100% Perfect Girl: the destructive potential of obsessive love

So, it has been ages since my last manga review. Somehow I find that I am more interested in reading manga precisely during school term and I gravitate towards anime and other things (like books, movies, tv series etc.) when I am having an actual holiday. I have no idea why but I guess it has more to do with the precise reason that I have learnt to associate manga with the endless drone of studying so I feel less inclined towards manga as a whole.

Anyway, enough with the frivolous rambling and let’s get on to my first real manga review in quite some time.

100% Perfect Girl is a manhwa that is not really new, and yet it has always managed to occupy a corner of its audience’s thoughts in the shoujo manga community. By reason of the combination of ‘shoujo’ and ‘mature’ tags, this seemingly thoughtless way of categorisation actually belies a more fundamental characteristic of the story being told that is rather different from what we see in a typical shoujo manga (which tends to be told in a lighter palette of colours, even when it contains realistic aspects in the portrayal of behaviour of young people in love). And it is simply this: 100% Perfect Girl is a very heavy read. It probably should come with the tags *warning: not for the faint-hearted*

Now, that’s not to say that 100% Perfect Girl deals with dark and depressing topics like discrimination, treating humanity as a means to an end, war or military. 100% Perfect Girl deals 100% as its title suggests, with love, but yet it is of a love that is so possessive and full of jealousy that it turns into a rather vicious, ugly animal, destructive of life and people in its path.


100% Perfect Girl mostly tells the story of an extremely rich and powerful young King, who falls in love at first sight with a beautiful, ethereal young girl who comes from a a very poor, commoner family. Before I launch into a rant about how unrealistic the entire ‘love-at-first-sight’ trope has been overplayed to the point that teenage girls who are overtly exposed to such media develop fitful, flighty dreams about The One, let me just state that it is very characteristic of Korean media to take people from the dire opposites of the income spectrum and spin a love story. Its part of a reason why I am not particularly fond of Korean drama series and manhwa, but this is a topic which I will expound upon on another day.

So anyway, guy falls in love with girl and then pursues her to the ends of the earth (literally). Girl doesn’t actually fall in love then, but succumbs to the temptations of good looks and money anyway …. is what I like to say, except that said girl should probably be given more credit than that. Jay Jin may be so, but she is headstrong in the sense that she still manages to keep her head on tight. It is however, too bad for her, since with the melodramatic flair atypical of a story where the author seems set on pushing that elusive fairytale ending further out of reach, the poor girl has to suffer through a series of unfortunate events: jealousy, kidnappings, assassinations, multiple accounts of semi-rape, familial revenge, physical violence, depression and suicide. All because she falls in love with this one guy whose idea of love translates into massive suffocation and restriction of personal freedom due to his inherent flaw of possessiveness and obsession.

What was commendable was the effort made in drawing out certain realistic issues and in portraying how a fairytale set-up may not necessarily end in a happy ending (by saying this however, I maintain a neutral position as to whether this series contains a happy or sad ending). That unfortunately does not mean that the protagonist’s life can be anything short of unrealistic. There seems to also be a larger focus on drawing out flaws in characters though the positive traits surface somewhat that helps to round out their personality.


The art style can certainly said to be unique, with broader strokes on the characters’ facial features and with notable emphasis on the eyebrows and lashes. Characters’ faces are also relatively long and pointed, and Jay Jin’s more ethereal yet down-to-earth beauty has been captured quite well in the way she is drawn.


100% Perfect Girl was addictingly fascinating, but I only devoured it in an effort to stop that growing feeling of dread as the series progressed and to see whether a happy ending is actually possible for this bunch of unfortunate characters. I actually felt emotionally drained after the entire series though I wasn’t exactly smiling in delight, crying or even being excited at all, simply because I was just shaking my head throughout at how unlucky the characters had to be.

All in all, this series was a tad too dramatic for me. Though it had a good plot, I felt very personally removed from the characters, and it didn’t manage to touch me unlike its shoujo counterpart Haou Airen (which I think did a better job than this) or its Chinese live action drama counterpart (Summer’s Desire, which portrays more three-dimensional characters and an extremely interesting female protagonist and which I highly recommend). It is still well worth a try though for those who prefer darker, more serious shoujo stories along the lines of Haou Airen.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below about this manga, whether you have read it or not 🙂

Shoujo Manga Updates and Thoughts :) (Part II)

Another slew of mini-reviews for certain shoujo manga which I have completed 🙂


The set-up here is rather similar to Strobe Edge; in a sense where a girl falls in love with a guy who already has a girlfriend, though this girl already has a boyfriend at the start. When the main girl’s parents decided to turn their house into a boarding house and invite tenants in, she is initially unhappy with the suggestion, but her sentiments change as she realises how fun her housemates (including the guy she fell for) are. My personal favourite moments are those fun times all of them spend together at their house. As for the romance, it was really quite an arduous, almost painful journey to read about a girl who leaves her boyfriend for a guy who is already attached – I personally didn’t see anything too redeeming about the main male lead, though this could be said to be something that’s ‘different’ from the ordinary shoujo manga plot.

Mr rating: 7/10, worth a try but it can be rather painful.


This story starts pretty interestingly as a series of occurrences lead five students to be late on their first day of school. This group is a pretty odd one: we have a crybaby female lead who just moved to Tokyo (who has understandable reasons for being the way she is), a tsundere-ish guy with a nice heart, a player, an aloof girl and .. another aloof guy. Despite the drama potential with such an ensemble of characters, do not be fooled as there is actually an almost non-existent love triangle. The characters grow and change with what they can over 16 chapters, especially the main female lead and the main male lead (which I will decline to say which one is). The romance ends up being quite cute and it’s a rather short and refreshing 16 chapters.

