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.

Manga Review: “Kiss of the Rose Princess” Volume One

Kiss of the Rose Princess Volume One is a manga by Aya Shouoto, and it was released by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading this volume, I would agree with this rating.

Anise Yamamoto is a high school student who wears a rose choker given to her by her father; Anise was warned that if she ever removed it, she would receive a terrible punishment. At school, the reader is introduced to Anise’s classmate, Kaede Higa; student council president Mitsuru Tenjo; a sickly student named Seiran Asagi; and a scary-looking boy named Mitsuki Kurama. It’s made clear during Mitsuru’s introduction that Anise has a crush on him. From reading the back of the book, I knew Anise would be getting four knights; after seeing these characters’ introductions, I was able to guess that somehow these four would become her knights.

One day, while Anise and Kaede are cleaning at school, Anise is attacked by a bat-like creature; her choker disappears, and a card appears in her hand. Thinking the creature has the choker, Anise chases it and falls into a hole. She finds a faculty member and learns that she needs to kiss the card to summon one of the Rose Knights; when she does, Kaede appears. Later, Anise acquires three more cards, and discovers that Mitsuru, Seiran, and Mitsuki are the other knights.

The rest of the volume sees Anise trying to find her choker before her father discovers that she’s no longer wearing it, as well as learning how the cards work and how the knights can help her. I found it amusing that Anise is able to get close to Mitsuru, only to learn that he’s too attached to her because he’s serving her as the Rose Princess. This basically destroys the crush that Anise had on him, and she comes to think of him as a freak.

This volume also establishes the four very different personalities that the Rose Knights have, as well as how they interact with Anise. Over the course of this volume, I found myself thinking that Kaede may potentially be interested in Anise. And right now, Mitsuki is rather aloof and doesn’t want to acknowledge Anise being the Rose Princess, but I have a feeling that somewhere later in the series, he’ll start changing his mind.

When it comes to the drawing style, there’s no mistaking that Kiss of the Rose Princess is a shojo manga. Every male character that’s introduced in this volume, whether a teenager or an adult, has a “bishonen” look to them. In fact, as I read this, I couldn’t help but think that Mitsuru and Seiran were based off of a couple of characters in Revolutionary Girl Utena (Touga and Miki, respectively). In fact, the focus on roses in this series also made me think of Revolutionary Girl Utena and I started wondering if perhaps that anime potentially served as some kind of inspiration for Kiss of the Rose Princess.

I have to admit that when I read the description for this volume on the back of the book, I was skeptical as to whether or not I would enjoy Kiss of the Rose Princess. As I read Volume One, though, I was surprised to find myself enjoying it. There was just enough here to pique my interest and to amuse me early on that it made me want to keep on reading the volume and not want to put it down. There’s a lot of potential here, and hopefully the series can maintain its premise and this tone of storytelling throughout its run.

I believe that shojo manga readers who enjoy having magical or supernatural elements in stories that they read will find something to like about Kiss of the Rose Princess.

I wrote this review after reading a review copy of Kiss of the Rose Princess Volume One that was provided to me by VIZ Media.

VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat Imprint Announces Two New Licenses

VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint has announced that it has acquired the following licenses:

  • Hiro Fujiwara’s Maid-sama!
  • Maki Minami’s Komomo Confiserie

The company plans to release the first volume of Komomo Confiserie in September 2015, followed by the first 2-in-1 volume of Maid-sama! in November 2015.

VIZ Media Launches New Paranormal Shojo Manga Series Kiss of the Rose Princess

VIZ Media announces a thrilling new paranormal shojo manga adventure with the launch of Aya Shouoto’s Kiss of the Rose Princess on November 4, 2014.

The new series will be available for the first time digitally as well as in print under the Shojo Beat imprint. Kiss of the Rose Princess is rated “T” for Teens and will carry a print MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

A digital version of Kiss of the Rose Princess Volume 1 also will debut on November 4, 2014 for $6.99 (USD/CAN) from VIZManga.com and through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones, as well as through the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks and Google Play stores. Future editions of the 9-volume series will be released in-print and digitally on a bi-monthly basis.

Anise Yamamoto has been told that if she ever removes the rose choker given to her by her father, a terrible punishment will befall her. Unfortunately she loses that choker when a bat-like being falls from the sky and hits her. Anise is granted four cards representing four knights whom she can summon with a kiss. But now that she has these gorgeous men at her beck and call, what exactly is her quest?!

“Aya Shouoto uses her stunning artwork in KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS to bring us a tale of a modern princess and her four handsome knights in this reverse-harem series,” says Nancy Thistlethwaite, Editor. “Our reluctant but fearless heroine must pledge herself to save the world from the Demon Lord, but what will happen if she falls in love with one of her knights? Don’t miss the start of this exciting new series in November!”

KISS OF ROSE PRINCESS Volume 1 ©Aya SHOUOTO 2009

Manga Review: “Dengeki Daisy” Volume Two

Dengeki Daisy Volume Two is a manga by Kyousuke Motomi, and it was published in North America by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2010. The series is rated “T+” for older teens; from what I’ve read of this series, I would agree with this rating.

