Saturday, July 19, 2014

Manga Recommendations #1: Shoujo

Between the excitement (good and bad) caused by Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited and RWA possibly changing the definition of PAN, I'm exhausted. Let's try for something totally different and completely off topic. Manga recommendations.

For those who don't know, manga are Japanese comics. Unlike American comics, manga are much more mainstream. They take up as much shelf space as other books in Japanese bookstores. They also have a home in most American bookstores now. Manga range in genre from children's books to hardcore XXX porn, depending on your fancy.

My recommendations for today will be coming from the Shoujo genre (ie - for girls/women). Basically the Romance novels of the manga world. And the term Shoujo is just as vague as Romance when it comes to defining the books included in the genre.

Note: A lot of Shoujo manga involve middle school and high school girls since they are the target audience...in Japan. That doesn't mean they are only meant for women in those age groups.

So without further ado, let's get this started. In no particular order...

** Mars by Fuyumi Soryo **

Kira is a quiet girl who just wants to draw while remaining invisible to those around her. Rei is a bad boy who loves to show off and be the center of attention by dating the most girls or racing the fastest bikes. When a chance meeting puts Kira on Rei's radar, the two enter into a relationship that will change both of them forever.

- Volumes: 15 + side story
- Setting: High School
- Sub-genre: Contemporary
- Publisher: TokyoPop (formerly)

This is one of my re-reads. I love this story. Absolutely love it. Soryo-sensei starts things off in the typical manner of boy-meets-girl and then dumps the reader in the deep end. Bullying, suicide, rape, jealous exs, murder, estranged parents, dangerous sports, and an uncertain future -- Kira and Rei face it all and still manage to end up together. It's an emotional roller-coaster. Just when you think things are okay another problem pops up. If you can find this series, I totally recommend reading it.

** Sensual Phrase by Mayu Shinjo **

Aine wants to be a lyricist. Sakuya is the head singer for the popular band Lucifer. Avoiding a car accident puts Aine is Sakuya's path and their whirlwind relationship begins. Aine is tossed into the world of entertainment and treading water won't cut it. She has to swim with the sharks or get eaten all while trying to maintain a relationship with one of the most sought after men in Japan.

- Volumes: 18
- Setting: High School
- Sub-genre: Contemporary
- Publisher: Viz

This is another re-read for me. In fact, Mayu Shinjo is an automatic buy/read. Sakuya is the type of alpha hero you love to love but hate at the same time. He's arrogant and a brat but he's had to become that way to survive. His blue eyes (the mark that he isn't full Japanese) sets him apart. What made him an outcast as a child makes him exotic now that he's a star. In fact, his whole band is comprised of men who have had to struggle in one or another -- a guitarist from an ultra-traditional family who sees his music career as a waste, a bassist who likes to dress like a woman, another guitarist who is in love with his step-sister.

The story follows not only Aine and Sakuya but the band members as well. They all struggle to have lives and loves while trying to make it big and stay there. I will disclose that this story does include some nudity and a rape scene, but don't let that stop you.

** From Far Away by Kyoko Hikawa **

Noriko is a normal high school girl until she is whisked away to a far off land where she is being hunted because she is the legendary Awakening. To keep the darkness inside him at bay, Izark wants Noriko dead but ends up keeping her safe and can't figure out why. And he has to keep doing it because he might have changed his mind but those who want to harness Noriko's power and his haven't stopped. Noriko and Izark's budding relationship will be tested again and again until the danger to both of them is resolved.

- Volumes: 14
- Setting: Fantasy World
- Sub-genre: Fantasy, Action
- Publisher: Viz

Yet another re-read. I devoured this story when I first got ahold of it. I love, love, love fish-out-of-water, thrown-across-dimensions stories. Love them. I have a few that I've written under my other name. Noriko and Izark are both strong-willed and vulnerable at the same time. They depend on each other, lift each other up, and keep each other safe/sane. They are both fighting for their lives and you can't help but be sucked into their struggle, rooting for them the whole way.

* * * *

And that's where I'll end it today. I could go on and on and on but no need to overwhelm you. I think next month I might do Yaoi (m/m) recommendations. Suffice to say, this isn't the last of my manga recommendations.

Happy reading,

Zenobia Renquist
Discover Different and Unique Romance & Erotica
Daily Grind Series :: There's only so much mischief an exhibitionist housewife in an open marriage can get into from day to day...or is there? :: http://zenobiarenquist.com/bookshelf/daily-grind


Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Zenobia - thanks for the info. :)

jean hart stewart said...

Love to learn new things, and this was all new to me. Thanks for you most interesting post,

Zenobia Renquist said...

Tina & Jean -- You're welcome. I love introducing people to manga. It's such a great media. It's one of the few times you can actually judge a book by its cover. If you don't like the art on the cover, you might not like the story inside either since the artist and author are one in the same.