Mangas For Girls – Recommendations

Manga: Nishiki-kun no Nasugamama
Author: Shiraishi Yuki
Chapters: 5
“Classic” shojo: cute & short. Loved the characters, the story is as simple as it gets. Worth the while.

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MangaMy Girl
Author: Sahara Mizu (aka Yumeka Sumomo)
Chapters: 10

My Girl is a story about happiness, sadness, loss; about being a parent, being a child, being old… In ten short chapters we follow a bitter-sweet story about a young man who finds out he has a five year old daughter. My Girl will make you sad, it’ll make you think life is unfair, and it’ll make you realize that life is beautiful if you know where to look and if you don’t give up.

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MangaYuru Koi
Author: Yoshino Aki
Chapters: 5

Yuru Koi covers three simple love stories. They’re not unrealistic, and there’s a reason for that double negative – you can imagine something like that happening, but still… The art is very good, smooth and clear,, however it lacks in the “disambiguation” department, a frequent ailment which comes to the fore when a manga has multiple stories about different characters – which end up looking the same and are hard to tell apart. There were some actual “tokidoki” and “awwwwwmoments in this one – which is why you really have to read it.

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Manga: Ike Ike! Sakura
Author: Nagae Tomomi
Chapters: 4

During this quest to find good and great mangas for girls, I’ve discovered a new mangaka to follow, Nagae Tomomi. Be sure to check her out. Ike Ike Sakura! is a story about a silly girl determined to get busy with Shuji, a guy she met on a train. Sakura is very good at saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing and getting herself in a world of confusion and trouble. Ike Ike Sakura! is surprisingly relatable, particularly for girls who know how difficult it is to say the right thing and be cool. Also, this is not shojo, it’s smutty josei.

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Manga: Happy Rush
Author: Nagae Tomomi
Chapters: 5

Happy Rush is a story about Natsumi, a girl  working as a real estate agent. This manga is a bit different, because even though Natsumi is crazy about Toujou, her superior, it’s not really about love but about her becoming good at what she does. It’s really funny and cute, as are most Nagae Tomomi’s mangas. Really loved it.

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Manga: Sora Log
Author: Mitsuki Kako
Chapters: 15

Here, we follow Hikaru, a weird girl who has a thing for sky, stars and Minato Asou. Hikaru is clumsy, but opinionated and ballsy – alltogether extremely likeable. Minato is not a bully, but he’s tall (mostly not dark) and mysterious, with a bad rep (a must!). As is the case in most Mitsuki Kako’s mangas, there is a bit of drama and misunderstanding in Sora Log, however these are not dragged out, unconvincing conflicts based on the idiocy of protagonists. The main conflict is a bit far-fetched, but it’s over in a jiffy so you end up willingly suspending your disbelief. All in all, I loved Sora Log as I have loved each and every manga spawned from Mitsuki Kako’s pen. It is beautiful and dynamic, cute and it induces involuntary grins.

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Ultimate Shōjo Experience! with pictures

What is it that makes Skip Beat! the ultimate shōjo experience?

  1. Hot, tortured male protagonist;
  2. Adamant, gutsy female lead; only slightly clueless;
  3. Opportunity to act on mutual attraction without changing the underlying friendly relationship necessary to continue the story = catharsis without main conflict resolution
  4. Love triangle, sometimes square, occasionally pentagon; plenty of jealousy;
  5. Secret past, part of which is shared by protagonists;
  6. Female lead kicking ass of bitchy female characters we love to hate;
  7. Various impediments of psychological and social sort standing between protagonists;
  8. Familial relationship between characters;
  9. No character is beyond redemption (most often through interaction with female protagonist).
  10. Multiple bishies

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Writing about Skip Beat! is a really arduous task, having in mind that it’s an ongoing manga (since 2002). Nonetheless, I feel that my previous mention did not do it credit.

