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Manga Review: My Love Story!! Vol. 13

Takeo Goda, the male lead for Viz Media’s  My Love Story!!  is quite unusual. Bishonen tend to dominate the cast of shojo manga, but Takeo’s looks are about as far from a stereotypical pretty boy as you can get. Still, he possesses tremendous appeal in this hilarious romantic comedy. The final volume has been released, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Yamato initially accepts that she has to move to Spain with her family, but her feelings for Takeo are so strong that she runs away from home! Takeo follows her with the intention of bringing her back, but what will he do when he faces a heartbroken Yamato? And just how will Takeo’s love story end?

The Review

Volume 13 is the last volume in the series, and in it, Takeo and Yamato face their greatest challenge yet: the long distance relationship! The previous volume dropped the bombshell announcement that the Yamato family was moving abroad, and I anticipated some convoluted plot twist that would allow our main couple to stay together. Well, the impulse trip to Okinawa concludes with warm and fuzzy moments but no miracle solution. And so… Yamato leaves Takeo for Spain.

Fortunately for Takeo, he gets a lot of moral support in her absence. Many series finales include a kind of curtain call with the entire cast, and in the last three chapters, several characters we haven’t seen in a while pop up to give Takeo encouragement. Some of these encounters are more forced than others, like Yukika’s gift bag to Takeo, but they do get the message across that everyone, even former rivals in love, want Takeo and Yamato to stay together. As usual, the lion’s share of support comes from Suna. Thus, we get a bunch more best friend bonding scenes with the two guys. Two scenes in particular (the overnight stay at the hostel and the ring purchase) had me laughing out loud, and I dearly wish I could see them animated.

The final arc, with Takeo and Yamato’s relationship breaking under the strain of distance, could be seen coming from a mile away. And while it is sweet to see Takeo pondering Yamato’s importance in his life and hilarious to see the Takeo effect in a foreign country, there’s never any real doubt that the two will reunite. However, they certainly patch things up in the flashiest way possible, paving the way for a feel-good ending that neatly wraps up the series.

Extras include story thus far and final notes from the creators.

In Summary

My Love Story!! reaches its happy conclusion! While the unique cast has never failed to earn laughs (especially those awkward Suna/Takeo moments), the story arcs have been starting to lack originality. As such,Volume 13 is a good place for the creators to call it quits, what with our characters graduating and Takeo’s love life seemingly assured for all time.

First published at The Fandom Post.

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Manga Review: Master Keaton Vol. #11

I became an instant fan of Naoki Urasawa in 2004 when I saw the Monster anime. Psychological thrillers are definitely NOT my cup of tea, but he had me hooked with his combination of realistic artwork and gripping plot. As such, I was thrilled when Viz Media decided to release a translation of an earlier Urasawa action/adventure: Master Keaton. Read on for the review of Volume 11. (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

After the Cold War draws a curtain over Europe and the economic bubble bursts in Japan during the late twentieth century, ace insurance investigator Taichi Hiraga Keaton brings his skills into full play… No matter how difficult the case, Keaton will not miss a clue!

The Review

The quality of the Master Keaton stories has gone up and down since the early volumes, and in Volume 11, it’s more down than up. The one solid story is the three-part “Made in Japan.” Daughter Yuriko, now 17, reappears as she and her dad meet up for quality time in Scotland—at an archeological tour. The story combines several things: their parent-child relationship, Keaton’s unfulfilled dreams of being an archaeologist, his SAS skills, and Keaton’s dangerous career impacting his family. This last element is a situation we haven’t encountered before, and that makes it more gripping than the usual scenarios where Keaton is a passerby.

