order would have made sense at that point since the two are so closely related. Although, I can still understand the change since chapter 2/episode 3 is kind of fluffy without much action. Beyond throwing in extra scenes with madam Red, Lau, and Grelle the episode is pretty spot on to the manga. Even the additional scenes, which are taken from later chapters, are pretty true to the manga. (Beyond moving them that is.)

Chapter 2 (aka episode 3) is another one that needed a lot of beefing up. Their solution? Throw in Grelle, a horrible butler, and get Sebastian to train him! (And the ah ha moment for why they intro’d them sooner than the manga) His ineptness is even worse than the normal crews! (I wasn’t sure that was possible.) He offers comic relief and the extra minutes they needed to make it a full episode. Beyond the Grelle moments, the episode is pretty spot on. Lizzie comes and takes over in her cute, yet annoying way. We learn she is Ciel’s betrothed and loves everyone/everything to look adorable. The only thing they really left out was that Lizzie is his cousin. They also add in some set-up for the next episode and throw in some more back-story on the Phantomhive family. All in all, the additions work and nothing feels too out of place.

Episodes 4 -6 are part of a big story arc and cover chapters 6-14. Ciel is called to London to investigate the Jack the Ripper case. There are several twist and turns and Ciel gets way more than he bargained for. If you’ve not read the series yet and don’t want to be spoiled…stop reading now. You’ve been warned…Ciel finds out that Jack the Ripper is non-other then his dear aunt, Madam Red, and Grelle. Oh, did I mention that Grelle is really a grim reaper?? Yeah.

I have to say the episodes stayed pretty close to the manga here, although I still feel as if the manga did it a hair better. There’s more back-story, especially to Madam Red that really fleshes out her story. Her cinematic record (think life flashing before your eyes at death) is a full chapter and really delves into how much she loves Ciel’s dad/her sister husband, but also how much she adored her sister and how she tried to make it all work. Losing everything she loved–her sister, brother-in-law, husband, and unborn child—really took a toll on her. It’s no wonder the poor woman snapped. I wish the anime hadn’t boiled it down to just the basic. There was such beauty in the full story and deserved to get the full airtime.

The only other thing they changed/added that really bugged me is when Grelle, who is about to be killed by Sebastian, shouts out that he knows who killed Ciel’s parents. This is not in the manga, although I’m not sure it if will be later. I do know it is a set-up for later story lines in the anime–ones that lead Ciel to the truth. And ones that I particular hated and hope does not end up in the manga. Or if it does, I hope it takes more time to fully explain it and flesh it out. (Still crossing fingers for something utterly different)

Whew. That my friends is basically the first three volumes/six episodes! The anime of course skips a couple of chapters, which made me a little sad. They weren’t important chapters in the be-all-end-all sense, but they’re good none-the-less. One chapter gave us more insight on Sebastian and how miserable…frustrated…trapped he really is, especially when it comes to the other manor staff. Plus it offered a couple of good laughs, especially with all the staff blunders. In the other one we met Lizzie’s mom/Ciel’s aunt. Okay, so I can see why they skipped this one, but it was fun to see someone give Ciel a run for his money when it comes to competitiveness. I hope sure hope that spunk comes out in Lizzie later.

While I have seen all 24 episodes of the anime, and enjoyed it, the manga is better hands down. I’m excited to see all the story lines the anime skipped and where it’ll end up overall. I may still do the last few comparisons, but most likely I’ll just review volumes 6 on up on their own merit.

If you’ve seen/read Black Butler, be sure to let me know what you think

Manga Review: The Wallflower

Manga Review: The Wallflower

Manga Review: The Wallflower
The Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa
Series: The Wallflower #1
Publisher: Kodansha America, Incorporated
Release Date: Aug. 2012
Pages: 224

MAKEOVER OF THE CENTURY It's a gorgeous, spacious mansion, and four handsome, fifteen-year-old friends are allowed to live in it for free! There's only one condition-that within three years the guys must transform the owner's wallflower niece into a lady befitting the palace in which they all live! How hard can it be? Enter Sunako Nakahara, the agoraphobic, horror-movie-loving, pockmark-faced, frizzy-haired, fashion-illiterate recluse who tends to break into explosive nosebleeds whenever she sees anyone attractive. This project is going to take more than our four heroes ever expected: it needs a miracle! This volume of The Wallflower includes special extras after the story!

This one ended up being an epic fail for me for several reasons. In fact, I barely made it through volume one. I have been told it gets better, but after the first volume I have no desire to go on.

The first thing that gave me the hardest time was the artwork. Most of the time I can look past drawing. After all, I’m not expecting acts of genius from mangas, but this one just really bugged me for some reason. I think it was the lips. I felt like ever character had these Botox-injection huge lips. And then there were times when it looked like a bunch of clowns had walked into the storyline. I kid you not. My teens and I joked about it at Anime Club last week. I mean I know it’s not supposed to be a serious manga, but a lynch mob of clowns just kind of freaks me out.

Also, the whole “ugly girls make me sick” made me want to SCREAM. If it was just the guy who broke her heart who had said it, I could have let it pass. However, on several occasions the main characters say it as well. I don’t care if you are model-gorgeous teenage boys, saying something like that is extremely shallow. Yes, I know it plays into the ugly duckling into swan thing, but I don’t know it really hit a nerve with me. The only redeeming quality is they do seem to start to care for Sunako in their own weird way. Also, there is a mention that it’s her negativity that makes her ugly and not she herself her is ugly. I did like that the other three boys almost killed the one who used the ugly word with her.