Teru Kurebayashi has become an orphan after the death of her older brother, who had been serving as her guardian. Before his death, he let her know that a friend of his who goes by the online name of Daisy will help her out, and she can contact Daisy through text messaging if needed. Teru has never met Daisy; their only interactions have been through the text messages.

Teru meets a custodian at her school named Tasuku Kurosaki; she accidentally breaks a school window, and he has her working as a “servant” to pay it off. Even though Tasuku has an unpleasant attitude, he cares deeply for Teru. Unbeknownst to Teru, Tasuku is also Daisy.

Throughout Volume Two, we see that Tasuku feels conflicted. He keeps his identity as Daisy a secret, and so he ends up reading the messages Teru sends to Daisy about Tasuku; it doesn’t help that Tasuku appears to be falling for her. But he keeps up the unpleasant attitude in order to hide his true feelings. But unknown to Tasuku, Teru finds herself falling for him.

This volume also introduces a new character named Riko Onizuka. She’s a new counselor at Teru’s school, and she’s an old friend of Tasuku’s. It turns out that Riko has a connection with both Teru’s older brother and with Tasuku. Later in the volume, the reader is given a little more background for both Tasuku and Riko and how they are both connected with Teru’s older brother. I appreciated getting this backstory because it helped me to better understand Tasuku and his devotion to both Teru and to her older brother. Over the course of the volume, we also see Teru becoming closer with Riko.

Teru is also targeted by the school’s Computer Club, who are trying to get a hold of her phone. The plot also drags in someone that Teru would never suspect. Fortunately, she’s able to get Daisy on her side and help her out.

When I read Volume One, I thought the initial setup for the series was a little on the unbelievable side. When I started into Volume Two, I decided to go into it accepting the setup from Volume One; since I did that, I was better able to enjoy this volume. I really liked the addition of Riko; not only does she become a female confidante for Teru who’s already linked to Daisy, but her appearance adds a new layer to the series. I hope I’ll still think she’s a good addition at such a time as I’m able to read more volumes of Dengeki Daisy.

This volume introduces someone in the shadows who’s trying to acquire unpublished software that Teru’s brother developed. I have a feeling that this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of this plot; however, I wonder how Motomi would continue this particular plot without it becoming repetitive or dragging down the overarching story.

When it comes to the art, there are some incredibly good close-up panels of Tasuku. On the top of page 8, there’s a good close-up of Tasuku looking conflicted; I can sense the tenseness and frustration he’s feeling by just looking at this drawing. The top of page 104 has a striking close-up of Tasuku; you can feel his emotion as well as see it.

I’m glad I gave the second volume of Dengeki Daisy a chance, because it’s turning out to be a better shojo manga series than I had given it credit for in my review of Volume One. If you enjoy reading shojo manga, then I think you might enjoy reading Dengeki Daisy.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Dengeki Daisy Volume Two that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Vampire Knight” Volume 19 (Limited Edition)

Vampire Knight Volume 19 is a manga by Matsuri Hino, and it has been released in North America by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in October 2014 as both a regular edition and as a limited edition with the Last Night: Vampire Knight Illustrations art book. This review is for the limited edition version of the volume. Vampire Knight is rated “T+” for older teens; from what I’ve read of this series, I would agree with this rating.

Cross Academy serves as the setting of the series, which is a school that has a Day Class and a Night Class. The Night Class has a secret that is unknown to the Day Class: the Night Class students are vampires.

Two of the Day Class students are the “Disciplinary Committee”: Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu. Ten years before the start of the series, Yuki was saved from being attacked by a vampire; her rescuer was another vampire named Kaname Kuran, and he is Night School student. Yuki has no memory of her past prior to being rescued by Kaname and being taken in by the headmaster of Cross Academy. Yuki also seems to have a crush on Kaname.

Zero Kiryu and his family had been attacked by vampires, and Zero was the only survivor. The headmaster of Cross Academy also took him in. However, Zero has a secret that only the headmaster and Kaname know. Back in Volume One, it appeared that Zero had a crush on Yuki.

Prior to reading Volume 19, I had only ever read the first volume of Vampire Knight. As I read this volume, I felt rather lost, so I went online and visited a Vampire Knight wiki in order to have some idea of what happened between the end of Volume and the beginning of Volume 19.

So it appears that Yuki regained her memory and learned that she was actually a Pureblood Princess vampire named Yuki Kuran and she awakens to her vampiric abilities. It also turns out that she and Kaname were close back before she was turned into a human.

Volume 19 opens with Yuki erasing Zero’s memories as part of her plan to turn Kaname into a human. But Kaname has plans of his own; as the remaining progenitor, he wants to become the origin metal and bequeath weapons with the power to slaughter vampires. At this point in the story, Cross Academy has teamed up with the Hunter Society to combat the remaining pureblood vampires, and the purebloods are intent on taking down Cross Academy. But the main focus of the volume is on what happens between Yuki, Kaname, and Zero.