Domestic drama figures largely in the other stories, but Keaton isn’t personally involved so it’s a bit like watching episodes of unrelated soap operas. In “The Final Challenge,” an old schoolmate asks Keaton to track the whereabouts of another schoolmate, but the story is really about the tangled family situation the two men created. “Lost Beyond the Wall” is partly a commentary on the former East Germany after reunification, but it’s mostly Keaton driving a man around as he expresses his regret about how he ruined his family. “Love from the Underworld” begins as a mystery but quickly turns into a tale of another broken family, and when Keaton reveals the trick behind the” ghost,” you have to wonder why anyone was fooled. Wacky Mrs. Barnum shows up again in “Return of the Super Sleuth?!” and as in her previous appearance, the murder she investigates with Keaton is just a platform for her to nag about how he doesn’t understand romance and women. Keaton doesn’t have a part at all in “Two Fathers,” which features his dad instead, but that story is really about two brothers and which fathered the child of the woman both men loved.

While the two-part “Pact on Ben Tan Mountain” also contains an extramarital affair, the greed and grudge motivating the murders lend it additional substance. Unfortunately, there is too much coincidence in the chain of events to make it a satisfying read, especially the way Malcolm proposes the murder pact but Jackson is the one to take advantage of it. In addition, there are so many characters crammed into the story that I had trouble keeping all the names and connections straight.

Extras include four pages in color, four pages partly in color, and a sound effects glossary.

In Summary

Spunky young Yuriko joins her father for bonding time. While their archaeology tour tuned kidnapping makes for an exciting episode, the same can’t be said for the other stories. They’re not so much about intrigue or Keaton’s unique skills as they are about muddled domestic situations, making this volume feel more like a soap opera than a collection of mysteries.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: My Love Story!! Vol. 12

Takeo Goda, the male lead for Viz Media’s  My Love Story!!  is quite unusual. Bishonen tend to dominate the cast of shojo manga, but Takeo’s looks are about as far from a stereotypical pretty boy as you can get. Still, he possesses tremendous appeal in this hilarious romantic comedy. Volume 12 has been released, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Tanaka, a boy who transferred to Takeo’s school, keeps hanging around Sunakawa for some reason. At first, Takeo thinks nothing of it, but when he hears that Tanaka is just using Sunakawa, he immediately goes to help his friend! And later, Takeo finds out some distressing news from Yamato! Will Takeo and Yamato actually be separated?

The Review

It was initially unclear where the plot was going with the introduction of fashionable transfer student Tanaka, but it winds up a hilarious arc that shows a hitherto unseen aspect of both Takeo and Suna. Takeo’s strong point since the very beginning is his popularity among other males, and Tanaka’s the first guy we’ve seen (other than the groper) that dislikes him. However, Takeo’s clashed with other boys before and actually has a proven strategy for turning enemies into friends. To be sure, this strategy is the sort a grade school kid would rely on, but that’s okay because Suna is acting a bit childishly as well. Suna’s definitely the most mature character in the cast, and despite all the crazy stuff Takeo drags him into, he’s never gotten really mad. Now we get to see what Suna is like with someone he seriously dislikes.

Meanwhile, Tanaka is a much more typical teenager, insecure in his relationships and obsessed with looking good on social media. I’m not sure if Tanaka’s chat group lies are meant to be social commentary, but when the three go out for a day trip and Takeo takes all of Tanaka’s posts at face value, the results are a riot. I’m not a fan of Aruko-sensei’s particular art style, but the expressions in this arc deliver huge comedic impact nonetheless, and I really wish I could see these chapters animated.

Then it’s back to Takeo’s love story and the next challenge for our main couple: the Yamamoto family is moving–to Spain! The announcement takes everyone by surprise, and although he’s crushed by the news, Takeo does his best to be a supportive boyfriend and reassure Yamato of his commitment to her even while they’re apart. Thus, Yamato’s last days in Japan go pretty much as one would expect–until she runs away from home! It’s a shock to everyone, Takeo included. But even though she’s been portrayed as a model daughter, her actions–though drastic–are not out of character. Still, it’s anyone’s guess how this arc will end, and I look forward to its resolution.

Extras include story thus far, two sizable bonus chapters, and notes from the creators.

