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manga: Hetalia (Axis Powers) November 9, 2008

Posted by chiisai_hana in : manga , comments closed

Hetalia is an increasingly popular web-manga which is slated to get its own anime sometime in the future. The main story is set during WWII, and follows Italy, Germany and Japan. It’s a historical-gag series that makes fun of the past by personifying the different countries and then playing off their stereotypes.

The manga appears to be targeting female fans (and doing a very good job of it) as the majority of countries were drawn as bishounen. Each country has its own personality and set of relationships, events usually referring back to a historical event. For example, in one comic the UK and Japan become friends, an indirect reference to their 1902 alliance. The manga has a ton of side stories and covers a broad historical range, some even in the present day. If you’re into the cute shounen ai-esque style, you should definitely check it out. You may even learn a little history along the way!

PS: UK is a complete tsundere who may or may not have a crush on America. Just sayin’

-> Official Site (Japanese)
-> ANN news release on the anime
-> LJ community for manga/fanworks

manga: Junjou Romantica August 28, 2008

Posted by chiisai_hana in : manga , comments closed

I’ve never really been a fan of the yaoi genre. It’s ripe with clichés, the stories are rarely original, and we all know what it’s an excuse for. I’ve always preferred my ‘yaoi’, if you will, to be in the style of non-canon pairings from other shows; series that focus on plot and character development, and not what goes on behind closed doors. Junjou Romantica is one of the more popular yaoi manga series, and in all honesty, I hated it every time I sat down to read it. Same old archetypes, same cheap plot and pandering to the fangirls – I couldn’t understand why this series was so talked about when it was no different from the others. In some respects, I still don’t understand the appeal of Romantica itself but I was willing to sit down and read it, and when I got to volume 5 I finally found my gem of a yaoi story.

The side story Junjou Terrorist is no less cliché than it’s co-stories, something I recognize now that I’ve poked around for similar plots. Yet there’s something about it I can’t leave alone. For once, the plot and the characters have a depth that allow me to look past the surface story of “teenage boy falls for sister’s husband”. The parallels Shungiku Nakamura created between Miyagi and Shinobu enrich their already fascinating personalities. It’s just as much a story of lost love as it is one about risking it all to be together. Watching these two blunder their way into a relationship is something I don’t think I can grow tired of, because each time I open the manga I’m caught up in Shinobu’s insecurities and Miyagi’s hesitancy. Their story is so well laid out, and even if it’s not entirely original, it’s something that is thought-provoking and, at the end of the day, heart-warming.

Those of you who are only familiar with the anime version might be wondering what the differences are. There aren’t many, as the anime tends to focus more on plot and cuts out most of the adult-oriented scenes. In fact, some of their adaptations were quite clever and they didn’t sacrifice plot or characterization in changing things. Kazuhiko Inoue does an amazing Miyagi, and his voice acting is perhaps the highlight of the anime version. Daisuke Kishio does a good Shinobu as well, although it admittedly took some time for his voice to grow on me. If you’re a fan of these two, be sure to check out the two Drama CDs released for Junjou Terrorist (if you can follow along with Japanese, I recommend listening to them while reading the Japanese version of the manga – it makes it all the more enjoyable if you can’t understand what they’re saying).

And so somehow, this fangirl has found herself enjoying what fangirls are typically suppose to like. While Junjou Terrorist is not without its flaws, it is the strong point of the manga for me. Romantica and Egoist may be the more popular stories, but Terrorist is the only one I need.

Where To Find It:
-> Junjou Romantica manga volumes 5,6,7,9
-> Junjou Romantica anime episodes 10,11
-> Junjou Terrorist Drama CDs I, II