Tag Archives: ecchi

A Fox’s Love

Author: Brandon VarnellA Fox's Love

Illustrator: Kirsten Moody

American Kitsune, vol. 1

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience

Kevin Swift is what most folks would call a good guy–decent grades, athletic, responsible enough to live on his own while his mom’s away on work, but with enough of a geeky (even otaku) side to not be a total square. Poor guy really does have some of the worst luck though, or maybe he just has some unfortunate weaknesses. Like his soft spot for small, furry animals. Or his inability to talk to girls (including his crush/childhood friend Lindsay) without blushing and stammering, insane nosebleeding, and possibly passing out. Unfortunate, and likely to get worse when in an act of kindness Kevin brings home an injured little fox . . . that has two tails and a remarkable healing ability. Because the next day, in place of the adorable little fox he finds a naked, gorgeous young woman by the name of Lillian who proudly declares herself a kitsune–and his mate. Poor Kevin!

Having already read the second volume of this hilarious series, A Fox’s Tail, I was definitely looking forward to enjoying the first volume, which I did. A Fox’s Love is an amusing American take on the Japanese ecchi shounen romcom (think stories like To LOVE-Ru and Rosario + Vampire). It definitely follows in the footsteps of these stories, complete with hapless but relatively normal protagonist, improbably sexy and clingy female, tons of humor, and at least an equal part ecchiness and fanservice. Not to mention lots of fantastic references to anime, manga, games, and other geeky stuff. The flow of the writing fits the story very well, having the easy-to-read light novel sort of feel while still being distinctly American in tone. I also love that, while the story obviously references lots of other stories, sometimes even parodying them, it never loses itself; Kevin and Lillian are always very distinctive characters, however improbably those characters may be. And that very improbability is a lot of what makes the story so very funny. That and the various manga/anime tropes and fourth-wall-breaking that get thrown in. A negative (for me; others might find it a positive) is that this volume is very full of fanservice, some of it kind-of explicit–which is kind of promised on the cover, so no surprises there. Just be aware of that going in. One final note is that Kirsten Moody’s accompanying artwork is fantastic, accentuating the light-novel style of the story beautifully while presenting the characters in a way that is very consistent with how they are shown in the story. On the whole, I think that for those who enjoy stories like To LOVE-Ru and Rosario  + VampireA Fox’s Love is a very amusing and enjoyable venture into this sort of story in an American, slightly parody-like flavor.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book from the author, which in no way alters the contents of this review.

 

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A Fox’s Tail

Author: Brandon VarnellA Fox's Tail

Illustrator: Kirsten Moody

American Kitsune, vol. 2

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Kevin Swift’s once-quiet (and relatively normal) life has been thrown into havoc by the intrusion of the kitsune yokai girl Lillian, who has made herself at home in his home and who boldly declares her affection for him at every opportunity. He’d probably be more accepting of her advances if he didn’t already have a crush on his friend Lindsay. . . . And a crippling inability to talk to girls without, oh, stammering, blushing, and passing out from embarrassment. Kevin’s starting to get used to having Lillian around though–probably just from overexposure, but whatever. In any case, he’s got enough coming to keep him busy, what with rivals for Lillian’s affection, suspicious teachers, a big track meet coming up, and a new enemy out for revenge (?). Definitely more than Kevin signed up for, not than anyone really asked him to begin with.

Reading A Fox’s Tail was an interesting experience, especially since I enjoy reading Japanese light novels quite a bit. This story is an American book in the light novel style, with numerous (overwhelmingly so) allusions to Japanese LNs, manga, anime, and games. I would almost say that it’s a parody of the style . . . or rather that on one level there’s a legitimate, enjoyable story that can be read for itself, and on another level there’s this huge, hilarious parody of all sorts of manga tropes. It’s definitely very funny, however you read it. There are distinct ties back to the classic ecchi romantic comedy genre–stories like To LOVE-Ru and Urusei Yatsura, for instance. Kevin is just the sort of guy you would expect to find in such stories (the best sort of guy to find in them)–sweet, innocent, and too kind for his own good. Just the sort of guy to get pulled around by everyone, right? And Lillian is the perfect character to throw at him–sexy, assertive, but ultimately concerned for Kevin’s well-being more than her own satisfaction (if a bit oblivious as to what Kevin actually wants). Plus there’s the added bonus that her extended presence seems to thrown the reality around her a bit (a lot) off the norm, to interesting effect. I give the author kudos for making the story genre-appropriately ecchi (warning for those who don’t like that sort of story!) while keeping it relatively free of inappropriate detail for the most part, considering that the genre is usually shounen (and thus, read by younger teens). On the negative side, there was more swearing than I prefer, more than was necessarily genre-appropriate, although that’s more of a personal preference for me. I think, because of its strong ties to otaku culture, that readers unfamiliar with that culture will largely be lost. However, for people familiar with anime and manga, I think A Fox’s Tail is likely to be seen in one of two ways: either an annoying American intrusion into the genre, or a funny, refreshing parody of the genre. Depends on the reader, but personally I enjoyed this story quite a bit.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book from the author, which in no way alters the contents of this review.