In Summary

My Love Story!! hits another one out the park! As Takeo discovers, Tanaka is using others to achieve his own shallow goals, which sparks a near rampage out of our main character. However, what’s even funnier is Suna’s reaction when Tanaka airs his unfiltered thoughts about Takeo. It’s male bonding magic when self-absorbed superficiality collides with earnest friendship!

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Everyone’s Getting Married Vol. 5

Most romances in Viz Media’s Shojo Beat line are targeted toward a high school audience, but Everyone’s Getting Married is actually aimed toward older readers. It’s twenty-something angst instead of teen angst, and you can read on for the review of Volume 5. (For the reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Akito Kamiya has found out that Ryu and Asuka have been dating away from the public eye, but he hasn’t given up his pursuit of her. Ryu means to keep Kamiya in check, but instead a direct confrontation erupts between them!

The Review

The previous volume ended with Ryu and Kamiya looking like they’re about to brawl it out. However, this is an adult cast, and while boys might knock the snot out of each other over a girl in shojo manga, grown up men apparently handle such disputes by going to a bar and making snarky remarks over drinks. It wasn’t the clash I’d anticipated, but Kamiya’s comments do get under Ryu’s skin in a way that shakes his confidence.

Kamiya doesn’t let up either. He continues to finagle ways to be alone with Asuka, even coercing a date by threatening to make her relationship with Ryu public. Although Kamiya’s reasons for choosing her were coldly calculating, he’s not nearly so logical about accepting her refusal. While this might seem like a character inconsistency, Kamiya’s personality is so aggressive that it’s not. It’s questionable whether his feelings for Asuka can be accurately termed “love,” but his actions are certainly those of a competitive man who hates to lose.

And how does Ryu secure his claim on Asuka with such a rival? Sex and lots of it. The last volume was light on the bedroom scenes with rivals Kamiya and Yuko distracting our couple. Now Ryu’s pawing Asuka’s clothes off every time she has a run-in with Kamiya. As usual, the scenes aren’t too graphic, but Ryu does come off as inexhaustible the way he pounces on Asuka despite his supposedly grueling work schedule. And when Kamiya buys Asuka a pair of Altier earrings, Ryu responds with a spur of the moment trip to Kyoto and his own gift to Asuka. No, it’s not a wedding ring, but we do get to see our main couple in a traditional setting and relaxing for once.

Meanwhile, Yuko doesn’t do much in this volume. In fact, she looks like she might be dropping out of the love square entirely. Never fear, a new PTV character gets introduced as she steps away. Yuma Shimizu is a rookie reporter on Ryu’s news show. Although he’s definitely not a love interest for Ryu, he brings out a side of Ryu we haven’t seen before, and it remains to be seen how exactly he will affect the plot.

Extras include a 6-page mini-manga about Ryu.

In Summary

It’s two alpha males vying to get the girl in this volume. Kamiya takes every opportunity to monopolize Asuka, and in the face of such pressure, Ryu must bring his A-game to compete. Most of that involves sex, but based on their trip to Kyoto, perhaps wedding bells aren’t just wishful thinking on Asuka’s part.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Master Keaton Vol. #10

I became an instant fan of Naoki Urasawa in 2004 when I saw the Monster anime. Psychological thrillers are definitely NOT my cup of tea, but he had me hooked with his combination of realistic artwork and gripping plot. As such, I was thrilled when Viz Media decided to release a translation of an earlier Urasawa action/adventure: Master Keaton. Read on for the review of Volume 10. (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Taichi Hiraga Keaton is a busy insurance investigator who yearns to make a living as an archaeologist. Just how long does he have to continue working as an investigator? Keaton is uncertain of his future, but he does know that a string of difficult cases awaits him!

The Review

Those who enjoyed Urasawa-sensei’s Monster will like Volume 10′s two-part tale, The Village that God Loved. It’s got the elements of a good thriller–a seemingly peaceful village, detectives after a criminal on the loose, bizarre ”accidents.” It even has a creepy looking kid (whose expression is extremely reminiscent of Monster’s child twins) watching the events unfold. Because Keaton is involved, medieval history also gets worked into the story in a way that aids his escape from some tricky situations. Between the attacks on the detectives and the mystery shrouding the remote community, it’s a tight, engaging read.

