All posts by Nefarious Reviews

Cirque Arachne – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Cirque Arachne

 

Similar: Notes from the Garden of Lilies

Flower and Stars

Strawberry Shake Sweet

 

Genre: Yuri Romance Sports

Length: 1 volume

 

Positives:

  • Beautiful, elegant art.
  • The main couple play well off each other with their personalities.

Negatives:

  • Much too short.

(contains mild nudity and sex.)

Charlotte is a trapeze and aerial silk artist in the Cirque Arachne (derived from the Greek myth of Arachne from which the word ‘arachnid’ comes from). She has focus, determination, and skill in her craft, weaving art in the air as she hangs from silk threads. Enter Teti, a new recruit to the circus. When Charlotte is paired with Teti on the trapeze for an upcoming performance, Charlotte starts to feel something strange stir deep inside herself when near Teti.

I genuinely enjoyed Cirque Arachne. What I liked most about this manga was the two characters. Seeing Teti’s innocent goofiness and enthusiasm play off of Charlotte’s professionalism was a pleasure. Their interactions are sweet when they train together, flustering Charlotte more and more as her feelings blossom.

The art is gorgeous with elegant costumes to fit the artistry of a circus performance. The faces are particularly expressive, and when using chibi art, a common tool in romance manga, it still looks distinct to Cirque Arachne and not generic, as with most chibi work.

My biggest complaint is the length. Cirque Arachne is far too short with a premise that could have lasted at least a few volumes.

Art – High

Gorgeous in design and character. Backgrounds could have used the same level of attention.

Story – Medium

A sweet story between two circus performers using their strength of personality and skill to improve each other. Too short, however.

Recommendation: Read it. A premise rarely seen in manga with beautiful art and characters. Also, at just one volume long, Cirque Arachne is a good introduction to the yuri genre.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

Flower Flower – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Flower Flower

 

Genre: Yuri Romance

Length: 2 volumes (discontinued)

 

Positives:

  • Art is quite nice with a variety of angles to keep the visuals fresh.
  • The characters improve in quality during volume two, until…

Negatives:

  • …the manga is cancelled. Cut short at two volumes.
  • The princess is an unlikeable brat most of the time.
  • The setup is nonsensical.
  • The weak prince becomes tiring before long.

(contains mild nudity)

Having read several glowing user reviews on Flower Flower, I expected to find a hidden gem cruelly cut short by the corporate overlord. However, what I found was a manga that surprised me in how long it lasted; I would have cancelled at one volume.

Princess Nina arrives in a foreign country for her arranged marriage with a prince, but upon seeing that he’s a cross-dresser, she chooses the younger prince Shu instead…except he is actually a she, also cross-dressing, just in the opposite direction as her older brother. And so begins the antics between an estranged princess and her husband/wife.

Flower Flower’s biggest problem enters on the first page – Nina. She is an unlikeable brat with her constant spiteful actions to rebel against her arrangement. I have no love for arranged marriages, so I should be cheering for her, but she doesn’t actually fight for her freedom or dignity, instead committing petty acts like hitting Shu out of spite, the one guy/girl on her side in the kingdom. I guess it’s supposed to be funny or endearing, though I don’t see how. Shu, of course, takes this all lying down, being the wimp that she is.

We do see mild improvement in her character and the overall narrative in volume two, but it isn’t much and wasn’t enough to save the project, for it was cancelled soon after. I get the impression that the writer did not know how to start characters as bad/weak while still likeable. The trick is to show all the bad with good motivations underneath (in this case, a mean princess, who is standing up for her freedom) and have at least one characteristic that people can latch onto, say, make her smart or witty. Truth is, Nina isn’t mean enough (proper mean, not petty mean) nor have an interesting characteristic to root for.

With no continuation to Flower Flower, I find no reason for anyone to begin this manga.

Art – Medium

Clean art with a good variety of compositions and angles.

Story – Low

A story cut short just as it started to improve. The first volume is rubbish.

Recommendation: Avoid it. Being incomplete, I can’t recommend Flower Flower, nor for what is there to begin with.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

Flower and Stars – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Hana to Hoshi

 

Similar: Notes from the Garden of Lilies

Cirque Arachne

Strawberry Shake Sweet

 

Genre: Yuri Comedy

Length: 2 volumes

 

Positives:

  • Quite funny at times.
  • No false drama. Keeps the story simple.

Negatives:

  • Should have been longer.
  • Though enjoyable, there isn’t depth to be found here.

When Hanai enters high school, she discovers that she is in the same class as her table tennis rival from middle school, Hoshino, who made her quit playing because Hanai couldn’t beat her. Hoshino always looks cold, making Hanai think she is looking down on her, lording the defeat over her. However, it turns out Hoshino is hiding more emotions beneath the surface.

