Bookmarked: Her Majesty’s Slam Papillion

Bookmarked

Her Majesty's DogHer Majesty’s Dog

Mangaka: Mick Takeuchi

Genre: Shoujo/Romance/Supernatural/School

Review Status: Incomplete (3 Volumes/11 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this is licensed in the U.S by Go!Comi

Art: This is shoujo, but it is more reminiscent of the 90’s shoujos than more modern works. However, the art is clean, the guys pretty, and there isn’t a whole lot to complain about.

Summary: Amane’s not like other girls. With her ice queen like demeanor and naivete, she’s become quite the misfit on campus. Even more unusual is her relationship with fellow transfer student Hyoue Inugame, the hottest guy in school. But the truth is that Amane is a powerful psychic and Hyoue is her guardian demon-dog, whose powers are fueled by her kiss! And when Amane lets her “dog” off his lease- no vengeful spirit is safe! (back cover of first volume)

Review: Black Bird has given me indigestion on supernatural romances for a while, but Her Majesty’s Dog is giving me some hope that solid ones are out there, waiting to be read! Her Majesty’s Dog keeps some of the familiar shoujo tropes but gives them a flair and explanation that I’m willing to run with because I like the characters so much. There are lots of brownie points for Amane, a girl who grew up incredibly sheltered because of her powers and because of it is entirely unaware of how to really act in average social situations. She might be kissing Hyoue to give him power but doesn’t have any special feelings for him, she doesn’t know how to stand up for herself (not that she particularly understands that she’s being ostracized), and she is comfortable doing her own thing without being influenced by anything other than her friends being in danger.What’s that? A girl who’s NOT being bowled over, hot and bothered by the handsome demon she’s kissing?!?! That’s right! She’s a hardheaded literalist. In a way, she reminds me a lot of Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club – Amane is cool as a cucumber and does what she feels is right. She sees Hyoue as a person, not a heart-fluttering stud. It’s really pretty awesome and I just love seeing how she navigates high school.

Hyoue is most definitely her loyal ‘dog’, and I can’t say much about his individual personality (overprotective brother-figure who can’t figure out he’s in love with Amane), and I’m not always okay with how their relationship builds. His big thing is that he enjoys getting kissed by Amane, even though he doesn’t need to in order to get life force to do his thing. Someone that oblivious about his feelings seems incredibly unlikely to be that unaware that he is in love with her. At the same time, because she’s so matter-of-fact about the whole thing (and is highly unlikely to have feelings for him at this point in the story) it makes for a hilarious comedy about unrequited adoration.

Backed up by two fairly forgettable friends, Hyoue and Amane deal with supernatural creatures that attack and invade their school and classmates. Sometimes the stories are a little scary, most of the time they’re not, and dealing with them seems to be an utterly secondary plot to the romcom that’s happening. It’s okay though, because it’s funny and interesting and far better than the last one I read. It’s not great, but it’s a solid story.

Recommended: 13+. There isn’t a whole lot that’s particularly scandalous in here except a few kisses. The most gruesome thing is the depiction of a vengeful ghost that’s slit her throat. There are a few instances of violence and some blood.

Overall rating: 7/10. It has its own issues, but characters can make an average plot shine.

Slam DunkSlam Dunk

Mangaka: Takehiko Inoue

Genre: Sports/School/Shounen

Review Status: Incomplete (3 Volumes/31 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this is licensed in the U.S by Viz Media

Art: This started publishing in 1990, so it looks it – the art is more realistic than most shounen today, but I really, really like it. The girls and guys look real. Except for the occasional chibi, there’s no exaggerated features. Every character is incredibly distinct. And fanservice is pretty much nonexistent – the girls are cute because they are CUTE.

Summary: Basketball. The court, the ball, the hoop. The hopes, the dreams, the sweat. It takes dedication and discipline to be the best, and the Shohoku High hoops team wants to be just that – the best. They have one year left to make their captain’s dream of reaching the finals come true – will they do it? Takehiko Inoue’s legendary basketball manga is finally here, and the tale of a lifetime is in your hands! Hanamichi Sakuragi’s got no game with girls –  none at all! It doesn’t help that he’s known for throwing down at a moment’s notice and always coming out on top. A hopeless bruiser, he’s been rejected by 50 girls in a row. All that changes when he meets the girl of his dreams, Haruko, and she’s actually not afraid of him! When she introduces him to the game of basketball, his life is changed forever…. (back cover of first volume)

Review: What would you do for a Klondike bar girl you were in love with? Bring her flowers? Take her to a concert? Join a basketball team? If you picked Option #3, then you’re in the same boat as Hanamichi Sakuragi – a brash punk that will say and do anything to get the girl. Unfortunately, the girl only has eyes for a certain basketball player, so Sakuragi decides he’s got to one-up that boy by becoming a star basketball player.

