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.)

Gokujyo Drops – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Gokujou Drops

 

Related: Mousou Honey (same author)

Similar: First Love Sisters

Nijipuri

Shoujo Holic

Sky-Coloured Girlfriend

Brother, Dear Brother

Strawberry Panic

 

Genre: Yuri School Life

Length: 3 volumes

 

Positives:

  • Nothing.

Negatives:

  • Dime-a-dozen premise and execution.
  • Uses bad drama in an attempt to hide the reality that it’s no more than smut.
  • Not funny or entertaining.

(contains nudity and sex.)

At this point, I feel I could copy and paste a previous review to fit Gokujyo Drops (they did that with the facial expressions in this manga, so why not). I have read this plot type a dozen times already. New high school student -> all-girls school -> joins prestigious sorority/dorm -> becomes infatuated with a high-class senior -> bullied for not being worthy of her attention -> they become a couple.

Gokujyo Drops’ ‘twist,’ if you can call it such, is the increase in smut compared to the others. In truth, this manga isn’t being honest with itself; it tries to veil the random incest, sexual assault, and repetitive sex scenes with bad drama (“not-worthy of her affection, so we are going to lynch you”).

There isn’t more to say. It doesn’t even try to be humorous about it – why not satirise the clichéd premise for entertainment?

Art – Low

Basic manga art with little detail and no variety. Many of the faces feel copy-pasted – lazy.

Story – Very Low

There isn’t much here. You have seen it before many times.

Recommendation: Don’t bother. Not interesting and not even entertaining enough to warrant a look.

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

Hen: Strange Love – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Hen

 

Genre: Yuri Romance Drama

Length: 8 volumes

 

Positives:

  • Absolutely nothing.

Negatives:

  • At eight volumes, it’s too long. At one volume, it’s would still be too long.
  • Hideous artwork. When you can’t even keep a character’s eyes straight, you should get a different artist. (See first image below)
  • So many creepy characters and relationships.
  • The worst comprehension of human nature ever put to manga paper.
  • Insufferable protagonist and the most idiotic support cast.
  • Several useless subplots that masquerade as main plots.
  • Thinks that lesbianism comes from being raised in a largely male environment.
  • Protagonist sleeps with an eleven-year-old boy. No one bats an eye.

(contains high levels of nudity and sex)

I didn’t think it was possible to find something as bad as Hen Strange Love outside of fan fiction. Hell, there’s plenty of fan fiction superior to this. Where to begin? I nearly died of laughter on first page when I am told this character is unbelievably beautiful, but is drawn in the most hideous, lopsided art. Informed attribute if I have ever seen one.

Chizuru likes to manipulate men to get whatever she wants from them and has never been in love, but that changes when new girl Azumi joins her class. Chizuru becomes hell-bent on going out with sleeping with (let’s not pretend here) Azumi by whatever means necessary. You wouldn’t know this is the plot when reading the first volume, as it instead follows Chizuru’s perverted teacher, who invites her back to his place to sleep with her. What follows is the dumbest – the dumbest – interaction between two characters I have ever seen. She gets naked for him, they exchange the worst dialogue imaginable, they play rock-paper-scissors (taken seriously), arm-wrestle, and in the end it is irrelevant to the overall plot. They could have cut the first seven chapters, most of volume one, and it would have had no effect. This teacher only makes a couple of cameos for the remainder of the series.

The greatest crime in Hen Strange Love is Chizuru herself. I have tried, but I cannot think of a more insufferable character. Snookie from Jersey Shore, the whiny kids in any disaster movie, Jar Jar Binks, Andrea and Lori from Walking Dead, all have nothing, nothing on Chizuru. We are constantly told that she is amazing, the most desirable girl to any man, yet she is quite simply a bitch. Even if the art didn’t make her look like a sloughing lama, beauty only makes you attractive to strangers. Once anyone sees your personality, all that beauty vanishes. With Chizuru, there isn’t even a moment of beauty – she’s a bitch in her very first scene. Furthermore, there’s no way she would get away with being abusive and assaulting her teachers and classmates; however, because this is clearly the author’s fantasy, everyone bends over for her. Sleeps with an eleven-year-old boy? Aww, how cute. Bullies a kid in school, hijacking his film project? Wow, she’s so amazing! “Natural” double-Ds for a fifteen-sixteen-year old in a country of As, said seriously, not as a gag? Of course, she’s the exception. Ability to turn lesbianism on and off? That’s how it works! (*sarcasm) I wish Revy would blow Chizuru’s head off to remind us what a good character looks like.

Then there’s the gay guy introduced later who wants to sleep with a little boy (or has he already done it? The writing is so bad it makes this unclear). The guy then goes to the boy’s parents to ask for permission to marry him. Now, what do you think any parent would say to this? Call the police? Castrate the guy and string him above the front porch as a warning? At least tell him to GTFO? Nah, that’s unreasonable. How about they just say no because they don’t like the guy being famous. Sounds fair. (Just kill me now.) Of course he’s famous and no one questions him. Of course he can turn being gay on and off at will. Of course.

Complete arse.

Art – Very Low

Should have gone with stick figures. That face. I can’t stop laughing.

Story – Very Low

How is this even possible…

Recommendation: Have to read it to believe it. When teaching, I would use this as an example for what awful writing looks like. Art teachers could do the same.

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

Heart-Pounding Excitement at Mononoke Girls’ Academy – Manga Review

Japanese Title: Tokimeki Mononoke Jogakkou

 

Genre: Yuri Fantasy Comedy Romance

Length: 2 volumes

 

Positives:

  • Some creative demon designs.
  • A few good laughs.
  • Decent premise.

Negatives:

  • Doesn’t use its full potential.
  • The main dilemma throughout the narrative is resolved abruptly.
  • Overuse of smut, even for a work of this kind.

(contains nudity and sex)

When cutting through a graveyard as a shortcut to school, Arare runs into a woman who can extend her neck Mr Fantastic style (she often suffers from neck cramps) and forces her into the demon realm. This neck woman turns out to be a teacher at Mononoke Girls’ Academy for demons. Arare is now stuck in a school full of demon girls – there’s a ‘filth licker,’ half-snake women, some girl with bombshell babe lips on the back of her head, Cyclopes and more. The problem here is that Arare is human, a tasty morsel to the demons. Some want to eat her, others…a little something more…which would transform her into whatever demon-type ‘has’ her.

With the help of her cat-girl friend Kiri, Arare tries to fit into the school under the guise of a rain woman demon since she has bad luck with rain. Further trouble arises when she starts to have feelings for Kiri. Each chapter deals with salacious conundrums related to hiding her identity or an innuendo riddled personal problem.

Mononoke Girls’ Academy is rather entertaining in its premise. Certainly, there isn’t much depth and it doesn’t reach its potential, but you will find a few laughs here. Do remember that there is a generous amount of nudity in this, so if that isn’t for you, you may want to avoid this one. For everyone else, Mononoke Girls’ Academy is worth a try.

Art – Medium

The art is surprisingly good with a decent amount of creativity to the demon designs. Unfortunately, most of the monster appearances are fleeting.

Story – Medium

A funny story with a good idea and world that unfortunately doesn’t reach its full potential.

Recommendation: Try it. The premise and humour may be to your liking.

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

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