My rating: 7/10

Ouji to Hero

The story is had a cliched setting with a love triangle between a poor but pretty, nice female lead and two popular, good looking guys, one being the ‘prince’ and the other being a ‘hero’ (due to his name actually). Having said that though, the drama was good because of the love triangle taking central stage and I did enjoy the ride, as there were many plot twists in the middle as well. However the ending was terribly disappointing as the actions were not justified by what the characters were actually feeling – there was a rather poor explanation given for all their behaviour (especially the male leads). I had expected a more logical explanation for everything.

My rating: I still gave it a 7/10, because despite the things that didn’t make sense, I couldn’t deny that I was pretty addicted and I did enjoy the drama. However, stay away if a satisfactory, sensible ending is a must for you.

Boku wa Kiss de Uso wo Tsuku

This started out as a mystery: who was the person who had kissed Meiko in the library? There are 4 possible candidates i.e. male leads involved in this, and I did have a fun time trying to guess who was it and who Meiko would eventually end up with. Fortunately for me this time, she did end up with the guy I preferred, but as with all short manga there wasn’t too much exploration or development of the male characters to turn me into a fan.

My rating: 7/10

Though all the four manga here have garnered the same rating from me, the only one I would seriously recommend is Nakanmon! because I felt that it has the most realistic character development and it really did have satisfactory romance. Having said that, I don’t think the rest of the manga this time around is a waste of time to try 🙂

Have you tried any of these? What did you think about it? If you haven’t, which ones are you motivated to try? Comments are welcome! 🙂

*All images belong to their respective owners and do not belong to me.*

Shoujo Manga Updates and Thoughts :) (Part I)

‘Sup people! I have been on a shoujo manga roll recently despite many valiant efforts to finally quit and focus on my studies *ahem* so there’s really been a lot of manga I have read since my last manga related post! So I decided to just do mini reviews for some of the manga I have read so far – no spoilers ahead, so read on! xD

Cat StreetCat Street

This is a coming-of-age story which focuses on a group of friends. Keito Aoyama is a famous child actor who retired from her career early due to a traumatic incident and she has been passing her days without purpose since then. One day, she meets a stranger who brings her to El Liston, a free school for students like herself who don’t think they have a place in society. There, Keito finds new friends and slowly grows to accept and open up to others, as well as confront her childhood fears. This is a story about finding yourself, and I really liked the concept of El Liston – I wonder why there aren’t more of these institutions in real life! There is a lot of character development in here – and for the romance part, its not conventional because Keito doesn’t choose the first guy she falls for, though its possible you’d pick up some clues right at the start about who she’s gonna choose in the end. Though because I have seen so many great reviews on it I went in thinking that it will blow my mind – it didn’t, but it has a very unique story and likable characters nonetheless.

My rating: 8/10, recommended! Contains drama and psychological themes.

Stardust Wink

This is a romance comedy between three childhood friends: Anna, Sou and Hinata; and Anna’s love journey to see who she actually likes. This is a typical high school fluffy shoujo manga, but its also not so typical after all. The characters are not superficial though Anna is really really confused all the time about who she really likes – in fact, I think its hard to tell who she’s going to end up with – there’s so many twists and turns. Even when she’s confused, Anna is not fickle-minded and that’s a relief. The English translation is not fully scanlated yet, so I finished this in Chinese. However, I think there isn’t a real difference between stopping at where the English chapters end and the ending; its essentially the same though there are other certain revelations about the relationships of one of the main characters.

My rating: 7/10, recommended if you are looking for a light, entertaining but not superficial shoujo read with a confused girl (I personally love these things, haha!)

Hiren TripHiren Trip

A story about an aspiring mangaka who meets her school’s student council president – one of the less seen male sempai-female kouhai relationships out there. The girl falls for the guy first, but thankfully it wasn’t too cliched. The art fits my taste and the feelings explored weren’t superficial to say at the very least. Too bad it was really too short (8 chapters) but it was a pleasant read.

My rating: 7/10    

Renren Zakari - SO ADORBS <333Renren Zakari

The story screams love triangle alert! But make up that with gorgeous art and gorgeous lines and it really makes those very short 5 chapters worth it. I like love triangles a lot anyway so there isn’t anything that would dissuade me from reading this. Plus, the main female is not an annoying character so that’s a gigantic plus. Check out the screenshot, how is that not enticing? xD

My rating: 7/10 

Hana to Rakurai

Hana to Rakurai

The language is truly beautiful, whether its spoken or written, it’s able to make others feel emotions 

That’s most likely what love is.

A story about helping people and passing that kindness on to others. These themes are not uncommon, but its rare that they are explored subtly and able to elicit a emotional response from its audience. This story deals with characters’ past and the challenges they face in interacting with others, and it also deals with friendship in a very meaningful way. This is a very heartwarming story about reaching out to people, and possibly tearjerking too when we get to know about their backstories. Its amazing how all these are explored in merely 8 chapters.

My rating: 8/10, highly recommended!

