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review 2015-05-26 06:33
Inu x Boku SS (manga, vol. 2) by Cocoa Fujiwara, translated by Melissa Tanaka
Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 2 - Cocoa Fujiwara,Melissa Tanaka

Ririchiyo is surprised to realize that, despite her continued prickliness, she has become friends with Watanuki and Karuta. Closing the gap between herself and Soushi proves to be far more difficult, however. Whereas the other client-agent pairs tend to be more relaxed around each other, Soushi is always the perfect and servile bodyguard. Ririchiyo decides that having a cup of coffee with him, as friends rather than as client and bodyguard, might bring them closer, but her plans are ruined by the arrival of Kagerou, her fiance.

This is the volume in which the details of Soushi's past and his reasons for being so devoted to Ririchiyo are revealed. It happened a little sooner than I expected – the anime saved this revelation for the very end – but I still loved it. I loved this evidence that Soushi was at least as vulnerable and lonely as Ririchiyo, and seeing them grow closer via the letters they exchanged was sweet and kind of heartbreaking.

The bits with Watanuki and Karuta at the beginning were so-so – to be honest, the hints of romance between those two didn't really interest me. Watanuki kept saying that there was more to Karuta than there appeared to be, and that did seem to be true, but for the most part those hidden depths stayed hidden. She was primarily just a sleepy-looking girl who loved food, and I got the feeling that Watanuki was going to be left pining for her forever.

And then Kagerou. Oh, Kagerou. He'd have been creepy if he hadn't been so ludicrously over-the-top. To him, everything in the world, including inanimate objects, could be classified as either S (sadist) or M (masochist). He didn't even vaguely try to win Ririchiyo over. I'm still not sure if it was Ririchiyo's closeness with Soushi that bothered him, or if he was just bothered by Soushi, period. Soushi was smoother and more cultured than him, and at the same time completely lacking in shame. There was nothing that Kagerou could say or do to him that would hurt him in any way, except maybe exposing Soushi's lies to Ririchiyo. I hope that the series takes a closer look at Kagerou at some point – I was intrigued by the indications, near the end of this volume, that there was more to him than there appeared to be, and that he was more than just some weird guy who shouts “S” and “M” at everything.

I absolutely loved this volume. The revelations in the latter half of it were excellent, and I'm looking forward to seeing if anything else in this series ever manages to top it. I just wish the cover weren't so gross. See what I mean about Ririchiyo's hands looking like those of a toddler compared to Soushi's?

Extras:

  • 14 pages of side stories and joke comics - I could have done without Nobara's "smexy" lessons, but "Useless Skills" and "What's in the Box" were okay. I especially liked it when Soushi got mad at Kagerou for being more disgusting than usual towards Ririchiyo. Oh, and the "S&M" side story involving Kagerou and Sorinozuka was great. Sorinozuka makes a fabulous anti-Kagerou weapon without even trying.
  • One page of translation notes - Again, I always appreciate these, although only one of them came in handy for me this time around.
  • A two-page Inuboku postscript - Cocoa Fujiwara's recent death made this kind of painful to read.

 

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

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review 2015-05-26 04:41
Inu x Boku SS (manga, vol. 1) by Cocoa Fujiwara, translated by Melissa Tanaka
Inu X Boku SS, Vol. 1 - Melissa Tanaka,Cocoa Fujiwara

My first exposure to this series was through the anime, which, as far as I can tell, means I know what's going to happen in this manga through at least part of volume 3.

In this first volume, we meet Ririchiyo Shirakiin, the sensitive daughter of a wealthy family. The Shirakiin family is one of a select few families with an ayakashi (supernatural being) ancestor, and Ririchiyo is considered to be a “throwback,” a sort of reincarnation of the Shirakiin family's ayakashi ancestor. Although she has spent her life coddled and protected, she has also felt isolated. Anyone who ever spoke up for her or was nice to her only did so because of her position within the Shirakiin family, and so, as a defense mechanism, Ririchiyo began adopting a haughty and prickly demeanor.

Ririchiyo knows that her behavior makes it that much harder for her to make true friends, but she can't seem to stop herself. In an effort to change, she requests to leave the Shirakiin family home and is allowed to go as far as Maison de Ayakashi, an apartment building whose tenants come entirely from families with ayakashi ancestors. Each resident of Maison de Ayakashi is protected by a secret service agent (no explanation is given for why some throwbacks are secret service agents and why some are clients). Soushi, Ririchiyo's agent, is surprisingly devoted to her. No matter how prickly she is towards him, she can't seem to push him away, so he accompanies her as she gets to know her new home and those who live there.

