By Leroy Douresseaux
April 21, 2007 - 16:31
I’ve been reading Viz Media’s manga anthology, Shonen Jump on and off for a while. Since I’ve been reading shojo manga (comics for teenaged girls) that I like, I decided to give Shojo Beat, Viz’s female reader equivalent of Shonen Jump, a try. I’ve had mixed feelings about what few shojo titles I’ve read, but I generally enjoy the beautiful and very well drawn art usually found in those titles.
Much to my surprise, Shojo Beat, Vol. 3, Issue 4 (#22) has something for just about every female reader from juvenile and ‘tween to teen and adult. For instance, Yume Kira Dream Shoppe by Aqua Mizuto is for young readers. This, the opening chapter of likely kodomo manga (comics for children) serial, follows the adventures of Rin. He owns the Dream Shoppe, a magical storefront that flies through the sky at dusk, and if Rin hears a wish, he’ll make it come true for a price.
Mizuto’s superb cartooning of the human figure in clothing goes perfectly with the blue 2-color printing for this tale. Rin and his plush rabbit friend, Alpha, help a tree in love with a seriously ill teenaged composer, meet her idol. Too cute by a mile and a half, I still fell for this sweetly poignant tale of sacrifice and devotion.
Chapter 10 of Vampire Knight left me confused, but I like Matsuri’s Hino’s art. I know that if I can go back to the beginning, I’ll like this mixture of dark fantasy and teen drama. Another teen drama is the high school, volleyball-set Crimson Hero (Chp. 22). Mangaka Mitsuba Takanashi presents beautiful figure drawing and eye-catching layouts, and gives the entire tale a kind of dreamy atmosphere.
Absolute Boyfriend (Chp. 22), I must admit, is my favorite this issue. Yuu Watase’s sci-fi, romantic comedy, with a pinch of slapstick and surreal soap drama, follows the misadventures of Riiko Izawa and her robot boyfriends (more like androids). The poor girl is beset by romantic rivals, some of them robots quite ready to have sex with her.
Baby & Me is a cute domestic comedy – the kind that would have found a place on U. S. TV in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Takuya Enoki cares for his toddler brother, Minoru, while his widower father works hard to support his sons. In this chapter (22), Seiichi Kimura, a neighborhood boy who used to bully Takuya is back in town, and he wants to move in with the Enoki’s. Takuya doesn’t remember the bullying, and he feels sympathetic towards the misunderstood now-23-year old, whose parents have practically thrown him away. I look forward to following this one.
The final manga is the thoroughly adult (or late teens) soap opera, Nana by Ai Yazawa. The oldest in terms of target audience of these offerings, Nana has a large cast of characters and really does resemble a daytime soap, nor does it shy away from sex. Like Vampire Knight, I’ll like this more if I go back to the beginning.
Ultimately, I have to say that I’m shocked how much I liked Shojo Beat. In fact, I find Shonen Jump a bit inferior to it – except for Shonen Jump’s Naruto. Nothing gets in the way of my Naruto.