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Miyuki-chan in Wonderland

Mangaka: CLAMPMiyuki-chan in Wonderland

My rating: 4 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience

There are plenty of girls who would love some excitement in their lives. Miyuki-chan? Not so much. She’d be happy to be able to just go to school, work her part-time job, and hang out reading and playing video games like a normal girl. But Miyuki-chan has . . . a unique sort of problem. Adventure just seems to find her–and drag her into the midst of it, whether she wants to go or not. Whether it’s falling down the skating bunny-girl’s hole into Wonderland on the way to school or getting dragged straight into her video game to be the heroine, Miyuki-chan’s been there and done that. And probably will again. . . .

I may have mentioned before, but I love CLAMP’s manga, always. Having said that, Miyuki-chan in Wonderland is a bit different from anything else they’ve ever written. It consists of a series of short chapters (7 in all, fitting into a single manga volume), each focusing on a single, bizarre episode in Miyuki-chan’s life. I really like the character of Miyuki-chan; in a lot of ways, she’s your average high-school girl, only I’d say that she’s generally just a bit more blonde and go-with-the-flow in character than most. Overall, a nice kid though. The folks she runs in to on her adventures . . . not always so nice. And I must give the warning: this whole story is kind of yuri. I mean, there are some pretty sadistic individuals that Miyuki-chan encounters, all of them female. So, the end effect can be sort of hentai. One of the reasons I don’t like this one as much. But . . . Miyuki-chan always makes it out okay, so it’s not as creepy as it could be. And the situations she ends up in are certainly varied and imaginative–you kind of get the impression that the CLAMP members were just having fun and went with whatever they felt like writing at the time. On the plus side, there are some fun references, including references to other CLAMP works. (Oh, and I’ve mentioned this before, but check out Miyuki-chan making cameos all over the place in Tsubasa!) I guess I would mostly recommend Miyuki-chan in Wonderland to older readers who are familiar with CLAMP’s work and who enjoy something a bit off the wall (a more limited demographic than usual, I know).

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To LOVE-Ru

Author: Saki Hasemi

Illustrator: Kentaro Yabuki

Middle-school student Rito Yuuki is having love troubles–he thinks he’s in love with the adorable Haruna Sairenji, but he’s too shy and awkward to do a thing about it. The truth is, his troubles are just beginning! One evening as Rito is in the bath, feeling sorry for himself, a pretty girl rockets out of nowhere into the tub with him–a girl with a tail and not wearing anything! Turns out, this girl is Lala, princess of Deviluke, and an alien. Lala is on the run from all the “fiancés” who want to marry her because of her position, and she’s decided to declare her affection for Rito, make him her defender, and move in with him and his adorable sister Mikan. Poor Rito–even if he survives dealing with all the scary aliens who want to get to Lala through him, how will he explain the situation to Sairenji?!

I initially picked up To LOVE-Ru because it’s a fairly established and recognized series about which I was curious. Having read it, I have mixed impressions. First of all, I think comparisons with Urusei Yatsura are inevitable as both stories are essentially boy-meets-alien love stories. And there are definitely similarities, like the way poor Rito keeps getting dragged into situations because of people Lala knows or questionable alien tech she brings into the house. But the fact is that Ataru Moroboshi and Rito Yuuki are really different people, which definitely flavors the story differently. To LOVE-Ru ends up being sweet, cute, funny, episodic . . . and really ecchi/harem. It’s probably the most ecchi thing I’ve ever read. Which is honestly just weird, because Rito’s, like, the most innocent, non-ecchi person ever. He just keeps getting thrown in situations beyond his control–a fact that is underlined by the inclusion of a couple truly ecchi people who serve as foils for Rito’s noble but unfortunate self. I’m honestly kind of surprised that I stuck the story out for all 162 chapters because the ecchiness bugged me quite a bit, but I found the cuteness, humor, and relative innocence of the underlying story and the interesting range of characters sufficient to keep me interested in spite of that distaste. Having said that, I’m not sure that most people would concur; if you enjoy ecchi harem manga, To LOVE-Ru is probably a great choice for you, but otherwise, it’s probably best avoided. Your call.

Note: I think the word play in the title is fun; it’s a pun on the Japanese pronunciation of the English “love” (rabu) and “trouble” (toraburu). Fitting for all Rito-kun’s love troubles, ne?

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Landline

Author: Rainbow Rowell

If you found a magic phone that would call the past, would you use it to try to correct the mistakes you made back then? Surprisingly, TV comedy writer and mom Georgie McCool finds herself faced with just that question. Just as she and her husband Neal are packing up to take their two little girls, Alice and Noomi, to visit their grandparents in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie gets the breakthrough opportunity of a lifetime that she’s been waiting for, well, forever . . . only, she’ll have to stay in California over Christmas to make it happen. Neal leaves angry, taking the girls to Omaha; Georgie stays in California to work on their new show with her (male) BFF Seth. Or at least, she would be working if she weren’t so torn up over everything, especially Neal. So when she’s crashing at her mom’s place and none of the cell phones seem to be getting through to Omaha, Georgie tries plugging in her old landline phone . . . and quickly finds that she’s getting through, not to the Omaha of today, but to the Omaha of that Christmas years ago, right before Neal proposed to her. . . .