The volume’s other two-part story Resident of a Lightless World also contains elements in common with Monster. Set in former East Germany, it has a cast that includes communists and Nazis, and bloodshed abounds with a serial killer on the loose. Ancient artifacts play a role, but a more recent antique and modern political history are the keys that help Keaton solve this case.

The rest of Volume 10 is an assortment of one-shots. Two involve novice investigators poking their noses into an assignment. In these situations, Keaton usually winds up bailing out the amateur, which is what happens in Volunteer Detective. However, in An Incident Among Women, that dynamic gets shifted around. Not only does the pushy old woman keep up with Keaton, she shows him a thing or two, and even though it involves a murder, the story is largely comedic.

For those who favor chases from armed bad guys, Keaton crosses paths with a target of the Russian mafia in Immortal, and in Detour, he protects a client hunted by former agents of the Romanian secret police. The remaining stories are largely misadventures that arise during Keaton’s personal time. Sadly for Keaton, a university position remains but a dream, and the only teaching he does in this installment is tutoring a rebellious child in Keaton the Home Tutor.

Extras include a sound effects glossary.

In Summary

Fans of Urasawa’s Monster will find much to enjoy in this installment of Master Keaton. A quarter of the tales involve the shadowy dealings of former Eastern European officials, and another story set in a remote village serves a delicious blend of of intrigue and action along with one really creepy looking kid. Our SAS-trained investigator contends against adversaries ranging from fanatical villagers to Russian mafia, but if you’re wanting to see Keaton at a lecture hall or archeological dig, you’ll have to look to another volume.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Everyone’s Getting Married Vol. 4

Most romances in Viz Media’s Shojo Beat line are targeted toward a high school audience, but Everyone’s Getting Married is actually aimed toward older readers. It’s twenty-something angst instead of teen angst, and you can read on for the review of Volume 4. (For the reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Successful career woman Asuka Takanashi has an old-fashioned dream of getting married and becoming a housewife, but popular TV newscaster Ryu Nanami would rather die than ever get married. Kamiya has proposed to Asuka, offering her the future she’s always wanted, but Asuka is seeing Ryu. Is a battle between the men brewing?

The Review

The members of our love square have very different careers, but somehow Ryu’s station, PTV, manages to get everyone into the same space. First Ryu and his old lover Yuko get paired up to host a weekly music show. Then Kamiya accepts an offer to appear as an expert on a business show. As such, Yuko is a constant reminder of why Ryu rejects marriage, but Kamiya’s presence pressures Ryu in regard to Asuka. In addition, the television screen serves to highlight the romantic rivalries for everyone involved.

Yuko isn’t particularly active in this volume. We mainly get a more detailed glimpse into her interactions with Ryu seven years ago. Kamiya, on the other hand, is stirring things up, intentionally and unintentionally. While his unwavering belief that Asuka is the woman he should marry is still a bit difficult to swallow, he does a fine job promoting himself and pointing out the flaws in Asuka’s current relationship. He’s also sharp enough to figure out the identity of Asuka’s boyfriend and use it to his advantage once he does.

This brings an overdue element to Asuka and Ryu’s relationship. Before, Asuka was the only one struggling with insecurity. Now Ryu gets a taste when he realizes his competition is handsome, smart, and already offering Asuka the married life she so desperately craves.

In the midst of this, an indiscreet moment on Ryu’s part results in a photo that has the media buzzing about whether the PTV newscaster has a girlfriend. Asuka is forced to keep her distance until the furor dies down, and Kamiya finds a clever way to leverage it in his favor. As a result, things come to a head between Ryu and Kamiya, which makes for a delightful final scene in Volume 4.

Extras include a 5-page mini-manga about Ryu’s workday and the bonus one-shot story Pure Love Masquerade, which actually is more about sex than love.

