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review 2020-05-18 03:07
My Androgynous Boyfriend (manga, vol. 1) by Tamekou, translated by Jocelyne Allen
My Androgynous Boyfriend, Vol. 1 - Tamekou, Jocelyne Allen (Translator)

Meguru is a gorgeous androgynous Instagram model who loves looking cute for his girlfriend. Wako is his girlfriend and generally doesn't care about her own looks much. What she enjoys is looking at cute things. She works as an editor and used her photo editing skills to help launch Meguru's modeling career.

In this volume, Meguru wrestles with his desire to be open and honest about his girlfriend and how much he loves her, even though people in his industry are supposed to be single so that fans can imagine being with them.

How is this not a one-shot? I mean, Meguru and Wako are cute couple who clearly love and support each other, and it's all very nice but...I don't see how there's enough here for more than this one volume? And even this one volume barely had any substance to it.

I bought this because the cover art was pretty (I want whatever Meguru is drinking), and because the idea of a romantic manga starring an ordinary-looking girl and her gender nonconforming boyfriend appealed to me. It's made clear from the beginning that Meguru isn't gay or trans or into cross-dressing. He just likes looking nice for his girlfriend. It causes some awkward moments because people sometimes assume he's female when he's out with Wako, or, if they know he's a guy, they assume he's into other guys. His biggest worry is that it might bother Wako, but luckily for him Wako doesn't mind.

Readers get to meet Kira, Meguru's friend and another model, who's probably the most entertaining character in the whole volume. He's completely self-absorbed and doesn't even notice people unless they're beautiful or important to him in some way.

And that's pretty much it. There really wasn't much to this volume, and although I know that volume 2 will be coming out in September, I have no clue how the author is going to manage to expand upon this. The only question I had, throughout the volume, was how Meguru and Wako met and started dating, and that was answered near the end.

 

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

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review 2020-03-08 01:17
A Man and His Cat (manga, vol. 1) by Umi Sakurai, translated by Taylor Engel
A Man and His Cat, Vol. 1 - Machiko Sakurai,Taylor Engel

Fuyuki Kanda is a widowed music teacher who decides to buy a homely one-year-old cat at a pet store. The cat, who he names Fukumaru, is worried that his new owner will take him back or abandon him, but luckily for him, Mr. Kanda adores him.

This series is sweet, gentle, and warm, and I absolutely love it. I found out about it via a review on The Manga Critic, and then I kept coming across it via other sources until I finally broke down and bought it. I'm so glad I did.

This had some of the usual things you'll find in cat manga: a newbie cat owner who has to learn some of the basics, shopping for supplies at the pet store, and kitty antics, like scratching on things they're not supposed to, being goofy, and inadvertently making a mess. However, this first volume was as much about Kanda as it was about Fukumaru, and watching these two lonely characters love each other, become accustomed to each other, and form a little family together was a treat.

There were flashbacks for both Fukumaru and Kanda. Fukumaru's showed him as a kitten - remembering his mother and gradually realizing that no one wanted him. Kanda's showed him and his wife, and what their lives had been like over the years. They'd intended to get a cat together but never got around to it. They had children, and readers haven't yet been given enough information to know whether they just live too far away to regularly visit or whether Kanda's estranged from them. At any rate, he lived alone, and it was apparent that both the cat and the man had become a little depressed before they came into each other's lives.

A few other character POVs popped up here and there: Kobayashi, Kanda's dog-loving childhood friend, Yoshiharu Moriyama, one of Kanda's energetic young coworkers, and Miss Sato, the pet store employee who assisted Kanda. They all provided different views of Kanda and/or Fukumaru, which I appreciated. For example, Moriyama saw Kanda as the epitome of cool elegance and idolized him, while Kobayashi knew the loneliness his friend had been going through and appreciated the joy that Fukumaru added to Kanda's life, even if he didn't personally understand what Kanda saw in Fukumaru.

I loved the artwork. Fukumaru's cartoonish looks were initially a bit odd, but I got used to it. And oof, Kanda. It was easy to believe that his younger male coworker would idolize him and younger female coworkers would crush on him a bit.

