VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat Imprint Announces New License

VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint announced at its Otakon panel that it has licensed Keiko Ishihara’s The Heiress and the Chauffeur (Ojō-sama no Untenshu) manga. The first volume will be available in May 2016.

The story takes place in the Taishō era, at a girl’s school where one young lady, Sayaka, earns the envy of all the other girls. She wears a red ribbon to mark her the top student at school. She is always followed by a chauffeur, an employee of her family. The rumor among the students is that the two are in love.

Ishihara began the manga in Hakusensha’s LaLa DX magazine in 2010. Hakusensha published the series in two compiled volumes.

Source: ANN

Manga Review: “Voice Over! Seiyu Academy” Volume Nine

Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Vol. 9
Written by: Maki Minami
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

The main character of the series is Hime Kino, a high school student attending Holly Academy High School and is part of the school’s voice acting department. Unfortunately, she has a gruff voice that doesn’t seem to work well for female voice acting roles, which lands her into the Voice Acting Department’s stragglers group for the first-year students. Also in the group are Tsukino Todoroki (who speaks too softly), Sho Takayanahi (he can’t read kanji and is short-tempered), and Mitchel Zaizen (who goes by Mitchy, and has an accent as well as being full of himself).

Hime also has run-ins with Senri Aoyama, the son of an actress named Sakura Aoyama; he already has a voice acting career underway. But as time goes on, Senri surprises himself when he helps Hime out of situations.

Volume Nine continues with Senri’s flashback that began near the end of Volume Eight. We see that Senti inadvertently hurt someone else who he thought was pretending to be his friend. After the flashback, Senri thinks he has to break off contact with Shiro in order to avoid hurting him. But Shiro is persuasive when he says that Senri’s omelet rice is tasty and full of heart.

In the previous volume, I had suspected that Shiro and Hime were one and the same, although nothing blatantly stated it. If I hadn’t skipped ahead seven volumes, I probably would have already known this face before it was blatantly stated in Volume Nine. This is a disguise that Hime has to take on in order to get male voice acting roles, due to gruff voice. If it were to come out that Shiro is really a girl, then Hime’s voice acting career would be over.

Unfortunately Shiro has never told Senri that he’s also a voice actor, so when the two bump into each other at a recording session for the same anime, things get awkward. Senri tries to act like he’s not close with Shiro at all.

With all that deception going on, there’s also Mizuki Haruyama keeping an eye on Hime, since she’s with his agency. We see Mizuki becoming jealous when he realizes just how close Hime has been with Senri while disguised as Shiro. The reader sees in his thoughts that he’s in love with Hime, but he hasn’t said a word to her about his feelings.

What I’m finding fascinating with Voice Over! Seiyu Academy is that it’s a shojo manga that’s not developing the straightforward love triangle. At this point, you have Mizuki interested in Hime, while Senri is trying to be friends with the disguised Hime and doesn’t seem to have any romantic interest in the protagonist. The “gender bending” hidden identity is also a nice touch, although I have a feeling that this is seriously going to come back and bite Hime in the butt somehow as the series progresses. I can only imagine how hurt and angry Senri would feel at such a time he learned the truth about Shiro’s identity. The fact that Shiro hid the fact of being a voice actor from him was hard enough on Senri, so I’d imagine finding out this friendship he’s trying to cultivate is based on a lie would hurt tremendously.

Even though I’ve only read Volumes One, Eight, and Nine of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy, what I’ve read has interested me enough that I want to chase down Volumes Two through Seven in order to have a more complete picture of what’s brought the series to this point. As I read more volumes of the series, I’ve come to gain a stronger appreciation for it.

VIZ Media Opens 2015 With the Launch of New Shojo Manga Series Meteor Prince

VIZ Media, LLC, the largest distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, kicks off 2015 with the launch of the new shojo manga series – Meteor Prince – available now.

This romantic comedy about a princely alien that meets his match in a human girl was created by Meca Tanaka. The series is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will be offered in print under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint and digitally via VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App as well as from the NOOK, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and Google Play stores. The concluding edition of this 2-volume series will be released in the spring.

