Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: jn-productions
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-05-23 19:47
Beast Master (manga, vol. 1) by Kyousuke Motomi, translated by JN Productions
Beast Master, Vol. 1 - Motomi Kyousuke

Yuiko loves all animals...so much so that she scares them away with the intensity of her affection. One evening, while trying to get her cat home after accidentally scaring it up a tree, she encounters a wild-eyed boy covered in blood. The next day at school she learns that he's Leo, a new transfer student in her class.

Leo is rumored to have gotten into a fight with a group of thugs and won, and everyone's scared of him. Everyone, that is, except Yuiko, who's fascinated by and jealous of the way animals trust him and easily come to him. She approaches him and quickly finds out that he's actually very gentle and sweet, if unused to living among people. Apparently he used to live on an uninhabited island.

However, Leo has a problem. Anytime he sees blood, he blacks out and turns violent - possibly a defense mechanism he developed while on the island, to help him survive against predators. When Yuiko witnesses one such incident, she learns that she can do something no one else has been able to do: tame the beast inside Leo and get him to calm down.

This wasn't a bad volume, although some of the over-the-top details were a bit much for my current mood - things like the stupid blowgun, the repeated appearances by "Boss", the tough-looking softie, and the as yet unexplained detail about Leo having a Japanese-German mercenary as his guardian. Yuiko also drove me a little nuts - she demonstrated that she knew how to coax animals to her but would then screw everything by grabbing the animals and trying to cuddle them like a little kid who hadn't been properly taught how to treat other living beings.

I'm not all that wild about the premise. Leo is a gentle guy, except when he sees blood, at which time he turns into a scary killer who may once have ripped a leopard's throat out during one of his blackouts. And of course Yuiko turns out to be the only person in existence who's ever been able to calm him down with her presence and voice alone. The first time she tries, though, she doesn't manage it until after Leo has bitten her hard enough to draw blood.

There's a bit at the beginning of the volume that irked me: Yuiko's classmates, and even Yuiko herself (that bugged me the most), think it's strange that Yuiko is 17 and is more interested in cuddling animals than chasing after boys. People were literally telling her to stop wasting her time with animals, and I had to grit my teeth.

Throughout most of the volume Leo and Yuiko's relationship is more sweet and platonic than anything. Leo comes across almost like a child. Then things shifted a bit at the very end, and suddenly Yuiko thinks Leo has "a faint manly scent that I hadn't noticed before," and ugh. Really?

I wasn't originally planning on continuing on, but as I was doing a little research prior to writing this review, I noticed that the series is only two volumes long. It feels weird quitting when I'm technically halfway through, so I might see about getting volume 2 from the library at some point.


An extra unrelated short manga called "Fly" from early in the author's career. It's about a girl named Yui who's struggling because she wants to become a pilot even though her family expects her to go to medical school. She's convinced that if she sees a rainbow again before she graduates, her dream will come true, and her best friend Arata supports her. The story is pretty weak, although not as bad as the author's embarrassed one-page introduction led me to expect.


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

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-03-01 03:32
Hiroshima's Revival: Remembering How People Overcame Destruction and Despair (nonfiction manga) by Takeo Aoki, translated by Pauline Baldwin
Hiroshima's Revival: Remembering How People Overcame Destruction and Despair - Takeo Aoki,Pauline Baldwin

This manga begins with a little about Hiroshima's history and then the dropping of the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. Each chapter covers one aspect of Hiroshima's post-bombing reconstruction and revival.

The first few chapters were dedicated to more immediate reconstruction efforts: restoring electricity, water, and gas (Chapter 1), restarting a streetcar service (Chapter 2), and reopening banks (Chapter 3). The next few chapters dealt with activities that began soon after the bombing and covered more of their history up to the present: getting legal commerce going again in the midst of a thriving black market (Chapter 4), the history of the company now known as Mazda and its three-wheeled truck (Chapter 5), reopening schools (Chapter 6), and getting the municipal government up and running again and acquiring funding for Hiroshima's reconstruction (Chapter 7). The last few chapters felt a bit more removed from the bombing than the rest, but still tied into Hiroshima's overall revival: providing cinema, music, and books to citizens again (Chapter 8), evolving a new local food culture (Chapter 9), and the history of the Hiroshima Carp baseball team (Chapter 10).

I found this volume at a used bookstore and realized, as I was googling it, that it's apparently impossible to buy online - no listings at all for it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AbeBooks, and the book itself didn't include an ISBN or any sort of English-language publisher I recognized. Although the translation generally seemed good, the font choices and text arrangement didn't look very professional, which added to my suspicion that I'd somehow bought a bootleg book. However, I think I've solved the mystery! This review mentions that the English language edition of this work can be purchased in the Hiroshima Peace Museum's shop. Which explains how a few libraries have managed to add it to their collections and makes me feel better about donating it to my own library.