That’s all from me for now; thank you for reading and hopefully you are persuaded at least to check out these manga. Look out for Part 2 of this series 🙂 (having completed so many manga that I can’t fit everything into one post :p)

*All images belong to their respective owners and do not belong to me.*

Liebster Award: Nomination by LitaKino and Chibi Majo

Thank you so much LitaKino and Chibi Majo, both awesome anime bloggers and wonderful people <3,  for nominating me for the Liebster award all in a single day! 😀 I feel very touched and honoured to be recognised by people like you in the anime blogging community; and I would think that its every blogger’s dream to have people reading what they have to say :’)

So as part of the rules, I will answer 11 questions posed to me by the nominator(s), and I’ll start with LitaKino’s one first!:

1. What made you start your anime blog?

I have been watching anime for some time and with each anime I watched I had a thousand thoughts swirling in my head. I thought they were useless for a long time until one day there was this EUREKA! moment (lol) where I thought: hey, why not put these things down into words? Otherwise no one would know what you are thinking because your thoughts are never gonna be said, spoken or written.

So here we are 🙂

2. Ice cream or pie?

T.T can I choose both??  Especially vanilla ice cream eaten together with New Zealand apple pie fresh from the oven? Pretty please with a cherry on top? 🙂

3. What is the most expensive thing anime wise you have bought?

I’m so sorry!!! For such a big anime fan I have yet to buy any merchandise except for two badges. My parents are really strict on me owning anything physical that is anime related so I confine my love for anime things to online ;_; here’s my two badges on my pencil case though!

2015-02-22 21.06.49

4. What other hobbies do you have?

A lot; I barely have time to do anything argh. Anime and manga are at the top of my list, followed by watching TV drama series (usually American, or Chinese historical), reading novels (mostly YA and general fiction for English novels, web novels for Chinese novels), gaming (RPGs, otome games). Writing can be considered as of now 🙂 Also, playing the piano and violin, jogging, daydreaming 😀

5. What is your current opinion on how the world is?

Two words: messed up. Especially with too many negative things happening in the world right now (I just need to read current affairs to feel depressed). There’s too much to say on this topic in my honest opinion :/

6. Do you have a favourite genre of anime you like to watch?

This is a really tough question for me; because I basically try everything and I like anything that has a good story and relatable characters (though I tend to avoid ecchi and harem types). Looking at my MAL statistics page, however, I think my favourite genre is mecha: yes, giant robots. Why? I like the action, and it almost always involves themes like war and military. (Yes Gundam, looking right at you here.)

7. Is there an anime character that you would really like to cosplay?

Hmm tough one. I am not really into cosplay, but if I ever did I would want to cosplay as somebody that I can reasonably say I look more like 🙂 So it would have to be Uni from Katekyo Hitman Reborn – she’s adorable and one of my favourite ‘little girl’ characters. She also has a hairstyle I would love try out and I daresay I am small enough to be able to pull it off 😀

8. What is one anime thing you are stalking to buy currently? 

At this point in time, I really want either a figure of Tobio Kageyama from Haikyuu! or any poster/display related merchandise pertaining to Strobe Edge, HIrunaka no Ryuusei or Kuroko no Basket.

9. Do you think wordpress is an easy blog site to use?

Definitely easier than blogspot! Plus it has the wonderful feature of Reader and tags so I can easily find posts I want to read 😀

10. Do you have any favorite anime reviewers you love to follow?

Basically anybody who writes their own opinions is potentially a favourite for me xD not to mention the blogs of the lovely people who have nominated me and whom I am currently following! A special shoutout to otakurui because she writes really insightful stuff and her tastes really mirror mine 🙂 I also check out http://www.reverseharem.blogspot.com regularly since it has the most comprehensive information and reviews relating to reverse harem anything 🙂 And ultimately Entravity (who does hilarious reviews) and Randomc (perhaps the most famous anime review site on the net?)

11. Do you have an anime crush?

Omg, this is probably the hardest question to answer when you have multiple anime crushes xD. Currently its Tobio Kageyama from Haikyuu!! and Kuroko from Kuroko no Basket 🙂

Whew xD now on to Chibi Majo’s questions!

1. What made you start blogging?

I actually started out writing personal stuff on another blog; but gradually I kind of grew out of it and that blog stagnated. I actually wrote many anime reviews over there but they are rather juvenile I am afraid. I actually answered this question above (check out no. 1) but generally, I really want to improve my writing skills as well 🙂

2. What are your hobbies?

Answered this above as well 🙂 (check out no. 4!)

3. Favourite food?

Japanese mille crepe cake 😀 Japanese flavoured sweets have a lighter and more refreshing taste to it 🙂 tried the French one before but it was ultimately too rich for me!

4. Favourite movie?

My all time favourite is a Chinese one called Red Cliff; its based on historical events in China during the Three Kingdoms era (the anime Kingdom is also based on this story). But currently its really the Imitation Game 😀

5. How long have you been blogging for?

I started this blog only in Dec 2014, but to be honest I have been blogging on another blog since 2 years ago. Even in secondary school I had been blogging in a private one. So um, at least 7 years? But I blogged very little last time and its all personal and angsty and full of teenage mood swings 🙂

6. Favourite song?

Zomg. HOW DO I ANSWER THIS. There are too many! But I would have to go for To the Beginning, the OP for Fate Zero Second Season, by Kalafina. Its the only song that manages to move me to tears even now, 1.5 years after I finished that anime. The feels of that anime are strong :’)

7. Best ice cream flavour?

AHAHAHA. I can’t answer omg I am too fickle minded xD I would have to go with mint chocolate chip because it always cheers me up 🙂

8. Favourite celebrity?

Kevin Cheng, he’s a Hong Kong actor and he’s really good at acting. There are plenty of people like him who are good looking and have superb acting skills; but I like him the most because I feel that his personality is really close to mine 😀

9. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

JAPAN JAPAN JAPAN I WANNA SEE CHERRY BLOSSOMS especially Akihabara I think its the anime capital !!!