In Meteor Prince, strange accidents always seem to happen around Hako Natsuno – so much so that she’s been dubbed the “Queen of Bad Luck.” It’s hardly surprising then that a naked alien prince falls from the sky to tell her that out of all the girls in the universe, he’s come to Earth to mate with her. Does this mean Hako’s luck has changed, or…?

“Shojo manga fans will have a fun way to begin their new year with the launch of this adorable and hilarious romantic comedy,” says Nancy Thistlethwaite, Editor. “Hako’s atrocious luck has always been a deterrent for human boys, but an alien prince with super powers just may be Hako’s perfect match!”

Otome to Meteo © Meca Tanaka 2013/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

Manga Review: “My Love Story!!” Volume Three

My Love Story!! Volume Three is a manga written by Kazune Kawahara and illustrated by Aruko, and it has been released by VIZ Media’ Shojo Beat imprint in January 2015. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading the first three volumes, I would agree with this rating.

Takeo Goda is a large high school student who’s got a very big heart. His best friend is Makoto Sunakawa, who’s very popular with the girls but always seems to turn them down when they ask him out. One day, Takeo saves a girl named Rinko Yamato from a groper on a train and he falls in love with her. As Rinko starts spending time with them, Takeo thinks she likes Makoto; however, Takeo is surprised when it turns out that Rinko is in love with him! By the end of the first volume, Takeo and Rinko become a couple.

Volume Three sees Takeo and Rinko put into various situations, most of which can are in the “lovey-dovey” category, although one event in the story makes Rinko a little unsure of herself. The first story sees Takeo and Rinko out on a picnic to make up for Rinko’s birthday celebration being cut short at the end of Volume Two. Takeo decides to hike up a mountain, and an incident causes both Takeo and Rinko to fall down into a ravine. The two must work together to find their way out, which includes having to spend a night together out in the wilderness. When Rinko realized that they’ll have to spend a night together, I thought that her nervous reaction to this came across as being realistic. Fortunately for her, Takeo is a good guy and doesn’t try anything.

The next story sees Rinko, Takeo, and their friends going to the beach. Rinko makes it a mission to try and excite Takeo during this trip. Takeo, though, has intentions of just having fun at the beach and wanting to see the sunset with Rinko. Rinko manages to get Takeo’s attention with her choice of swimsuit, but with everything else she tries, she either chickens out or Takeo misreads the situation. Even though Rinko becomes a little discouraged during the trip, there ends up being a happy ending to this story. With both the picnic story and this story, it feels as if Kawahara is trying to depict Takeo as being a “perfect gentleman” and the type of boyfriend that teen girls dream of having.

The next story sees Takeo and Rinko taking Sunakawa around and treating him. While most people would have become annoyed with how persistent these two were, Sunakawa has such a laid-back personality that he takes it all in stride. It’s revealed at the end of the story that it’s Sunakawa’s birthday, and that Takeo and Rinko had plotted this day as a surprise for him. When you realize how Sunakawa had encourages Takeo to spend Rinko’s birthday with her instead of at the hospital with him back in Volume Two, it really is a nice gesture on Rinko’s part to do something like this. She probably sees this as a way to pay Sunakawa back for his gesture in Volume Two.

Tied in with that story is Takeo saving a girl from a stalker on the train. This girl turns out to be someone Takeo knew and had a crush on in middle school. When Rinko asks Takeo about the girl later, and ends up admitting that he once had feelings for her. Rinko is bothered by this, but tries not to say anything to Takeo; however, he picks up on her change of mood and realizes that he’s hurt her. Poor Takeo feels so bad about what happened, and I felt sorry for him. I have to admit that if I had been in Rinko’s situation back when I was her age, I probably would have had a similar reaction. While she loves Takeo and knows they’re a couple, she realistically is a little unsure about how she compares to other girls and a little afraid of potentially losing Takeo to someone else. But, as I’ve come to expect from this series, Rinko and Takeo are able to work through this obstacle. And I think that by the end of this story, Rinko has also started to gain a little more self-confidence when it comes to her relationship with Takeo.