Rainbow Rowell’s books are always a treat, and Landline was no exception. The plot is both original and contemporary, yet at the same time, universal and timeless. And of course, the characters are priceless–authentic, real, almost tangible. It’s great that none of the characters in this story are at all like me, yet through Rowell’s writing, I can get into their heads a bit, understand who they are and why they made the choices they did. Not that I necessarily approve of all their choices (I can’t ever think that choosing career or dreams over family is a wise choice), but I can at least understand. The blend of romance, family, humor, drama, and geeky reference is nicely balanced throughout so the story never gets bogged down. The one thing that threw me when reading Landline was the Twilight Zone element–that’s not shown up in anything of Rowell’s that I’ve read before–but it worked with the story, so that’s okay. I really would recommend Landline for just about anyone looking for a fun, funny, sweet yet complicated adult romance . . . just be aware that it’s an adult story (18+, please).

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Gisou Honey Trap

Mangaka: Vanilla Yoshizawa

When his mom rather abruptly goes to join his dad in Paris (that’s just how she is, let’s face it), Keiichirou finds himself staying with his uncle and twin girl cousins in Japan. How nostalgic–he stayed with them like this once before, when they were quite little. Only he can’t remember that time at all. And the twins–Marie and Tomari–are clearly angry at him for not keeping a promise made back then. Which he can’t remember making. And wait, one of the twins is actually a boy?! What on earth is going on?!!!

Well, I must say that reading Gisou Honey Trap was interesting, although I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. I think to the extent that I was able to see it just as itself–as opposed to in the context of other manga and genres–it was interesting, touching, and funny, if a bit too ecchi for my taste. The trouble is that it tries to be ecchi seinen romantic comedy/harem (like Negima!  or Papa Kiki!) mixed with gender bender and shounen ai–which ends up being just a bit too sketch, if you follow. And a bit confusing. Still, the basic story was solid and internally consistent, the art was nice (typical seinen romcom), and the characters were solid, especially the twins. The tsundere-yandere double-hit was good for the comedy side of things, although the yandere part got a bit scary at times (which is kind-of the point, but still). I would say that for mature audiences who are interested in a short manga with some weirdness but some cute romance too, Gisou Honey Trap might be a fun diversion from the norm.

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Soul Eater NOT!

Bones Studio

Directed by Masakazu Hashimoto/Music by Asami Tachibana & Yuuki Hayashi/Based on the manga by Atsushi Ohkubo

Tsugumi Harudori is your average 14-year-old, dreamy-eyed Japanese schoolgirl. Or so she thought, until she started having parts of her body transform into weapon-like forms. Turns out, she’s your average 14-year-old, dreamy-eyed Japanese schoolgirl who just happens to have demon-weapon blood in here genes and who can transform into a halberd at will . . . or at least, she will be able to just as soon as she figures out how to control her powers. And so, Tsugumi ships off to the Death Weapon Meister Academy in the United States to get some training and pair up with a meister. She quickly makes some good friends there including two aspiring meisters–the tsundere Anya, who is fascinated with commoners and who clearly has a hidden past, and Meme, who is clearly capable and whose past might be just about anything . . . if she could only remember! Tsugumi’s life gets a bit more complicated when the three start rooming together–and when both of them declare their interest in partnering up with her. But with her groundless optimism, Tsugumi’s bound to find some way to work things out, right?

Soul Eater NOT! is a super-fun spinoff of Astushi Ohkubo’s master work, Soul Eater (which I highly recommend). While Soul Eater is rather dark and ominous–in a cool and adventuresome sort of way–Soul Eater NOT! is much more cute and slice-of-life (and just mildly shoujo ai). It’s a great story in its own right, but I think it has the greatest appeal for those who already know and love Soul Eater; NOT! is dated prior to the events of the original story, and it features all kinds of cameos and back-story to flesh out what you already know from the original (like how Jackie & Kim got together or the Thompson sisters’ job at Deathbucks coffee, complete with maid uniforms!). But even if you don’t know the original or like such an intense, action-packed story, Soul Eater NOT! has a certain appeal, definitely–the characters are wonderful, and the story is cute, fun, and just exciting enough. The art in the anime is very cute (the manga is too, but I haven’t had the chance to read all of it yet  and will review that separately)–it’s like a brighter, lighter version of the art in Soul Eater, but still stylistically consistent. The voicing and music is great, too, very fitting for the setting. (By the way, this is done by Bones Studio, one of my favorite anime studios ever. They do great work.) Soul Eater NOT! is definitely a recommended anime, especially for Soul Eater fans, but also for anyone who likes a cute, kind-of shoujo ai, kind-of mahou shoujo sort of story.

Note: This anime consists of 12 episodes. As of now, there is no English dub (not that I’d watch it anyway), but I am hoping for an American release sometime soon–please?

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