This volume is both action-packed and emotional. Even though I came into this point in the story after only reading one volume, I could still feel the tension and drama that permeated the panels through the action and dialogue. I’m sure that for readers who have followed Vampire Knight throughout its entire run will be emotionally invested in what happens in Volume 19, and I expect that they won’t be disappointed by what they see. While reading this volume was a whirlwind and was rather confusing since I skipped over most of the story, I expect that long-time fans of the series will be able to get so much more out of this than what I was able to. From what I know of Vampire Knight, this appears to be a rather solid ending.

The Last Night: Vampire Knight Illustrations art book that comes with the limited edition pressing of Volume 19 is a hardcover book with 44 pages of color art. The art included in this book are illustrations from LaLa covers, chapter title pages from LaLa, “coming next issue” illustrations that appeared in LaLa, images from playing cards, an image from an announcement, covers for some of the tankobon releases, an image from a LaLa Slide-in Calendar, an image from a Star Portrait Set, images from the Grand Finale Event, images from New Year’s cards, and the cover illustration for Vampire Knight: Frail no Yume. This is a well-done art book, and the illustrations included in it are breathtaking. I think some very good image choices were made when deciding what art to include in the book. I believe this art book will be a real treat for fans of Vampire Knight.

Volume 19 left a significant impression on me after I read it. Between reading both Volume One and Volume 19, I now want to read Volumes 2-18 so I can better understand the series.

I wrote this review after reading a review copy of the limited edition version of Vampire Knight Volume 19 that was provided to me by VIZ Media.

Manga Review: “Honey Blood” Volume One

Honey Blood Volume One is a manga by Miko Mitsuki, and it has been released by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in October 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading this volume, I’m wondering if a “T+” rating for older teens might have been a little more appropriate.

The main character of Honey Blood is a schoolgirl named Hinata Sorazono. Students at her school are being attacked and the attacks seem to be perpetrated by a bloodsucking vampire. However, her friend Kana says she doesn’t believe it’s vampire because she’s been reading a book about a vampire written by a popular author named Junya Tokinaga; it turns out that Hinata’s mother has also been reading this particular book. Hinata doesn’t believe that vampires exist, though.

Hinata gets a surprise when she discovers that Junya Tokinaga is moving in next door. When she calls his vampire novel ludicrous, he just asks how a mere child could possibly understand. Later, Hinata is asked to show Junya around the neighborhood; but when she gets there, it turns out that he just wanted a chance to talk to her properly. But when she gets there, Junya does something that could be seen as sexual harassment, and she obviously doesn’t like what he does. The author tries to play this off as something funny, but I didn’t find it particularly amusing.

After Hinata has a chat with Junya, she returns home and asks to borrow her mother’s copy of Junya’s book. After reading the book, she starts suspecting that Junya might be a vampire. One night, she follows him and is grabbed by an attacker; fortunately, Junya is around and saves her.

Junya invites Hinata to have dinner and asks his editor to prepare some food. She has to leave to help another author, but before she does, Junya sucks some of her blood. Hinata sees this and leaves; but before she gets far, she realizes she left her bag and goes back to get it. A half-asleep Junya mistakes her for his editor and sucks her blood. Hinata is confused and angry at first, but she finds herself falling to Junya over the remainder of Volume One.

The one thing that’s really been bothering me since I read this volume is the fact that we don’t truly know how old Hinata is. Is she a junior high student or a high school student? Junya is a 200-year-old vampire who’s posing as a 20-year-old author, so it seems her age would be an important thing to know. If she’s a 17-year-old high school student, it’s much less creepy for her to be with Junya than if she were a 14-year-old junior high student.

Something else I noticed: there are some panels where there’s a guy hiding in the shadows, but it’s most definitely the same guy in these panels. I’m predicting that he’s going to be a character who’s introduced in the next volume; the only reason I say “next volume” is the fact that in an author’s note in the back, Mitsuki mentions that this series only ended up having two volumes. Of course, if this is the case where the series was cut off early in its serialization in Japan, then the guy hiding the shadows could also potentially never be revealed.

But after reading this volume, I’m not entirely buying Hinata falling for Junya the way she does by the end of it. It didn’t entirely feel natural to me. And knowing there’s only going to be one more volume, there’s really no way to develop this story as well as it would need to work.

When it comes to the art in this volume, there were two things that really stood out to me: the intricate patterns of some of Junya’s kimonos and how good some of the close-ups of characters faces looked. Outside of those two things, though, the art tended to have more of a “typical” shojo look to it.

In the end, I wasn’t terribly impressed by this volume and it didn’t do much for me; however, readers who enjoy the Twilight book series might enjoy Honey Blood. However, since there’s only two volumes, readers could be disappointed if they read this volume and really get into it.

I wrote this review after reading a review copy of Honey Blood Volume One that was provided to me by VIZ Media.