In Summary

Kamiya rises as a formidable rival! While Asuka insists that Ryu is the only one she wants, Kamiya does a fine job of making Ryu jealous. Asuka may not have made any headway on Ryu’s anti-marriage views on her own, but with her handsome business associate trying to woo her away, Ryu may be forced to reevaluate his priorities.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: My Love Story!! Vol. 11

Takeo Goda, the male lead for Viz Media’s  My Love Story!!  is quite unusual. Bishonen tend to dominate the cast of shojo manga, but Takeo’s looks are about as far from a stereotypical pretty boy as you can get. Still, he possesses tremendous appeal in this hilarious romantic comedy. Volume 11 has been released, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of other volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Lately, Yamato has been making Takeo’s heart race more than usual, so Takeo tries to train himself to be more stoic. But when their respective schools take them on a trip to Hokkaido, Takeo and Yamato keep getting thrown into close contact! Looks like Takeo is in for a rough challenge…

The Review

Volume 10 ended with Takeo determined to get his feelings for Yamato under control before the school trip, but of course, he doesn’t, and that’s where comedy comes in. Volume 11 opens with the Hokkaido trip well underway, and Takeo’s hormones raging hot as ever. Takeo’s and Yamato’s schools are at different hotels, and their schedules only coincide for one day. As such, their interactions aren’t a multiday stretch but something closer to an extended date–with Suna dragged along. Apparently, the sight of Suna calms Takeo. Thus, we have several hilarious variations of Yamato purposely getting close to Takeo, and Takeo desperately using Suna to maintain control. Eventually though, Takeo does face Yamato and his emotions head on. Although this brings their relationship to a new level, their physical intimacy remains firmly G-rated. By the way, for a school trip arc, we don’t actually see much of the Hokkaido sights.

Next we have a single chapter arc where Yamato decides to improve herself physically. Takeo is obviously the athletic half of the couple, but when he teaches Yamato the basics of tumbling, it becomes clear how unathletic Yamato is. Having Takeo as Yamato’s instructor brings a new aspect to their relationship though, and it’s cute seeing the two of them in martial arts uniforms.

Then a new character appears! Tanaka’s a transfer student who’s as handsome as Suna, and he takes a special interest in Suna. At the same time, the new guy gives Takeo the cold shoulder. Between Tanaka monopolizing Suna’s time and Suna’s strange behavior when Takeo does see him, Takeo finds himself reevaluating his ”best friend” relationship with Suna all over again.

Extras include story thus far and notes from the creators.

In Summary

Teen hormones don’t push Takeo over the edge, but he gets pretty close in the conclusion to the school trip arc. If you liked how Takeo used Suna for kissing practice, you’ll probably enjoy how Takeo uses the “Suna calming effect” to counter Yamato’s efforts to stir him up. Yamato and Takeo’s relationship remains pure as ever, but the creators continue to find cute and funny ways to keep readers engaged.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Master Keaton Vol. #9

I became an instant fan of Naoki Urasawa in 2004 when I saw the Monster anime. Psychological thrillers are definitely NOT my cup of tea, but he had me hooked with his combination of realistic artwork and gripping plot. As such, I was thrilled when Viz Media decided to release a translation of an earlier Urasawa action/adventure: Master Keaton. Read on for the review of Volume 9. (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Constantly flying around England, Japan and Europe, Taichi Hiraga Keaton is one busy insurance investigator! With a gentle heart and an abundance of combat and survival skills gained from his days with the SAS, Keaton solves numerous difficult cases even while his love of archaeology calls to him…

The Review

Keaton doesn’t seem to get academic gigs anymore. But though his dream of a university position has turned into a running joke, Volume 9 does give him one chance to help on yet another colleague’s dig. Those who prefer Keaton as archaeologist will enjoy the ancient Celtic setting of “The Forest Where A God Lives.” As with so many digs, Keaton’s friend faces an adversary out to sabotage his excavation. However, the creators do an excellent job weaving the local legend into the excavation mystery, and the end does have a truly unexpected twist.

