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46 of 46 episodes seen
Sailor Moon introduces us to Usagi at her most comedic: she is not only the heroine but the comic relief of her own show. Over the course of the season we are introduced to Luna, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter and finally Sailor Venus and Artemis.
As others have mentioned, it is the characters, their relationships with one another which really holds the show together. Other shoujo such as Card Captor Sakura, handled the monster of the week nature in a more fun and varied way, but few anime have handled girls in all their complexities and silliness as well as Sailor Moon has, before or since.
Sailor Moon is about girl power and while the anime emphasis may not be as strong as the manga, it's definitely still there. The girls have complex characters; it's not about defining them by one characteristic, the dumb blond or the tough tomboy (as American cartoons often do) but by letting the girls be multi-faceted, even paradoxical; the tomboy who is boy crazy and romantic, the dumb blond who is athletic and dedicated to her mission. Sailor Moon saves Tuxedo Kamen's butt for every time he saves her, more so as the season goes on. And all of the girls change and grow through the challenges they face.
With such a large amount of characters and cool-looking villains, Sailor Moon is also one of the most lastingly popular series for fanart and fanfiction. Someone or some relationship is bound to catch your interest and play you right along. Which is all part of the fun. Planets, stones, mythology, past lives, romances. This series has so much to play with and it all adds to the appeal.
The monster of the week aspect forms the larger part of the series, which is hit and miss. Some episodes delve into character development, exploring the girls' past and seeing why they are who they are. Others are primarily comedic in nature, such as the episode with the cat who falls in love with Luna, mocking Tuxedo Mask's and Sailor Moon's relationship (everyone has made fun of Tuxedo Mask, but Sailor Moon did it first). Others are boring, silly and a bother to sit through.
The best episodes are the first handful and the second half of the anime, I think. Once the Nephrite arc ends, the series picks up. Kunzite and Zoicite are threatening, the monster of the week format is shaken up and things get serious. At this point, even the filler episodes can be grim. And, of course, as with any season of Sailor Moon, the finale delivers in big ways.
There's no doubt the budget for this anime was less than to be desired; being a shoujo, that was its inevitable fate. Thus the animation and sound effects are sub-par. However, the voice acting it strong and a lot of heart went into this show. And following seasons pick up, the animation improves and the soundtrack simply gets better and better.
I think the main question is whether Sailor Moon is riding entirely on nostalgia, or if it still holds up today. Not having watched Sailor Moon as a child and watching the first season for the first time in my life at 23, my opinion is that, while flawed, it is still a worthy watch. There's history in the making in this show. Skip the filler if you want and watch the core plot episodes. They're worth it. read more
82 of 82 chapters read
It's a dramedy revolving around the relationships of Sumire, a successful reporter whose tough exterior hides many insecurities, Takeshi (Momo), a young man Sumire picks up off the street who, in return becomes her 'pet' and finally Hasumi, Sumire's first love who becomes her boyfriend after her breakup in the beginning of the story.
What makes this manga work is the chemistry between all of the characters, from the love triangles to the bitchy co-workers, to Sumire's domineering family.
As a single woman in a tough work environment, Sumire puts up a tough front and plays the perfectionist. Her co-workers are torn between fear of her blunt manner and admiration for her morals and competence. Yet, underneath she is a normal woman, often insecure about her appearance, her choices and her relationships. Sumire is one of the best written women I've ever come across in a manga. The author isn't trying to give us a super woman role-model to follow or an incompetent idiot to laugh at. Sumire is real and I love her because of it.
Takeshi is a freelance modern dancer, living a carefree, careless life. He dances because he loves to and doesn't have a thought for the future, which is what lands him on the streets on the first place. He plays the roll as Sumire's 'pet'; basically freeloading off of Sumire and doing whatever she wants in return. Though in other mangas this could take quite the perverted turn, Kimi wa Pet plays it straight. Takeshi, dubbed Momo by Sumire, gives her not merely companionship but the freedom to be herself. Their relationship, made exciting by Takeshi's attraction to Sumire and Sumire's growing realization of Takeshi as a man, is what holds the book together.
