December 2012

Welcome to the final part of round 3! Last time we had our very first failure (F) from Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. Meanwhile the other three manga all reached into A levels: Hot Gimmick with an A-, Suki Shite Sadist with an A, and Black Bird with an A+. This batch is a bit more varied, ranging from A-to-C.

Hadashi de Bara wo Fume (Stepping on Roses)

  • The chapter 3 cover asks us if there is any happiness for the marriage without love and then proceeds to talk about “a stream of love and romance”. Yes, let’s take the story in the most stereotypical direction possible. It’s not like it would be interesting to see Sumi coping with such a hard choice like choosing money and the safety of her family over freedom and happiness. Nope. Waaaay more interesting to see her hit the jackpot in terms of happiness with no sacrifice necessary.
Our non-consenual kiss, now in glorious COLOUR!

Our non-consensual kiss, now in glorious COLOUR!

  • That non-consensual kiss is so important that it needed to be repeated at the beginning of chapter 3 and in colour! (more…)

So, I was thinking of what sort of post should I have for Christmas. At first I wanted to do a Christmas moment highlight from manga and anime that I’ve liked, but truthfully, there aren’t many that spring to mind, so going off what I did for Halloween, I’m making another top 10 ten list. How original, I know. ;) This time it’s for angelic or divine (associated with light/positive force, or gods/goddesses) characters. This time I’m also including video game characters because there aren’t as many of these sorts of characters that I like in just manga or anime. Hopefully next year I can think of a better Christmas post. (u__u)

Van Fanel (more…)

Shipping. The black sheep of fandom. I know most people think shippers are a bunch of crazy lunatics, what with antics like calling the rival girl nasty things and wanting her to die, turning the rival guy into a heartless spawn of evil in their fanfiction, and just their crazy irrationality about anything that states their shipping preference isn’t canon, but we are not all like that. I admit, I love shipping. It’s a lot of fun. I love looking for little tidbits in favour of my preferred pair. So it’s very frustrating when a vocal minority makes the rest of us look bad. Even though I like to argue for a pairing, I’m the first to admit that most of this is very shaky and requires a lot of assumptions, but that’s what makes it fun in the end. So I don’t want anyone to take this too seriously. This is just my idea of having a good time. :)

I was originally going to do Ichigo and Rukia (IchiRuki) from Bleach, but I do objectively think that pair has moved out of fanon and into canon. There is just too much symbolism and special moments between them to miss the author’s intention and to argue for such a canon pair isn’t much fun so I changed my debut pair to Zoro and Robin (ZoRobin) from One Piece (another favourite of mine). Yeah, I know this pair is going to be hard to argue for, but I think there is enough tidbits in the manga to make it worthwhile. And yes, I will be contrasting with Nami, but only when necessary to build a nice contrast to prove a point. Before I delve into my analysis though, I think it’s worthwhile to provide a general background for both characters.

(Spoiler Warning!)

Time for Part 2 of Round 3. Last time we looked at Black Bird and Shite Suki Sadist, which got an A+ and A respectively. Both chapter 3’s romanticized possessive males. Hot Gimmick continues that lovely trend with its cover for chapter 3. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, on the other hand, continues to improve and actually manages to fail to have enough BS to actually get a passing rank this chapter!

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

  • Of course there’s something wrong with you Shizuku. You just got the memo that “you need a man to be fulfilled” last chapter. Even good old dad notices!
Let's be clear, Shizuku is totally not smarter than Haru. He wasn't even trying, see!

Let’s be clear, Shizuku is totally not smarter than Haru. He wasn’t even trying, see!

  • Haven’t been convinced that Haru is smarter than Shizuku yet? No worries, this chapter makes sure we know it by informing us the only reason Shizuku place number 1 on the last mid-term was because Haru forgot to write his name on the exam paper and he slept through it! (more…)

Wow, it’s been awhile since my last post. I apologize for that. I sort of got obsessed with a certain manga and then I had work to do as well, which left me no time to write a post. I should be resuming my regular pace again now. ^^;;; So with that, I’d like to introduce a new feature I’ve been thinking about doing: Shoujo Spotlight.

I think it is pretty easy to hate on things and instead of just having negative features, I thought a good counterpoint to Substandard Shoujo Spectacle would be a feature that is the exact opposite, one that aims to highlight the good in the shoujo demographic. So here it is, Shoujo Spotlight. Perhaps the title is a bit cliche, but it fits rather well. Instead of making this a kind of preview for the manga in question, I thought I’d pick out a theme or element in the manga that I believe makes it worthwhile and discuss it. That way this feature isn’t a redundancy of what I do with Reviews and Impressions.

For the first feature, I decided on Deep Love – Ayu no Monogatari because it left quite an impact on me. Technically, it’s a josei title, but since Substandard Shoujo Spectacle isn’t restricted to just shoujo (it will have josei titles too), I think it is fair game. The series has a lot of themes and things I could talk about, but I think what made Ayu so good was how it portrayed agency in the female lead of the same name. Agency is a pretty simple idea. It refers to showing someone as an individual who acts based on their beliefs and ideas rather than being an object that is acted upon by something or someone. This lack of proper agency is something I often see tying together most of the Substandard Shoujo Spectacle titles. Aki from Suki Shite Sadist, for example, has no agency. Everything that has happened in the manga so far has treated her like an object, which is acted upon by Naoya, rather than an individual in control of her own destiny. Hatsumi, from Hot Gimmick, suffers from this as well. What little agency we do see is utterly destroyed by other people: be it the female bullies that Hatsumi cannot stand up to or Ryouki who intimates her into submission whenever Hatsumi tries to stop his sexual harassment. Hadashi de Bara wo Fume has also severely undermined Sumi’s agency in the second and third chapters by constantly having her swing between extremes and be constantly told what she needs to do (i.e. if you want the money Sumi, say “I do”). The only heroine free from this vicious cycle is Tonari‘s Shizuku, who is seen acting upon her beliefs and desires (i.e. studying when Haru asks her to go out to eat, and telling him to leave her alone after the punch). (more…)

I’m sure all of us had, at one point in our lives, purchased a tie-in game only to find that it is less than stellar. Maybe it was Superman 64, or the E.T. game for Atari? Perhaps one not that bad, but disappointing enough to make us think twice the next time. I sure have. Fortunately for Mickey Mouse, most of his excursions into video games have been good. From the original Illusion games on the Genesis-to-Kingdom Hearts-to this demo. Having only a very vague memory of playing Castle of Illusion and enjoying it at a friend’s house, I wasn’t as hyped as some about Power of Illusion, but I was expecting a good game given the pedigree of the developers (they worked on Monster Tale for NDS) and the fact that the game was being tied to both Epic Mickey and the old Illusion games. Sufficient to say, the demo definitely delivered. (more…)