Aside from that chapter, Keaton doesn’t handle artifacts much. Just as his academic opportunities have dried up, his investigative assignments have less of an archeological angle. Out of the five jobs he gets, two of them (“A Gift from the Dead” and “House of Roses”) read like standard murder-mysteries. A third (“The Heart’s Walls”) is mostly social and political commentary on East Germany. The remaining two, “Tom Bower” and “Knight of the Lions,” have historical components, but they are literary and not archeological. I should mention that “Knight of the Lions,” which is the only two-chapter arc in the volume, had a disappointingly weak plot. The creators do a nice job of setting the stage with shadowy enemies, but the Don Quixote clue used by the kidnapping victim seems too vague for Keaton to draw any kind of conclusion. However, this story is unusual in that Keaton and his allies do not claim complete victory over their adversaries. In addition, those more interested in Keaton’s SAS skills will get to see them at work.

He also leaps into action against gun-toting bad guys in “Twilight of the Migratory Birds,” ”Island of the Coward,” and “Interview Day.” Interestingly, all these stories involve attacks by various Mafia during Keaton’s time off. The tone ranges widely, however. The hostages and wounded detective keep the tension high in “Island of the Coward.” On the other hand, the blithe attitude of Keaton’s womanizing dad in “Interview Day” turns a run-in with the Chinese mafia into a comedy. “Twilight of the Migratory Birds” also has light moments but blends in a healthy amount of introspection.

The remaining two stories in this set seem like filler, quite frankly. “The Legendary Faint Smile” follows a lonely Japanese housewife, and “Man of the Tower” is about a businessman friend of Keaton’s. While the characters suffer personal pain and loss, their tragedies are more mundane than earth-shattering, and they don’t stick around long enough for us to really care about them. On top of that, Keaton’s unique abilities don’t come into play, making those chapters a tiresome read.

Extras include the first four pages in color, twelve pages partly in color, and a sound effects glossary.

In Summary

A mixed bag of stories and story quality. Keaton gets portrayed as archeologist, bodyguard, detective, and long-suffering son, but while some plots are rock-solid, others are shaky, and two arcs don’t seem to go anywhere at all. As such, every Master Keaton fan will probably find a chapter to like and another to dislike in this installment.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Behind the Scenes Vol. #3

There are a LOT of anime and manga centered around glamorous idols and movie/TV stars, but what about the humble folk that do the grungy, tedious work behind the camera? The unseen teams charged with creating film sets, costumes, and props are the subject of Bisco Hatori’s Behind the Scenes!! Viz Media has released Volume 3, and you can read on for the review. (Reviews of previous volumes can be found here.)

Back cover blurb

Ryuji Goda, Art Squad president and sterling example of self-confidence, has become anxiety-ridden Ranmaru’s greatest role model. Surely under the guidance of such a genius, Ranmaru will come into his own? But now a film camp at a remote mansion is putting Goda’s assurance to the test. Is Ranmaru up to the challenge of saving his mentor from his greatest fear—a child?

The Review

In anime and manga, the camp setting is generally used for clubs to practice, train, and bond. However, even though the Art Squad says they are going to “Film Camp” in Scene 11, it’s actually a multi-day shoot at a borrowed vacation house. Aside from the fact that they are staying at the shoot location overnight, the Art Squad is just slaving away for student director Riichi Kai again. In other words, it’s the usual unreasonable demands sprinkled with set design techniques. The only truly new element is that this film cast includes Rin Debito, a child actor (and a paid one at that). While the clash between the snooty Rin and child-phobic Goda is entertaining, Hatori-sensei also tries to paint the kid in a sympathetic light, but Rin’s personal dilemma only makes him come off as inconsistent. As such, when Ranmaru gets Rin back on track with a cliche phrase, the resolution seems much too convenient.

