Plum Crazy: Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat / Kijitora Neko no Koume-san (Vols. 1 & 2) by Natsumi Hashing

81BdjUnfPUL.jpg

I’ve reverted to my old ways. When I was working at the library on Saturday, I picked up the first two volumes of Kijitora Neko no Koume-san / Plum Crazy: Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat, which is pretty much a story about owing cats… and not much else.

AND I LOVED IT.

The cats in this story don’t even have thought-bubbles like in Chi’s Sweet Home, though Plum, in particular, is clearly very intelligent.  But, otherwise, yeah, it’s about cats getting up cat stuff.

Kijitora_neko_no_Koume-san-58377e8cddee9.jpg

 

I mean not that I’m complaining! I read both volumes and would easily have read the next two if #3 had been at the library.

I’m fairly bummed that no one is scanlating this one for all y’all, because it’s really adorable. (There are four volumes that have been officially translated in English, via Seven Seas Entertainment--a publisher I’ve never heard of, but apparently they also translated My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, which I have been wanting to read since forever…)  Baka-Updates says there are 17 volumes out in Japan.

That’s a lot of cats… just doing cat stuff.

Cats are endlessly entertaining and adorable. The Nakarai family–a mom and her son–run a traditional dance studio, though we see almost nothing of their lives, except for the one time Plum tags along with Taku (the son) to his school to try to get away from the tail-bitting kitten, Snowball, that Plum rescued.

In many ways, I could write this, given that I have five cats at home… and there’s always a lot of tail-biting adventures here. Yet, it’s charming and engaging. The art is particularly adorable, IMHO.

This reminds me, in a semi-unrelated note, I’m SUPER excited that an actual CAT CAFE is opening up in Minneapolis (just across the river from me), called Café Meow.  When it opens, I plan to go and take all the pictures.

Advertisements

Renai Crown / Crown of Love (Volume 1) by Kouga Yun

i72070.png

Another one of the random volumes that I picked up at the library’s book sale, was this one: Renai Crown / Crown of Love. 

I guess I should have checked to see if they had the other three volumes, as there’s currently no one scanlating it.  The link takes you to an official preview of this volume at Viz Media’s site.

This would be more of a bummer, if I wanted to read any more of it.  I don’t.

 

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

When my son saw me reading this, he asked what it was about–because, really, the cover gets you nothing, other than a vague impression of ‘maybe….romance?’  I described it to him like this:  This guy, our hero, literally bumps into a rock idol on a train.

crownoflovespread

He’s from some Japanese version of Julliard, who has apparently never heard of rock music and has no idea who this pretty girl is, but, you know, she’s HOT. So, it’s love at first sight and he becomes a mega-fan, super-stalker to the point of becoming an idol himself in order to pursue her.

I mean, that’s basically it.

I guess, he’s able to get a chance at being a idol because he’s a violin player and the son of an opera star. Plus, Ikeshiba, the fox-like, (non-eye opening sort) manager of Rima, the female idol, spots him and scouts him with a, “You’re just a fan boi, you’re in different worlds. Now if you’re a fellow idol… maybe things will be different….”

Maybe this is marketed as josei because there’s almost nothing healthy about any of the relationships in this manga.

For instance, when our hero, Hisayoshi tells his family he’s going to quit violin lessons and become a rock idol, his dad beats him up.  His dad beats his mom at one point, as well as the manager/fox Ikeshiba.  Dad is a violent creep, and at one point Hisayoshi looks at his parents’ relationship and even says, “Man, I don’t want to end up like them, in a one-sided thing.” Then he literally thinks: “Huh, yeah, except that’s exactly what I’m doing. Oh well!”

I can NOT imagine this is going to end well.

crownoflove2spread.jpg

No one, but come on… even if you two get together, I’m not sure I’m rooting for you.

I mean, maybe it gets better?  If other people have read the rest of this and love it (or hate it), please let me know.

Haru ga Kita / Spring Has Come by Kome Mochino

i270230.png

Okay, so I’m a terrible person. Once again, I discovered manga via a very porny screenshot on Tumblr.

The rest of the story is nothing like this particular chapter (#5) of Haru ga Kita / Spring Has Come.  Chapter 5 is a flashback that goes very dark. Turns out that our young gigolo, Sakura, has had a very rough (in all senses of that word) past.