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In short, Mogami Kyōko is in love with Fuwa Shō and she is prepared to devote all of her being to his happiness and comfort. However, once she learns he is an exploitative asshole, Kyōko decides to lock up her feelings and exert vengeance upon Shō.Through sheer stubbornness and monomaniacal focus, Kyōko enters the world of show business. Why? Because she is determined to dethrone Shō, who is no.1 pop idol in Japan.

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Tsuruga Ren, as a more mature and experienced man is juxtaposed to Shō. And even though Kyōko is largely concentrated on her vengeance, caring very little about her acting career or anything else, in time this changes. Ren comes to the forefront, first as a role-model, and then as something more. Kyōko starts to see past her obsession, past Shō and towards a future of self-realization, instead of a future realized through someone else.cain_heel_by_carly4015-d66uqjtKyōko and Ren are both actors, members of LME agency – something Nakamura Yoshiki uses to torture you with, employing endless role-play routines in which you do not get what you want, but somehow you manage to get close enough.

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Delayed gratification? I dunno. I’m pretty much prepared to believe anything Tom Hiddleston says. If me wait. Me going to get cookie.

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 I keep wondering just how much of this Guilty Pleasure business is related to latent masochism? To illustrate, it took 12 years for Kyōko and Ren to kiss (although, technically, it was not a kiss between Kyōko and Ren). The greatest problem of them all is that Nakamura-sensei can keep on doing this shit until all the fans of Skip Beat! shrivel up and die of a serious case of unmet expectations. But I have learnt my lesson.

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I’m aware that, led by cookie-logic, I might sit and wait, telling myself: “If me wait. Me going to get Tom Hiddleston” which is highly unlikely and would be very inappropriate. Yet, when Skip Beat! is concerned, I’m ready to accept cookie-logic and let it guide me.

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What is your ultimate shōjo experience? 

A/N: Ok, so maybe I’ve exaggerated with all the pics. I pulled them from carly4015.deviantart.comkir-tat.deviantart.com, and fanpop search. When I exaggerate, i EXAGGERATE, so here’s some more.

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A pudding can go on a vacation, yet why can’t I?

Earlier I wrote about Josei Hell, and said I regretted nothing. Shuukatsu – Kimi ni Naitei is one of the reasons I think my trip into hell paid off.

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I hate to admit just how much I enjoyed this manga because it makes me feel immature and too girly to suit the self-image I have built over the years. Honestly, I adore this manga. It’s a perfect little love story about two university students. With real depth and emotion, it also comes with a decent story about growing up.

It’s sweet as hell, yet not so much as to give you cavities. It has all those clichés I hate to love, but with a twist that reminds me why I love them.

Shuukatsu – Kimi ni Naitei is a perfect tool to sweeten up your day and make you feel good, not to mention it poses some important questions.
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A/N: Please click the following link to find out how you can help thousands of people who lost their homes in the Balkan floods (May, 2014). Thank you!

Windows 4 Manga

Some time ago, I researched and reviewed free manga-reader apps for all those strugling to keep it free and still enjoy a reasonably pleasing experience. This was back in the day when I was limited to iPhone 4s and an Android operated tablet.

I’ve decided to invest in this:

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Asus T100

Motivation behind the investment was primarily irritation with dragging a heavy Lenovo laptop around. I love the Transformer. It is light, battery-life is awesome. The keyboard is heaven once you adjust to it. Sure, apps are shit, and I don’t use them at all, but when it comes to work, Windows is where I feel safe.

I almost forgot to make my point: if you want the best, hassle-free and free-of-charge manga reading experience, buy a Windows operated tablet, visit Manga Traders, forget about the apps and simply enjoy.

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Read this

Manhua in a Nutshell: The Other Side of the Mirror

The Other Side of the MirrorThe Other Side of the Mirror v01 c02 - 054 is a story about two people who got lost. Through unfortunate events their lives become connected and somehow they manage to find a way to keep going, with a chance of actually reaching happiness.

I decided to mention this manhua in a separate post because I found the art beautiful and slick (albeit somewhat western) and because the story was not happy-go-lucky and carefree, but rather dark and foreboding.