In sharp contrast to the comfortable, easy going and honest relationship between Sumire and Takeshi, is Sumire's boyfriend Hasumi. Hasumi sees Sumire as a delicate, sweet woman, and Sumire is too insecure about the relationship to ever correct him. So when she blushes because he almost catches her smoking, he thinks she's cute and she feels guilty. Their relationship is poignant and so interesting to watch unfold because they're two wonderful people who just don't seem to belong together.
Anyway, the backbone of the manga is the relationships obviously, but the plot doesn't disappoint. We go through Sumire's rises and falls in the company, her relationships and travels. We delve into her and Takeshi's past and see the relationships between all the characters change and develop along with them. At 14 volumes, it is a fairly long story but the drama is always exciting and will keep you interested. There are a few filler-like pitfalls, some for comic relief (which are hit and miss) and some which are just odd and out of place. Still, overall, the pacing is good despite the weaker points here and there.
I love the artwork, but it is a matter of taste. I love the way the creator draws her character's lips (since manga characters often go without) and the eyes are gorgeous but almost creepily huge. There are a wide variety of characters, each with a different look and build, the creator even goes so far as to show you how the woman look with and without makeup. The wardrobes are varied and expressive of each character's individuality and overall the art shows an attention to detail and a great sensitivity. It's different looking and totally suits the manga.
All in all, Kimi wa Pet is a fun, entertaining and funny manga that will leave you feeling good about yourself and others with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your tummy afterward. It's honest, intelligent and meaningful. A worthwhile read! read more
35 of 43 chapters read
So we have Tatsumi Souichi, a self-proclaimed gay-hater whose two favorite people in the world...are gay. He's a classic tsundere; loud, brash, hot-headed but also a bit shy and easily flustered. I think what makes this 'walking personality disorder' of a guy so loveable is that despite his gay hating ways, it really doesn't matter to him if you're gay or not. He still adores his little brother and cares about his only friend, Morinaga, even after he confessed to his unrequited love for him. He has denial down to an art form but is unflinchingly loyal to those he loves. He wears his heart on his sleeves; what you see is what you get.
On the other hand there's Morinaga, who's harbored an unrequited love for Tatsumi for five years. At first glance he's a bit pathetic, mooning over a hopeless love, reserved, quiet, polite. Unlike Tatsumi, he's got a few layers to his personality. He can be sneaky and manipulative and he has a tendency to overthink things. He pursues the romance with Tatsumi, pushing, pulling, dragging and coercing him into a relationship.
What makes it all work is the dynamics between the two; I can't say I ever feel bad for either one. They get what's coming to them and they honestly deserve one another. Tatsumi relentlessly abuses Morigina, physically and verbally, treating him like his assistant even outside of the university. Morinaga, who runs after Tatsumi while being perfectly aware of the man's considerable flaws, manipulates and tricks his straight friend into sex and breaks down his walls of denial.
The story...beyond what relates directly to the boys' personal lives there's not much plot outside of the relationship. I mean, Tatsumi is doing scientific experiments and Morinaga assists him and stuff, I guess? It's hardly the focus, but to be honest, at seven volumes, the chemistry is still there and it;s still as fun as it was in the beginning. The author doesn't just throw in a few sex scenes and suddenly it's all roses and everyone is in love and happy. No, Tatsumi's going gay kicking and screaming every relentless step of the way.
The art is good, though it's easy to get mixed up between characters since the designs aren't all that distinct. Morinaga and Tatsumi are very cute, I definitely dig the glasses and long hair. The sex scenes are smutty but not porny and I must say they're quite hot. If I must nitpick, it's that because of the nature of the relationship and Tatsumi's role of not exactly participating in the sex limits the variety of positions and fun things that can happen. Still the author manages to be creative and mix things up.
The Tyrant who Fell in Love is a nice little dramedy, and I'd recommend to any yaoi fan for a good laugh. The boys are funny, hot and likeable and the story is entertaining. It's a nice light read, nothing life changing or amazing, but enjoyable nonetheless. read more
75 of 75 chapters read
The story revolves around the relationship between Jaehee and Dai, two boys who feel an immediate attraction to each other when they first meet. Their first meeting also ends in Jaehee being brutally beaten by Dai's gang. What immediately sets the story apart from more generic takes on the tale is that their initial attraction doesn't go anywhere. Both Jaehee and Dai struggle with their mixed feelings of hatred and attraction for each other.