But, I get ahead of myself.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

Komatsu Kaede is a virginal nerd. The “spring” that he’s awaiting is… well, I think the English-language analog would be his “deflowering.” (I think the ‘pun’ / play on words here would still work, given that the name ‘Sakura’ is both a flower and a CHERRY….)

Kaede’s life should be more successful. He got the grades, got into the good school, but now he finds himself overqualified for most of the work that’s on offer.  Everyone around him seems to be having a better life.  He’s got enough money, but he doesn’t have ANY of the things that make a person happy.  No friends, no lover… not even random hot sex.

001.png.jpeg

Until he realizes, you CAN actually buy love… or at least sex.

He literally trips and falls into the entry way of a sex boutique, as it is later called.  And, Kaede thinks to himself, “Isn’t it normal to want something like this?”

So he goes in.

By chance, he ends up being hooked up with one of the more popular gigolos, Sakura.  Sakura had a client cancel just as Kaede (literally) stumbles in.  Fate brings them together… but fate does not stop Kaede from being his typical awkward nerdy self. The “date” ends up as a fumbling hand hold, which is more physical affection than Kaede has had in decades and so he breaks down to tears.

This, of course, charms our jaded gigolo.  As the time runs out, Sakura gives Kaede a gentle kiss, tucks a scarf around his neck, and sends him on his way home with a “y’all come back soon, you hear!”

It takes nervous nelly Kaede some time to go back.  In fact, one of the office ladies convinces him to get contacts finally and you know, just be the fabulous gay boy he obviously is….

010.png

I feel this accurately reflects my life in so many ways: “You’re so gay,” they say.  Me, “Yeah.” Me, two beats later, “Wait. What?”

He goes back and returns Sakura’s scarf… only, he’s so nervous that Sakura is leaving by the time he worked up the courage. They end up walking and talking hand-in-hand.

This is SO SWEET.

The whole time I’m reading these adorable interactions I’m thinking: “I bet that tag was wrong on Tumblr. This is a totally different yaoi. Oh, well, I like this one!!”

There’s a bit of a looming threat in later chapters when a mysterious, possibly threatening stalker of Sakura’s makes an appearance. Luckily, Sakura seems to have a creepy, over protective uncle who makes a random appearance.

And, then we hit the flashback chapter and I’m like… OH.  Oh, my.

It’s not like there aren’t hints that this story has its darker side.  I highly doubt someone goes into sex work (especially this kind, where it’s like hourly wages,) for the fun of it. So, the idea that maybe Sakura’s life hasn’t been all rainbows and roses up to this point is pretty much implied, especially given how moved he is by Kaede’s simple kindnesses.

As I have confessed many times before, gentle reader, I tend to rather enjoy these darker stories…. I have a particularly odd weakness for stories involving sex work, so Haru ga Kita / Spring Has Come totally worked for me.

I’m disappointed that it’s not completely scanlated yet, however.  This is what, the third or fourth manga I’ve found this year, that I’m going to have to try to remember to check back into?

Sigh.

My advice would be to book this one, if you have the same interests / proclivities as I do, and wait for a few more chapters to appear before starting it. Baka-Updates seems to believe that this manga is complete in one volume, so there’s probably no more than two or so chapters left to be scanned, if that many.

Karin / Chibi Vampire (Volume 1) by Kagesaki Yuna

Chibi_Vampire,_manga_Volume_1.jpg

My library has a “bookstore” where you can buy the books that have been donated to the library and/or which the library is weeding out of its collection for various reasons.  I sometimes find manga there, but only rarely.  Last time I went, they had an entire book cart FULL of manga for sale. Did I mention the price?  25 cents a piece (5 for a dollar)!!

How could I resist?  Of course, I ended up walking out with an armload. I mean, at those prices even the dudiliest duds are worthwhile.

Thus, I picked up every copy of Bleach they had (for reasons), and any title that had a first volume.  Among those random titles was this one, Karin / Chibi Vampire. 

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

Karin6.jpg

Karin, as she says in the panel above, is an abnormal vampire.  Once a month, she gets an excess of blood that she ends up expelling… violently–usually in the form of an explosive nosebleed.  (The Japanese mangaka and their nosebleeds, eh? I swear to all the gods, that if I ever go to Japan and high schoolers aren’t having spontaneous nosebleeds 24/7, I am going to be SORELY DISAPPOINTED.)