I absolutely plan on preordering the next volume. I'm looking forward to seeing Fukumaru and Kanda make each other happy, and I'm interested to see what Sakurai plans on doing with this series.

Extras:

A couple pages of full-color artwork and a full-color four-panel comic, as well as a one-page comic-style afterword by the author.

 

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

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review 2020-02-03 02:30
FukuFuku: Kitten Tales (manga, vol. 1) by Konami Kanata, translated by Marlaina McElheny and Ed Chavez
FukuFuku: Kitten Tales (Chi's Sweet Home) - Kanata Konami

At the beginning of the volume, FukuFuku's owner (whose name is never mentioned) is sitting with her adult cat, FukuFuku, and looking through old pictures of FukuFuku as a kitten. After those first couple pages, the entire series basically becomes a flashback to FukuFuku's kitten days: adjusting to her new home, dealing with her first bath, napping with her owner, learning to use a scratching post, meeting other cats, etc.

I've read and adored Kanata's Chi's Sweet Home. FukuFuku: Kitten Tales was very similar in a lot of ways. The most noticeable differences: Chi's Sweet Home was in color while FukuFuku: Kitten Tales featured black and white artwork, and Chi's owners were a married couple and their young song while FukuFuku's owner was an older woman who lived alone. Also, Chi's thoughts and dialogue were translated for readers, whereas FukuFuku just meowed and purred. I don't think the two series crossover at all, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn I was wrong.

I don't have a lot to say about this volume that I haven't already said about Chi's Sweet Home. It was very warm, sweet, and comforting, and I particularly liked the chapters devoted to FukuFuku and her owner sleeping together. FukuFuku napping inside the jack-o'-lantern was nice too. The one part that was a bit off was FukuFuku's Alice in Wonderland-inspired dream.

I plan to read more of this, although it's not the instant favorite that Chi's Sweet Home was. While I liked that readers had to rely entirely on FukuFuku's facial expressions, body language, and situation to figure out what she was thinking and feeling, this series felt a little less lively and fun than Chi's Sweet Home. Maybe it was because this volume was almost entirely focused on FukuFuku and her owner? If her owner has any family or friends, we haven't seen them yet, and FukuFuku has only briefly met a few other animals - one black and white cat made a repeat appearance, but not enough of one to get a feel for its personality.

And speaking of personality, I'd say FukuFuku was possibly a little more standoffish than Chi (it took her a bit to learn to enjoy being petted, for example), but otherwise she came across as very similar to Chi. I hope the differences in her personality start to stand out more as the series progresses.

All in all, so far I prefer Chi's Sweet Home, but FukuFuku: Kitten Tales is very nice and hits a lot of the same "warm fuzzies" emotional notes. Looks like I have another cat manga to work my way through.

 

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

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review 2019-11-11 19:52
The Whale Rider - Witi Ihimaera

I saw the movie years ago, and I enjoyed it very much. I didn't realize the film was based on the book until earlier this year. I decided to check out the book because since I enjoyed the movie, I will most likely enjoy the book.

 

I was thrown off by the choice of the narrator of this story. I expected the narrator to be Kahu, not one of Kahu's uncle. But, the narrator grew on me as I continued to read the book. Even though the story was short, I thought the pacing was just right. The story doesn't wander around aimlessly. I thought the story's straightforward approach is refreshing after reading and watching stories that cram too much stuff in one story. Though I do wish to learn more about Kahu's life and personality. I enjoyed Granny Flower's character because she was sweet and sassy.   

 

Unfortunately, my memories of the film are fuzzy, so I can't comment on how the movie and book differ from each other. 

 

Also, the book is hard to find, which is a huge bummer. I bought a used copy from an eBay seller since I couldn't find it at bookstores like Barnes and Noble. If you come across this book somewhere and sometime, I recommend checking it out because it's a short and satisfying story.  

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text 2019-10-01 18:56
Update
The Whale Rider - Witi Ihimaera

I'm finally started reading this book. I'm 63% done with it.

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