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review 2016-02-15 00:00
After School Nightmare, Volume 1
After School Nightmare, Volume 1 - Setona Mizushiro,Christine Schilling Mashiro, the MC with the upper half body of a male, and the below half body of a female, is a bit of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. There is a love triangle that I despise. But somehow, it kept me glued to the story. I couldn't help it. The dreams (nightmares) are creepy and somewhat interesting. Maybe a bit without a sense, but it was interesting. Mashiro's gf is creepy but her story is very painful and sad (raped at the age of 5; hence, she hates men. But since Mashiro is half woman, he is ok). Sou seems a bit of a tsundere, and generally I don't like love interest that force themselves on their love, but well, since to me Mashiro is more male than female, I liked it.

In many ways it reminds me of the trilogy [b:Pantomime|15797050|Pantomime (Micah Grey, #1)|Laura Lam|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348428535s/15797050.jpg|19161274]. The same kind of characters, of love triangle, of strange things happening, and in spite of not liking many things, I can't keep away from reading it. Definitely reading the next one.
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review 2014-08-23 06:37
The Devil Within (vol. 2) by Ryo Takagi, translated by Christine Schilling
The Devil Within, Volume 2 - Ryo Takagi

Takagi really does manage to finish this whole series in only a couple volumes. Mostly by allowing Rion's deep hatred of men to just sort of magically disappear. Or at least turn into tolerance.

In this final volume, Tenshi figures out that Rion is the key to getting back his original form, but he doesn't know what to do in order to make it permanent. When he learns that Rion is a devil and has a direct connection to his past, he starts to wonder if Rion is actually responsible for his condition. Meanwhile, Rion learns that, if she doesn't have sex with one of her three fiances (apparently marriage isn't necessarily a requirement anymore?) before her 16th birthday, she'll be taken over by her demon blood. To her horror, her demon blood causes her to pump out pheromones that attract all kinds of guys.

The guys also risk being taken over by their angel blood on their 16th birthdays. Fuya (whose name is for some reason only spelled with one “u” now, rather than the two used in volume 1) pumps out pheromones so strong that he attracts both sexes and has to worry about being gang raped. Somi cuts himself in order to try to keep his angel self from coming out, because his angel is a killer. Koki's angel self is a womanizer and spends money like crazy, which is why he's always broke and hungry. All the guys have excellent reasons to want to sleep with Rion and suppress their powers, but Rion only wants Tenshi.

Rion's shota-con tendencies were toned down a lot in this volume, which I appreciated. I raised an eyebrow at her repeated declarations of love for Tenshi, since I suspected she only really loved his child body, but at least she wasn't taking time out to gaze longingly at kindergartners near her school. The attempts at romance in this volume were still pretty gross, though.

For a moment, I actually kind of liked the idea of Tenshi and Rion becoming a couple. Maybe her memories of Tenshi from when they were children would be enough to overcome her hatred of a physically older body. Maybe Tenshi genuinely liked Rion.

Or maybe the only thing everyone in this series cared about was physical bodies. No one in this series loved anyone, no matter how much they tried to say otherwise. Rion said she loved Tenshi, but she really only like Tenshi's 5-year-old body. Tenshi said he loved Rion, but he was really only interested in having sex with her body. His most disgusting line, after Rion struggled and tried to get away because she decided she didn't want to have sex: “Don't be so tense... It'll only make it hurt worse.” When Rion was then taken over by her devil self, he was perfectly fine with that. Better than fine, because Rion's devil self was more willing to have sex. Somi also claimed to love Rion, but, when it came right down to it, he'd have raped her too, in order to rid himself of his angel powers.

In addition to all that, I had no clue how this angel and devil stuff was supposed to work. The guys claimed that they willingly entered into contracts for their angel powers, but what benefits did they receive? I suppose I could see what Fuya got – his angel powers turned him into a successful model and actor. But Koki's wish was to become rich, and his angel self only ever accomplished the opposite. And what did Somi's angel powers do for him?

All in all, I don't really recommend this volume or the series as a whole. The romance was gross, and the supernatural stuff made no sense. Takagi could draw relatively pleasing faces, but, for the most part, the art wasn't really all that great (although at least this time Takagi mostly kept the guys' chests covered up, thereby avoiding having to draw those pesky pecs and abs).


A 14-page unrelated manga called “Sparkly” and a 1-page author's afterword in comic form.

“Sparkly” was the one thing in this volume that I enjoyed. It stars Kyushi, a 16-year-old boy working as a page at a mansion because his family is poor. His employers appear to be model perfect, but one day he learns that they all wear wigs. Their mother had 20 sons and no daughters, and all 20 sons have been made to keep their heads shaved, as Buddhist monks do. This is fine when they're at the temple, but embarrassing for them otherwise. Unfortunately, for various reasons they cannot use good wigs and adhesives and are constantly one good gust away from revealing their secret to everyone. I admit it, I laughed at this one. It was incredibly over-the-top - the guys would have been better off just going without their incredibly precarious wigs.