While there was a lot I didn’t like, I did like the brief moments where Sunako went into kick butt moments. She took on this fierce role where she became unstoppable. It was quite enjoyable to see her enter those modes. Unfortunately, it is just not enough to make me pick up volume 2 and continue the series.

Have you read The Wallflowers? Am I truly giving up too soon?

Manga Review: W Juliet

Manga Review: W Juliet

Manga Review: W Juliet
W Juliet by Emura
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC

Makoto Amano wants to become an actor, but his stern father has decreed that the only way Makoto can pursue his dream is to spend the last two years of high school as a girl! He quickly makes friends with popular tomboy Ito Miura, another drama enthusiast at this new high school and the only student to find out his secret--but are they more than pals?

If you’ve been paying attention to my summer reading posts you may have guessed I’ve been a bit stressed/in a mental overload. Since my new found love for manga (thank you Fruits Basket) I find when I need an easy read/mental break manga is the place to go. Since Fruits Baskets and After School Charisma are the only series I have read I have a lot to choose from. My anime teens have thrown a lot of suggestions at me, but I have to confess I’ve been picking what manga to read by what is in. I literally scan the shelves to see which series have book one in. Seriously…but amazingly it’s worked quite well so far.

My latest selection was W Juliet by Emura. While this is an older series, it was one I had never heard of and am so glad I gave it a go. W Juliet is about two teens, Ito and Makoto, who are not as they appear. Ito may look and act like a boy, but underneath is all she is a woman. And Makoto, well, he may look like a girl, but he is all man. Ito may not have a excuse beyond being a tomboy, but Makoto disguise is the key to his future. As the only son he is expected to take over the family dojo, but the only thing Makoto wants to be is an actor. Makoto’s father disapproves, but eventually makes a deal with him; if he can live and graduate high school (2 years) as a woman without anyone finding out he may go after his dream. Makoto knows it is the only way out of his father’s control and accepts the deal.

Ito, of course, finds out about Makoto’s secret right away (by accident) and vows to help him make it though. After all, it’s a pretty big feat to accomplish on ones own, especially with all the obstacles that get thrown in his way. But the question still remains…will it be enough? Can Makoto live as a woman for two years without anyone finding out the truth, especially when Iko and Makoto start to fall in love?

I whipped through this series (14 volumes) in about a week. I will admit that the story lines are kind of predictable and repetitive, but something about them drew me in. Perhaps it the romantic heart of mine that enjoyed seeing Ito and Makoto fall for each other. Or my need to have a happy ending that kept me going to make sure it would all turn out okay. While undoubtedly those both played a role, it was more than that. There was a lot of humor that kept it light, but there was some more serious issue thrown in as well. Yes, some of the characters annoyed the crap out of me, but there was never a time where I didn’t want to see what happened next. I also loved the hidden identity aspect of it as well. The whole “double” Juliet plot just really intrigued me for some reason.

Sadly, this one does not have an anime attached to it. It would have been fun to do a Anime vs. Manga comparison, but it was not meant to be. I do believe that fans of Fruits Basket/shojo will eat this series up. While it is certainly not flawless, it has enough charm to make it an easy recommendation to all manga lovers.

Manga vs. Anime: Fruits Basket

Manga vs. Anime: Fruits Basket

I have a confession to make. I have been an anime fan for well over 15 years, but until last month I never touched the manga. While I fully support and advocate graphic novels, they have always been hard for me to read. There have been some exceptions like Rapunzel’s Revenge, but for the most part I’ve stayed away from actually reading them. And when it came to manga I didn’t see a point, especially since I usually watched the anime.

After suffering two years of teasing/harassment from my Anime Club teens, I broke down and promised I would read one. I decided on Fruits Basket (aka Furuba) since I had seen part of the anime, which I adored. And since it was a finished series I wouldn’t have wait months for the next volume to come out.

To make a long story short, I ended up falling in love with Furuba. If you’re library doesn’t own it, I would buy it right now. Seriously. My teen girls adore it and it’s one of my higher circ’ing mangas; even though it’s a couple of years old it’s still rarely on the shelf. I will admit that artistically it is nothing amazing, but storyline wise it has such a good message. Of course, I may have a soft spot for the love conquers all type books.

Remember how I said I didn’t read the manga because I watched the anime? After all, they’re basically the same, right? Wow, could I have ever been more wrong this time around. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Overall, the anime does a great job at adapting the manga until the very end. Without giving too much away, let’s just say I have several WTH moments. There were several things that they changed/added that totally changed Tohru’s and Yuki’s personality and relationship with Kyo. They also add in a threatening scene with Akito that never happens in the manga. These were the biggest changes for me and shifted the storyline to a different path; part of me wonders if this is why the anime stopped at season one.

Other than that, the changes are rather small. Some events are combined or left out completely. Two of the zodiac character never make it into the anime. Of course, this is largely do the fact that the 26 episodes only cover events that happen in the first 8 volumes. Yup, that’s right, the anime never makes it past volume 8! If I hadn’t decided to read the manga as well I would have missed out on 18 volumes worth of story. When you consider each manga is roughly 200 pages–well that’s a lot of story to miss.

Which, naturally, leads me to my next dilemma. How much have I missed in other series that I’ve watched? I know Furuba is most likely not the exception to the case, especially since I’ve heard some of my teens complain a bit about it. I guess this means there shall be more manga in my future! Oddly enough, this excites me.

 

If you have any titles of manga you would like me to review, please leave them in the comments! I’ll use them to guide my Manga vs. Anime posts in the future.