Monday, May 21, 2007

Manga Monday 34: Hana-Kimi

Hana-Kimi (Volume 1)
Hisaya Nakajo


I noticed this book while I was shelving manga at work...it was a really tame design - not as in-your-face-read-me as a lot of other manga, and I noticed that there were plenty of volumes out already. Then I saw the first volume at a used bookstore and read the back cover, consequently picking it up. And I'm glad I did. It's not the most original premise in the world or anything. It's about a young girl, Mizuki Ashiya, who goes all Mulan and joins an all-boys school when she leaves her parents back in America to attend school in Japan. She decides to pose as a boy so she can be close to high jumper Izumi Sano, who's a big inspiration to her, and whom she wants to high jump with some day. As luck would have it, not only is she in the same class, but she also becomes his roommate! Of course, this presents problems in itself, along with the infatuation most of the school seems to have for this new "pretty boy" who acts so strange. Hisanya Nakajo knows how to keep her audience in suspense with great cliffhangers at the end of most chapters as Izuki tries to keep her little secret, although I'm not sure that what Nakajo is doing for some plot threads is the best she could do for the tension. However, with what I've read so far, I'll just go along with it and trust that the creator has something up her sleeve at this point and that it's all for a reason. Hana-Kimi ("For You in Full Blossom") is great fun in the end, funny at times, silly at others, but overall, a fine start to a series. The bonus story included with the first few chapters of the ongoing story, "The Cage of Summer," did little to showcase the artist's talents, however, and could have been left out... B+

Mail (Volume 2)
Housui Yamazaki

The second volume of the supernatural thriller continues to be a series of little vignettes strung together with the common guest appearance of exorcist detective Reiji Akiba, who comes to save the day with his spirit gun and send troubled souls on to the next course of their journey in the afterlife. This book is pretty much consistent with the quality of the first volume, with genuinely creepy moments and fantastic art from the creator. Akiba could be doted on a bit more by the creator to give some depth to at least one person in the book, but for now, Yamazaki seems content with scares that involve pretty flat characters. But I think the generic characters kind of serve as everymen that the reader can easily project themselves onto, maybe making the events that much scarier. Readers may not be invested in the stars of the tales, but they're still freaky nonetheless. B

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