Thursday, December 26, 2013

Xxxholic by CLAMP

Title: Xxxholic
Author: CLAMP
Volumes: 19 (completed)
Volumes (English): 19 (completed)

Watanuki Kimihiro is haunted by visions of ghosts and spirits. Seemingly by chance, he encounters a mysterious witch named Yuuko, who claims she can help. In desperation, he accepts, but realizes that he’s just been tricked into working for Yuuko in order to pay off the cost of her services. Soon he’s employed in her little shop—a job which turns out to be nothing like his previous work experience!

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For the cliff notes version, skip to the bottom of the page for final thoughts.

What can I say about Xxxholic? Seriously, what can you say about a series that takes it in equal turns hurting your heart and mind? This is a series that will take you through a range of emotions, one moment laughing and in the next crying uncontrollably. This series is a crossover with its companion series Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. While many of the same themes are present in both series, Xxxholic is the darker of the two.

There is an atmosphere of languid mystery surrounding Yuko, the Time Witch, and her very unusual shop. Watanuki trades his servitude to the Time Witch for relief from the spirits that constantly hound him. From this agreement several absurd and even eerie events unfold. For most of the series Watanuki acts as comic relief, especially while interacting with Doumeki and Yuko. For all of his hamming he also has a naive earnestness that lends the series some of its more poignant moments.

Working for Yuko brings Watanuki into contact with a host of unforgettable characters. My favorite character is Doumeki. Doumeki is Watanuki's opposite in most ways. He's completely calm and unflappable regardless of the situation. He's also incredibly comfortable with himself. He's a true friend and devoted to Watanuki even as Watanuki, out of jealousy, denies their connection and friendship during most of the series.

A pivotal moment in the growth of their friendship is in volume 7 (Spider (Spiderweb) in the anime) when Watanuki sacrifices his right eye to restore Doumeki's eyesight. In return Doumeki shares the sight in his right eye with Watanuki. (At this point their friendship is pretty much sealed, regardless of Watanuki's protestations.) Watching the progression of their friendship is one of the more satisfying elements of Xxxholic. While the ending of the series is jolting, you never doubt the rightness of their friendship and the depth of feeling between them.

Yuko is perhaps the most intriguing character in the series. She's cloaked in mystery that none of the other characters are able to fully see through. She's crude, sexy and outrageous at times, but she has a quiet dignity that comes across when she's performing her Time Witch duties. Her story arc is one of my favorites in the series. Of course the majority of her arc is unveiled in the last few volumes.

[Xxxholic's overall ending left me feeling cheated, confused, heartbroken, dissatisfied and maybe just a little awed. Yuko's ending is quite satisfying however. Her revealed back story is both romantic and compelling. The best part is that even when the big reveal happens CLAMP doesn't reveal all, still maintaining an aura of mystery.]

Himawari is the character I like least. She's not a fully developed character and her primary purpose in the series is to act as Watanuki's unrequited crush and cause friction between Doumeki and Watanuki. She's not a terrible character; she just doesn't really add to the series. [VIEW SPOILER]

[She does lend a bit of tragedy to the events surrounding Watanuki's ultimate decision to replace Yuko and remain in the shop indefinitely. Otherwise she's an forgettable character.]

The premise of the series is that people visit the shop to have their deepest wishes and desires granted. As the Time Witch would say:
"For everything you wish, you have to pay an equal price in return. You can't get more or give more. You can't get less or give less. It must be in balance, or else there will be chaos."
This leads to some interesting consequences for the shop's patrons. My favorite story is in volume 7 (Atonement in the anime) and involves a photograph. Like photographs in the Harry Potter universe, this photograph has captured a moment in time and the people in the picture are moving. Unlike Harry Potter, the moment caught in the photograph is both sinister and disturbing. The consequences from this wish is not only just, but diabolically clever.

While I loved the ending of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Xxxholic's ending left me feeling uncertain. [VIEW MAJOR SPOILERS - SERIOUSLY FUCKING MAJOR SPOILERS]

[I loved Tsubasa's ending! Even with the atypical ending, it's essentially a happy ending with everyone remaining together (or at least with easy access to each other). Xxxholic's ending transcends time and generations. In the last volume you realize that most of the characters you grew to care about are dead and gone (in Tsubasa, as well as Xxxholic, which makes it doubly horrifying). Watanuki is the only major character still alive and he's spending his life waiting for something that's never going to happen. We then discover that generations of Doumeki's family are in this codependent relationship with him. While in one sense it's touching that Doumeki's depth of devotion and feelings endured even after death, it's also an unhealthy situation for all parties.

