Showing posts with label teru teru x shonen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teru teru x shonen. Show all posts

Monday, July 19, 2010

Teru Teru x Shonen Volume 7

By Shigeru Takao. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by CMX.

By now, we're more than halfway through this series, and it's mostly abandoned all pretense that it's a light-hearted comedy. Not that it isn't still very good, but I think there's only one joke in this entire volume, when Harumi thinks that Shinobu and Saizo are sleeping together. And Shinobu has totally thrown off the mask of 'evil bitch' that she wore for the first couple of volumes.

But these aren't missed, as we're too busy coping with all the revelations we get here, and dealing with the emotional drama. The revelation that Shinobu made at the end of the last volume is expanded on, and helps to underscore that Shinobu has had a really crappy childhood. The scene where she gets the tattoo is portrayed about the same way that you would see a rape drawn in comics, which given that she's about six years old is terrifying.

The flashbacks keep coming, but at least this one's a little more lighthearted, as we see how Shinobu's mother Shoko first met her guardian Shogo (romanization makes things confusing), and the revelation about her true parentage. This too makes sense when you put it in context, and if nothing else helps to make all those earlier scenes of Shinobu in Shogo's bed slightly less creepy. But only slightly. The resolution of their story is obviously not going to go well (the danger of all flashbacks), but at least it's refreshing to see Shinobu's mother portrayed as something other than the cold and uncaring mistress that she has been to this point.

We're meant, of course, to see Shinobu and Saizo paralleled in her mother and Shogo, though things are at least slightly better this generation round. Shinobu's not as cloistered as her mother was, and she and Saizo are supposedly developing a closer relationship. I say supposedly as the two of them, especially Saizo, both have episodes of self-hatred that prevent them from ever truly committing to the other, so it's very much a case of "I will be with you forever, which will likely be until we are torn apart in a few months". Of course, I doubt this manga is going to end that badly, so look forward to seeing how it gets its happy ending.

Or I would look forward to it, if it weren't a CMX title. Sigh. Volumes 8-11 remain untranslated, and there's very little chance of a license rescue here. Which is a real wrench here as, unlike Stolen Hearts 2, this ends on a nasty cliffhanger where Shinobu's mother collapses at a hospital, coughing up blood. Since she and Shinobu have been edging, millimeter by millimeter, towards an understanding, this is rather vexing. Still, if you like dramatic ninja romance, I do recommend getting the 7th (and final?) Teru Teru x Shonen.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Teru Teru x Shonen Volume 6

By Shigeru Takao. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by CMX.

Those who know me well know that I have a certain bad habit of defending lost causes. Give me a series where there's a character everyone hates, and inevitably they will be my favorite. Likewise, give me a series people say is the worst thing ever, and I'll start talking about its virtues.

To be fair, Teru Teru x Shonen doesn't quite have the bad reputation that, say, The Magic Touch does. This is partly because it's a CMX title, so barely anyone sees it or hears of it beyond the blogosphere. But it's also because of many flaws that make it a hard title to get behind. Despite this, I think it's a series that rewards a patient reader with many sweet, suspenseful, and fun moments.

(I tend to pick on CMX for its lack of marketing quite a bit, but seriously. This is a romance manga about NINJAS! How are you letting the opportunity slip through your fingers?! There are teens out there who will buy anything that even looks like it has ninjas!)

To mention its faults, let's start with the heroine. Shinobu is a very typical Japanese shoujo trope, which is to say she's a girl who's had such a traumatic upbringing that she's found it easiest to live with a veneer of 'rich bitch' around her, so that no one gets close enough to hurt her. Unfortunately, she can sometimes be too good at this, and it becomes hard to like her. It doesn't help that the hero of this story, Saizo, tends to act like a doormat around her.

Well, most of the time. This manga juggles several plot balls, and one of them is that Saizo seems to have a touch of split personality. Glasses on, he's a wimpy wuss who cries and frets. Glasses off, he's a kick-ass ninja who'll destroy anyone who tries to hurt his Shinobu-sama. Volume 6 is an especially good one as Shinobu is starting to reveal her secrets to him, and also has confessed her love (after being double-dog-dared to by her mother, sort of). These two are terrified of ruining what they have, so communication is an effort.

We also get melodrama. If I had to describe the genre of this manga, I'd call it a potboiler. Shinobu's relationship with her mother is emotionally abusive, there are enemies constantly attempting to kidnap her, and to top it off, her revelation right at the end of the volume might turn everything around 180 degrees. And then there's Sasuke, who's dealing with his brother's betrayal. Really, this series reminds me a lot of Fruits Basket (which was running in Hana to Yume concurrently with this) in the way that it deals with angst. It starts off looking like a typical school comedy with an arrogant princess and her crybaby ninja, and then starts to reveal that every single person has a backstory from hell.

Oh, and for those who recall Shinobu's troubling relationship with her guardian, Shogo, you'll be relieved to hear that she decides to stop sleeping in his bed after confessing her love to Saizo. And thank God, frankly. Their casual affection was incredibly creepy.

There's not as much humor here as previous volumes, mostly as the plot is moving away from the school setting and into revelations and the ninja clan. The one amusing part is Shinobu and Saizo realizing that yes, the exams will contain everything they missed while away dealing with ninja plots, and that they don't get a free pass for being absent.

There's a few other issues. I understand CMX's decision not to translate the title, as it translates to 'Shiny-Shiny x Boy' literally (I think it's meant to reflect Shinobu and Saizo), but it makes it harder to sell to casual buyers. As always, CMX's lower paper quality might also stop a buyer. And there's an unfortunate tendency, whenever Shinobu tries to get involved and solve her own problems, to tell her that she should just sit back and let herself be protected or else she'll get hurt. Saizo is especially bad at this. I'm hoping that it's deliberate and making a point that will come to fruition later, because for the moment it reads like "Get back in your cage please, adorable little bird".

But overall, I think the good outweighs the bad. I always find myself eager to see what happens next. And now that we're over halfway through, I expect events to move even faster. If you want an angst-filled adventure with ninjas and princesses, this could be the title for you!