Once film camp is over, we get a chapter dedicated to Tomu. Aside from the fact that he’s a ball of energy and his family’s loaning the Squad studio space, we don’t know too much about him. However, Hatori-sensei fills in a lot of blanks when Tomu and Ranmaru lend a hand to the Modernist Cinema Club. For a simple-minded character, Tomu winds up in rather complicated situations, and it’s fun getting into his brain.

The volume closes with the Squad’s summertime fundraising projects. While these arcs feature the usual art design and crafts, they are different in that the Squad isn’t under the thumb of a director. In other words, we get to see them direct themselves–with hilarious results. Whereas they only dealt with one kid at Film Camp, they field a whole bunch when they hold a craft workshop. Then they tackle something more in line with their skills when asked to create a haunted house. While this project definitely showcases Maasa’s talents, mouse-hearted Ranmaru winds up key to their success in a surprising (and amusing) way.

Extras include bonus mini manga, embedded notes from the creator, glossary, and author bio.

In Summary

Although it’s billed as “Film Camp,” the Art Squad’s off-campus getaway is really just the usual student film set chaos, albeit with a child actor in the mix. However, we do get to see the Squad in a different element when they tackle summer fundraising. A healthy amount of art/craft techniques are, of course, incorporated throughout (including detailed instructions on shrinky dinks), and those curious about the Squad members will get some intriguing glimpses into their personal lives.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Everyone’s Getting Married Vol. 3

Most romances in Viz Media’s Shojo Beat line are targeted toward a high school audience, but Everyone’s Getting Married is actually aimed toward older readers. It’s twenty-something angst instead of teen angst, and you can read on for the review of Volume 3. (For the reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Successful career woman Asuka Takanashi has an old-fashioned dream of getting married and becoming a housewife, but popular TV newscaster Ryu Nanami would rather die than ever get married. Ryu’s work brings Yuko Sakura—the married woman he had an affair with before he met Asuka—back into his life. Is she the reason Ryu will never marry?

The Review

In the last volume, Ryu and Asuka were struggling to find time for romance in the midst of their busy schedules. Now new characters threaten to tear them apart. Yuko Sakura is the married actress rumored to be the reason Ryu got transferred to New York. Their love affair has been mentioned since Volume 1, but this is the first time we see Ryu and his old flame together. Not surprisingly, circumstances at the TV station put the two together for an assignment, and even though their affair is supposedly water under the bridge, their behavior during their press conference makes Asuka wonder if he’s really over Yuko. Not to mention, Yuko is a ridiculously formidable rival. Not only is she beautiful and famous, Yuko, unlike Asuka, will never pressure Ryu about marriage.

However, Asuka’s not the only one having to contend with jealousy and insecurity. Enter Akito Kamiya, Asuka’s acquaintance in the banking industry. No sooner has he stepped into the story than he’s offering Asuka exactly the kind of married life she’s dreamed of. He’s not a hideous reject either; he and Ryu are so similarly drawn, it’s difficult to tell them apart unless Ryu’s wearing his glasses. Kamiya’s abrupt interest in Asuka seems contrived, but his blunt honesty has a refreshing quality that makes it difficult for me to dislike him.

Although it’s overly convenient how these two rivals pop up at the same time, I do appreciate the fact that it isn’t just Asuka or Ryu who suddenly feels threatened. Asuka is forced to reevaluate what she truly wants and how she’s treating Ryu. As for Ryu, we get glimpses of the type of relationship he had with Yuko. His reasons for rejecting marriage, however, remain a secret, and that’s the tidbit Miyazono used to lure you into the next volume.

Extras include a note from the creator and the seven-page bonus story “No Smoking for Nanaryu.”

In Summary

New characters appear! Ryu and Asuka’s relationship faces its first real test when Ryu’s former lover reenters his life. At the same time, a handsome acquaintance offers to give Asuka the homemaker life she so desperately wants. As such, the sizzle between Asuka and Ryu takes a backseat as emotional turmoil takes center stage.

First published at The Fandom Post.