The plot of the first volume centers around that other perennial favorite, The Transfer Student (Kenta Usui).  For some reason, whenever Karin is close to Kenta, her body goes into blood production overtime.  This is a problem for a number of reasons, but not the least of which is that she’s trying to keep her identity as a vampire a secret from her classmates.

Except Kenta sees her in the park, after school, where she bites a sad sack salaryman, and he mistakenly thinks she’s prostituting herself. Hilarity ensues.

It’s unclear at this point in the story why it is that Karin, unlike the rest of her family, can go out during the day, but she can and so she’s been not only attending high school, but also keeping a part-time job at the local market… where Kenta also ends up employed.

Karin’s initial solution to the Kenta problem is to avoid him, so she basically quits going to school or work.  This distresses her family for some reason (they are VERY KEEN that she go to school, even though none of the rest of them can.)  Her older brother is deployed to teach her the proper ways of survival.

I kind of like the slutty older brother, Ren. He prefers spending his days in women’s beds, drinking their blood. But we find out something interesting in the outing with onii-chan:  vampires prefer certain types of blood.  Their mother loves the blood of liars.  Ren wants the blood of the stressed-out–and, it turns out, the more of their blood he drinks, the more relaxed they become.

MR-20237-328721-28.jpg

By extension, this means that if Karin’s mom drinks the blood of liars, they become more honest.

This is kind of a neat idea, IMHO.

If I come across others of these, I may read them, if only because I’m curious to know how much this idea gets explored.

The only caveat I have in recommending this series is the fan service. There isn’t a HUGE amount of it, but we get some panty shots and whatnot.  Ah, shounen.

The art is also… old? It was originally published in 2003.

BJ Alex by Mingwa

20180108_201728-21977576981.png

So, I guess I can’t just rest on my laurels forever and need to get back to work reviewing all the smutty-smut times for all y’all, eh?

Right-o, here we go!

Over at Mangago, I discovered BJ Alex a manhwa, which does, as it happens, involve ‘bj’s, but B.J., in this case, ALSO stands for “broadcasting jockey.

Broadcasting jockeys are basically like American / English-language YouTubers, only not always as structured, from what I can gather. There are, for instance, mukbang, in which people cook and eat food, live, while people ‘chat’ with them.  It may seem strange, but I’ve watched a few (mukbang came up as a topic of conversation with a friend of mine that lives in Taiwan and I was curious, okay?), and they’re really not ALL that different than watching Markiplier play the latest horror game.

However, our fictitious “BJ Alex’ puts on a more salacious show, shall we say.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

Our hero, the unfortunately named, Dong-gyun, is an extreme fanboy of ‘BJ Alex’ who normally appears in a mask.

185916_2320478

Watching ‘BJ Alex’ is a serious devotion for Dong-gyun.

But, life continues apace for Dong-gyun, until one day, when he runs into a hot ‘sunbae’ (the Korean version of ‘-sempai’), Ahn Jiwon, who invites him to the drinks… with the college’s entire Computer Information Science Department.

There goes poor Dong-gyun’s chance at actual, real-life sex.

Worse, he gets stuck next to an annoying ‘sunbae’ who thinks it’s hilarious to torture the underclassmen by getting them super-drunk. Dong-gyun is a lightweight and when everyone else is ready to move on to the next pub, he’s so sloshed, he’s face-planted and unable to form coherent sentences.  Luckily, the hot ‘sunbae’ who invited him (who just happens to be the school president) takes responsibility and gets Dong-gyun home…. where Dong-gyun promptly pukes all over him.

The puking serves two purposes: it sobers up Dong-gyun a bit AND it means that the hotty, Ahn Jiwon, has a reason to take off his shirt.

Dong-gyun has studied every inch of ‘BJ Alex’s body and he INSTANTLY recognizes that Ahn Jiwon is, in fact, ‘BJ Alex.’  This is not as much of  stretch as you might think, as ‘BJ Alex’ does have a fairly distinctive birthmark on his torso and, if that weren’t enough, a mole on his neck.

Alex/Ahn Jiwon is NOT happy at being discovered.  He demands that Dong-gyun keep the secret–which Dong-gyun is perfectly willing to do… if he could just get a hug.