The final story in the volume sees Takeo wanting to go to the same college as Rinko when they graduate, but it’s a college that has high academic standards. Takeo starts studying with Rinko and Sunakawa at his house, and it’s during this story when Takeo’s parents finally learn that Rinko is Takeo’s girlfriend. I was happy to finally get to see Takeo’s father in this volume, but it was even better for me to see how Takeo’s parents start reacting when Rinko comes over after they find out that she’s Takeo’s girlfriend. This made for some great comedic moments, especially after having the more serious story right before it. And there’s an amusing twist at the end of the story that adds even more humor to this chapter. I’m glad this light-hearted story was done right after the most serious story to appear in the volume, because it allows the volume to end on a more upbeat note.

After reading Volume Three of My Love Story!!, I’m still enjoying the story and how Takeo and Rinko’s relationship is evolving. So far, it seems like each volume has at least one story that provides an obstacle for Takeo and Rinko’s relationship. This is a good thing, because it’d be boring to read a manga where the main protagonists are always happy and have no problems. Also, I’m wondering if Sunakawa’s sister, who was shown as having a crush on Takeo back in Volume One, will make another appearance at some point to become another obstacle for Takeo and Rinko. And if she does, will Rinko really be able to follow through on her declaration that she’ll fight for Takeo, no matter what?

My Love Story!! is a manga series that should have a strong appeal with teen girls, as well as to readers who enjoy reading shojo manga series that feature high school students and love. While it’s a rather straightforward story, the character of Takeo makes My Love Story!! an interesting read.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of My Love Story!! Volume Three that was provided to me by VIZ Media.

Manga Review: “Voice Over! Seiyu Academy” Volume Eight

Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Volume Eight is a manga by Maki Minami. This volume was published in North America by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.

The main character of the series is Hime Kino, a high school student attending Holly Academy High School and is part of the school’s voice acting department. Unfortunately, she has a gruff voice that doesn’t seem to work well for female voice acting roles, which lands her into the Voice Acting Department’s stragglers group for the first-year students. Also in the group are Tsukino Todoroki (who speaks too softly), Sho Takayanahi (he can’t read kanji and is short-tempered), and Mitchel Zaizen (who goes by Mitchy, and has an accent as well as being full of himself).

Hime also has run-ins with Senri Aoyama, the son of an actress named Sakura Aoyama; he already has a voice acting career underway. But as time goes on, Senri surprises himself when he helps Hime out of situations.

Volume Eight sees the stragglers group getting ready to record the audio for a lunchtime broadcast. Tsukino has been given a lead role, but she’s unsure about whether or not she can pull it off. It doesn’t help that she’s thinking over what her teacher said about using her voice to convey her feelings in order for Tsukino to try to make more friends. After reading this part of the manga, I thought that Minami did a great job conveying this story, and ultimately ended it with Tsukino making the first step toward gaining confidence for using her voice. I thought this was much more realistic than having Tsukino overcoming all of her doubts right away. While it may have been one small step for Tsukino, it’s still some kind of development for her character.

Senri seems to have become friends with a boy named Shiro, who’s just gotten a semi-regular role on an anime. Senri invites Shiro over to have dinner, determined to make Shiro’s favorite dish, omelet rice. This first attempt doesn’t work out, but Senri makes several attempts over time, determined to make the perfect rice omelet.

It seems like a nice gesture, until the reader comes to learn that Senri actually wants to quit being friends with Shiro after he succeeds in making the rice omelet. Senri has second thoughts, but then suddenly asks Shiro what he would do if his best friend was just pretending to like him. But before Shiro can answer, Senri tries to cut off the conversation and slams the door. Of course, as we see later, Shiro is weirded out over what happened.

The remainder of the volume provides Senri’s backstory, from how his parents met, to how his mother had raised him to treat life as if he’s an actor, and how this made things very awkward for him once he entered school. The backstory includes Senri making friends with a boy in elementary school, but ruined the friendship when Senri assumed that the two of them were “playing buddies.” This last part helped to explain Senri’s actions earlier with Shiro.

