Charlotte: The Controversy

Surprises come when you least expect it.

I am shackled to this aspect of story-telling called ‘plot unpredictability’. The way it throws me in a loop and delivers yet another conclusion that is almost entirely unpredictable and unexpected thrills me to no end. Caught up in the adrenaline of the moment as my stomach drops, I throw away all inhibitions, all objectivity, and all logic, and I just let the excitement consume me whole.

I become but a slave to the story, as the control over my own evaluative, otherwise relatively discerning mind, slips from my fingers, dropping to the ground below with a clumsy ‘splat’.

Charlotte was that roller coaster, and its major plot twist was that split second you hover before you plunge down into the darkness, the words which had started to form in your mind dissolving into sheer exhilaration, a blinding flash of white.

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Cross Ange: Where First Impressions Don’t Determine It All

Whether one should watch Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo (“Cross Ange”) or not is a particularly difficult question to answer. It is a series that crosses too many boundaries of tolerance for the average anime viewer with its exploration of themes that cannot be stomached by many anime watchers, especially those who take a strict pro-feminist stance or have zero tolerance for blatant fanservice. Consumption of the series should also come with a massive warning label as its content features a smattering of trigger-warning content and controversial themes like yuri-rape, sexual glorification, misogyny, large servings of fanservice and certain atrocious acts of violence, just to name a few.

Now, who immediately closed this window, thinking that this is definitely not their cup of tea? At the very least, I urge those who stay to continue reading to understand why the ability to enjoy Cross Ange is not confined to fanservice lovers or yuri fans, and can actually be enjoyed by the rest of us, including females, who are looking for a good story, relatable characters, or just a nerve-wracking, entertaining ride in general.

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Kemono no Souja Erin: Evocative, heart-warming, and my brief salvation in the anime desert

The edge of the world looks like a vast landscape with no end in sight. Mountains in the distance line up on the parameters of my vision but between me and them there lie hundreds of miles of parched ground, with visible cracks starting to appear on the surface. The occasional gust of wind picks up sand and it blows into my face and eyes. My throbbing pain in my throat has subsided into a dull ache that barely registers, and I feel a sense of desolateness as I stare across the endless plains of sand dune undulations. I begin to dry heave as a ragged cough tears its ways through my windpipe, and I kneel down on the hot ground, waiting for it to pass.

That is how I have always imagined the anime desert to look like. And it certainly feels like it now.

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Kiseijuu Sei no Kakuritsu: An Effective Habinger of the Environmental Conservatism Message

Societal responsibility’s integration with media has always been a less than seamless process. Most attempts at value activism has only been able to reach a target audience that already echo its views. However, incidences of reaching out to a potentially wider audience who are not conscious, vehement supporters of such views are few and far between. This is even more unheard of in the realms of fictional media.

Kiseijuu, however, is a rare exception that has managed to deliver an engrossing, addictive story together with meaningful, ponderous questions on identity and human nature. Scoring high on both the entertainment factor and depth of thought, Kiseijuu is a gleaming gem in the dust of most post-2006 anime.

Perhaps it is not entirely surprising, given the shining track record of its production studio, Madhouse, and the quality of its source material, a manga authored by Iwaaki Hitoshi at the dawn of the 90s’ era. Even so, the effort put in transforming source material to make it relevant and remain enticing to the crowd known for a reduced attention span, immediate access to a whole host of novel ideas at the click of a mouse is surely no easy feat.

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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.

Story:

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.

Art

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.

Thoughts:

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 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.*