Alex/Ahn Jiwon is surprised that that’s all Dong-gyun demands for his silence, so he complies. Only… Dong-gyun is super into it, which Ahn Jiwon finds kind of adorable… and things start to progress from there until Ahn Jiwon discovers that Dong-gyun is a virgin.

At that point he calls it off, and says, we’re done. It was nice knowing you, thanks for being a super-fan, but  no more contact and for gods’ sake don’t act like we know each other at school.

Except, of course, there are tons of awkward meetings at school and elsewhere.

They mostly manage to stay apart, until… during the next show Ahn Jiwon discovers he has a new problem:

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 7.18.19 PM.png

So, what will you tell him, Ahn Jiwon…?

What solution do you think Ahn Jiwon comes up with?  Wanna guess? Wanna?

.

.

.

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 7.23.15 PM.png

If you guessed, “Let’s be sex friends,” you’d be right.

Then the conflict becomes the new caveat that Ahn Jiwon lays down: We can f*ck, but you CAN NOT fall in love with me, okay?

The chapters ran out before I could find out, but I suspect that’s going to work just as well or Ahn Jiwon as all the other ultimatums he’s uttered.

Fingers crossed, anyway.

So, yeah, I found myself charmed by this.  Alex/Ahn Jiwon is kind of a sociopath in that he seems to have this darker side hidden underneath is Alex/Class President persona, but I’m super-duper enamored with Dong-gyun.  For a character whose salient personality trait is that he goes home to masturbate to a video star every single night, he’s actually kind of adorkable and relatable. He’s got a goofy, super-gay friend that works with him at the coffee shop, and I kind of love how VIRGINAL he is.  It’s actually, for once, not that hard to figure out why Alex/Ahn Jiwon falls for the guy.

I’m going to be checking back into this one, too.

Liebester Award Nomination 2018

liebsterawards.png

A big thank you to TinyUglyAnimal for nominating Mangakast for the Liebester Award. I love checking into TinyUglyAnimal to read their 30-Day Anime challenge, so you should do the same.

 

According to the rules of the award, I need to answer the questions offered to me below.

What would be much better if you could just change the color of it? My eyes. I have the most boring “hazel” eyes and I think I’d’ve been much more likely to be a lost heir or an anime hero if only my eyes were purple.

When was the last time you screamed at the top of your lungs? Hard to say since I’m likely to do it at any time. I’m not shy about screaming; I find screaming very cathartic.

What was the weirdest conversation you have overheard? This is a difficult one, because most of the weird conversations I’ve overheard are actually easily explained away by fandom. I’ve overheard lots of people, for instance, talking about killing dragons and whatnot, but they’re usually just D&D players.

What do you dislike but have no good reason for disliking? Using “female” or “male” as a noun.  I mean, technically, my reason for hating this is that it’s not grammatically correct, but anyone who knows me knows that I’m a staunch supporter of the flexibility and changeability of the English language.  I will fight to the death someone’s right to misuse “literally.” Literally is now a modifier and means figuratively, so deal with it. English is mob ruled. BUT, that being said, my teeth go on edge when someone says, “I love strong females.” I start internally screaming: You like strong women or maybe you mean to say strong female characters. God damn it, woman is the noun; female is the adjective. 

What ice-cream flavor is absolutely disgusting? Does such a thing exist?  I suppose, maybe, garlic?  I haven’t tried it, though, so I wouldn’t write it off until I have.

What food would be the best to make a house out of? Carrots?  They’re pretty stable in the cold and high heat and I wouldn’t be tempted to eat my own house. Though, probably we’d have a rabbit problem.

What’s the worst you’ve seen someone screw up on social media? The English language?  I dunno, I mean, my interactions on social media mostly involve laughing at cute videos of hamsters eating things and .gifs of anime.  I don’t know how you’d screw that up.

What is the ugliest thing you own? I’m feeling very judged here. I suppose I have some clothes left over from the 1980s?

What view would you most like to have out of your window? The Jimbocho District in Tokyo.

What’s the worst thing a person can do that isn’t illegal? Sneeze without covering.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve found something that you lost? The fridge.  My wife will sometimes stash horror novels that she’s afraid of in the freezer.  This habit means that sometimes, without thinking, other things you’d never expect to find in the freezer show up there.

