Sunday, September 23, 2012

Manga Review: Otomen, Volume 13, by Aya Kanno

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 16+

Goodreads Synopsis:

Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences rated teen. Asuka Masamune is a guy who loves girly things--sewing, knitting, making cute stuffed animals and reading shojo comics. But in a world where boys are expected to act manly, Asuka must hide his beloved hobbies and play the part of a masculine jock instead. Can Asuka ever show his true self to anyone, much less to Ryo Miyakozuka, the girl that he's falling for?

Ryo ends up coaching a high school judo team, but women aren’t allowed at that school! She finds a way around this obstacle, but the real challenge comes when she finds herself facing off against...Asuka?


This was probably my favorite Otomen volume in a while. I’m not sure since when, but I’ve been a bit not-very enthusiastic about this series. Maybe it’s partly because the recent ones just haven’t been that good, but I’m sure it’s also  partly because they haven’t been coming out very often. We’re almost, pretty much, caught up with Japan, so it’s been very slow. And that has lessened my enthusiasm by a lot, I’m sure. Which sucks, because while this wasn’t my favorite, I did really enjoy this series.
This volume, though, was awesome.
Mostly, it focuses on Ryo. Incidentally, she ends up being dragged into helping out another schools’ judo club, because she ‘hurt’ their captain. It’s an all-boys’ school, so she has to pretend to be a boy, but she doesn’t really mind that. Asuka, though, is a bit worried that she’s been busy and hasn’t told him why. Juta is worried about their relationship because they’re his friends, but also because he doesn’t know what to do with his manga. And when he sees Ryo going inside her house, he mistakes her for a boy and tells Asuka. The only reason this is really believable, though, is because she’s wearing a wig with even shorter hair than her own, a different school uniform, and she actually does look different.
Of course, though, upon first sight, not even seeing the front of her, Asuka knows that it’s Ryo. Which is just… so sweet. And so unbelievably awesome.
Aside from that, though, the captain of the club starts getting feelings for Ryo, and is confused until he finds out that he’s actually the she that kicked his butt. Not very much happens between them, though; mostly, it focuses on him and his teammates, and how he was a bully to them but actually cares and how they want to do good for him. This was… alright. I felt that he really shouldn’t have been as much of a jerk as he was, and that the other students shouldn’t have looked up to him for it.
The thing that I was most interested in, though, was Ryo and Asuka’s relationship. At one point, Ryo worries about it, too, and it was nice getting to see her thoughts on it. They have a date after that big storyline, during Christmas, where she tells him that she loves him. I was disappointed that the chapter ended there, though, and we didn’t get to see his reaction or them talk about it, or any of that romantic stuff that I love reading about.
The last chapter of the volume is Valentine’s Day, where the guys all bake a cake and go to give it to someone. Tonomine (the makeup guy) gives it to some woman whose face we don’t get to see, Kitora (the flower guy) gives it to Kuriko, in a very sweet, cute scene, but I don’t really remember her? I think, maybe, she’s related to Juta? But maybe not? I… I’m probably going to have to go look in the previous volumes.
Juta doesn’t really have anyone to give it to. And when Asuka’s cake gets crushed, he decides to make her another one. Only, after getting an epiphany or something, he makes her a ring with a chocolate (I’m guessing it’s chocolate; it could also be not-edible) rose after looking in a storeroom window with a wedding gown. This was super sweet, but still, I would have liked some more outright romance, instead of the subtly sweet; but that is kind of what this series does when it comes to romance: subtle.
Also in this volume, Asuka starts wondering about his future. Most people seem to know what they want, but his mother wants him to take over the family company, while he would rather be a chef or something along those lines.
This volume has gotten me excited for what’s next. I want to see what happens with everyone; I definitely want to see what happens between Asuka and Ryo. They are so cute together. This series isn’t really about the outright romantic, dramatic moments, and while I would really like to see some of those, I accept that I probably won’t get very many. I mean, I haven’t gotten to see the two kiss and they’ve been together a while (that would really be a scene I would love to see, though).
It’ll probably be a while till the next one comes out, but I am glad that I’m really looking forward to it this time.

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