(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2014-08-23 02:12
The Devil Within (vol. 1) by Ryo Takagi, translated by Christine Schilling
Devil Within, Vol. 1 - Ryo Takagi

Wow, this manga. It's like Takagi tried to cram as many discomfiting and off-putting elements into a reverse harem manga framework as possible. It's kind of amazing.

Okay, so the star of this series is Rion, a teenage girl who was scarred for life after seeing one of her father's uncensored porn videos as a child. In that video, demons possessed angelic little boys and turned them into devils that raped women. Rion was left with a deep hatred of men (they're all devils) and a love of little boys (they're all angels). One day, Rion's father decides that Rion's man-hating ways are no longer beneficial for him, so he sends three gorgeous brothers to be her fiances. She must choose one of them. If she doesn't want to choose, well, not only did her father give Rion a key to each of the guys' rooms, he also gave them each the key to hers. Rion decides she would much rather be with Tenshi, the little boy with the chip on his shoulder who lives one floor below her.

Then there are all of the other things crammed into this volume. Angels, devils, some kind of curse or medical condition, and some sort of supernatural reason Rion must marry one of the three guys her father chose for her.

Every last bit of this is played for laughs. The one fiance who seems like a creepy pervert is usually just interested in whatever food Rion has in her possession. Rion's classmates think her shota-con tendencies are strange, more a bizarre quirk than anything to worry about. Her abnormal love for little boys is supposed to be even funnier when juxtaposed with her desire to run from the hot guys she's being forced to choose between. Oh, and the whole rape-y devil porn thing at the beginning? Rion's father arranged for her to see that so that her fear would force her to stay a virgin until he needed her to be otherwise. His secretary thinks this is both horrifying and great (or great because it is horrifying?).

I didn't find any of this funny, although there was something mesmerizing about seeing what bizarre or horrifying thing Takagi would throw at readers next. I'm still not sure whether Takagi intends for this to be a romance series. So far, there are only two males who don't make Rion run away in either disgust or fear: Tenshi (physically 5 years old) and Fuuya (occasionally behaves childishly). If I had to vote for anyone, I'd vote for Fuuya. Mostly, though, I wish someone had removed Rion from her father's “care” ages ago.

Sometimes good art can make up, at least a little, for a crappy story and characters. You won't find that here, unfortunately. Takagi draws some appealing faces (although some of the designs didn't seem very consistent). However, things got shakier from the neck down. You'd think, with all the times the guys are shirtless or nearly shirtless, that Takagi would take special care with pecs and abs, but wow those were awful. Tiny, shrunken pecs, abnormally long torsos, and giant white spaces where abdominal muscles would normally be.

I'll read the second and final volume because I already own it and because I'm curious to see what craziness Takagi will pull out of thin air in order to wrap this mess up in only two volumes. I hope that Rion's father gets locked up in Hell (his name is Satan, so it would be fitting) and that Rion doesn't ride off into the sunset with a boyfriend who could be in kindergarten.


A 7-page unrelated manga called “Good & Evil Syndrome,” a 2-page comic-style author's note (I guess? It's kind of scattered), and one page of translator's notes. The translator's notes feature this gem: “Pg. 85 – 'taking a dump.' Apparently, some people believe it is a bad idea to poop so late at night.”

“Good & Evil Syndrome” was even crazier than The Devil Within. A teenage boy named Tsuyoshi literally has a devil telling him to do bad things and an angel telling him to do good things. They make it impossible to have quiet fantasies about his crush, Rinko, until one day they gain physical bodies outside of his mind. They spend this time tormenting Tsuyoshi with their advice, trying to seduce him, having sex with each other, or hinting that Rinko might prefer one of them instead.


(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2014-08-10 05:34
Crown (manga, vol. 2) story by Shinji Wada, art by You Higuri, translated by Christine Schilling
Crown, Vol. 2 - Shinji Wada,You Higuri

Mahiro's team of bodyguards increases by one – Ren and Jake invite the smitten Chondrite “Condor” Bourne to join them and protect Mahiro during the day, while they're busy hunting down potential assassins and doing research. In the latter half of the volume, a new assassin is sent...but not after Mahiro. Angela, a sexy assassin who only works for expensive jewelry, is told to kill Ren and Jake. She becomes curious about Mahiro, who she guesses is her employer's true target.

I think I'm going to stop here – I doubt the later volumes are worth the effort and, possibly, expense.

Somehow, Mahiro manages to become even more boring in this volume than she was in the first. It's difficult to believe that she's supposed to be 16 – her puppy-like behavior makes her seem several years younger. When she's not behaving like a disgustingly adorable child, she's enveloping everyone in her aura of gentle love, sweetness, and acceptance.