10. Do you like playing sport?

I am actually quite bad at sports. I am pretty short even for an Asian so nobody ever wanted me in their teams especially when I also don’t have much hand-eye coordination. I like swimming and jogging; but they are solitary sports 🙂

11. How often do you go on social media?

How about everyday? I am perpetually on Facebook all the time because that’s how I communicate with my real life friends. I have a like-hate relationship with it though. :/

Okay now 11 random facts about myself:

1. I am Asian, Chinese actually. (but I am not from/a citizen of/reside in China)

2. My ultimate guilty pleasure is to read true blue reverse harem Chinese novels for young adults (menage a trois English/American ones have too much sex and hormones; not really for me.)

3. I am a very shy and socially awkward person.

4. I find myself unable to let myself truly loose, wild and crazy with even people I am closer to in real life; mainly because I am only crazy over anime/manga and these people don’t watch anime/manga.

5. I was accepted into a couple of UK and Australian universities including LSE and ANU to study Economics after I finished my A levels, but I didn’t go overseas to study in the end due to many reasons including financial ones. I am still sincerely apologetic to whoever who didn’t get a place because of me :/ 

6. I am a girl (LOL) and 22 this year.

7. I am a worrier; I am afraid that the job that I would get after graduating falls far below the worth of my current degree.

8. I use MAL a lot other than this site; feel free to check it out or talk to me on there if you are an active user of it: http://www.myanimelist.net/profile/twlightgal5

9. I technically do not belong to any religion; but I am closer to Taoism/Buddhism (I always pray at these temples)

10. I am just at 5 feet (152 cm) because I stopped growing at around 13 years old I believe.

11. I have very few friends lol. PLEASE BE FRIENDS WITH ME IF YOU AREN’T YET :> 

Now for the Official Rules of the Liebster Award:

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  • Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
  • Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  • Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  • Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
  • List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  • Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!).

Here are the people I nominate for the award. Since I actually follow and know very few bloggers I am just gonna put some of you who have already been nominated cos you guys do deserve to be known more! (you can choose to not answer the questions if you have already been nominated; but of course I’d be very happy if you did :D):

LitaKino: I like her very warm and happy way of blogging and her content is really nice to read after a long day!

Otakurui: Really refreshing content and some really great insights! 🙂

Chibi Majo: really good content! Just recently followed her as well 🙂

Anime Ataraxia: just recently followed! wide coverage of content!

Baka Thoughts: this person really needs more recognition! Her reviews are insightful and I like the way she writes 🙂

Wakuwafu: gem of anime reviews; and a really pretty web design and layout!

Questions that I am providing:

1. What is your definition of happiness?

2. What is more important to you in an anime that you would call good: plot or characters? (assuming you can only pick one)

3. Favourite novel?

4. Favourite drama or TV series?

5. Favourite anime OP or ED?

6. Favourite male and female seiyuu?

7. An interesting story/event about yourself?

8. What Japanese custom/tradition/event would you like to try the most?

9. How important is writing to you?

10. Most beautifully drawn anime/manga character you have ever seen?

11.  What kind of scenery do you love the most? (e.g. rivers, mountains, Aurora lights etc. best if you could also put a pic here! :D)

And that concludes my first personal post ever as a shoutout to all my followers! ^^ Thank you for taking your time to read this, and thanks to the two bloggers once again for nominating me 🙂 I had so much fun writing this ❤

Hirunaka no Ryuusei: your most realistic take on love

I am constantly behind on my attempts to write anime reviews simply because I keep reading these amazing shoujo manga which I really have to write about immediately. I actually fear that I may not recover from the story and its characters if I don’t actually do so, hence here I am.

I have been hearing about HnR for quite some time already; yet I had always put it somewhere behind on my priority list because the more manga pages I see online, the nagging feeling that this is a really good manga starts to arise. And what that means is that its probably going to be one of those manga that I won’t be able to recover from at least a while; that’s why I was always planning to wait till my school term is over till I actually indulge in such good reads.

But one day, I was feeling so drained after a few consecutive weeks of never ending projects, presentations and midterms, so I decided that #yolo I would read whatever I want, and I am pretty sure I am craving some good shoujo manga, and it was a mid term break for me anyway. So here I am.

*Please note that from here on, there will be certain spoilers about the manga. Though they probably won’t consist of anything too major if you are an avid browser of shoujo manga forums, Pinterest, tumblr, and the like.*

I am pretty sure there those who have read enough shoujo manga, both good and bad, know that there are many tropes and cliches that shoujo manga stories always seem to fall back into. I am not sure how much this holds true for the rest of you, but I have always felt frustrated not only at the lack of creativity of how the romance in such manga progress, but also the crevasse between the world of shoujo manga and real life, in my opinion, the distance which could be easily reduced with a simple realisation on the part of the mangaka. For a genre that focuses so much on romance development during youth, I am often surprised to find a lack of any manga that closely resembles what most girls in real life would choose to do.

However, Hirunaka no Ryuusei represents what I hope to be the start of a whole new dimension to current shoujo manga. It has taken the whole of romance development to a newer, down-to-earth level that is like a breath of fresh air. I admit that romances like Strobe Edge and Heroine Shikkaku are realistic in their own right; but it felt that they were toeing around the line, beyond which would bring shoujo manga to a whole new level, and yet they fall short of that and retreat back into the safe zone. I have always felt a tingly bit of frustration at that outcome though it is admittedly outweighed by the process.