What The Other Side of the Mirror lacks is attention. Tackling shattered dreams, betrayal and salvation in another needs a bit more consideration in order to avoid looking botched. Additionally, eight chapters are cut up with unrelated stories which for me were not “extra” but a violent and unnecessary intrusion into the flow of the main story.

Not a bad read. Could be better.

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A/N: Please click the following link to find out how you can help thousands of people who lost their homes in the Balkan floods (May, 2014). Thank you!

Welcome to Josei Hell

Two weeks ago I have embarked upon a journey to ascertain the real difference between Shoujo and Josei manga. Shoujo is supposedly targeted at younger female audiences while Josei is intended for +18 female readers. I’ve read enough Shoujo mangas, and all I needed was several Josei titles. Looking through completed titles sorted by user ratings seemed a sure thing.  Having no problems in differentiating Seinen and Shounen, I thought that with a large enough sample it would take only a bit of time.
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Well, for starters, finding a readable Josei manga proved nearly impossible. Due to sheer idiocy of “plot”, stupid premise and lack of good art that might incite me to overlook said idiocy I’ve tried and failed at Hapi Mari, Gold, Aisuru Hito, Kimi no Sei (the list goes on but these are the titles I haven’t summarily executed). This lead me to a conclusion that Josei as a genre has some serious issues which in turn made me draw some conclusions I will not share here. I know a far-fetched idea once I start entertaining it (usually).

As I am stubborn and quite adamant at finishing what I’ve started, I have actually come to several other conclusions (full of those, yes) based on partially reading previously mentioned titles and seven titles I’ve actually read.

CONCLUSION: There are three main differences between Shoujo and Josei.

1. Josei often includes sex, as in sex plays a more important role in the story than love and friendship. This being said, it does not mean it’s more mature and serious. It often adds to the general silliness of the plot.
ExampleHapi Mari
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2. Characters are as old as the targeted demographic, meaning they are mostly working women in their late twenties or university students.
Example: Midnight Secretary
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3. Quality Josei is often about the maturation of the female character, something like a bilgundsroman. Whether it’s grappling with the transition into adulthood or simply handling changed life circumstances, one of the biggest differences between good Josei and good Shoujo manga.
Example: Delicious Relationship
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Of course, dipping into a large enough pool does leave you with a few pearls which make it worth the while (one of which is the above mentioned Delicious Relationship). I will nutshell (150 words or less) a couple later on this week.

The important thing is…

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Wolf Guy

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Other titles: Inugami; Wolf Guy – Emblem of the Wolf; Wolf Guy – Ookami no Monshou; Wolf Guy – Wolfen Crest
Author: Tabata Yoshiaki
Artist: Yugo Yuuki
Status: Complete (12 volumes)
Genre: Seinen, Supernatural, Psychological, Action, Drama

Summary: Inugami Akira transfers to a school which is basically run by a yakuza’s son and his followers. Violence and bullying, which Inugami takes on with a grin, ensue. As violence escalates so do Inugami’s strength and ability to regenerate. Eventually it turns out that Wolf Guy is in fact a guy who is a wolf (shocker). A relationship between Inugami and Aoshika, his homeroom teacher, leads to hell breaking loose, when his immense strength catches the eye of Haguro Dou, the true monster of the story.

Wolf Guy is nothing special. It’s a story about how fucked up Japanese school system is, about human beings which are in fact the greatest monsters that have and will walk the Earth. It is a story about a guy who tries to despise humanity, but is incapable of living without it and caring about those who surround him.

Wolf Guy uses usual topics and it fails to deliver on them in an exceptional way. The fact that the relationship between Inugami and Aoshika is at best sketchy makes the second part of the manga feel forced and nonsensical. The art is really good, at moments even breathtaking, but still not enough to make Wolf Guy stand out from the myriad of its seinen brethren.