Let Dai is a fairly long series at 15 volumes and the story is well-paced throughout. The story contrasts nicely between the beautiful moments the two boys share when alone and the troubles they face when amongst others in society. And it also gives time to the secondary characters, not falling into the trap of having developed main characters and nothing else. Each character has their own story, their own personality and aspirations. And they will surprise you, from the comic relief thug turned hero, to the comic relief best friend turned tragic. The ending is so brilliant it literally left me speechless, I had to read it over several times to let it really sink in.
Let Dai is a primarily a romantic drama and it has the habit of being melodramatic and quite over the top at times. Characters over-react and spend many chapters lounging about and angsting. Panning city scapes to lines of poetry may come across as cheesy, particularly when the English translation is a bit weak. However, if you can immerse yourself in the angsty atmosphere and the dark events of the story, they work well.
What made it all work for me was Dai himself. He has that Heathcliff, or Iason quality if you will, of being a violent character, almost an antagonist, who, against all odds, remains sympathetic. The story takes great lengths to show you how and why this privileged young man became what he is.
Jaehee shines as well. Not merely the pure-hearted, kind boy who tries to save the world by being nice, Jaehee realizes through Dai's influence that there is more to life than following rules, that he can be true to himself and still be a good person worthy of his mother's love.
All in all, Let Dai is a truly worthwhile read, not just for fans of boy's love but for anyone looking for a good teen drama. It discusses weighty issues like gang rape, violence, prejudice, sexuality, family and society's influence on the individual's life. It doesn't just gloss over the boy's homosexual attraction to each other, but shows how their families and others butt in, trying to end its 'abnormal' nature. And it does it all well, balancing the highs and lows of life, keeping the story fresh at all times. Highly recommended! read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
There is no romanticism in this OVA, which is odd, considering the content. Mokkun, a somewhat bland character, sees Pico and ends up having sex with the underaged boy. He brings Pico around slowly, taking him out for ice cream, giving him blowjobs in the car, then finally bringing him around to his apartment. What creeps me out is the realism involved here...they don't fall in love. There are no roses. Instead there's a guy who seems to have little or no social life or girlfriend obsessing over a pretty boy. To the point where he dresses the boy up as a girl and even compares him to one. Pico likes the attention and (after the initial shock) the sex. It brings to mind stories of teachers having sex with their young children that you see in the news from time to time. I watch this anime and think...this could happen, no, this has happened to people. Not all cases of pedophiles are brutal rapes. Mokkun is neither presented as a bad guy or a good guy. He is not madly in love with Pico nor does he treat him badly, nor is it clear if he is manipulating the boy or simply lonely and desperate.
Pico too is a mystery. He is staying with his grandfather, for the summer if I remember correctly. The man seems old and disinterested in Pico and more than happy to let a completely strange man take his grandson out for long periods of time. If we consider the ending, which takes place at night on the beach...where is the grandfather!?
Of course, I'm not trying to say this is anything but shota porn, no. Merely that it stands out to me because of its stark realism. Compared to other yaoi, and even to its own sequels (Pico to Chico and Pico x Coco) Boku no Pico stands out awkwardly. It's clear Pico loves Mokkun much more than Mokkun loves him and the ending scene where Pico turns his innocent blue eyes towards the audience (facing Mokkun) and says 'I love you' always haunted me.
There are no roses and flowers in this OVA, no love, no happy ending. Just a brief glimpse into the life of a man and his lover, who happens to be a boy. The series takes its time showing scenery and building up to the sex scenes, all the while playing the disturbing call of cicadas. Had there been better character development, more story and more purpose, this could have been quite the interesting anime.
Overall, enjoyable as shota, but with the slightest sense of something not right going on underneath the surface. I can't even go so far as to say it glorifies pedophilia or rape...just presents it. Boku no Pico is an anime that does not judge, merely shows. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Now Cowboy Bebop has it all; great characters with good backstories, smooth animation, amazing music and lots of humor. So why don't I love it? Quite simply, Cowboy Bebop was a frustrating experience for me! I watched the series on and off over a couple of months, far longer than it normally takes for me to finish a series this short. I found it very off-putting that, with such interesting characters, the creators chose to spend so much time doing nothing with them!