Hirunaka no Ryuusei starts off pretty mildly. We have Suzume, a country girl who moves to Tokyo alone to stay with her uncle and start school over there. She meets Shishio Satsuki, a regular visitor of her uncle’s cafe, who happens to be her homeroom teacher. As she goes to school, she makes her very first friend, Mamura Daiki and basically blackmails him into doing so after finding out his secret: that he’s pretty shy around girls and blushes madly whenever a girl touches him. With such a seemingly simplistic plot as backdrop, we are brought, subtly and unknowingly, into the a world with one of the most realistic dealings of romance that this genre has probably ever experienced, as a love triangle forms between Mamura, Suzume and Shishio.

The love between Shishio and Suzume was through a slow process, without any official pronouncement or declaration of going out with one another, they gradually fall into the routine of a relationship with one another. The love was never passionate, nor did it feel that both of their feelings actually got through to each other at some point. As the audience, I have always felt slightly melancholic as I see Suzume struggle to reach out to her sensei, only to have him reflexively avoid facing her feelings outright and telling her what he truly feels about her, that he reciprocates his feelings as well. However, though Shishio can be said to be really immature and insensitive in handling his relationship with her, for example, not being entirely honest with Suzume and using one of what I perceive to be the worst and most hurtful reasons for breaking up with her, I feel that it is really mostly due to being in a really difficult position. All the secrecy that surrounds their relationship due to it being a taboo relationship opens up many opportunities for understanding. Even Suzume comes to realise, while still being in love in Shishio, that having to hide their relationship all the time and not having anybody to talk and confide in, is tiring and painful in itself. Shishio, meanwhile, remains troubled about their relationship all the time as he questions what he is doing about the taboo nature of the relationship.Though never intending to hurt her, his hesitation and struggles showed in his inconsistency of his treatment towards her; sometimes hiding his feelings really well but at other times, throwing away his mask; making Suzume confused, and unhappy to an extent.  As noted by Mamura and Shishio, in trying to deal with all these, Suzume became somebody unlike herself.Their moments of happiness were short-lived, and ultimately their relationship at least at that point in time, was so brittle and had such a weak foundation, ultimately leading to an inevitable breakup.

Mamura, on the other hand, faced none of the problems with a taboo relationship. Though shy with girls at first, he quickly comes to the realisation that he has fallen hard for Suzume. Of course, Suzume was unable to return his feelings at first; but being sensitive to her at all times, he manages to turn up and comfort her in times of need. Unconsciously, he had become her rock where she turns to for a sense of solace and comfort. As Suzume notes, she feels like she could talk to Mamura with no problems at all, unlike when she was with Shishio where during their long periods silence she catches herself wondering what he was thinking about. Except for the occasional periods of time when she knows Mamura likes her but she was unable to reciprocate the feelings he has, as well as periods of shyness and embarrassment, she has always been able to talk with him casually and normally.

So how should Suzume choose when there comes to a climax in the manga where both Shishio and Mamura have pretty much made their feelings known to her? How does she choose?

Suzume loved the both of them, but in different ways, and at different times. In ultimately choosing Mamura, she has made it clear to herself that she wanted to cherish Mamura in the way he had supported her all this while. She was acting on her feelings at that point, and she was no longer tied by her feelings in the past. Mamura had, all this while, from an existence that was previously in the fringe edges of her heart, become an existence of so much importance that he envelops her entire heart. Here is where readers are totally thrown off guard; simply because in most shoujo manga, even after realising that one should reciprocate the feelings that the ‘nice’ guy had for her, the ultimate outcome would be choosing the first guy that one ever loved.

Perhaps the idea of choosing the first guy would make sense if we believe that one can only truly fall in love once, and be faithful to that love; our feelings to anybody else couldn’t have been ‘true love’.  However, this rarely every happens in real life; we fall in love multiple times, and most people aren’t lucky enough to just fall in love and end up with the person we first loved for the rest of their lifetime. One may say, its precisely because its like that in real life which is why we indulge in mediums like shoujo manga to satisfy our imagination and dreams that a ‘one true love’ could exist. However, this does not detract from HnR’s arguably bold step in taking a stand on this matter in the other way. In rationalising Shishio and Mamura as both first and second loves, the mangaka’s message is clear to us:  that it is okay to fall in love twice, and its okay for us to pick the guy who was there for you all the time, and that timing matters in a relationship and once it is gone,  it is gone forever.

And in fact, its what she should have done. Its what every girl in her position should do, for herself, for the guy she loves, and the guys who love her.

I personally have very mixed feelings about this manga; mainly because I have always proclaimed myself to be an avid ‘underdog’ supporter. But when I came to the end of this manga, I couldn’t help but ache for Shishio’s sadness and acceptance of that outcome, even though I was also really happy for Suzume and Mamura. I suppose this is where the strength of the story lies; because technically Shishio couldn’t very well be blamed for his actions and his slowness in getting his feelings through to Suzume. As I have mentioned, it was all a matter of timing for them.

Perhaps going into the manga already knowing who Suzume picked in the end had been a mistake from the start, since it actually changed my perspective throughout the manga. This is the first time I genuinely felt for a teacher-student relationship and felt heartbreak at Shishio’s plight throughout the manga; while also rooting for the other two as well. I daresay Yamamori sensei had done an excellent job with this story which I will never forget, and I hope it opens up the gates to more realistic shoujo manga in the future.

