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text 2020-03-03 16:18
Oh, Tokyopop
Dekoboko Sugar Days - Atsuko Yusen

Giving the revived Tokyopop any more of my money feels wrong, but this sounded sweet and fun. I couldn't help myself. ::sigh::


In case you don't know any of the history, Tokyopop is a publisher that imploded a few years back. Lots of people laid off, volumes with scheduled release dates that were then never published, lots of English language release licenses in limbo, etc. I have one fairly lengthy manga series that was one volume away from being finished, and now my only way of ever finding out what happened is fan translations or watching the anime and hoping it's true to the manga.


I really shouldn't give them more of my money. But... ::sigh:: It depends on my reading mood, but I'm hoping to get around to this over the weekend.

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review 2020-01-19 05:34
Missing: Letter of Misfortune by Gakuto Coda, translated by Andrew Cunningham
Missing (Novel) Volume 2: Letter of Misfortune - Gakuto Coda

The Literature Club is back the way it was, for the most part - the main difference is that Ayame is still around, still nonhuman but much less powerful, and magically tied to Utsume by the events of the previous book. However, now Aki is having supernatural problems of her own. There's an urban legend about a cursed fax, a chain letter that the recipient receives for several days in a row and must send on in the same order if they want to avoid dying. It seems that the fax is real, and Aki has just begun receiving it. Not only is it creepy, arriving out of the blue at 2 AM, it's somehow causing Aki actual physical harm. The paper cut she got from the first fax showed signs of infection only a few hours later.

At the same time, there are rumors going around at school that there's a pack of wild dogs loose in the area. One of the teachers was bitten, and signs of the dogs can be found all over the school grounds, although no one has actually seen one of the dogs. Yomiko, the school witch, freaks out both Ryoko and Aki, warning Aki that she will be torn apart and eaten by dogs that no one can see. Somehow the Literature Club has to figure out what's going on and save Aki before it's too late.

If you haven't read the first book in this series, Missing: Spirited Away, I'd recommend starting there. Although these two books deal with entirely different supernatural beings, Missing: Letter of Misfortune references a lot of characters and events from the first book and doesn't devote a lot of time to explaining things for the benefit of newbies to the series. The entire Literature Club is back, of course, but so are Ayame, Yomiko, Jinno, and the men in black. The first book also mentioned something about Aki that turned out to be extremely important in this book.

As far as its supernatural aspects went, I liked this book a good deal more than the first. The cursed chain letter, demon summoning via fax, the invisible dogs - all of it was much more my jam than the fairy-like "spirited away" stuff in the first book. Aki was also my favorite character in the first book, so I was looking forward to a book that focused on her.

Unfortunately, that's one of the areas where this fell kind of flat. Although there were scenes from Aki's POV, for some reason it was harder to connect to her this time around. It also seemed like Coda had forgotten certain aspects of her character that he'd established in the first book. Yes, she was still cold and sharp on the outside and fragile and lonely on the inside, but all that stuff about her secretly being in love with Utsume seemed to be absent. I mean, I didn't entirely mind that, except that it introduced a few plot holes.

I distinctly remember Aki being jealous of Ayame in the first book. Her hidden feelings for Utsume and jealousy towards Ayame should have become an issue in this book, especially during the climactic battle, and yet none of that ever came up. It was as though those feelings had never existed and Utsume was just another friend of Aki's in the Literature Club. Heck, Ryoko was depicted as being more important to Aki than any of the other members of the club.

I really enjoyed the creepy scenes inside Aki's apartment, and the bit with the sender of the cursed fax reminded me a little of that scene with the tiny dinosaurs in the first Jurassic Park movie. Unfortunately, the story was a bit bogged down by Utsume's frequent lecturing. He gave the Literature Club a multi-page lecture on magic - granted, it contained useful information that both they and the reader needed to know, but it made Utsume seem decades older than his friends. Utsume even interrupted the climactic final battle to announce that he was going to give another lecture. Again, it turned out to be a useful lecture, but it made for a weird and slightly ridiculous moment.

Just like I had trouble following the events at the very end of the first book, I also had a little trouble figuring out what was going on at the end of this one. Some of the things Yomiko said didn't make much sense - I don't know if it's because of the translation, or if it was one of those things that would eventually have been cleared up by a later book in the series. Since none of the later books were ever translated and published, I guess I'll never know.