As others have mentioned, each episode is a hit or a miss. Some tackle the main characters, mix in some plot, throw in new characters or ideas and are just amazing overall. And then others are meandering and pointless.
Now this is found in any slice-of-life series, it comes with the package. But in Cowboy Bebop it especially bothered me to spend an episode watching some character do something I could care less about when there are four amazing, interesting characters with stories that could fill several seasons sitting around and not getting anywhere!
Vicious and Julia for example; why did we spend an episode watching Jet's old friend's daughter come to grips with her father's lack of affection for her? I honestly can't remember. And then you have Vicious and Julia's very few appearances despite being characters very important in the overall plot and intriguing characters in their own right.
So before you hit the non helpful button, please remember that I do hold the series in high regard. It is a very well-made series that raises many interesting questions and concepts; and while some episodes frustrated me, others fascinated me. There's nothing wrong with the series, and I know many people like it's meandering nature and enjoy the lack of an over-arching plot (which, by the way, was rather tidily summed up in two eps at the end, nicely done).
While my objective opinion is that it is a well-made series, well worth a watch, my subjective view wishes it was different, that it had been a story about Spike's past, about Vicious, about their friendship, about Julia's love and Jet and Faye's stories as well. It is because I loved the characters so much that I wanted more of them, wanted to see them more, know them more.
Why are you still reading my review? Go check it out! read more
20 of 20 chapters read
It holds a special place in my heart, being a big vinatge CLAMP fan. Though technically an unfinished work (CLAMP claims that two further volumes were planned to complete the story) I personally hope they never complete the story. There's something about the jumps in time and the incomplete nature of the 4 volumes available that I prefer to think of it as a completed whole. It just works; and this is why Clover has recently been re-released in Omnibus form by Dark Horse.
Concerning art and pacing, Clover is one of the most beautiful manga I have ever seen. The artwork is minimalist, relying on stark blacks and whites and expressive lines. The style is leaning towards a mechanical, futuristic feel rather than a lush fantasy setting, but sometimes combining both. In this world, the mechanics are as beautiful as Suu's garden prison. CLAMP has managed to merge storytelling, art, paneling and characters into one seamless whole. Every panel is placed with care, negative space is a part of the telling and the dialogue is there seemingly because it must be. Clover is a manga where the telling ofl the story is every bit as beautiful and important as the story itself. I think of it as something of a poem.
Style over substance?
Well...yes. Clover does suffer in that aspect. It's not the most original, life-changing story ever and the characters, while touchingly sweet and poignant, are not that deep. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so. In this case, the characters add to the overall melancholy, fairy-tale like feel of the manga. Now, this is not to say the characters are shallow or stereotypes; rather that being a short manga with a longer story planned to tell, they don't really have a chance to be fully expressed and developed. But what you do see in this short glimpse into the world of Clover, is striking in it's honest simplicity.
Suu has some elements reminiscent of other CLAMP heroines; she is selfless, good and pure. But instead of being upbeat and cheerful, instead she is sad and lonely, resigned to her fate. I love the idea of her character; she is so powerful to the point of rendering her powerless. The government has locked her up because her mere existence is a threat - and she accepts this. Locked up in a gilded cage, she lives a sort of fairytale existence, in a beautiful garden protected by killer robots that look like stuffed animals. She listens to the outside world and in this way hears and then befriends a beautiful singer named Oruha - over the phone. They never actually meet.
Oruha and Kazuhiko are the other two protagonists of the story. I love them because they're some of the few CLAMP couples to have an actual fully fledged, mature love story. No fluff, hints or subtext. They're lovers.
Kazuhiko does not fit into the 'tough guy' or 'young teen' stereotype. He's an ex-military, kind of average guy, brave and level-headed with a heart of gold. Oruha is a mature, intelligent woman, and I consider her one of the most beautiful manga women. She is instantly recognizable, with her mass of black curls, full lips and voluptuous figure. Oruha is kind, brave and proud. In a bit of dramatic irony I appreciate, Suu forms relationships with both Oruha and Kazuhiko, who are lovers, but neither ever know about the other's relationship with our little waif.