*All images in this post do not belong to me and are owned by their respective owners.*

Please feel free to comment if you have any thoughts on this! 🙂

Tokyo Ghoul: the Shingeki no Kyojin counterpart with a better main male protagonist?

Levi and Kaneki (Attack on Titan , Tokyo Ghoul) by Madara-RO

                                                           … I wish.                                                                                  

Tokyo Ghoul has been a popular manga series that has spawned a two cour anime series – the first 13 episodes debuting in Fall 2014 and the next cour airing currently in Winter 2015. The contents of this post will relate to a quasi-comparison between the first season of the Tokyo Ghoul anime, and the Shingeki no Kyojin series.

Tokyo Ghoul is set in a grim alternate reality of Tokyo where human-eating ghouls roam and terror the streets at night. The story is told from the point of view of an ordinary college student, Kaneki Ken, who gets inadvertently thrown into this darker side of Tokyo when he encounters a girl, Rize.

With such an all too familiar set-up, Tokyo Ghoul at first glance looks like any other ordinary horror story told in a linear plot line: in this modern backdrop with supernatural beings a pretty much accepted part of reality but looms on the top of the food pyramid and usurping human beings of their place, an ordinary human boy encounters a life changing event that thrusts him into the world of ‘the other side’. Sounds familiar? Shingeki no Kyojin comes to mind – in all gory and fear-inducing detail.

Aside from their immense popularity with both Japanese and international viewers, there are actually undeniable similarities between SnK and TG that may not be immediately apparent to most viewers. The most glaring one would be adrenaline pumping action scenes that are drawn with the finest details, exuding rawness and emotion which is impactful on the minds of viewers and adding a dimension of reality to what is going on in the scene (as opposed to the clean cut, swift, razor sharp graphics of ufotable’s Fate Stay Night (Unlimited Blade Works) TV series, a topic for another day).

However, the way the story line actually progresses and the way events are introduced and resolved also leaves are also more subtle similarities between the two. Both have a linear storyline in which one event happens at a time and fully consumes the attention of the viewer. Yet when this event are supposedly resolved and we come to the end of the arc, the story leaves enough questions unanswered such that these can be touched upon later in the story to become fully resolved. I realise that I am talking in very abstract terms here, but if one has read and watched enough manga and anime, this is actually quite a common plot planning tactic that mangakas use (another example that comes to mind would be Gakuen Alice). It may be apposite to point out here that the entire first cour of TG actually comrpises of many more arcs than the entire two-cour SnK, and that there are probably more differences between the two stories than I could list. (for example, SnK spent no time in character development, but rather jumped straight into the execution of the story, of which I will elaborate on later.)

This brings me to my main point here. Even when there it is merely a clear linear plot progression, its execution is so fascinating that it captures the audience’s attention fully. What I mean by this is that both anime really know how to draw out the fringe emotions in its viewers so well, its almost like going for a roller coaster ride in the dark. One is immersed fully in the shoes of the protagonist and experiences fear, despair, pain, excitement and foreboding. SnK is undoubtedly the best in this department. TG meanwhile, spends more time on making sure the audience gets to know the world of the Ghouls at the same pace as Kaneki, our protagonist, actually does. But when the action scenes come, they astound the viewers with the same impact. (this applies to all major revelations in SnK, and most action scenes in TG especially towards to the end of the cour.) I have always preferred complex plots with interweaving plotlines, but the way these two series actually executed their plot has earned all the brownie points in that department, sufficient to make up for their lack of texture.

The major diverging point of both series, then, would have to be its main male protagonist. Eren Jaegar is fuelled by mostly anger at the Titans, and that is really his main motivation for improving his combat skills and ultimately, the X-factor that pushes him beyond the abilities of the average human to surpass even his most talented peers, in the most tight-knit situations. His strong willpower and determination to kill all the Titans in the world even spills over to his behaviour in his non Titan-fighting aspects of daily life.  Honestly, the one word I would use to encapsulate Eren’s character over 25 episodes would be: angry. Moreover, he is angry from the first episode, and he is still angry at the last episode. Enough said.

Image result for kaneki kenMeanwhile, we have Kaneki Ken, who starts out as the slightly reserved, lonely bookworm, who is kind and nice, and the guy that girls would probably choose to bring home and show their parents. At first, we think, what is an absolutely boring male protagonist doing in such an exciting setting? But as we see him being introduced into the world of ghouls, we see him turn from an absolutely horrified human being into someone who is more cautiously accepting of ghouls as he realises that they do also demonstrate what humans term as attributes that make them ‘human’: love for their family, love for their friends, camaraderie, the ability to organize themselves intelligently; and not the mindless human devouring predators as they are made out to be. Though he considers himself to be merely an observer, he gradually gets involved in the affairs of various ghouls. It also comes to a point in the confrontation with the ghoul-hunting organisation (really a specialised branch of the national security force of sorts) that he realises the grave misunderstanding that has alienated both humans and ghouls and put them at eternally opposing sides of the field. He then realises that, being half of each, his identity poses as the greatest weapon and tool that could potentially bring both sides together. He suddenly realises the weight of the duty and responsibility that has come to lie on his shoulders, and his own – and that gets him to firm up his resolve to act correspondingly, with that end in mind.

