Manga Monday, 2016 Reads: Current Manga Series, Part II

For today’s installment of my mini-series of series I’m currently reading/collection, I’m taking a look at two series I’m actually finishing up this week (already ordered) and the series I’ve actually only read one volume of so far.  These three are also the only three in my current reads list with primarily adult main characters, versus teens or even college age, other than The Ancient Magus’ Bride’s Elias and side characters.

HappyMarriageHappy Marriage?!

Happy Marriage?! Is a shojo series from Maki Enjōji, and I believe her first to be licensed for English release.  Though it’s under Viz’s Shojo Beat label, the series is actually a josei title.  For this series, 23-year-old Chiwa Takanashi who works in an office by date and as a hostess at night finds herself agreeing to an arranged marriage to the president of her company, Hokuto, to pay off her father’s debts.  When she meets her new husband-to-be, though, she finds out she already met him before as he’d insulted her at her hostess job, made her angry enough to lash out at him, resulting in her getting fired.

Not the best start for a marriage, and in some ways it’s a “classic” set up to force two opposites into a relationship with the series of course featuring the ups and downs of their relationship as they try to make their marriage more than just on paper.  Not that it will be easy, with the expected tropes of other suitors for Chiwa popping up and while as Hokuto has a great grandfather, most of his family sucks and there are hints of plenty of family drama which gives at least some explanation for his flipping between tyrannical nature and utter devotion to Chiwa.

I’ve only read four volumes of the series so far and while Hokuto’s ultra “alpha” nature can be a little off-putting, I do like how carefully Enjōji seems to be easing their relationship from uneasy roommates into potentially a real couple.  I have the rest of the series on the way now, so I’ll get find out if the current dynamic can hold up through six more volumes.  I’m also hoping there will be at least some unique challenge for the couple versus just the usual stuff.

Happy Marriage?! Spans ten volumes and all volumes are available now.  Released by Viz Media, it’s available in paperback, eBook, and comiXology.

SpellOfDesireSpell of Desire

Viz announced its licensing of Tohu Ohmi’s Spell of Desire simultaneously with its licensing of her series Midnight Secretary.  Though Spell of Desire technically came first, I ended up reading Midnight Secretary first and enjoyed it enough to pick up Spell of Desire too.

Where Midnight Secretary deals with vampires, in Spell of Desire, Kaoruko is an herbalist whose herbs are well-known for their effectiveness.  She soon learns, from mysterious (and of course handsome) visitor Kaname that this is because she is a witch whose mother is the Witch Queen and infused Kaoruko with her powers.  Kaname has come to be her knight protector, but soon both are questioning if it’s just her mother’s powers he cares about or the girl who holds them.

I would liken Ohmi’s story telling style with Mayu Shinjo, author of one of my favorite series Sensual Phrase, with a heavier dose of sensuality than you often find in shojo series.  Her scenes of kisses and seduction are very well drawn and the atmosphere of the panels fits the various situations well.  For course, with her series featuring adult characters versus teens, I’d certainly expect more sexuality from her characters.

So far I’ve read the first two volumes of the series and will have the last three soon.  I’ve really enjoyed both Kaoruko and Kaname separately and together.  I felt Kaoruko is well-balanced between being a little weak, confused, and at times overwhelmed by her new situation and standing on her own two feet and coming into her own.  For me, it just reads better that characters in this situations actually react realistic versus just becoming instant bad-asses who can handle anything.

The series is only five volumes in length and all five are available now.  As noted, this one is from Viz Media and is available in paperback, eBook, and comiXology.

LibraryWarsLibrary Wars: Love & War

Based on a light novel series by Hiro Arikawa, Library Wars: Love & War is a shojo series with a premise that immediately caught my attention:  in the “near future,” the government has decided to rid society of “unsuitable” books.  To protect their collections, the libraries create the Library Defense Force with soldiers and librarians to protect books from being confiscated!

Arikawa was apparently inspired by a 1954 Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries issued by the Japan Library Association in which Japanese libraries collectively noted the purpose of libraries, the freedoms they have, and their opposition of censorship as well as their intent to protect their freedoms if they are ever imperiled.

With its set up, Library Wars: Love & War specifically focuses on twenty-two year old Iku Kasahara, who dreamed of joining the defense force after a favorite book was saved from confiscation by one of their soldiers when she was a child.  Now a fledgling recruit, she’s struggling to do well with her coursework and regularly finds herself in trouble with her drill instructor Atsushi Dojo.

Of course, being a shojo series, there are hints of romance between Kasahara and her instructor, and that he is probably the one who saved her book years ago (of course, that also brings up an interesting age dynamic though he is supposed to only be twenty-six…).

I’ve only read the first volume of the series so it’s hard to know where it will all go, but the setup is interesting enough that I had to try it and I certainly enjoyed the first volume.  I could do without the comedic stuff (never a big fan of), but it sticks enough with the action, intrigue, and romance so far to be tolerable.  I have more volumes on the way and look forward to seeing how it goes.

In case you didn’t notice the trend yet, Library Wars: Love & War is also from Viz Media (easily the most represented company in my collection).  The series finished in Japan in December and spans 15 volumes.  Viz Media has kept up with the releases pretty well so 14 are available here, with the last one on preorder for April 5th release.  It’s available in paperback, eBook, and comiXology.