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.)

Candy Boy – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Candy Boy

 

Genre: Yuri Comedy

Length: 2 volumes & 1 extra volume

 

Positives:

  • A little charming.

Negatives:

  • Doesn’t seem to have a purpose.
  • The sister obsession is quite pointless. Without it, the story would have still worked the same as two sisters living in Tokyo.

Despite the title, it’s not about cross-dressing, as I assumed. Candy Boy follows twin sisters struggling with finances to pay for their Tokyo dorm while they prep for university. Kanade, an action figure otaku, has intimate feelings for her sister Yukino and wonders what she should do. The plot is just small conundrums the sisters face on a daily basis, such as how Kanade is going to afford the latest figurine she drools over.

There isn’t much to say about Candy Boy. It’s unremarkable, has a few laughs, sure, but forgettable overall. I think it would have been a more entertaining manga if it had dropped the sister complex and instead focused on two sisters in the big city finding creative ways to make money.

Though Candy Boy isn’t bad, I can’t recommend it for its lack of substance. Also, why is it called Candy Boy? There’s candy at the end, but has nothing to do with boys.

Art – Medium

The art is quite nice, but nothing spectacular enough to save your attention.

Story – Low

Has some charm to it, but the inconsequential nature of the narrative events and mild comedy brings the whole manga to a forgettable level.

Recommendation: Don’t bother. I can barely remember what happens in Candy Boy despite finishing it an hour ago.

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

Hanjuku Joshi – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Hanjuku Joshi

 

Genre: Yuri Romance

Length: 2 volumes

 

Positives:

  • The side characters’ romance is a good portrayal of sexual confusion and exploration.

Negatives:

  • The main couple’s story is generic and doesn’t hold interest.
  • Frankly, it has the wrong protagonist.
  • No understanding of how bras work in real life (you can’t magically shrink a dozen sizes with a small bra).

(contains high levels of nudity and sex)

I am torn on Hanjuku Joshi. On one hand, the main couple of Yae, a girl self-conscious of extreme femininity, and the out-going Chitose is as generic as a bad Monday; on the other hand, the subplot between Mari and her female teacher is surprisingly good. It’s ironic that the easy romance between two students fails (‘fail’ is a little harsh – unremarkable, rather) while the often nothing-but-smut student-teacher relationship succeeds.

Once more, the setting is an all-girls school (not prestigious sorority! *Tears of gratitude*). Yae and Chitose’s relationship focuses on Yae helping Chitose accept her femininity – she hates her high voice, large breasts, round face and curly hair – which is a fine theme to explore. The problem is that her agitation is petty. I can’t see how anyone could conceivably empathise with such an inconsequential problem. Certainly, the writer could have succeeded by showing actual consequences of being ‘too cute,’ such as not being taken seriously by others. Unfortunately in this case, it’s just a little girl whining about her breast size. It doesn’t help that the humour is incongruous to the narrative – girls don’t randomly get naked at school just because it’s all-girls.

Then we have Mari and her teacher, Ran. Their plot delves into sexual confusion as Mari slowly realises she is a lesbian, making her question what she considered normal in terms of sex and sexuality. Furthermore, the characters don’t pretend that a student-teacher relationship is an everyday occurrence like in other yuri manga. Mari should have been the protagonist, not Yae.

I wish the whole manga was about them to give space for even more depth. Rubbish like Hen Strange Love gets eight volumes while a story with a modicum of talent barely receives a volume of page time.

Art – Medium

Uses a cute art style, but the quality, particularly with the backgrounds, is inconsistent. Little variety.

Story – Medium

The side couple’s plotline is good, shame that the main couple gets in the way.

Recommendation: Try it. Worth a read for the supporting cast, so give it a go. At only two volumes long, it won’t take much of your time.

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

Men & Women wish for a Spring Romance – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Haru yo, Koi

 

Genre: Yuri Drama Romance

Length: 11 volumes

 

Positives:

  • Nothing

Negatives:

  • Bait and switch narrative setup.
  • Incompetent cast of characters that I hope trip over and break their necks.
  • The drama keeps extending through contrived means.
  • The same sex scenes repeat dozens of times.
  • Dark, muddy artwork.

I hate this manga. Haru yo, Koi is bloody awful. It’s a dishonest rag of melodrama, pathetic characters, and smut. Mafuyu moved to the city with her brother because she was caught fooling around with a girl in her last high school and was expelled. Sae, the girl from high school, runs away from home to chase Mafuyu and invites herself to live with her and her brother.

So, you run away from home for someone, you must really care for her, right? Nope. A few chapters later, Mafuyu is sleeping with their hairdresser and Sae lusts after her brother. What caused this? Well, Mafuyu started volleyball at school and made friends with the team… Yes, that’s it. Brother then goes for a singer. Next volume, everyone is sleeping with someone else. Then someone else the next. The manga does this to trick you into thinking it’s deep, dramatic, edgy, but it’s far from.

The manner in which these new relationships start is some of the laziest drama techniques imaginable. There is no rhyme or reason, no character motivations, when they cheat on each other. It’s clear the writer knows nothing about twists and transitions. For example, one overused moment goes something like this: Two characters hanging out, pretending to be friends, sudden kiss, stop, depression, kiss, go home, sex, next morning, sex again, and repeat with the next strumpet. To call this a soap opera is an insult, quite frankly. In soap operas, they at least try to be creative with evil twins and psychic comas.

The characters, particularly the female leads, are pathetic, which makes them so unlikeable – reminds me of Hen Strange Love, though not as bad. Characters ping pong between each other for sex. Every few pages it seems someone cheats on the person they just said they were in love with, derailing the plot with new relationships. In truth, it’s all an excuse for smut. The number of sex scenes is staggering, all similar to the point where they blend into one. It explains how such a dull story managed eleven volumes. Even if you are in it for a yuri plot, there’s nothing here, as it deceives you and focuses on the brother’s pathetic incompetence.

Lastly, there’s the art, which is too dark. I get the impression that the artist drew everything in colour and then applied a black and white filter over the top, not considering contrast and shading balance. It’s like trying to read a manga in Queen Victoria’s bog.

How this got the green light for eleven volumes is beyond me. Avoid it like the plague.

Art – Low

Art muddled by a lack of understanding in use of black and white.

Story – Very Low

Soap opera level drama that drags on and on forever.

Recommendation: Avoid it. The constant false drama leads to a story of boredom and pathetic characters.

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

Anime and Manga Reviews