These three volumes don’t miss a beat with setting up the main storyline and starting the rivalry. Right off the bat Sakuragi meets Haruko and decides that he can’t stand being rejected anymore – he’s going to do everything he can to defeat the (somewhat jerkish) Rukawa. Standing in the way of his dreams is Gori, the team captain, who sees Sakuragi for the hotheaded amateur that he is. Sakuragi talks big but really knows nothing about basketball except the slam dunk, so they have to build him into a player from the ground up. It’s a constant struggle between Sakuragi and Gori as they butt heads on who plays and does what and how Sakuragi is incredibly subversive and petty in his rivalry with Rukawa. Sakuragi needs some severe reigning in and it’s Gori’s job to do it.

By the end of the first three volumes there’s already a practice match set up between their team and a rival school, and it’s setting up to be the moment when Sakuragi is cut down to size…perhaps becoming more determined to be a good basketball player while he’s at it. However, he’s also started to really consider himself a basketball player: he took on the Judo team captain to say so…and get some cute pics of Haruko, but that’s beside the point. In private he defended his team and that has started earning him brownie points with the basketball captain. He might… just MIGHT… start earning some respect if he can learn to keep his trap shut.

Recommended: 12+. When all is said and done, it’s about basketball. There’s no language (so far, but there was an obvious edit for it). The guys do go to peek at the girls in their gym uniforms, but there’s no fanservice shots of boobs or butts. There is one panel where the captain’s shorts are accidentally pulled down, and you can see his butt, but it’s not up-close-and-personal.

Overall Rating: 9/10. There’s a GTO vibe here which I like, and while the story is fast-paced it still flows really well. And it’s a lot of fun!

PapillonPapillon

Mangaka: Miwa Ueda

Genre: Romance/School/Shoujo

Review Status: Incomplete (4 Volumes/8 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed in the U.S by Kodansha and Del Rey.

Art: Pretty detailed, for a shoujo. I’m a little surprised at how nice it looks. It also does a great job of making the twins look super-similar but not indistinguishable, which really works for a few of the arcs.

Summary: It’s no fun being a high school outcast. It’s even harder when your twin sister is the most popular girl in school! The ultra-glam Hana is the ultimate teen queen, but her sister, Ageha, is just a shy tomboy. Hana loves being the center of attention so much that she’ll do anything to keep her sister in her shadow. But Ageha has a plan that will change her life. Because no one, not even Hana, can hold Ageha back forever… (back cover of 1st volume)

Review: Papillion might be slowly growing into one of the shoujo manga I’m more fond of. Why? Because even though this is a sort-of love triangle, it puts sibling rivalry at the forefront and makes a genuine attempt to deal with the fallout from two sisters having been raised in different environments.

Instead of painting one girl as the mean one or making their relationship shallow with easily resolved issues, Papillion decides to go the route of giving them genuine problems and psychological traumas that require actual talking out and therapy. Therapy? In ANY manga? Unheard of! But it’s true and having a counselor as a love interest means that this manga can realistically discuss and (okay, only semi-realistically) resolve them. Hanako has abandonment issues and inferiority issues that play out in her life, making her unable to really attempt to befriend her sister.

This starts out as a typical love triangle. Hanako and her sister are in love with the same guy, but since Hanako’s twin confesses first she gets the guy. An inspirational talk with the counselor after her rejection gives her the confidence to keep pursuing  she starts gaining athe boy (in addition to growing a backbone and gaining some friends in class), but with the growth of her self-esteem she finds that she has fallen in love with the counselor that helped her out to begin with. If you’re looking at this as a serious love story, it actually comes off more as she fell in love with him because he’s the first person to have actually supported her and isn’t actually love. Taken as shoujo fluff, it’s still because he’s the first person to have supported her and has the potential – okay, will for sure – turn into True Love! What I appreciate is not how creepy this occasionally comes across, but how the crush allows her to experiment and experience important lessons in personal growth and relationships. The counselor also knows what the boundaries are and tries to stick to them, minus a kiss or two.

Her sister isn’t left high and dry either – the same issues with perception and popularity have left their mark on her, which leaves her with severe trust issues that need time and space to be worked out. However, Hanako’s insecurities and lapses into obsessive behavior – stalking her boyfriend, becoming jealous when any girl even looks at him – means that her sister has an even harder time breaking her own jealous behaviors and dealing with her own issues. Hanako’s sister loves being able to ‘win’ over her sister at anything, simply because she

 

In many ways, this is a shoujo with a side of real life lessons that every girl should take away, and I appreciate that a lot. I’m hoping that this will embody the Gestalt prayer that’s quoted in the series:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.

The lesson Hanako takes away from this is the right one – that she needs to be her own person and if it works out, it will work out.

Recommended: 15+. This has some tricky situations involving teacher/student romance and mentioning the possibility of sex between them (obviously a major no-no here in the Western world).

Overall Rating: 7/10. It’s an interesting story but it can touch on some tricky subjects.

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OASG Team

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