Okay, now on to the content. For the most part, I thought this was a good overview of the Hiroshima reconstruction efforts. I didn't know much about the work that went into it, and the most interesting chapters, for me, were the first three. It amazed me how much folks were able to accomplish only a couple days after the bomb dropped (and I couldn't help but worry about the effect the post-bombing radiation had on those people). I wish I could have learned more about Haruno Horimoto, the girl who volunteered to run the one functional streetcar. The streetcar chapter ended with the closing of the school that was perhaps the only home those girls still had.

The commerce chapter was the weakest and most confusing one in the volume, and seemed less focused on the people involved than the much more effective chapter on reopening the banks that came before it. The second weakest chapter was probably the baseball one, which felt out of place. More than in any other chapter, I could also feel the undercurrents of drama that the author was trying to simplify and smooth over (team management changing repeatedly, the incident with Joe Lutz and the umpire). And I don't know if the bit with the kid donating his allowance to the team actually happened, but it seemed like a particularly in-your-face bit of schmaltz in a volume that was already somewhat prone to playing up sentimental moments and details.

This isn't really something you can go into with the same expectations you'd have for fiction. The dialogue is a bit stilted, for example, and there were times I struggled to tell some of the people apart ("was that one guy with glasses the same guy who spoke up just a few pages ago? oh, yes he was!"). And I wish a bit more care had been put into its lettering - it looked like it was done by someone who hadn't had much experience with it. Dialogue was usually in a Times New Roman-like serif font, while narration was usually in an Arial-like sans-serif font, although occasionally narration used the serif font. And I came to really appreciate the tricks professional letterers use to indicate that text in one panel would be continuing in another, because they were absent in this volume, and it was occasionally jarring to discover that a sentence I had thought might be finished wasn't actually done yet.

Overall, though, I felt this was a really worthwhile and informative read, despite its issues.


A postscript with details on some of the overseas efforts to aid Hiroshima's recovery and reconstruction. There's also what appears to be a fairly lengthy bibliography, but all the entries are in Japanese.


Rating Note:


I debated between 3.5 stars and 4. It probably wouldn't have been as much of a debate if I hadn't known, from reading Ichi-F, that this really could have been done better. However, 3.5 stars felt a bit like kicking a puppy - this is such an earnest and heartfelt volume, and I did learn quite a bit from it. And who knew that reopened banks could make me cry? So, 4 stars it is.


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

Like Reblog Comment
review 2020-02-16 22:47
SP Baby (manga, vol. 2) by Maki Enjoji, translated by JN Productions
SP Baby, Vol. 2 - Maki Enjoji,JN Productions

Tamaki has to miss work due to a fever and is overjoyed when Natsu, her secret crush, sticks around to take care of her. Unfortunately, Kagetora, Tamaki's handsy boss, also shows up. It isn't long before Tamaki is finally forced to deal with her unrequited feelings for Natsu and whatever seems to be developing between her and Kagetora...who is still engaged to another woman.

I had to struggle to work up the willpower to review this. In some ways it was better than the first volume, but honestly it just dissolved into an unfocused mess.

Although I gradually came to like and root for Tamaki by the end of volume 1, in this volume it seemed like Enjoji forgot what kind of person she was supposed to be. The young woman who tried to put professional distance between herself and her employer and make him take her seriously as his new bodyguard was gone. And, once again, Tamaki did things that prompted me to remember that I'd initially dismissed her as an idiot.

When Tamaki's dreams of ending up with Natsu went up in smoke, she dealt with it by spending an evening drinking until she puked and eventually passed out. She later woke up in bed with Kagetora - she was dressed in pajamas she couldn't remember putting on, and he was shirtless. She later learned that they hadn't done anything - apparently Tamaki had complained of being cold and Kagetora felt that the best way to warm her up was with his body heat. After all, they were stuck out in the frozen wilderness and had no other options.

Oh wait, no, they were in his mansion and he could have gotten her an electric blanket or something.

Kagetora came across as slightly less horrible in this volume than in the first one, but that was mainly because Tamaki was more receptive towards him. Since I already disliked them as a prospective couple after the events of the first volume, I had trouble working up any enthusiasm for the developments in their relationship in this volume.

Tamaki and Kagetora overcame the obstacles standing between them way too easily. It didn't even work well with the series' internal logic. Readers were told that Kagetora's uncle, the prime minister, had previously tried to adopt him but that Kagetora's father hadn't allowed it. Suddenly, for absolutely no reason, Kagetora's father was fine with that arrangement. All of the pieces in Kagetora's plan fell into place in a matter of days.