I have not even gotten to the most exciting character development that Kaneki has experienced, but one can see the immense amount of thinking this character has done as we see the world through his eyes. His transitions in thinking mirror that of the audience as we follow his thought processes. Our perceptions also change together with his. That level of engagement with the audience humanises him more as we unconsciously put ourselves in his shoes. This makes it feel like Kaneki’s reactions and actions are a realistic alter ego of ours, and its precisely what we would have done if we were in his shoes. (for example, being in self-denial and rooted to the spot when we are scared. There is a difference between a character being simply wimpy and one that only reacts they way he does because that’s what a normal person would do). This is actually the first reason why we are so enthralled with Kaneki Ken as a character.

The second reason, of course, comes from his transformation. We are referring to one of those rare total transformations in character even in anime, where logic does not match up with reality. What may seem like an entirely bizarre change is actually very well accepted even though at first blush, it seems to reek of a total deus ex machina of sorts or a poorly executed plot device. Why? Simply because Kaneki has been humanised enough to us that there simply isn’t any other way that he could have developed, given the experiences he was brought through. Hence, we are ready to accept his transformation, managing to satisfy at least two types of audiences: firstly, those who, from the start, have been disappointed with Kaneki’s lack of ability to defend and fight and being always overpowered and have finally been given the action they were eager for. Secondly, those who are looking for wholeness of character and have accepted Kaneki’s ‘wimpy’ reactions as purely normal; but were thrown into a pleasant surprise. After all, this total transformation is the part which deviates from reality (because there is a higher chance of becoming mentally deranged than actually turning out to be stronger mentally AND physically). However, Kaneki Ken has made the juxtaposition of badass and kindness so possible: and honestly, who doesn’t love a badass character? Moreover, though his mannerisms and behaviour are nothing alike the first character, his innate kindness and compassion towards those he cares about is retained, though not easily shown, but in existence nonetheless.


             Who would have thought?

Don’t get me wrong; Shingeki no Kyojin is in my top 5 anime of all time, but Tokyo Ghoul ranks nowhere close to my top 20. I absolutely adore SnK in all its glory; but to me, this highlights the difficulties in rating anime; to call an anime one of your favourites is to also recognise its flaws, but accept them nonetheless. Tokyo Ghoul does a much better job at character development, and I can’t help but recognise that strength it has.

That concludes my comparison on the two arguably most talked about anime for the past two years. I believe I have managed to avoid any overt spoilers in my post, though please let me know if there are any crucial or major ones I have mentioned. Both anime are seriously worth a try if you haven’t had the chance to, and I would also recommend reading the Tokyo Ghoul manga as well to get a fuller picture of the setting 🙂

*All images used in this post were sourced from Google Images and Deviantart and do not belong to me, but to their respective owners.*

Spoiler Comparison: Strobe Edge vs Heroine Shikkaku

El Manga Heroine Shikkaku de Momoko Kouda tendrá adaptación a película Live-Action en Verano.

Heroine Shikkaku

Strobe Edge - Gacchan, Ren, Ninako and Andou

Strobe Edge

*Please go on tumblr/Pinterest to check out the above two manga if you haven’t tried them because my images SERIOUSLY DO NOT DO THEM JUSTICE. Also, this is a spoiler warning so read at your own risk.*

I don’t actually normally do comparisons but I realised I HAD to do this for myself, or my thoughts will continually be raging through my head and my soul will never rest in peace.

Shoujo manga has always been a gigantic heartache for me because I have a habit of shipping the underdog/second male lead character and it absolutely destroys me when the girl, despite this second guy unconditionally loving them so much, chooses to go back to the first, which may or may not be the best choice (note that this is subjective though) for them.

Take these two manga for example. The setting and plot are awfully similar, and in fact, the same. Well….almost. Let me highlight the respective differences (blue for Strobe Edge, red  for Heroine Shikkaku)

Heroine (Ninako, Hatori) is in love with first guy (Ren Ichinose, Rita Terasaka) and confesses to him. First guy has certain issues that prevents them from accepting the girl’s confession. (For example, already having a girlfriend, but for HS its really due to RIta and Hatori being childhood friends hence the latter is unable to see her as a love interest). Heroine is extremely determined and is convinced that she will only love first guy, so she tries to deal with her feelings (or act on them). In comes the second guy (Andou, Kosuke Hiromitsu). This guy is popular, flirtatious, and a player. However, he gradually falls in love with Heroine. Drama ensues. Note that the second guy falls hard, totally and completely.


However, there is actually a big difference between how I feel about who the heroine ends up with, though both actually make sense, to an extent.

In Strobe Edge, Ninako is a pure, kind  girl who questions herself and her actions while trying to pursue her feelings for Ren. She is selfless and strong, in my eyes, and though persistent, never really comes across as annoying. Most importantly, Ren himself never really emotionally cheats on his girlfriend. He sorts out his feelings even when unconsciously falling for Ninako, and is purely devoted to his girlfriend and is there when she needs him. They actually break up and its some time before he starts realising his feelings for Ninako and then acting on them. No surprises there when they end up together, even when we as readers all feel for Andou. But Ninako is never really confused about her feelings of who she likes; its clear that its Ren all the way, and its only because she doesn’t run away from Andou’s various attempts and tries to answer properly to his feelings that the ‘drama’ in that part of the love triangle comes in. I really felt sorry for Andou because its clear that he really loves Ninako but Ninako never really gave him a chance.

Hence, one could say that Ninako and Ren are really the perfect couple. Their selflessness and readiness to put themselves in other people’s shoes make them a perfect fit with each other. I don’t actually see either of them with anybody else, and to me, this is the only end the manga could have ended.