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Wolf Guy does violence, blood and rape rather good, but this is nothing novel in the genre and there’s a bit too much of it for my taste. I know it’s silly to say there’s too much violence in a seinen manga. I don’t mind when violence runs amok if it is with a purpose, but at times it seems that the author is enjoying it a bit too much, which made me feel rather uneasy.

The villain is really good, that I have to say. Haguro Dou is the best part of Wolf Guy and if there is one reason why I would recommend you read this (which I don’t) it’s him.  The lead female character is useless, which is unfortunately not a big surprise. Aoshika’s vulnerability, lack of spine and brain are one of the greatest pitfalls of Wolf Guy. I could get righteously pissed at the fact that the only thing Aoshika has going for her are her tits and that the author thinks that’s about as far as he needs to go,  but I’ll leave it at that.

All in all, Wolf Guy is OK, however you will not miss out on anything if you miss it.

SEINEN is a demographic designation of anime and manga targeted at male audiences aged 18 to 40 (e.g. Berserk). Seinen is supposed to be more mature and less idealized than Shounen (younger male audiences, e.g. Bleach). More attention is paid to the plot and the interaction between characters than to action and fights, characters are well fleshed out.

Free Manga-Reader Apps

Japan 2012I wrote a few manga reviews, so I decided to let you know how I read manga. I’ve been using Mango for Android (and apparently Blackberry!) for years, and it has reached a level of development where I do not understand how it can be free. It is beautiful, clean and simple with amazing functions. You can have as many titles with as many chapters you like, and you can choose from a number of sources. You can browse sources by genre, artist and title, Mango notifies you when new chapters come online. Let’s not forget that every page of manga you’ve downloaded is on your device, ready to be copied onto your computer, if and when you want. Although I love reading manga on my Nexus 7, it’s a “shared” device (meaning my boyfriend is racing cars with it) so I wanted the option to read manga on my iPhone. I’ve tested Manga Storm, iManga, Manga Meow, Manga Rock, Manga BDR, Manga Finder, Manga Lib and Manga Pop, and I’ve decided to review the ones which have decent downloading capabilities and sources.

I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to apps and I like perfection. Unfortunately, when you want perfection for free it’s not likely to happen – especially if we happen to be talking about Apple.

Manga Storm

Manga Storm allows you to keep 10 chapters on your iPhone. However, it offers a wider range of sources and there is no in-manga ads. Now, 10-chapter limitation does sound awful, but it’s not if you keep in mind that you have mangafox, mangareader, mangaeden, batoto and mangahere as available sources. It hurts me that mangapanda is not on the list because it has all those “hard-to-find” titles. What I love about it is that you can search through all sources at once. Now about those 10 chapters – you can read oneshots, and if you want to have a manga archive – buy an Android based device or buy an app.  

Manga Rock

Manga Rock for iPhone is probably awesome in its paid version. The free version, however, isn’t very cool because you have in-manga ads, which is really bothersome. Only three sources are available, which really limits your options. Paired with one-title limitation, it pretty much offers limits with ads. Not very practical in 3G situations. I considered keeping the app because it allows browsing sources by genre and by status, and it takes only to screen-touches to download a whole manga, but the in-manga ads were a deal-breaker so I deleted it as soon as the testing period was over.

Manga Pop

Now this is a tricky one. No limitation on downloads, however in-manga ads are there to sully the experience. I’ve decided to test all apps with Ai Hime Ai to Himegoto and Boku ni Natta Watashi (which I plan to review), and Manga Pop has neither. However, it has Bleach and Berserk which are not readily available on most sources. The app doesn’t remember the chapter you were reading last, but if you keep track of that it will automatically save your reading progress. I feel like this is the least limiting app, which is why I decided it is the best. Shitty ads are shitty, no bookmarking option is ridiculous, however you can download as much titles as you want – unique among iPhone Apps. I’ve successfully downloaded 49 chapters of 7 different titles. I suppose in-manga ads are less bothersome on a bigger screen, but on iPhone 4 it’s simply debilitating.