But not only does the backstory explain what happened earlier in this volume, it also explains Senri’s attitude and behavior that he showed when we first met him back in Volume One. I have to say that by the end of this volume, I was able to see Senri as a sympathetic character after reading his backstory. It also explains why Senri doesn’t think very highly of his mother, either. Considering how much Hime idolizes Sakura, it also shows the reader that Sakura is nowhere near the role model that Hime thinks she is.

As of this writing, I’ve only read Volumes One and Eight of this series. Fortunately, I was able to follow what was going on for the most part, even though I skipped several volumes. My main confusion at first came from Shiro, but I was lucky that this volume explained how Shiro and Senri had met. Outside of that, though, I didn’t feel hopefully lost due to the skip.

But after reading Volume Eight, it makes me want to chase down Volumes Two through Seven at some point in order to find out what happened to bring the story to where it is in Volume Eight. This volume also increased the appreciation I had after reading the first volume.

If you enjoy reading shojo manga and also have some kind of appreciation for voice acting, then you’ll probably enjoy reading Voice Over! Seiyu Academy.

I wrote this review after reading a review copy of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Volume Eight that was provided to me by VIZ Media.

Manga Review: “Kamisama Kiss” Volume 16

Kamisama Kiss Volume 16 is a manga by Julietta Suzuki, and it was published in North America by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T’ for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.

The main character of Kamisama Kiss is Nanami Momozono. She’s a high school student who ends up becoming a kami at the land god’s shrine after the land god gives her a kiss on the forehead that gives her the power of a kami. Nanami has two familiars serving her: Tomoe the fox demon and a snake incarnation named Mizuki.

Volume 16 continues Nanami’s adventure in the past as she attempts to find a way to remove the curse that is afflicting Tomoe in the present. Nanami returns to where Yukiji is, and learns that Yukiji will be marrying a feudal lord.

Meanwhile, Tomoe meets up with Akura-Oh, who has heard about Yukiji getting married and wants to see her. He wants to have someone drag the bride from her marriage procession and be brought to him. After a yokai tries to take Yukiji before the wedding, Nanami volunteers to be Yukiji’s double and go in her place in the procession. As part of the deal, she wants Yukiji’s family to try and find Kuromaro, the fallen kami. As soon as I read that Nanami wanted to serve as Yukiji’s double, I had a bad feeling that things were not going to go as Nanami expected.

Akura-Oh sends Kirakaburi to attack the palanquin carrying Yukiji. Privately, Tomoe decides that he’ll be the one to kill Yukiji first to make up for not being able to kill her earlier. When Kirakaburi attacks, Nanami fights back; unfortunately, Kirakaburi attacks her with a dart dipped in a paralytic. But as hope seems lost, Tomoe suddenly appears and takes down Kirakaburi.

What happens next is rather interesting, since we get to see Nanami interaction with the Tomoe of 500 years ago; but Tomoe thinks he’s interacting with Yukiji, and Nanami doesn’t correct him. Even though Tomoe had intended to kill her, he doesn’t do it. At first, Tomoe treats her like a pet or like a piece of property, but as he spends more time with her, his attitude changes; in fact, Nanami has to keep him from kissing her so he doesn’t become her familiar in the past. Not only was this section interesting, it was also kind of cute. I can just imagine the willpower it had to take for Nanami not to admit her feelings to the Tomoe she encountered in the past; yes, he was different than what she’s familiar with, but it’s still Tomoe in front of her. But being able to interact with him in the past like this should help giving Nanami a better understanding of why Tomoe is the way he is in the present.

Unfortunately, at the end of the volume, it appears that Nanami fails in her attempt to lift the curse from Tomoe. I found myself feeling bad for Nanami, because she’d gone through so much while she was in the past and ultimately has nothing to show for it. Also, she may have inadvertently changed things in the past. Even though Tomoe thought she was Yukiji, having this misunderstanding ultimately still changes the essence of what had happened in the past. I hope that in whatever volume Nanami returns to the present in, we see what may have changed due to her going back to the past and doing some of the things that she did.