It's bad enough that as you're reading the last volume it gets progressively more depressing as everyone around Watanuki is aging and moving on with their lives; Himawari is married, Doumeki is starting a family with Kohane. The worst though is when it's revealed in the last chapter that Watanuki has been conversing with Doumeki's great grandson. At that point I had to re-read the last volume to determine when Doumeki exited the narrative and his decedents took his place. The ending is powerful, but not at all satisfying. Especially for someone who likes happy endings.]

Final Thoughts
Xxxholic has a well crafted intricate story and has a dramatic artistic style. The chapters range from the haunting to the surreal with a little creepy thrown in for effect. I recommend reading Xxxholic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle together. While you could read one series without reading the other, each compliments and enriches the other. There are other CLAMP series tied in with these series, but you don't have to read them to enjoy Xxxholic and Tsubasa. The obvious one is Cardcaptor Sakura, but you may want to checkout some of their other works like Chobits, RG Veda, Magic Knight Rayearth and Tokyo Babylon. (This is by no means the entire list.)

If you liked Xxxholic, you may also like Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Library Wars, Black Butler, Death Note and Orphen.

Follow Amy Gideon's board CLAMP on Pinterest.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle by CLAMP

Title: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
Author: CLAMP
Volumes: 28 (completed)
Volumes (English): 28 (completed)

Sakura is the princess of Clow - and possessor of a mysterious, misunderstood power that promises to change the world. Syaoran is her childhood friend and leader of the archaeological dig that took his father's life. They reside in an alternate reality...where whatever you least expect can happen - and does. When Sakura ventures to the dig site to declare her love for Syaoran, a puzzling symbol is uncovered - which triggers a remarkable quest. Now Syaoran embarks upon a desperate journey through other worlds - all in the name of saving Sakura.

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Skip to the bottom of the page for final thoughts.

CLAMP is notorious for creating a story that will fuck with your mind and wrench your heart strings before tearing out the weeping organ, using it as a sponge to mop up your tears only to shove it back in your chest to repeat the process again in the next volume. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, along with its companion series Xxxholic, is the crowning achievement of this process.

Tsubasa has one of the most complex story lines I've come across in a manga series, even without adding in Xxxholic. While the driving force moving the plot, collecting Sakura's memories (in the form of feathers), is simple enough the relationships and character development are quite complex and involved. The world building is epic, spanning several alternate worlds and uniting CLAMP's beloved characters from previous series together. If you've read Xxxholic, Cardcaptor Sakura, X, Chobits, Tokyo Babylon or Magic Knight Rayearth, many of the characters will be familiar to you even as their situations or personalities may be new to you.

The central story follows Sakura, Syaoran, Fai, Kurogane and Mokona as they travel through several dimensions to collect Sakura's memories. What starts out as strangers being thrown together by happenstance, or as the Space-Time Witch would say "Hitsuzen", the relationships that these characters forge during their travels is enduring.

Syaoran's selfless love for Sakura is bittersweet. With every feather collected, Sakura's memories of Syaoran are lost forever. His willingness to continue the quest regardless of his own pain as his past is forever severed from Sakura's is tragically beautiful. During the quest, Sakura's growing feelings for a Syaoran she no longer knows is endearing. The optimism in this relationship, that love will win out, has a kind of innocent hope that leaves one remembering first loves.  

The friendship between Fai and Kurogane is a mixture of playfulness and faithfulness. There's a self sacrificing element to this relationship as well. Both of them are willing to sacrifice for the other, Kurogane his arm and Fai his magic. They begin to depend on each other further cementing their friendship. For Fai, this is a difficult process as he has a past he's concealing and running from. Fai is my favorite character and without Kurogane he wouldn't have been nearly as interesting. Part of Fai is Kurogane and vice versa.

There are some crazy plot twists, which goes back to CLAMP fucking with your mind, that leaves you asking yourself what just happened? I won't go into the details, because I wouldn't want to ruin the series for anyone, [VIEW MAJOR SPOILER AT YOUR OWN RISK]
[and really how do you explain the plethora of Syaorans, Watanuki's realationship with Syaoran and Sakura, or the Clow Reed connection to all of them without people thinking you're mad?]
but the last few volumes are especially thrilling and just plain entertaining. You won't be able to put it down until the very end. 

Speaking of the ending, I loved it! It's not a typical ending, but it's satisfying. (The opposite of Xxxholic's ending, which while atypical, is not at all satisfying.) Tsubasa's ending plays a pivotal role in Xxxholic's ending, especially with regards to Watanuki. (More on that in my Xxxholic post.) [VIEW SPOILER]

[I love how choice plays an important role in the ending of both of these series. Syaoran's choice to continue traveling, and Watanuki's choice to never leave is powerful. I also love that Syaoran, Fai and Kurogane decide to continue to travel together. There's a bond that won't be broken. At the same time they have direct access to Sakura's dimension, so that they can visit anytime. It reminds me of Star Trek the Next Generation (my nerd is showing). At the end of TNG you knew they'd be friends forever, and that's what you get from the ending of Tsubasa. Friendship and love triumph. It's a beautiful way to end the series.]


The artwork in Tsubasa is beautiful, as all of CLAMP's artwork is. I love how their wardrobe changes to conform to each new world they visit. I especially love the Goth/BDSM look they have during the Infinity arc.

My favorite world has to be Infinity, where Sakura becomes a Chess Master and Syaoran, Fai and Kurogane are living pieces who have to fight to the death. A close second, is the ruined city of Tokyo. Part of it is that I really like post apocalyptic stories, but I also think this had one of the best story arcs in the series and some of the best secondary characters. (The vampire brothers were especially interesting.)

One disappointment I have with Tsubasa, is Chi's role. (Chi is a character from CLAMP's Chobits.) In both series she isn't truly alive, rather she's an automaton, in Chobits from technology and in Tsubasa from Fai's magic. I think my disappointment stems from my wanting her to be truly alive. Something I wanted when reading Chobits and hoped for in Tsubasa when she made a brief appearance.

Final Thoughts
I love this series and I recommend reading Tsubasa and Xxxholic together, especially the later volumes. I wouldn't read Cardcaptor Sakura first, if you're over the age of twelve, as it might put you off of CLAMP entirely. I read Cardcaptor after Tsubasa and Xxxholic and I think I would never have read them if my only experience with CLAMP, as an adult, had been Cardcaptor Sakura.

People who like Kimi ni Todoke, One Piece, Bleach, or Pandora Hearts would like Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Black Bird by Kanoko Sakurakouji

Title: Black Bird
Author: Kanoko Sakurakouji
Volumes: 18
Volumes (English): 17 (ongoing)

He loves her blood, but does her love her?! There is a world of myth and magic that intersects ours, and only a special few can see it. Misao Harada is one such person, and she wants nothing to do with magical realms. She just wants to have a normal high school life and maybe get a boyfriend. All that changes one day when Misao is attacked by a demon. Her childhood friend Kyo suddenly returns to save her and tend to her cuts--with his tongue! It turns out Misao is the bride of prophecy, whose blood gives power to the demon clan who claims her. But most demons want to keep her power for themselves--by eating her! Now Misao is just trying to stay alive...and decide if she likes it when Kyo licks her wounds.

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This is a lot to be getting on with. Skip to the bottom for final thoughts.

Please note that this review refers to volumes 1-16. An update will be added once I read volume 17.

So I hate myself for continuing to read this series, even more so for still kind of liking it. The best way to describe this series might be Twilight on crack. No wait; make that Fifty Shades on crack. Black Bird is a sort of love triangle between Misau, a human girl whose blood is a magnet for demons, and two demon brothers, Kyo whose courtship consists of stalking and threatening Misau into loving him, and Sho, who is a sadistic would be rapist that doesn't seem to even like Misau, but wants the power her blood can give him. With two such compelling heroes, what's a girl to do?

If you're Misau you spend most of your time alternating between thinking about Kyo, feeling threatened by Kyo, being felt up by Kyo, crying over Kyo, enduring multiple kidnappings from Kyo's friends and family, fending off Sho's rapist advances, crying for Sho's sociopath tendencies and worrying about Kyo and her role as the Senka Maiden. My main complaint with Misau is she's a damsel and this seems to be the primary way the plot is moved forward.

I don't think there is one volume in which Misau isn't being rescued by someone or crying over any given situation. Actually I'm being unfair, she's not a damsel even once in volume four. Of course by volume five she's firmly a damsel again, complete with abduction and chains.

As the story progresses I also find myself annoyed with how wrapped up Misau is in Kyo. She rearranges her life to revolve around him. At sixteen years old she cannot conceive a future beyond being Kyo's wife [View Spoiler]
[and mother to his unborn child.]
She sees herself as an "empty shell" that can only be filled by Kyo! (In more ways the one I'm sure.)

I'm all for women who choose to be a wife and mother first and I don't think that their job is less worthy than someone pursuing a career outside of the home. What I do find sad is when a sixteen year old girl literally has no dreams outside of her boyfriend. I don't care if it's her destiny and it moves the plot along - it's still depressing. I want more from my heroines.

As for Kyo...he's kind of a douche canoe, who becomes less so in the later volumes, but still doesn't relinquish his douche canoe status. He's the dominant personality in their relationship and is not only possessive and controlling but borderline sadistic as well. For example, knowing that Misau is terrified of flying, he not only forces her to fly with him, but he then threatens to drop her mid flight. And this is early in the relationship when he is still courting her. It's kind of fucked up. Of course it's more fucked up that he actually wins the girl. (That in and of itself says a lot about Misau.)

I don't care for Sho either, but of course you're not really supposed to. There is literally nothing redeeming about this character and yet Misau has a difficult time sorting out her feelings for him. His sole purpose in the series consists of abducting and terrorizing Misau as well as wooing her with attempted rape. He's so evil that his character falls flat and doesn't have the depth as some of the other characters. Basically he's boring in his villainy. [View Spoiler]

[I was happy the first time he died, I was more than ready for the Sho arc to end, and then she brings him back! I might have thrown my volume across the room at his resurrection.]

My favorite part of the series is the eight daitengu. They are way more interesting than anything else going on in the series. I find that my favorite volumes are those that delve into their pasts or focuses on their motives. I especially like Hoki's story line. He's not your typical hero, in fact I'm not sure if "hero" is an accurate description for him, but he is interesting in his flaws. Much more so than the characters of the main story line.

The artwork in Black Bird is beautiful, especially the full color covers. While the plot is full of overdone cliches and mediocrity the artwork is top notch. It's a shame that most of it is wasted on Misau and Kyo.

Final Thoughts
Even as the plot becomes more outrageous and melodramatic, to the point of outright laughter, I still find the story and some of the characters engaging. (The secondary characters more so than the primary ones.) I don't care for the Kyo or Misau and I'm invested just enough in the series that I want to see how it ends. [View Spoiler]

[While I'm pretty sure Misau and her demon baby will survive I want to know for sure that I'm correct. At heart I'm a romantic and I want a happy ending, even for characters I don't particularly care about.]

I wouldn't recommend this series to most people. I think if you like BDSM literature, like Fifty Shades and Sylvia Day, and haven't read any manga this is a good gateway series into this format. I also recommend this series to fantasy readers of Demon Love Spell, MeruPuri and Two Flowers for the Dragon and contemporary readers of We Were There, Love Com, Strobe Edge and Sand Chronicles.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Avalon High: Coronation by Meg Cabot & Jinky Coronado

Title: Avalon High: Coronation
Author: Meg Cabot
Illustrator: Jinky Coronado
Volumes (English): 3 (completed)

Being a new student at Avalon High has been exciting for Ellie, to say the least--she's an honor student, a star on the track team, and, oh yeah, dating the super-hot class president, Will. Who also happens to be the alleged reincarnation of King Arthur.

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Have the attention span of a gnat? Skip to the bottom for final thoughts.

I absolutely loved Meg Cabot's book Avalon High! Avalon High is a modern day adaptation of the Arthurian legend with a surprisingly fresh twist to an overdone story. When I saw that the story continued with three volumes of manga I was both excited (because hey, it's manga!) and a little nervous (because it's OEL manga). Pushing my reservations aside I  began reading and quickly wished that I had never begun. 

The story line is incredibly shallow, nothing like the story crafting in the book. The dialogue is insipid and has a way of causing the mind to disengage. Several times I found myself drifting and hurriedly skimming the frames in vain hope that the plot would show some of the originality of the book.  

As for the art...the depictions of the characters are a far cry from the character descriptions in the book. All of the girls' breast sizes and the guys' muscles quadrupled overnight. I understand that big breasts and muscles go with the territory of a lot of manga, but it didn't fit with the characters from the book. It seemed like it was trying too hard to mimic Japanese manga, but the more annoying parts of it. 

Final Thoughts

In the end I wish that Meg Cabot had written a sequel to the book rather than attempt a manga adaptation. All the manga did was heap frustration on disappointment. I do not recommend this manga series, but I highly recommend the book. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Skip Beat! by Yoshiki Nakamura

Title: Skip Beat! (Sukippu Bito!)
Author: Yoshiki Nakamura
Volumes: 32 (ongoing)
Volumes (English): 31 (ongoing)

Kyoko Mogami followed her true love Sho to Tokyo to support him while he made it big as an idol. But he's casting her out now that he's famous! Kyoko won't suffer in silence--she's going to get her sweet revenge by beating Sho in show biz!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads | LibraryThing

Holy fuck that's a long post! Skip to the bottom for the cliff notes version.
When my local Librarian first suggested this series to me I rolled my eyes and checked out a string of disappointing reads instead. After about a month of this I finally checked out the first ten volumes of the series. I read those in about two days and then made another trip to the library, enduring a good natured “I told you so” from my friendly Librarian, and checked out the rest. I basically read 29 volumes in about a week. I couldn’t put it down!

This Japanese shoujo manga series has one of the most ridiculous premises that I’ve encountered (Ouran High School Host Club aside) and yet it’s one of the best manga series I’ve ever read. Not only is this series hysterical (expect inelegant snorting and hyena-like laughing) it’s also strangely bittersweet and poignant. There’s a hopeful sadness that flows beneath the surface of the series that adds dimension to the characters and overall plot.

The main character, Kyoko, is naive and kind of deranged (in the best possible way). Her quest to become a famous Japanese superstar in order to spite her pseudo ex-boyfriend is both silly and hilarious. One of the best scenes in the first volume is when Sho Fuwa, the up-and-coming famous pop idol, dumps Kyoko. It’s both heartbreaking and hilarious. You can’t help but feel for Kyoko as something in her just breaks. The author keeps this from getting maudlin by incorporating a great deal of humor in this scene. Kyoko goes from heartbroken to enraged in about two seconds flat and her pandora box of mini demon-like Kyokos attack him.

She literally attacks him with rage! It’s fantastically funny, especially as she then tries to break into the entertainment industry for the sole purpose of destroying Sho and his career. The best part is that from this insane idea she actually discovers her passion (although she still can’t quite give up her grudge), gains a best friend in Moko Kotonami (in spite of Moko’s initial desire to avoid all things Kyoko), and possibly even love (although she is still in complete denial of this).

The entertainment angle really isn’t the point of the series. The series actually revolves around Kyoko learning how to love again. This is explored both seriously and humorously throughout the series. One of the more humorous aspects is that she is assigned by her eccentric boss, Lory Takarada, to the Love Me Section of L.M.E (Lory’s Majestic Entertainment). The name of his agency should give you an idea of the kind of person Lory is. He’s extravagant, flamboyant and over the top and yet he sees people the clearest. Things always get interesting when he enters a scene.

Is that a snake or are you just happy to see me?
As a Love Me member, Kyoko is scored by the person she is performing the task for on how much love she puts into whatever task she is given. This is supposed to help her rediscover her ability to love. As a Love Me member she is given all sorts of tasks, from the menial job of scraping gum from the floor to being a substitute manager. No task is too small or big for the Love Me members.

Kyoko has two main love interests, Sho Fuwa and Ren Tsuruga. Ren and Sho have a pretty straightforward relationship with each other...they each despise the other. Sho is incredibly jealous of Ren, at first because Ren is more popular than him and later when it becomes obvious that Kyoko has feelings for Ren his jealousy turns pretty ugly. For Ren, Sho didn’t even exist on his radar early in the series. It wasn’t until Sho started re-inserting himself into Kyoko’s life that Ren started to take an interest in him.

Sho Fuwa: Sho is Kyoko’s first love and also her first heartbreak. She loved him so much, wrongly assuming that he felt the same way, that she pulls a Felicity and follows him to Tokyo where she then supports him as he tries to make it in the music industry. Once he starts to make it big he, typically, dumps Kyoko after she catches him practically making out with his agent. To add insult to injury he then mocks her while she’s being escorted out of the building by security and issues the challenge that the only way she could hurt him is if she became a bigger star than him.

I honestly don’t get why people ship Sho and Kyoko. Sure he’s hot, but that’s about all he has going for him. There are times when he acts almost human and puts Kyoko’s needs before his own, but it doesn’t happen very often and usually he’s spurred on by jealousy because another guy is showing interest in her. He has the typical dog in the manger attitude of “I don’t want her, but I don’t want anyone else to have her either.”

Ren Tsuruga: Ren essentially becomes Kyoko’s mentor in the entertainment industry. He’s the number one actor in Japan and everyone wants to be him or know him. When he first meets Kyoko he gives her a hard time because he feels her reasons for joining the entertainment industry taint the profession. He begins to thaw towards her when he realizes that she not only has talent, but passion for the profession and eventually he becomes her confidant and mentor.

One of the more beautiful things about this series is watching Ren’s emotions towards Kyoko evolve. Like Kyoko he tries to protect his heart by not allowing himself to be vulnerable to love. However, as he gets to know Kyoko you can see him falling for her and she falling for him. At this point in the series he’s finally admitted to himself that he’s completely gone for her while she’s still desperately ignoring her feelings.

Skip Beat! has some amazing supporting characters. Many of them have a back story that is revealed throughout the series and this adds a certain amount of depth to the characters that you don’t always find in manga and I find myself just as interested in them as I am in Kyoko, Ren and Sho.

Kanae "Moko" Kotonami: Kyoko’s best friend Moko (a nickname Kyoko gives her early on in the series without her permission) is one of my favorite characters. She’s a great actress, but like Kyoko has issues with love. She’s the second member of the Love Me Section. She hated Kyoko when they first met, but time and Kyoko’s kindness and friendliness has worn down Moko’s reserve and I’d say they are officially best friends. Like Ren, she’s a character who needs Kyoko in her life. Throughout the series, especially at the beginning of the series, we watch her struggle to find a balance between her reserve and need for friendship. I can completely relate to Moko as she opens herself up to Kyoko and allows herself to care about someone. I like her best because I can relate to her reserve, her need to be in control and her vulnerability.

Yukihito Yashiro: I also really like Ren’s manager, Yashiro. He’s one of the only characters who really feels at ease teasing Ren. Through Yashiro’s reactions and his snarky comments about Ren’s evolving feelings for Kyoko we are given a better understanding of Ren’s feelings for Kyoko. Yashiro says what Ren is feeling...although in a giggling schoolgirl kind of way. He's the ultimate shipper and fangirl for Kyoko's and Ren's relationship. Some of the best scenes are when Ren, Yashiro and Kyoko are together. Kyoko is obtuse to Ren’s feelings and Ren is trying to keep cool. All the while Yashiro is there with a running commentary that Ren gets, but Kyoko doesn’t. While there are several more supporting characters that I really like, Moko and Yashiro are my favorite.

Lastly, I love the artwork in Skip Beat! I hate reading a manga where all of the characters look the same. Skip Beat! does a good job of creating a unique depiction of each character. One of the best things about this series is how each character gets a makeover depending on what they’re currently acting in. (This is the best perk, I think, of having the series focus around the entertainment industry.) Currently, Ren and Kyoko have a sort of punk look going on which is one of my favorite looks for them, although this isn’t my favorite arc of the series. I think the mangaka, Yoshiki Nakamura, does a good job balancing the serious with the funny in her artwork as well.

I highly recommend this manga series, especially to people that liked Fruitsbasket, Ouran High School Host Club, and High School Debut. It’s one of the better shoujo mangas out there right now with strongly developed characters and a premise that is as entertaining as it is implausible. I'll warn you now that it is a long series and there hasn’t been an announcement on how many volumes the manga will ultimately be. Currently there are 31 volumes released in America (the 31st volume just came out on June 4th). If you do start reading the series try and get at least 5-7 volumes at a time because you will not want to stop reading and the pacing of the story is quite slow (it would have to be with 30+ volumes).

Read my review of Skip Beat! Volume 32