This is one of those series that it's embarrassing for me to admit that I like. Ririchiyo is 15 years old, almost 16, and in the next volume we learn that Soushi is at least 20. Cocoa Fujiwara emphasized this age difference by giving Ririchiyo proportions that sometimes made her look even younger than she really was – for example, Rirchiyo's hands were so tiny compared to Soushi's that they almost looked like they belonged to a toddler. It did help that, in this first volume at least, their relationship was entirely innocent. Although Soushi's devotion was more than a little over-the-top, their master-servant relationship put a barrier between them.

It also helped that Ririchiyo, though starved for affection, wasn't an idiot. She knew that Soushi's devotion was excessive, especially since, as far as she knew, they'd never previously met. Part of her worried that he only acted the way he did because he was being paid by her family, or because he was hoping to benefit in some way. Why else would a grown man be that happy to serve as a 15-year-old's bodyguard, to the point where any sign of approval from her, even something so little as a text message, made him positively joyous?

His behavior was so flawless that she found herself starting to believe it, only to catch him kissing some strange woman. His explanation was that she was a former neighbor who had confessed her feelings to him and who he had rejected. She said she'd accept his rejection if he kissed her, and so he did.

That was the first big clue Ririchiyo got that Soushi was willing to play any part he needed to and do whatever he needed to. Ririchiyo valued sincerity above all else, so this bothered her a lot. This was one of my favorite moments in the whole volume, in large part because I already knew the truth about Soushi and that his behavior during this part was not faked. I was happy when Soushi jumped to Ririchiyo's defense at the party, and when Ririchiyo forgave him, although I admit that, had I been a newbie to this series, I'd probably have been shouting “No! Stop! He's a master manipulator worming his way back into your good graces.” The last page of the volume certainly fit that interpretation.

All in all, I liked this first volume. The bulk of it was devoted to character introductions and fluffy stuff like the signature-gathering contest, but Ririchiyo's efforts to connect with other people were nice to read about, and I enjoyed the hints of mystery surrounding Soushi.

Extras:

  • One page of translation notes - I always love translation notes, and these ones were helpful. I knew what some of the ayakashi named in the volume were, but not all of them.
  • Two pages of extra comics, printed on the inside of the front and back covers - I appreciated these too, although I didn't find these two to be particularly funny. They did do a good job of emphasizing the creepy depths of Soushi's devotion, though.

 

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

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url 2015-04-08 17:07
Manga author and illustrator Cocoa Fujiwara has died

The only series of hers I'm familiar with is Inu x Boku SS, a guilty pleasure of mine (I have yet to review any of it, though).

 

She was only 31. :-(

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review 2013-01-29 00:00
妖狐×僕SS [Inu x Boku Secret Service] 04
妖狐×僕SS [Inu x Boku Secret Service] 04 - Cocoa Fujiwara,藤原 ここあ Even if I knew what was going to happen, to actually read it and see the images was too much. Cuz I like all the characters, a lot. This volume has some funny moments (like when Ririchiyo-sama is practicing to say 'I like you' to Miketsukami in front of the parrot, and then the parrot repeats it in front of Miketsukami) or Nobusara with Renshou (she cares for him, but it is her nature to behave like that).

Then it changes with the attack to Karuta, and the problem of her not able to turn into human again. The last chapter was very sad. Miketsukami is such a sweet, pervert, crazy and beautiful character. It was nice to see all of them fighting together, even Zange, who demonstrates his power here.

Now, to read the final volume :(
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review 2013-01-29 00:00
Youko x Boku SS (Youko x Boku SS #5)
Youko x Boku SS (Youko x Boku SS #5) - C... Youko x Boku SS (Youko x Boku SS #5) - Cocoa Fujiwara Oh dear, what was the author thinking! I imagine how pissed I would have been if I did not know beforehand what was going to happen... Even knowing it before, I pretty much want to

image

Why did the mangaka decide to reincarnate everyone? And the Ririchiyo and Watanuki with no memories? And everyone so different? It was like, to have some progress in the story, and then boom! erase it all.

I cannot rate lower than 3, cuz even with all the negative aspects, the art is just breathtaking, and the characters were so fun to read. I only hope this was not the end. Miketsukami is, without any doubt, my favorite kemono (a new word that I learned today: human with animal aspects)
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