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.

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.