Heroine Shikkaku, on the other end, features a very unique female protagonist, Hatori. She would be what one would term as the ‘bitchy female rival’ in most shoujo manga. Viewing herself as the ‘heroine’ in Rita’s love story, she dismisses whatever potential rivals she has as ‘supporting/side characters’. She is really persistent in trying to show her love and support to Rita and comes up with some menacing plots to break Rita and his then girlfriend apart (the latter who happens to fall into the stereotype of nerdy, shy, quiet girl with glasses and short hair). She harbours evil thoughts towards her rivals and is sometimes seen as annoying because of her persistence and inability to see the truth of the situation (that Rita is NOT interested in her, period.) However, we all know she is not really truly evil. She does have an inkling that what she is doing is wrong though she doesn’t attempt to change much. She is real. She is a reflection of our inner demons if we are placed in the same situation (God forbid, but I doubt I would be as forward as her – i am more of the ‘cry dejectedly in the corner’ type). Even after listing all her lousy attributes, I can actually say I like her – I admire her courage to live according to how she feels, her ludicrous facial expressions, and the fact that she can be read so openly like an open book. Not to mention her overwhelming ability to blame herself for events that transpired and wanting to look out for people she cares for (which feeds into her indecisiveness in choosing between the guys).

Rita, on the other hand, is a seriously lousy male protagonist, though I can’t bring myself to hate him either. He is unclear about his feelings, often gives the wrong signals to both his girlfriend and Hatori, only came to like Hatori when he realised she was gradually falling for Hiromitsu and treating her as convenient when she was around initially. He only goes all out in his pursuit when Hatori is actually in ‘like’/in serious danger of falling for Hiromitsu. He was literally oscillating between his girlfriend and Hatori, and his indecisiveness is at times.. astounding. But his efforts to redeem himself worked somewhat, and I didn’t hate him in the end. Mainly because of another reason though which I will elaborate further below.

Hiromitsu, on the other hand, is to die for. Sure, he belongs to the ‘player’ archetype, popular and flirty, and never taking relationships seriously. But the depth of love he has for Hatori is amazing. Even when he knew that Hatori still couldn’t get over Rita, he welcomed her into his open arms. He was willing to be the distraction for Hatori’s feelings. Even when she was supposed to be his girlfriend but spent so much time with Rita (and more-than-a-friend interactions with Rita) he still chose to believe in her and push down any feelings of jealously. His magnanimity towards his rival even when he is clearly smitten with her is..amazing. Even when he let his guard down towards the end of the manga and gave into his jealousy, one can forgive him due to the fact that he has done so unbelievably much.

Which brings me to my most important here. Hatori may be very likable, but she does not deserve Hiromitsu. She knows this herself which is why she chose to let him go in the end instead of trying to fall in love with him and never really succeeding. In fact, Hatori and Rita are perfect with each other. Why? Because Hatori is really an imperfect ‘ideal’ heroine. She is merely the heroine of her own story, and because she has made so many mistakes and wavered with regards to her feelings towards the two guys. Which makes her a perfect match with Rita, who is similarly indecisive himself, and who also makes tons of mistakes along the way. In a way, both of them are idiots who really and truly belong together (as Hatori’s friend Nakajima summarises perfectly in the Extra at the end of the manga). And that is really the true message of the manga: the realisation that we are only human, we make tons of ridiculous, stupid mistakes, we are selfish as well, and that we control our own stories and the way we live our lives.

I suppose I could draw comfort from the fact that Hatori really tried to love Hiromitsu, and see only him. They were in a relationship for a good couple of chapters, and endured through trials and tribulations as well while trying to maintain the relationship with so many rivals and drama going on. Hatori really appreciated what Hiromitsu had done for her, and this was also one of her reasons for letting him go, to find somebody who is more worthy of his attention and love. (I mean, its also because she was really in love with Rita, but I’ll still give her credit).

Hiromitsu really breaks my heart, though. What me (and other Hiromitsu fans, I am sure) need now is another continuing story for him to find his soul mate; someone who encompasses the same traits as Hatori (the ones that made him fall for her) but doesn’t at least come with that baggage and won’t hurt him the same way as she inevitably did.

On a sidenote, those who have seen my MAL profile would know that one of my absolute favourites is NANA. The main lead, Nana, is also someone indecisive with her feelings, completely superficial, always looking for love, and what one would term as a ‘weak’ protagonist. She believes in true love but her relationships never work out well. Some people even call her a slut because of the way she jumps from one guy to another usually but frivolous reasons. But I really identify with her because she knows that she is weak, helpless, dependent, fickle, but chooses to still pursue these superficial goals. And sometimes, one would think, why not? Life is full of materialism. Everybody wants to be loved, live richly, be always surrounded by loved ones, to be the center of attention. We just do the best in each situation we encounter, try to keep loved ones by us, and live. Nana is the embodiment of such pursuit and thus grounded in realism. That’s the reason why I like her. Hatori is somewhat similar to her but..still loses out because she isn’t as grounded in reality as the universe of NANA (and Nana herself) is. Maybe because I believe that its possible to try and love someone and succeed. Maybe because I believe that there is no point being hung up on say one person without trying to find a better love. Maybe because love is more than attraction.

Having said that, I can’t wait for the live action film of HS and SE to be released. Both are coming out in summer this year and I  hope it won’t be destroyed by actors/actresses’ poor acting abilities. (seriously, that’s the worst.)

*All images are obtained from Pinterest and I do not own any of the above images.*