Manga Meow

It’s better looking than Manga Rock and more user friendly. Unlike Manga Pop, you’ll have no problem keeping track of your reading progress. What’s more important there are no in-manga ads, and it offers multichapter download. However, it does have only three available sources. I love the sharing option, even though I am not very likely to use it. All in all, if I had to choose an app to buy, Manga Meow would be my choiceAfter going through the arduous task of trying out all those “best manga readers for iPhone, iPad and whatnot” this is simply the best one out there. The downloading process is a bit irritating, because the app has a tendency to crash when browsing, but I am hoping for an update which will solve this issue.

Cheap Thrills and Guilty Pleasures

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A large part of my life, be it Cheap Thrills, Guilty Pleasure or Personal Edification is all about books.

Cheap Thrills

Books “that everyone read” serve this purpose beautifully. If one of those books turns out decent, so be it. If it turns out to be utter crap it gives you something other than “real things” to bitch about. Fifty Shades of Grey and City of Bones are Cheap Thrills. I read them and then I get all self-righteous, putting them, momentarily, at the center of my life issues. I admit it. I do overreact. You will not get to read this admission twice.

To me books are extremely important, and a Cheap Thrill book can occupy a significant portion of my life. Cheap Thrills are a great deterrent to the real world – if there is such a thing. I’m referring to “real problems” as defined by the majority, to those things most of us feels compelled to do in order to fit into a society which, in itself, isn’t very real. Earn money, pay taxes, bills, not kill people and what not.

Guilty Pleasures (elsewhere: pure and unadulterated escapism)

Guilty Pleasure books are those I wouldn’t be caught dead reading in public. I never could understand why publishers insist on putting hideous, half-naked men on the covers of these books. As a marketing tool those covers are counterproductive. I don’t know. Maybe those covers act as an incentive to someone in the marketing department, but reading Hunger So Wild (good book) or To Tame a Highland Warrior is not something I would do. Call me conformist, obsessed with what strangers think about me – but I will not do that.

Which would you rather be caught reading in public?
Which would you rather be caught reading in public?

Now, what is the difference between To Tame a Highland Warrior and Fifty Shades of Grey? The difference is that upon mentioning the fact that I have read To Tame a Highland Warrior, I feel compelled to explain why I read it. I really really really want to tell you why I read not only one, but FOUR (lousy) books from the Highlander series. But I must persevere and be strong. Excuses are for pussies.

Now, aside from books there are of course TV shows, movies and other things that fall into these two categories. I wrote about shojo manga, one of my favourite ways to unwind. The reason why I put it under Guilty Pleasures and not Cheap Thrills is because enjoying something that is often trite and completely out of sync with my own world-view makes me feel guilty. However, being a part of a world with a limited number of things that can go wrong is something I cannot resist. I love the simplicity of it and if I manage to come to care about the characters, I revert back to a 10-year-old girl with only one interest – WILL THEY FINALLY GET TOGETHER? And there’s stupid grinning and giggling. I’m not talking about the characters in manga, I’m talking about the reversed 10-year old me.

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Shōjo in a Nutshell – With Recommendations

All the links lead to a magical place where you can read the manga or watch the anime.

Most shōjo animes and mangas are like Fifty Shades of Grey (minus the silly sex): a young male protagonist is overwhelming and beautiful, rich and/or in a position of authority. The girl is clumsy, homely and naive. She captures the male character with something nobody understands and, due to the goodness of her heart, she interprets his abuse as love he does not know how to express differently (BARF).

Exceptions:

  1. Skip Beat! – manga and anime
  2. Kimi ni Todoke – anime (didn’t read the manga yet)
  3. The One – manhua
  4. Hana no Namae – manga
  5. All mangas by Shimotsuki Kayoko (which are only partly shōjo)

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Shōjo manga authors I recommend because I love the artwork and their work is not too offensive to someone with a functioning brain Mitsuki Kako and Shimaki Ako.