Outside of the premise, there isn’t much you need to know about Flower and Stars. It’s a simple, fun premise that brings several laughs to a misunderstood romance. While I don’t have much praise to give, I also don’t have any serious issues. Flower and Stars doesn’t force any false drama to extend the narrative or pretend to have depth.

If I had to say something against this manga, it would be length. Flower and Stars is too short, feeling as though it was just getting started at the end.

Art – Medium

Like the story, the art is simple with just enough variety and texturing to enhance the page.

Story – Medium

A simple, yet effective story about a rivalry that turns to love.

Recommendation: Try it. If you’re looking for an easy read and a bit of fun, Hana to Hoshi may be for you.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

Chirality – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Chirality

 

Genre: Yuri Science Fiction Action

Length: 3 volumes

 

Positives:

  • The art looks good outside of the female characters.
  • Its Terminator style plot offers something different to the yuri genre.

Negatives:

  • The female characters look silly as hell. When they aren’t wearing outfits with sculpted nipples that put the Bat-nipples to shame, the women look on the verge of tears – when they aren’t actually in tears, that is.
  • Incoherent storytelling that doesn’t allow scenes to breathe.
  • Protagonist is useless to the overall narrative.

(contains nudity & graphic sex)

In the near future, where nipple-sculpts are standard on uniforms, mechanical parasites have wiped humanity near extinction by turning their human hosts into dangerous cyborgs. The humans survivors banded together to fight the android enemies. An elfin woman called Carol was engineered to lead them to victory against the parasites. In her female form, she has superhuman regeneration, whereas her male from (she can shift forms to any person whose DNA she absorbs) has super strength. Carol is also the sworn protector of Shiori, the protagonist.

Chirality’s premise is reminiscent of Terminator 2 with Carol as the terminator created to protect an innocent character from machines. However, where John Connor has a purpose in the story of Terminator, Shiori is of little use in Chirality. Looking at her art, and that of all female characters here, she seems on the verge of tears, only to find later that she is in tears most of the time. Her only purpose is to give purpose to Carol (as if saving humanity wasn’t enough) and be Carol’s love interest. Then there’s her outfit, which, to be fair, applies to all the women, making it even harder to take her seriously. I only have the first outfit below; the truly ridiculous ones are too NSFW here – find volume 3 if you are interested. Carol, on the other hand, is a much more interesting character with her variety of cool powers, badass nature and relation to the villain. Not to mention, her later combat outfit is awesome without losing sexiness that the artist clearly loves.

The narrative suffers from a serious case of ADD as it bounces from one scene to the next. I got the impression that panels were missing between key moments. For example, people are talking, then the next shot they are fighting. When did the enemy appear? Chirality doesn’t take the time to establish the setting and plot details. The writer feels desperate to move on without letting each scene shine on its own.

It’s a shame that Chirality has such blatant flaws since it is one of the most unique stories of the yuri genre.

Art – Medium

If it weren’t for those stupid outfits and expressions, the art could have been great. The male and female characters don’t look like they come from the same artist, so different are their styles.

Story – Low

A good idea for a story of survival in an apocalyptic world unfortunately told in a hyperactive manner with an inactive protagonist.

Recommendation: Don’t bother. What is wrong with Chirality outweighs any good it has within.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

Chatting at the Amber Teahouse – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Ameiro Kouchakan Kandan

 

Genre: Yuri Comedy

Length: 2 volumes

 

Positives:

  • Sweet, feel-good story.
  • Side character Hinoka is funny.

Negatives:

  • Needed more tension to hold attention.
  • The art makes all the characters look like kids.

Seriho’s dream has always been to run a fancy teashop, but recent financial hardships threaten to close her teashop. With the help of her friends and most loyal customers, they work to save the teashop. Part-time employee Sarasa also has feelings for Seriho, but doesn’t know how to tell her.

Chatting at the Amber Teahouse is a simple, feel-good story for those interested in a manga as sweet as four teaspoons of sugar in a cup of Lipton. When revamping the teashop, the side character Hinoka is particularly funny with her psychotic fervour to improve the place. It’s a shame that the plot lacks tension. After the bankruptcy setup, the campaign to save the teashop vanishes into the background, replaced by the romance, which is pleasant, but I don’t know why they couldn’t have had both.

That said, I still enjoyed Chatting at the Amber Teahouse and wished there was more.

Art – Medium

The art is cute, but having all the mid-twenties characters appear in their early teens looks strange, especially when so similar to the chibi artwork. Without the character bios on the first page, I wouldn’t have known that Seriho is twenty-five, for she looks fifteen due to the art.

Story – Medium

A pleasant enough manga about running a fancy teashop, though it lacks tension.

Recommendation: Try it. With its short length and feel-good story, Chatting at the Amber Teahouse is worth a look.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)