Monday, August 03, 2009

Manga Monday: Scary dark-haired beauties

I've been reading so much manga that I need to condense some of the things I've read together to get caught up on my reviews, and the following two work together quite well, as both are shojo manga, and both star girls with long dark hair who are frightening to those around them, so read on about Kimi ni Todoke and Rasetsu, both from Viz.
.
Kimi ni Todoke (Volume 1)
Karuho Shiina
.
Sawako Kuronuma is the star of Kimi ni Todoke (From Me To You) and has a distressing problem; She's never had friends, even though she tries very hard and lives to make people happy, simply because of her resemblance to scary figures in Japanese Horror. The long black hair, the ghoulish smile when she attempts one, lead people to nickname her Sadako, after the character from Ringu, although other characters in horror boast suck features, such as Junji Ito's Tomie. Classmates are constantly steering clear of Sadako because they fear they will be cursed, and a string of strange coincidences (people getting sick after looking into her eyes for long, getting worse grades after sitting next to her in class, etc) lead her to be terribly lonely, to the point where she's practically socially-crippled. And then the popular, cute boy who's nice to everyone takes a liking to Sadako, and so begins her long journey out of ostracism.
.
This book was entertaining enough as I read it, but I found all of the characters in the book to be quite distracting, and was constantly pulled out of the story by them. The classmates around Sadako are so mean it's to the point of being pure evil, and I really can't believe that anyone would be marked to such a degree because of a resemblance. Maybe a little teasing and a nickname, but this is just completely over-the-top. And when the students come to warm to Sadako, it's really hard to swallow that they'd ever been so horrible. I mean, do teenagers really believe they're going to get a curse? I found that naivety annoying. Plus, the girl's obviously beautiful, and I find it hard to believe that guys would avoid her when that's so apparent. And then there's Sadako herself. I mean, maybe she's supposed to be...slow or developmentally-challenged or something, but man, she acts ridiculous. I just wanted to slap her out of her daze of constantly crying from happiness, not "getting it" when good things happen to her, and her stupid social interactions. It really just got on my nerves.
.
Rasetsu (Volume 1)
Chika Shiomi
.
I never read the book that this spins out from, but I certainly wasn't lost as a result of having never read Yurara. I guess one character carries over (Yako Hoshino), but I didn't notice and wouldn't have known at all if not for the little blurb that advertises this book as "a supernatural spin-off." The story is actually about a character not involved in Yurara at all (although she does resemble that title character), the young woman Rasetsu Hyuga, who has the ability to free spirits and ghosts from the mortal plane. Touched by an evil spirit, she has sought out this line of work to grow stronger so that when the evil spirit comes back for her, which he promised to do if she did not find her true love, she would be ready for him.
.
Honestly, there's nothing too innovative about this book. There are some pretty unspectacular, by-the-numbers scenes of ghost hauntings/possessions that the characters contain using water and cast out with their powers. Yurara is pretty standoffish and frightens off the men she meets with her powers, but she also eats so much sugar to refuel herself that it makes her friends sick to the stomach, so there's a nice balance to her. I can't say that the characters were enough to win me over, given the lacklustre story, but I wouldn't steer people away from this book either.

No comments: