Anime Review: Rose Of Versailles Part 1 Litebox DVD

Anime reviews generally feature the latest and greatest from Japan, but occasionally, we get a blast from the past. Nozomi Entertainment’s release of Rose of Versailles definitely falls into that category with a shojo title that was  considered “classic” back when I was growing up.

Back Cover Blurb

General Jarjayes – so desperate for a son to preserve the family name and noble standing – names his newborn daughter “Oscar” and chooses to raise her as a boy. Fourteen years later, Oscar is a masterful duelist, marksman, and the newly appointed Commander of the French Royal Guards. Her first task: to protect Marie Antoinette, who is engaged to the French prince and future king, Louis-Auguste.

But even though the planned marriage should provide both countries with some much needed peace and prosperity, the French court is a dangerous place – and Marie’s youthful naivete makes her an easy target for those who wish to see the monarchy overthrown. Oscar soon finds herself both defending Marie’s reputation from those that seek to discredit her and protecting her life from those that wish to kill her.

The Review

General Jarjayes is a nobleman desperate for a son to carry on the family name. When his wife bears him yet another daughter, he takes matters into his own hands. Naming the newborn “Oscar,” he declares the girl his heir and raises him as a boy.

Thus begins Rose of Versailles, a shojo historical made in the late 1970s. The back cover touts the anime as “THE gold standard of ‘shojo’ anime which all anime fans must see.” While I wouldn’t go so far as to put it in the everyone-must-see-category, it certainly is a classic that forged the way for many gender bending shojo titles to follow.

Classic, of course, means that the animation is pre-digital. Thus, there are a lot of zoom in/zoom out/panning of stills, and special effects are primitive by current standards. Character designs also reflect the 1970s with waves of fluffy hair, prominent noses, long skinny legs, and super sparkly eyes with crazy long lashes. Despite the dated artwork, Rose of Versailles is a Louis XVI historical, so the story can be enjoyed as much today as it was thirty years ago.

Oscar is very much a fictional character, but many in the cast are based on actual people, most notably Marie Antoinette. Oscar and the Austrian Princess are the same age, and Oscar is appointed Commander of the Royal Guards at the same time Antoinette arrives in France to marry the Dauphin. Oscar immediately becomes Dauphine Antoinette’s favorite, and the anime follows the parallel journeys of the two women in the years before the Revolution.

In addition to providing a glimpse into and commentary on the French Court, Oscar also serves as a stark contrast to Antoinette. Both women are physically attractive, but while Antoinette is frivolous, weak, lazy, and irresponsible, Oscar is strong, courageous, and dutiful. Oscar is also fiercely loyal, and because she pledges loyalty to Antoinette, the anime does its best to make the Dauphine a sympathetic character. Unfortunately, Antoinette has history against her, and when Oscar remarks how Antoinette is “too true to her emotions” like it’s a good thing, she sounds like she’s making excuses for the airhead royal.

The anime takes an interesting perspective on this period by focusing on women and their point of view. The first five episodes covers Antoinette’s introduction to the French court and her rivalry with Louis XV’s mistress, DuBarry. Their power struggle, however, rather comes off as an amped up high school popularity contest. As Antoinette strives to establish herself as Versailles’ top female, Oscar alternates between dazzling the men and women of the French court and foiling underhanded schemes against the Dauphin and Dauphine.

The tale of Marie Antoinette wouldn’t be complete without representation from the common folk so in Episodes 6 through 10 the focus turns to the impoverished sisters Rosalie and Jeanne. The girls are opposites; Rosalie has an angelic disposition, and Jeanne is like the devil himself. Through circumstances as contrived and ironic as a Victor Hugo novel, both manage to escape Paris’ slums for the upper echelons of French society.

In Episode 11, Louis XVI ascends to the throne, and with it comes the beginnings of tension between Antoinette and Oscar. A trip to the countryside opens Oscar’s eyes to the wretched circumstances of the peasantry and their dismal opinion of the queen. Meanwhile, Antoinette falls under the sway of the conniving Madam Polignac, who fuels the queen’s reckless spending habits.

The final episodes in the collection focus on Antoinette’s obsession with the Swedish Count Fensen, with whom Oscar has also fallen in love. But while Oscar stoically keeps her feelings to herself, the slave-to-her-passions queen launches into an adulterous affair with the handsome Swede. This puts Oscar in the unenviable position of suffering unrequited love while having to shield the queen’s forbidden romance from gossip mongers.

For this anime, entertainment definitely trumps historical accuracy. As such, it takes liberties with details, but at the very least, viewers will come away familiar with the names of historical figures. Characters tend to have a very one-sided quality though. Villains, like Jeanne, DuBarry, and Duke Orleans, are steeped in evil while the good guys, like Rosalie and Oscar, are absolutely pure and noble. Marie Antoinette is in an odd category: goodhearted but too stupid to see she’s destroying her people. Probably the most well-rounded character is Andre, Oscar’s sidekick, who is neither noble nor beggar and provides much of the series’ comic relief.

Despite Rose’s flat characters and simplistic storylines (it’s amazing how easily the bad guys get away with literal murder), the glories of the French Court, Antoinette’s public and private life, and Oscar’s increasing dismay at the decline of France are still captivating. It’s a train wreck destined to end with Antoinette at the guillotine, but Oscar’s path remains uncertain. Whether the honorable soldier continues to stay loyally beside her queen or sides with the suffering people of France should make for compelling drama indeed.

In Summary

If you’re looking for a classic style anime featuring an androgynous lead, Rose of Versailles, is the way to go. Oscar is a woman who can more than hold her own as a French officer yet so stunning men and women alike fall in love with her. Improbable as this combination is, it makes for an interesting and entertaining perspective on Versailles in the days of King Louis XV and King Louis XVI.

Japanese mono, English subtitles, clean opening and closing animation, and promos for other Right Stuf! anime.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manhwa Review: Milkyway Hitchhiking Vol. #1

Most manga and manhwa have lengthy plots with human main characters. However, if you prefer a feline narrator and more of an anthology feel, you may want to check out Yen Press’ Milkyway Hitchhiking.

Back Cover Blurb

There are as many people on Earth as there are stars in the sky. Milkyway–a peculiar cat with a pattern of the Milky Way splashed across her back–travels across time and space; sometimes to observe, other times to interact with an unfolding story. From Sirial, the creator of One Fine Day, comes the full-color tale of Milkyway hitchhiking across the bright stars of people’s lives, loves, tears, and laughter.

The Review

From the title, you might guess this manhwa is a sci-fi along the lines of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It is definitely not. Milkyway refers not to the stars, but a cat whose fur looks like the nighttime sky. As for hitchhiking, that’s what she calls her ability to move from one place and era to the next. Her adventures, however, are not told in a continuous, chronological arc. Rather, the manhwa contains several short standalone stories. Their settings range from a European boarding school to an ancient Korean village to a near future city. Some tales are tragic, some romantic, and some humorous. The only common thread is that Milkyway features in each story; even so, her part varies widely. She plays the lead in the comical “I Am the King of the World,” but is more narrator than actor in the Grimm fairytale-esque “The Knight of the Fallen Leaves” while she plays more of a supporting role in “The Black Cat’s Wish.”

Milkyway doesn’t offer many particulars about herself. She wields magic and can “hitchhike” from one place/era to the next, but if there’s any particular impetus or mission behind her travels, she doesn’t divulge it. For the most part, she epitomizes the proud independence often associated with cats as she interacts with humankind. The personalities she encounters are varied and so is her treatment of them, ranging from super snobby to compassionate to perplexed.

Unlike many manhwa, this one is printed entirely in color. Palettes vary to match the tone of the stories, but all the illustrations, whether of cats, humans, or backgrounds, are gorgeous. Even when Sirial reverts to a super deformed style for the funny bits, the drawings maintain a high level of charm.

By the way, Milkyway Hitchhiking contains an eight-page segment titled “Milkyway Convenience Store” about the patrons of a convenience store. It’s placed in the center of the book but really feels like a bonus mini-manhwa. Other extras include four illustrations at the end of the book and footnotes explaining cultural terms.

In Summary

Milkyway Hitchhiking is a collection of eleven stories that don’t have a terrible lot in common. However, all of the tales have a very high cute cat factor and plenty of observations about humans from the feline perspective. The book’s full-color illustrations have a whimsical charm, and if you’re a cat lover, you may want to pick it up solely for the pictures.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Oresama Teacher Vol. #18

Mafuyu is a high school delinquent who wants to turn over a new leaf. So when she transfers schools, she thinks she’ll finally be able to live the life of a normal girl. There’s just one problem: her teacher  Mr. Saeki is a bigger delinquent than she is!

Oresama Teacher is a shojo manga that offers humor of the silly variety. Volume 18 has been released, and you can read on for the review. (For those who are interested, you can click here for my reviews of earlier volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

It’s summertime, and the students of Midorigaoka Academy are indulging in the time-honored tradition of a test of courage! A walk through a “haunted woods,” it beats the heat by chilling the blood and forms bonds of friendship through shared terror. It’s the perfect activity for Mafuyu! But not everyone joining the fun has pure-hearted revelry in mind—some mysterious villains are using the test of courage as a cover to attack the Public Morals Club!

The Review

Mafuyu’s vacation fun continues with a test of courage and a trip to the beach. These two settings are pretty standard summer settings, but Oresama Teacher’s delinquent versions are hilarious. The most of the humor combines silly visuals with character quirks, such as Mafuyu’s inability to swim or Yui’s fear of scary things. As far as comedy goes, it’s pretty simple but effective enough to make me laugh out loud.

Then school resumes, and we return to the Public Morals Club/Student Council battle. Momochi is the last of the Student Council members to unleash her claws, and she finally does, but in a very unexpected fashion. The more we see of her, the more questions arise, and Tsubaki-sensei does an effective job of continuing to shroud her in mystery and letting some of that mystery flow over to Hayasaka.

As a result of her actions, the Public Morals Club goes on offense. So far, they’ve mostly reacted to Student Council attacks, but now they take the initiative to uncover the inner workings of the Student Council–and wind up kidnapping the president! It’s kind of a surreal scene, but Tsubaki-sensei manages to make it intriguing and funny at the same time. By the end of the volume, the bet over Midorigaoka starts to take on a whole new aspect, and I’m eager to see where this development takes us.

Lots of extras in this volume, including Characters and Story Thus Far, 4-panel comics, character profiles on East High students, and a slightly outdated character relationship. In addition, the cover has an updated layout.

In Summary

Oresama Teacher delivers laughs aplenty with two more summer-themed stories. Then it’s back to school and the last member of the Student Council, Runa Momochi. While Tsubaki-sensei keeps the comedy flowing, intrigue is what dominates these chapters. Between Momochi’s secret ability and Student Council President’s unknown agenda, Tsubaki-sensei’s doing an excellent job of keeping things exciting.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Souvenirs from Asia: Items from Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine

card (545x640)This might look like a random bunch of Hello Kitty items, but they’re actually from a special place–Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine in Hong Kong!

My husband learned about the restaurant through a coworker and decided he had to go. So on his last business trip to China, he made a detour specifically to check it out.

restaurant interiorIt did not disappoint. The decor is pretty awesome. Everything from the waiter uniforms to the light fixtures to the chopstick holders are Hello Kitty themed. Even the paper liners for the bamboo steamers are shaped like Hello Kitty. It might seem like Hello Kitty overload, but the overall effect is refined, not cheesy.

As for the food, their specialty is dim sum. We eat dim sum regularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, and according to my husband, who had the custard buns and a rice/chicken dish, the food ranked satisfactorily in the taste department. However, the real draw is that each dish is a Hello Kitty-inspired work of art. In that respect, the cuisine’s a bit more Japanese than Chinese.

statue (480x640)At any rate, the restaurant’s a super cute establishment that does Hello Kitty justice. By the way, the menu is entirely in Chinese, and most of the staff speaks only Chinese. However, the menu includes handy pictures, and the host speaks some English so my non-Chinese speaking husband was able to get by. Plus, the restaurant is pretty close to a subway stop. If you’re a Hello Kitty aficionado and in the Hong Kong area, you should definitely check it out.

bao (640x480)rice (640x480)tea pot (640x480)paper (640x480)



Manga Review: Manga Dogs Vol. 2

From Bakuman to School Rumble, the manga/anime industry has been a popular subject of manga and anime in recent years. Now joining their ranks is Kodansha’s manga series Manga Dogs, and you can read on for my review of Volume 2! (For my review of Volume 1, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Kanna had just gotten used to balancing her two lives as a high school student and a professional manga artist when three starry-eyed bozos intruded on her well-ordered life! But as she faces down a rival, a kidnapper, and her dismal popularity rankings, her dim-witted disciples have her back. Maybe having pets isn’t so bad after all?

The Review

Volume 1 ended with Kanna and her manga pages kidnapped by a “manga artist hating guy.” Since she’s literally tied up, her three dogs must save her, especially considering there aren’t any other characters to do the job. While they do manage to step up to the challenge, Toyama-sensei takes every opportunity to make the rescue as weird as possible.

Speaking of weird, Toyama-sensei seems to be trying too hard to make her characters unique, and they just wind up weird. In Chapter 18, she goes out of her way to point out that Kanna’s ditzy homeroom teacher is a guy. Volume 1 never specifically stated that Okamoto-sensei wasn’t female, and going by looks, I assumed the teacher was a woman. To have the narrative point out Okamoto’s true gender so specifically this late in the game comes across as very odd and somewhat pointless. We also have the return of Ms. Chiba. I had pegged her as a one-time character, but she is apparently part of the regular cast, serving as a delusional fujoshi dinosaur.

As for our main character Kanna, she remains as unlikeable as ever. Once the kidnapping arc concludes, Manga Dogs reverts to its usual pattern of very short, standalone chapters, and roughly half of them deal with some aspect of Kanna’s manga career. The release of a graphic novel, a signing event, and a rise in series ratings are usually positive developments for a mangaka, but Kanna has such a pessimistic attitude toward them all that I wonder why she bothers drawing manga. Toward the close of the volume, Kanna’s series is threatened with cancellation, and I find myself hoping the editor-in-chief will can the series and put her out of her misery.

Extras include the opening illustration and table of contents printed in color; translation notes; chapter 1 of Teach Me Buddha!; and short bonus manga.

In Summary

After concluding the Kanna-gets-kidnapped arc, Manga Dogs resumes delivering its usual standalone chapters. Some of these brief arcs deal with the boys’ continued cluelessness about manga production, but the rest focus on Kanna’s progress as a mangaka. Unfortunately, she’s no more lovable than she was in Volume 1, and after reading the awfulness that is Teach Me Buddha! (the first chapter is included as an extra), I can’t get myself to cheer for her at all.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manhwa Review: Goong Vol. #17

What if modern Korea was a constitutional monarchy similar to England’s? That’s the backdrop for Goong: the Palace, a manhwa that got turned into a wildly popular drama and musical.

Goong Volume 17 HeaderSet in an alternate world where the Korean monarchy still exists, the story follows Chae-Kyung Shin, a strong-willed commoner who attends the same high school as Shin Lee, the crown prince. After accidentally witnessing Shin proposing to his girlfriend Hyo-rin and being rejected, Chae-Kyung unexpectedly learns that she will marry Shin and become crown princess due to a promise between the former king and her grandfather.

Yen Press has released Volume 17 of the series, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of previous volumes go here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Amid the fallout from the king’s decision to make Prince Yul the crown prince, Chae-Kyung and Shin make plans to get back together. Meanwhile Yul struggles to get to the bottom of his mother’s involvement in the accident that may have cost Chae-Kyung dearly. But when he confronts her, the Daebi reveals a shocking secret from seventeen years ago, which will set into motion events that will change their lives forever!

The Review

At the end of Volume 16, things are shaping up for Shin to go from Crown Prince to ordinary citizen. Creator Park seems to take great pleasure in putting him in a commoner environment. While Shin does complain about being a “Shinderella,” the mood is optimistic and seems to point toward a happy ending despite him losing the throne. However, things never go as planned, and this time they fall apart because of Yul’s mother.

Interestingly, it’s not her scheming that causes the upset; rather, it’s the sum of her misdeeds catching up to her. When Yul catches wind of her part in Chae-Kyung’s accident, he confronts his mother, and what follows is a candid look into the skeletons in the Daebi-Mama’s closet. She’s shown herself to be pretty ruthless throughout so it’s probably not a terrible shock to Goong fans, but I did find her remark, “Even I have a conscience,” to be unexpectedly amusing.

What follows is a major political upheaval that sends Yul out of Korea and drags Shin back to the palace. The perfect storm of Yul’s backroom bargain with the Prime Minister and the king’s downturn in health pushes the plot toward melodrama, but it also results in a healthy amount of comedy. Yul flees to Africa with–of all people–Mi-Roo. She, of course, has an agenda regarding Yul and the charity work she’s supposed to be doing, and it’s pretty funny to see how the spoiled, manipulative rich girl accomplishes her goals in a poverty-stricken village.

As for Shin and Chae-Kyung, they wind up in a situation reminiscent of when they first divorced. They are separated and trying to get on with their lives but can’t seem to forget one another. However, the main difference is this time Chae-Kyung gets a boyfriend, and he’s not a jerk like the guy in Volume 13. With a normal, upstanding fellow now romantically interested in Chae-Kyung and hordes of girls (as usual) swarming Shin at the palace, it will be interesting to see how Creator Park gets them to cross paths again.

Included as extras in this volume are Words from the Creator from the Korean Volumes 25 and 26 and the first page printed in color.

In Summary

The driver implicated in Chae-Kyung’s auto accident finally comes back to haunt Daebi-Mama. While it is satisfying to see her squirm, the ones who truly suffer for it are Shin and Chae-Kyung. The resulting political upheaval sends them on a roller coaster of emotions as they go from the verge of remarriage to torn apart by royal duty. The volume ends in familiar territory: the two separated but still pining for one another. However, Creator Park adds a new twist with Chae-Kyung’s wonderful new boyfriend. I doubt it will erupt into a full on love triangle, but it does add make for an interesting challenge to Shin and Chae-Kyung’s romance.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Spice and Wolf Vol. #10

Spice and Wolf is a wildly popular light novel series that has spawned off an anime, an Internet radio show, and a manga series. While its European medieval setting is typical of high fantasy, this series has  a unique bent to it. Rather than swordfights and magic, the plot focuses on economics, trade, and peddling in a way that skillfully blends adventure and romance.

Yen Press has recently released the tenth volume of the Spice and Wolf manga, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of previous Spice and Wolf releases, click here.)

Back cover blurb

The struggle for the legendary sea beast is underway, but how will it end? Drawn into the fight over the narwhal in Kerube, Lawrence finds himself in a dangerous position. Despite this, Holo continues to scold him and plead with him–but why?!

The Review

Volume 10 begins by finishing Lawrence’s secret conversation with Eve and follows up with a recap of the North/South Kerube conflict. The arrival of the narwhal has complicated the situation exponentially, especially when the under-the-table deals get added in. The diagrams in Chapter 56 provide a comprehensive picture of the players and stakes, much better than the description in the light novel; even so, I had to read that section a couple times carefully before I finally grasped Lawrence’s position in the negotiations and why his first instinct is to leave town.

In the midst of these developments, Holo and Lawrence let Col in on Holo’s secret. Since they’ve been careful to hide it from him, I expected the moment to be dramatic, but it’s actually rather anti-climatic. At any rate, the revelation brings down the last wall between Col and our lead couple, making him a fully trusted part of their team.

Kieman and the trade guild then start making their move. Lawrence plays along, but despite the enormous stakes and his misgivings, his actual actions in the negotiation amount to little more than glorified messenger boy. Koume-sensei, however, makes up for the lack of grand action with intimate moments with Holo. In one, the wisewolf reminisces on her past; in the other, she expresses uncertainty over the course she’s pushed Lawrence toward. She’s unusually vulnerable in both scenes, but considering how sharp her tongue usually is, having her show a softer side to her traveling merchant isn’t a bad change of pace.

Extras include a character profile, world map, story thus far summary, creators’ closing remarks, and a bonus mini manga that revisits Holo and Lawrence’s first meeting.

In Summary

Unlike other Spice and Wolf arcs, which illustrate different principles of economics, the Kerube conflict is more about pure deception. The situation makes clear that Lawrence is a minuscule fish in a giant pond, but the complicated details take a bit of effort to fully grasp. Fortunately, Koume-sensei intersperses Eve’s and Kieman’s scheming with simpler moments like Col’s delight at seeing Holo’s tail for the first time and rare moments of understanding between Lawrence and Holo.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Light Novel Review: Spice and Wolf Vol. #13

Spice and Wolf is a wildly popular light novel series that has spawned off an anime, an Internet radio show, and a manga series. While its European medieval setting is typical of high fantasy, this series has a unique bent. Rather than swordfights and magic, the plot focuses on economics, trade, and peddling in a way that skillfully blends adventure and romance.

Yen Press has  released the thirteenth volume of this series, and you can read on for the review. (You can also click here for my reviews of previous Spice and Wolf releases).

Back Cover Blurb

This collection of short stories from the world of Spice & Wolf features three new vignettes from Lawrence and Holo’s journeys, as well as a novella that follows Norah the shepherdess and her faithful sheepdog, Enek, as they put the city of Ruvinheigen behind them and try to forge a new path for themselves…

The Review

Hasekura-sensei detours from our main journey once again in Volume 13! In the manner of the previous Side Colors collections, Side Colors III presents four more short stories set in the Spice and Wolf world: The Wolf and the Honeyed Peach Preserves, The Wolf and the Twilight-Colored Gift, The Wolf and the Silver Sigh, and The Shepherdess and the Black Knight.

Those who savor the more romantic nuances of Holo and Lawrence’s relationship will likely enjoy the first two tales. In The Wolf and the Honeyed Peach Preserves, Lawrence exerts himself to the utmost to obtain a rare treat for Holo, but his well-intended efforts rub Holo the wrong way, as they often do. However, the story provides one of the clearest illustrations of their different perspectives on what’s most valuable in life, and after attaining a bit of understanding, the couple is able to reconcile. In addition, they ultimately attain their goal together using a scheme made possible only by boomtown economics and the protection of a wisewolf.

The Wolf and the Twilight-Colored Gift is a much shorter episode. While it demonstrates how advantageous a wolf’s nose can be in the herb trade, the story’s really about Lawrence thoughts on how much Holo means to him and the unusually sweet gesture that results. The fact that he also manages to render Holo speechless with his words is a bonus.

The Wolf and the Silver Sigh is also a short piece, this one told from Holo’s perspective. While there is a fur-related moneymaking scheme that sends Lawrence running all over town, Holo only gets the vaguest explanation of what’s going on. As such, the story’s content is mostly Holo’s reflections about the character of her traveling companion. So often she calls Lawrence “fool,” and this vignette offers a glimpse into the strings of thought that lead to that pronouncement. However, despite being a wisewolf, Holo is ignorant of many things in the human world, and she unwittingly makes a fool of herself even as she looks down on her companion.

The volume wraps up with The Shepherdess and the Black Knight, which features  Norah, the shepherdess that Lawrence met in Ruvinheigen. I have been wondering how Hasekura-sensei would continue her story, and the most surprising thing is that it’s not told from her perspective. According to the afterword, the author just couldn’t get into using her so he decided to use her dog Enek instead. Blessed with the ability to understand human speech, the sheepdog offers a pretty good narrative of their journey to the town of Kuskov, and to his credit, most of the heroics (and the benefits that follow) are because of his actions. Even so, the story’s ultimate resolution is somewhat lacking. Kuskov’s post-plague circumstances do create the environment for extreme measures, but Norah’s appointment to deacon and her acceptance seem far-fetched, especially given how abusive her employers were in Ruvinheigen. As for the ending, it certainly leaves the door open for another Norah story, but as a standalone tale, The Shepherdess and the Black Knight feels incomplete.

This light novel includes the first four pages of illustrations printed in color as well as twelve black-and-white illustrations.

In Summary

Holo and Lawrence seem to be getting caught in bigger and more complicated schemes lately so for those who miss seeing Lawrence  making small town deals, Side Colors III will be a nice change of pace. The shorts also provide some warm and fuzzy moments for Lawrence/Holo fans. The collection wraps up with a continuation of Norah and Enek’s story. While much of their tale is enjoyable, certain twists are far-fetched, and though it ends on a hopeful note for our shepherdess and her dog, it’s too open-ended to be satisfying.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Vol. #10

For hard core manga and anime fans, the voice acting world has the same kind of glamor and mystique as Hollywood. So it’s no surprise that the world of Maki Minami’s manga Voice Over! Seiyu Academy portrays it as such. Viz Media has just released Volume 10 of the series and you can read on for the review. (To see previous reviews of the series, click here.)

Voice Over Volume 10 CoverBack Cover Blurb

Hime Kino’s dream is to one day do voice acting like her hero Sakura Aoyama from the Lovely ♥ Blazers anime, and getting accepted to the prestigious Holly Academy’s voice actor department is the first step in the right direction! But Hime’s gruff voice has earned her the scorn of teachers and students alike. Hime will not let that stand unchallenged. She’ll show everyone that she is too a voice acting princess, whether they like it or not!!

The Review

Having gotten Shiro (Hime) and Senri to be buddy-buddy, Minami-sensei now uses Shiro’s career to drive a wedge between them. Hime’s behavior pretty much validates her decision to distance herself from Senri. In one scene, she tells Senri she can’t come over and winds up bursting into tears. Two chapters later, she glomps him in front of his apartment. To be honest, her girlish behavior is so obvious Senri should either figure it out or get weirded out by his guy friend’s behavior. Instead, he gets pretty weird himself, first forcing himself to be cheerful, then undergoing a massive makeover.

But despite the blow to his delicate emotional constitution, Senri is able to accept the reason Shiro’s staying away. He focuses on removing the barriers that are keeping them apart, which is more than I can say for Hime. At this point, she really can’t be considered a super-amateur. She’s got an agent, has had all sorts of training and help, and has actual work experience. To see her flailing around the recording booth made me want to throw her out rather than cheer her on. So it was refreshing when Senri lashes out, telling her to shape up or quit. And because this is a shojo title, his yelling is exactly what Hime/Shiro needs to suddenly deliver an amazing performance.

Inspired by Shiro’s progress, Senri makes progress in the social arena. This of course takes place at school, and Hime’s eager to help by inviting him into her circle of friends. Considering the difference between Senri’s talent and that of the Stragglers, I expected mob comments/backlash when they team up for the class project. Instead, Minami-sensei focuses on Hime’s inability to keep from spouting out everything she’s learned about Senri as Shiro. It’s meant to be funny, but when she blabs his address to everyone, she truly and honestly sounds like a stalker.

Extras include embedded author’s remarks and three bonus mini-manga.

In Summary

Hime distances herself from Senri to reduce the chances of being found out as a girl. Sounds logical enough, except she gets so emotional over it that it’s counterproductive. The focus quickly shifts to Senri’s social awkwardness, and Hime’s determination to do something about it. She is living up to her Lovely Blazer philosophy by doing so but she’s so sloppy going about it that Senri would have to be an absolute idiot not to figure it out soon.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Kiss of the Rose Princess Vol. 3

Magical girls and reverse harems are standard fare in shoujo manga, and you can find both in Aya Shouoto’s Kiss of the Rose Princess. Read on for Volume 3 of the series! (For my review of previous volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Seiran has been kidnapped, and the seal placed on the Demon Lord is breaking! Anise must make a True Contract with her knights in order to save Seiran and stop the Demon Lord from entering this world. But is Anise ready to accept the terms of this new contract with her knights?

The Review

Volume 2 left our heroes in a desperate situation. As such, they take desperate measures to rescue the Blue Rose Knight. The battle to thwart the Yellow Rose’s plot finally gives the guys a chance to act like real knights for once. Unfortunately, it ends all too quickly. I had thought the Yellow Rose would join the regular cast as a nemesis, but he’s pretty much done his job and exits by the middle of Volume 3.

Shouoto-sensei then begins the next arc by adding another layer of complexity to Anise’s contract with her knights. Apparently, the guys can “level up” in power, depending on their relationship with Anise. The whole arrangement has a distinctly videogame vibe, as does their new quest to collect Arcana Cards to keep the Demon Lord at bay. Add to that the knights’ new transformation sequences and uniforms (?), and Kiss of the Rose Princess really starts to look like a mishmash of tropes.

With this new card quest, I anticipated the story continuing in a more serious tone, but Shouoto-sensei instead returns to comedy. Anise’s dad, who’s been working in the shadows, abruptly shows up as Shobi Academy’s new doctor. He promptly imposes a schoolwide fitness exam as a means to gather data on the Rose Knights, but the exam mostly serves the purpose of reinforcing Anise’s impression that her knights are all weirdos. The volume closes with Anise forcing the guys to enter an idol contest to win an Arcana Card. Despite all Schwarz’ talk of punishment and despair, most of the Rose Knights’ efforts go into pretty superficial stuff.

Extras include the opening splash illustration and table of contents printed in color; character profiles and story thus far; a mini-manga about the mangaka and her editor; and bonus illustrations.

In Summary

Kiss of the Rose Princess changes gears again. After a desperate battle to contain the Demon Lord and proclamations of self-sacrifice, the story shifts back to Anise’s embarrassing social life and a ridiculous school fitness check imposed by her dad. While the general thread of sealing away the Demon Lord continues, the plot’s a bit schizophrenic in its mood swings, which makes it especially difficult to take Schwartz seriously as an enemy.

First published at The Fandom Post.