It's sad because, despite my complaints, I'd definitely continue on with this series if I could. I'd have loved to see what else Coda had planned for these characters. Utsume and Aki were the only characters that the men in black had identified as having some kind of connection to supernatural beings, but I recall Yomiko saying something intriguing about Toshiya that could potentially have been the focus of one of the series' books.

Even though I'll likely never get to read more of this series, I'm still glad I read these first two books. They were interesting and a nice change of pace from vast quantities of "reincarnated as a [random thing] in another world" Japanese light novels currently getting licensed and translated.

Additional Comments:

There were some glaring translation and editing issues. A couple of the worst ones:

"And slowly, the cursed child emerged." (101)

It's possible that this was an accurate translation, but I strongly suspect that this sentence was actually supposed to be "And slowly, the cursed fax emerged." A child did not emerge, Sadako-like, from the fax machine.

"The spell will not work if it is doesn't use the same base knowledge." (203)

I wonder, did Tokyopop's 2008 novels have more typos? I don't recall Missing: Spirited Away having similarly glaring errors.


An excerpt from the third book in Coda's Missing series. I didn't bother to read it - what's the use, when the book was never published?

There was also an afterword by Coda, in which he mentioned that a friend of his had accused him of ripping off the Men in Black movie after hearing about the men in black he included in his books.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2020-01-05 23:06
Off*Beat (OEL manga, vol. 2) by Jen Lee Quick
Off*Beat, Vol. 2 (v. 2) - Jen Lee Quick

Colin confronts Tory about his stalking, but Tory lies and pretends that everything Colin noticed is a coincidence. They agree to meet up at Tory's house for another tutoring session (Tory doesn't even bother to ask Mandy to join them this time around), and Paul gets on Tory's case for his hidden motives for "befriending" Colin. It surprises Tory when Colin goes out of his way to spend more time with him. What he doesn't know is that Colin now has his own hidden agenda.

Whereas almost nothing happened in volume 1, volume 2 had actual forward movement. That said, it's still unclear exactly which genre(s) this falls under. It's for sure a mystery. Tokyopop has "Drama/Romance" on the back cover...and I don't know that I agree. Yes, Tory blushed anytime Colin paid attention to him, and if his interest in Colin were purely about finding out more about the Gaia Project, he wouldn't have cared so much how his hair looked before meeting up with Colin. And yes, there was a line of dialogue that indicated that Colin felt drawn to Tory as well, and that it wasn't for a reason that made sense to him. And Mandy seemed like she shipped them, which was...kind of weird (I sincerely hope that there was more of a point to Mandy's existence in this series than noticing feelings brewing between Tory and Colin before they themselves did). So yeah, there could be mutual interest. But Tory's spent the whole series stalking Colin, and Colin spent a good chunk of this volume keeping things from Tory and checking up on him, so I'm not really comfortable with calling it a romance.

And speaking of Tory's stalking, what was with Paul? On the one hand, he lectured Tory about getting closer to the person he was stalking. On the other hand, he later gave Tory all the Gaia Project files he was able to rescue, knowing that this would only feed Tory's obsession.

Although this volume included a few peeks into Colin's home life, I still don't have a clue what sort of secret he might be hiding. He mentioned something called "atunement" (Tory apparently didn't have it) and repeatedly told Tory that he wasn't sick or sickly, even though he certainly seemed like it.

I'm frustrated enough with the lack of information and answers to try getting volume 3 via interlibrary loan. It looks like only 5 libraries own a physical copy, so there's a good possibility I won't get it, but it's still worth a try. And yes, I know I could buy an electronic copy. I don't want to do that. If that's my only option, then I'm just never going to finish the series.

If this is where things end, then I'm somewhat annoyed. Volume 2's pacing was a lot better than volume 1, to the point that I'm wondering whether this could have been a 2-volume series if it had been more tightly written.


A short preview of a Tokyopop OEL manga series called Earthlight. I'm not interested in reading more of it.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-12-15 23:55
Phantom Dream, Volume 2 - Natsuki Takaya

This is one of those manga you have to read in succession because they dump a lot of character names and history on you and you'll just be confused if you've put the book down for a few months/years.


This seems the typical plot of having both bloods and being torn and not wanting to fight his friend Eiji and all that jazz.

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text 2017-12-13 23:46
Reading progress update: I've read 115 out of 208 pages.
Phantom Dream, Volume 2 - Natsuki Takaya

This is another confusing mess of names and titles and everybody looking the same. I can't remember what happened in the last book and there is no recap in this one sooo.... :x

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