Sunday, July 14, 2013

Manga Review: Otomen, Volume 15, by Aya Kanno

Rating (Out of 5): ~4-4.5
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 18
Spoilers?: Some, major ones with warning.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A shojo series that features handsome, manly men who have cute, girly hobbies!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?

Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences.

Something Specific:

  • "'No one is perfect. Everyone has things they can’t do or aren’t good at. I think we should support each other and teach each other how to do things…’” Says Ryo.
  •  "'Looking manly, or being strong, isn’t what being cool is about. I think it’s about being open-hearted.’ […] ‘Good or bad, you accept yourself. It’s strength of the heart.’” Again, says Ryo. Isn’t she just amazing? More about her below.


So, I don’t really know what happened, given how before I was just enjoying the series, but now I’m kind of in love with it. It’s just… this volume was so good. It just was. And I loved it. And I really want the next one now.
The first half of the volume focuses on Tonomine, who I like, but am not a huge fan of. Still, the story was entertaining. I feel for Tonomine, I’m glad for how his story turned out. He’s being pressured by his dad to go into politics, while he wants very badly to be a makeup artist, and his sister knows this. There’s also a bridal show, which includes Asuka and Ryo and is just kind of cute. And even while it was being super cheesy, I was, for some reason, grinning. It was just so enjoyable, I don’t know why.
One of my problems with this series, I think, is that there’s so much drama and anguish over something, like how Tonomine’s father will react, and then it just turns out like roses and butterflies at the end. The conclusions are just too sweet, and sometimes the setups are too convenient. This bothers me, but I try not to let it, because I still really enjoy this series.
After Tonomine, the story shifts to focus on Yamato. Yamato is just an okay character, really, but I really enjoyed his storyline here. He has a hard time with the fact that he looks girly, because he wants to be so manly and tough. And then a guy who he used to go to school with, who bullied him, shows up and Yamato tells him that Ryo is his girlfriend. He doesn’t tell anyone else this, Ryo has no idea, and yet his charade goes on. And turns out rather well for him in the end, as he learns to embrace his girly looks, in a rather awesome, hilarious way. This whole half of the volume had me grinning and laughing, honestly, and I’m not even sure why. It was just so good.
The best part about this whole volume, though, was Ryo. I just love her. I don’t even know how to express my utter love for her, but she is simply amazing, and I love her. She’s so simple minded, and tough, and oblivious. And she’s so open, and happy to try anything. She’s not a good cook, but she tries anyway; she’s a girl and it’s unconventional, but she’ll happily fight with anyone. I mean, Yamato and his old bully are fighting it out at carnival games, trying to prove who is tougher, and she is beating all of their asses at everything, without even realizing what this means to them. And then, when she realizes Yamato is having a hard time with his self-confidence, she spouts off, twice, with very helpful advice, without even realizing how helpful she is being to him. I just love her, and I want more of her. I want her to get more focus in later volumes; I want her to get all the focus, really, because I want her, all the time. More of her. Please?
Anyway, on the romance front. (SPOILERS!) So, Yamato comes to realize that he’s kind of falling for Ryo, and want this to stop, but of course, when he goes to Juta, he spouts off about how “Love is a Battle”, which gets Yamato all worked up. This is surely not going to be good for Ryo and Asuka, but good writing material for Juta, and all around funny in the next volume.
On the other hand, I really enjoy Ryo and Asuka’s relationship. There is very little actual romance between them that is shown; they’re barely ever holding hands or kissing or even going out on dates but once in a blue moon. But it’s so obvious how they feel about each other. I mean, they’re always thinking about each other, they kind of light up when they’re around each other. Asuka would love to do love-dovey things with Ryo, while she is oblivious to it all, and he’s okay with that. They’re just happy together, and I love that. 
I am really looking forward to the next volume. I want it to focus solely on Ryo, and then on Ryo and Asuka, but as long as it has Ryo in it, I’ll be happy, I think.

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