Volume 16 also includes a special episode, where Nanami returns late to the shrine because she stops to buy takoyaki to take home to everyone. This is a nice light-hearted story that helps to blunt some of the reader’s disappointment over the fact that Nanami appears to have failed in her quest in the past. With so much emphasis being placed on Nanami in the past over the past couple of volumes, we haven’t gotten to see characters like Mizuki, Onikiri, and Kotetsu; at least this special episode lets us see them, even if it’s only for a brief time.

I enjoyed reading this volume so much that I didn’t want to put it down. I’ve been reading the Kamisama Kiss series for about two years now, and I enjoy it just as much now as I did when I first started reading it. I’m looking forward to when Volume 17 is released so I can find out what’s going to happen to Nanami next.

After reading this volume, I have to say that if you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 15 volumes of Kamisama Kiss, then you should also enjoy reading Volume 16.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Kamisama Kiss Volume 16 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Voice Over! Seiyu Academy” Volume One

Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Volume One is a manga by Maki Minami. This volume was published in North America by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2013. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.

The main character of the series is a high school student named Hime Kino. When she was a little girl, she received help from voice actress Sakura Aoyama, who provided the original voice for a character named Lovely Blazer. Hime’s dream is to become a famous voice actress, so she enrolls in the prestigious Holly Academy High School, which has a voice acting department.

But it turns out Hime has a problem: she has a gruff voice that doesn’t seem to work well for female voice acting roles. In addition, she gets on the bad side of her classmate, Senri Aoyama, who turns out to be Sakura Aoyama’s son. He’s already got professional credits and looks down on the other students as simply competition to crush.

Unfortunately, Hime quickly finds herself in the Voice Acting Department stragglers group alongside Tsukino Todoroki (who speaks too softly), Sho Takayanahi (he can’t read kanji and is short-tempered), and Mitchel Zaizen (who goes by Mitchy, and has an accent as well as being full of himself). One day, the first-year stragglers group has a run-in with the second-years and are challenged to a voice drama challenge; whichever group gets the most votes from the student body wins.

But things start going wrong on the day of the challenge, but the first-year stragglers get some surprising help from Senri. And through her performance in the drama, Hime is “scouted” to be part of a recording session; unfortunately, that doesn’t go well. She also manages to raise the ire of Shuuma Kawai, a professional male idol who attends Holly Academy.

Poor Hime. Not only does she have her voice going against her, but she has to put up Senri and other students putting her down, getting punished for her failure at the voice recording session, not to mention some grief and bullying she has to deal with from Shuuma and his fangirls near the end of Volume One. Fortunately, Hime doesn’t let these obstacles get her down, due to her usually positive attitude. I also found myself chuckling a little bit at Hime’s name; Hime is Japanese for “princess,” while “Kino is German for “movie.” Princess Movie seems like an appropriate name for a female character who wants to get into voice acting!

While this series may be set at a high school and already seems to be laying the foundation for a potential love triangle, this series adds the element of voice acting to help it feel less like a typical high school shojo manga story. There’s also an interesting mix of characters for this series, although I have to admit that several of them feel more like “character types” than actual characters. Hopefully, as this series progresses, development will take place that will help develop the “character type” personalities into more dynamic characters.

Art-wise, there’s a lot of a typical shojo look to the characters and backgrounds, such as cute-looking characters, and sparkly and flowery screentones. However, in order to depict Hime’s rough voice, Minami is having to utilize a look and aesthetic that looks more like it should be a shonen manga that also tends to look rougher than the rest of the volume does. Mixing these two aesthetics helps to give Voice Over! Seiyu Academy a more “unique” look in comparison to its shojo manga contemporaries.

I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure about this series when I read the blurb on the back. But I’m glad I gave it a chance, though, because I discovered that Voice Over! Seiyu Academy has an interesting start for its story. Hopefully Minami is able to follow through on this potential that I see as the series progresses. I’d definitely be interested in reading more of the series in order find out what happens.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.