She sucks Condor in with that aura, and he becomes one of her faithful servants. His behavior is basically that of a stalker, but, since he can kill any potential assassins that might threaten Mahiro, it's all good I guess. I was at least thankful that not one of the guys showed an ounce of jealousy when Mahiro acted affectionately toward any of them. Although I think Condor noticed how very close Mahiro and Ren are.

This volume had fewer bloody killings (but Ren and Jake are good guys, killing people for good reasons!) and fewer icky indications that Ren and Mahiro might become a couple in the future. That should have meant it was better than the first volume. Instead, I found myself growing rapidly tired of the story and characters. Also, I was not happy with some parts of the latter half of the volume.

First, there was Ren's belief that Mahiro needed to build up an “immunity” to strange men. Mahiro had a habit of fainting around naked/nearly naked hot guys, and she was uncomfortable being near the good-looking celebrities visiting her school to shoot a movie. She told Ren and the others, “I can't help it. I'm sort of scared of guys I don't know.” So what did Ren do to try to “help” her? He arranged for him, Jake, Condor, and Angela to wear swimsuits and soak with Mahiro in a hot tub. She was so clearly uncomfortable that I cringed.

Second, there was Angela.

It turned out that Angela was really a cross-dressing man. From my understanding, he dressed as a woman because it made him feel better, but he didn't necessarily consider himself to be a woman – it was just a persona he took on, a way of dealing with some of the terrible stuff that happened to him when he was younger. Unsurprisingly, Wada took the easy route with him and turned him into a joke for most of his portion of the volume. “Oooh, Ren was French kissing a man and didn't know it, how gross!” - that sort of thing. And Ren, Jake, and Condor's “how gross” reactions were another opportunity to highlight Mahiro's loving acceptance. I wouldn't be surprised if, in the next volume, Angela realized his emotional wounds were healed by Mahiro's loving smile and decided to become another one of her bodyguards. Or maybe he's being set up to die tragically in Mahiro's defense.

(spoiler show)


A funny little "what happens after the cover image scene" comic on the first page, a two-page comic-style author's note, and a one-and-a-half-page comic-style artist's note. Is Higuri's head a...cucumber?


(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2014-08-10 04:29
Crown (manga, vol 1) story by Shinji Wada, art by You Higuri, translated by Christine Schilling
Crown, Vol. 1 - Shinji Wada,You Higuri

Mahiro is a cheerful, hard-working orphan who everyone loves, except for the horrible family that took her in after her parents died. When Mahiro caught the dad peeking at her while she was changing, she opted to leave and live on her own. Ren and Jake, two talented and hot mercenaries, kidnap her from one of her jobs, kick the horrible family out of her parents' house, and then take her to their condo. That's when Mahiro finally learns that Ren is her long-lost brother and that she is a princess who is in grave danger. Their stepmother, Lady Phoebula, wants Mahiro dead so that she can have the pendant that is the key to becoming queen of the country of Regalia. However, neither snipers nor hordes of soldiers will keep Ren from giving Mahiro the best birthday ever.

Right, so this series is over-the-top and knows it. Ren and Jake are OMG hot!!!, Mahiro is so sweet that her very aura can turn any enemy who is not complete cardboard into an ardent admirer, and several of the villains rely on the incredibly lazy stereotype of the Evil Fat Person.

Readers are supposed to believe that Ren and Jake are the perfect mercenaries, capable of taking on a hundred men without breaking a sweat. However, Jake is weak against women and literally becomes petrified when he's hugged by one. And Ren...well, he's just unbelievably great at everything. No explanation is given for how he and Jake managed to perfectly plan and set up a trap for over a hundred trained men, all by themselves. Also, Ren and Jake somehow manage to wear camo uniforms and bulletproof vests underneath expensive suits, so they can be appropriately dressed for battle at a moment's notice.

I'm sure that the whole bit with the crystal pendant was supposed to be very pretty and magical, but, in this already over-the-top series, the addition of supernatural elements seemed like a bit too much. In addition, I was very uncomfortable with the hints of future incestuous romance – Mahiro almost did a love divination for herself and Ren, and Ren and Mahiro are so touchy feely with each other that even Jake thinks it's a bit odd.

I'm not sold on this series yet, and there are already some warning signs of things I won't like. Still, the art is pretty, and sometimes over-the-top cheese is nice. I own the second volume, so I'll continue on.


A funny little "what happens after the cover image scene" comic on the first page, a two-page comic-style author's note, and a one-and-a-half-page comic-style artist's note.


Rating Note:


My personal grade was a C/C-. I went with a C (3 stars) because, so far at least, my enjoyment of the art and some of the over-the-top aspects outweighs my discomfort with the hints of future brother-sister romance.


(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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