Oh, and the whole mystery of how Kagetora and Tamaki first met was a complete letdown. Was that one brief meeting supposed to be the moment he fell in love with her? Or was it some combination of that and his leg fetish? No wonder she couldn't remember when they'd first met. And what did any of that have to do with the whole "you're the only one whose touch I can feel and enjoy" thing? (I have a feeling Enjoji got some reader complaints about that, because she specifically addressed it in a note, saying that in real life analgesia is a serious condition and that, although she didn't have time to explain it more in the manga, Kagetora's condition was actually more psychological. Which left me with lots of questions.)

On the plus side, this series was short. It's too bad it didn't have anything to offer other than relatively decent artwork.


A 2-page "characters and story" section, character profiles (I would not have guessed that Tamaki was 23, her younger brother was 15, and Mike and Kagetora were both 25), and a short bonus comic showing how Master Daitokuji and his wife first met.


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

Like Reblog Comment
review 2020-02-16 01:46
SP Baby (manga, vol. 1) by Maki Enjoji, translated by JN Productions
SP Baby, Vol. 1 - Maki Enjoji,JN Productions

Tamaki Hasegawa is a part-timer on her way to an interview for a full-time job when she comes across a man being chased by someone she thinks means him harm. It turns out to be a misunderstanding, but the man, Kagetora Sugo, offers to replace her ruined interview outfit and even hire her...as his bodyguard! It turns out that Kagetora is actually the nephew of the prime minister. He insists that he and Tamaki have previously met, but Tamaki can't recall him at all. One thing she does know: she needs to establish some boundaries between the two of them, fast. For some reason he keeps trying to kiss her. It bothers her, because the guy she's really interested in is Natsu, a kind employee at a flower shop.

This is a short series, only two volumes long, and this first volume did not leave me with a good impression. The artwork was okay, but forgettable. The premise was ridiculous - what kind of person would hire a random girl with enthusiasm but no particular skills beyond "can kick high" to be their bodyguard?

Kagetora wasn't appealing at all. Sure, he was rich and good-looking. Tamaki was literally a special person to him - one of those instances where Kagetora had a medical condition that affected his interactions with everyone but Tamaki (yes, I rolled my eyes). Unfortunately, he viewed this as an excuse to commit sexual assault, kissing Tamaki multiple times throughout the volume without her consent.

I had zero sympathy for him, and in fact cheered Tamaki on, when Tamaki began setting up firmer boundaries between the two of them, calling him "sir" any time she spoke to him in order to remind him that he was her employer. When he tried to tell her how sad the distance she was putting between them made him, she straight up told him what she was doing and why:

"This is a job, right? I'm your bodyguard. Sure...I'm still a useless rookie. But I've been working hard as best I can. If you are going to treat me like that, then why make me your bodyguard? I would've been better off being a maid! Kissing me without my consent and teasing me... If you're keeping me by your side simply to toy with me, please stop. Please treat me as your bodyguard..." (145-146)

Go, Tamaki! Unfortunately, Kagetora chose to interpret this as "show me that you're serious about how you feel about me" rather than "please show me respect and treat me like any other employee." And the present Tamaki gave Kagetora at the end of the volume had me wincing. I don't care that the guy brought her flowers and was acting a little vulnerable, she didn't owe him anything. Boundaries out the window. Darn it.

I wasn't a fan of Tamaki at first, but she grew on me as the story progressed. Unfortunately, the future I see for her includes Kagetora pushing his way further into her life, and her being too nice to freeze him out and subsequently giving up on her secret crush on Natsu. Who will probably be revealed to have a girlfriend and view Tamaki as more of an honorary little sister than anything. I wish I were more interested in the mystery of how Tamaki and Kagetora first met. I'm guessing it has something to do with Tamaki's parents' accident.

Well, one more volume to go, so I guess I'll find out soon if my predictions are correct.


Each chapter ends with a single-panel bonus comic. My favorite is the one that revealed that Master Daitokuji, the elderly man assigned to train Tamaki to fight, is married to the elderly stuntwoman from the first chapter.


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

Like Reblog Comment
text 2020-02-15 21:11
Reading progress update: I've read 56 out of 183 pages.
SP Baby, Vol. 1 - Maki Enjoji,JN Productions

This is incredibly bland so far. The series is only a couple volumes long, so it's not like it has a while to really get going and prove itself, either.


So far we have:

- An idiot young woman named Tamaki who's trying to get her first full-time job and who's nursing an unrequited crush on some guy who's barely had any page-time. She's convinced that she can't protect anyone without accidentally hurting them.


- The prime minister's nephew, who knows Tamaki somehow and has decided that she'll definitely be his bodyguard. Never mind that she only seems to know one move and wasn't able to successfully take on his current bodyguard.


- The two smartest characters in the series, Tamaki's brother and the prime minister's nephew's bodyguard. They're doomed to watch the main characters make bad decisions.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?