Now, I need to nominate 5-11 bloggers.  I nominate: 100WordAnimeLesley’s Anime and Manga CornerI Drink and Watch AnimeExploring the World of Anime and Manga, Will Tell Stories for Food, and KawaiiPaperPandas

To them, I give these 11 questions:

  1. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
  2. Do you have a favorite font?
  3. When you were small, what did you want to be when you grew up?  What’s your dream job now? Has it changed?
  4. Do you have a pet? (If yes, pictures, please!)
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and how long would you like to stay?
  6. If you could live in any fantasy setting (book, movie, anime, manga, comic book, game, etc.,) where would you chose?
  7. What’s the last thing you read? Did you enjoy it?
  8. What is to the right of you right now?
  9. What’s to the left of you right now?
  10. Do you have a favorite color? If so, what is it? Has that changed since you were little?
  11. How annoying do you find lists of questions you’re required to answer on a scale of 1 (being “I love them, are you kidding!”) to 10 (being “with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns!!!!”)?

But, in all seriousness, thank you very much again to TinyUglyAnimals.  It’s an honor to be nominated for an award that describes itself this way: “The Liebster Award 2018 is an award that exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.”

Nominees, your rules are below!


Red-Wire

RULES

  1. Display Award (Official site here)
  2. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  3. Answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.
  4. Nominate 5 – 11 bloggers.
  5. Go to the official site and register your post about this nomination.

 

Cat Paradise / Gakuen Sousei Nekoten! (Vol. 1) by Iwahara Yuji

gakuen-sousei-nekoten-927691

Long time reader and commenter here on MangaKast, AuntyA, has suggested that she thinks my library must be magical.

I have to agree that it is pretty amazing the number and variety of manga I have checked-out from Ramsey County Library.  In fact, just last week, I picked up this–one I’d never see there before:  Gakuen Sōsei Nekoten! / Cat Paradise.  (I was also able to snag a half-dozen random first volumes of manga they were weeding out of the collection in their Friends of the Library sale, so you’re going to see some odd titles come through here in the next several weeks.)

The back cover copy of Cat Paradise reads:

At Matabi Academy, students are allowed to bring their pet cats to the dorms. For Yumi Hayakawa, whose favorite hobby is making clothes for her kitty Kansuke, Matabi seems like a sure bet. After all, nothing can possibly go wrong with her best friend at her side! But on the first day of school, the two find themselves face-to-face with a murderous demonic minion on campus! Will Yumi and Kansuke be able to defend themselves and their school against an ancient cat demon’s thirst for vengeance?

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

There were several things I liked about this story, though.  At the beginning of the manga, Yumi talks to her cat, Kansuke, and he talks back, but it becomes clear very quickly that Yumi doesn’t understand him.  It’s cute, because it goes against expectation (even though they are able to understand each other later, thanks to a magical encounter with a pair of guardian spirits.)

MR-2951-49918-6.jpg

There’s, of course, a whole cadre of special students, who have gained the ability to not only talk to their cats, but to have some kind of companion powers with them.  (Kansuke develops the ability to jump into Yumi’s ugly knitted sweaters and become human temporarily.) All the special students have been chosen by the guardian spirit because, buried deep under campus, is a bound evil cat spirit that they are one day expecting to have to fight.

Surprise, surprise, the time is now.

The evil cat spirit’s minion shows up and causes trouble (later possessing the body of the vice-principal).  I found the design of the minion to be creepy-cool:

tumblr_otxiepWHPD1tpsgabo1_1280.jpg

He loves his hair, which is, we discover, the hair of severed human heads he wears.

 

I actually found a couple other volumes of this at the Friends’ sale, so I may continue to read this.  I’m not super sold on this (I mean, it’s got action, but nothing about this set-up stands out to me particularly), but it’s complete at five volumes, which has a certain appeal.  Plus, I’m enough of a straight-up shounen fan that I find an easy sort of pleasure in finding out what the superpower cat & human combos are of the various members of the student council (our secret cabal of guardians.)

And, you know, I like cats.

I mean, my heartstrings were pulled when I found out the reason that Kansuke fights so hard to protect Yumi:

MR-2951-49919-14.jpg

She saved the kitty from getting run over… *sniff* What? You’re crying, I’m not crying.