All three characters are expressive and you get the feeling there's always something going on beneath the surface. They have pasts, secrets and desires. Not all are fully expressed or explored in the length of the series, but the existence is there.
Where story is concerned, Clover is quite interesting. It starts in the middle, ends, then goes back to the beginning, then the manga ends in a middle before the start of volume one. It's really not as confusing as it sounds and I recommend reading the series the way it was published. It gives it a circular feeling, the story never really ends in my mind, there is no real finality to the events.
All in all, Clover is a story where the telling and the artwork is half the journey. It is a slow-paced glimpse into a strange world and stands out in my mind as an enormously enjoyable work. It is one of my favorite manga. Some call it pretentious; I disagree. CLAMP is a lot of things, but not pretentious. It is CLAMP's venture into something different, a world where characters do not turn into chibis because there is no slapstick (the humour comes from some clever banter between the characters) there are no cutesy animal sidekicks and it's thoughtful, contemplative rather than complex and gimmicky. It is complete in it's incompleteness and I highly recommend it, to any fan of manga, if only to observe the masterful storytelling.
Don't overlook Clover; it's breathtaking.
75 of 78 chapters read
I've been around the yaoi block over the years of my obsession and I've seen it all. The good, the bad, the doujinshis, the one-shots. And this series is one of the best. It combines everything that we love in yaoi; beautiful men, drama, romance and sex. More importantly, it does it does it all masterfully.
The only way I can accurately describe Embracing Love is to call it a Yaoi Soap Opera. And I mean that in the best way. There isn't one main driving plot such as 'hero must find sword and defeat badguy', instead it's more of a slice of life, episodic series. The driving force behind it all would be the romance between our boys and their professional lives. The series deals with issues ranging from petty jealousies and insecurities to dealing with homophobic relatives and struggling to get a job in a tough industry. I'm under no illusions as to it's realism, obviously things are going to be sugar-coated, but all in all it is one of the most honest, realistic yaoi manga I have ever had the pleasure to read. It's dramamtic without being dark and funny without being too light and carefree.
It all comes down to our leading men; Iwaki and Katou. To be honest there aren't many other shining performances besides the two guys, the other characters are a bit bland. But does this matter? Not at all, because these two are more than egotistic and explosive enough to keep your interest for a full 14 volumes of drama and lover's tiffs.
Those familiar with the genre will be surprised to hear that there are no assigned 'roles' to these boys. Iwaki, older, serious and professional is normally the uke of the pair, but only where sex is concerned. He's no pushover, he can be surprisingly cold and harsh. Deep down he's sensitive and even insecure. Katou on the other hand, is bright, flamboyant and impulsive. He's normally the seme (yes, I did say normally twice, the boys occasionally switch roles) and is characteristically jealous and over-the-top. It's Katou who initiates and pursues the relationship in the beginning.
What makes it all work is how Iwaki and Katou are men. Undeniably, unquestionably men. They look and act like guys. (Well, you know, romanticized fictional guys, but still!) Iwaki struggles with being the 'wife' of the relationship despite having a dominant personality. Katou struggles with insecurity and jealousy. They are in the same industry, sometimes competing for the same roles, sometimes not even able to meet each other for days despite living in the same house. They squabble, argue, fight and yell constantly. And then they work it all out and make-up. With great sex! The drama never ends.
The artwork is absolute top notch. I am a huge fan of Youka Nitta now, the way she draws men is just too much. I honestly don't know how she can make these guys looks completely manly and yet totally beautiful at the same time. Please don't be turned off by the cover artwork, or even the first volume or so. Give it a chance, the art work may seem a bit dated by today's standards, but a few volumes in and I'm sure you'll love it. Her grasp of anatomy, of complex expressions, the pacing and paneling, it's all beautiful. I've never seen art quite like it before. It's different, it's unique, it's perfect for the story.
Now, the only problem I have with the series is this: sometimes the characters just don't shut up. Youka Nitta has a great sense of drama; her artwork and paneling reflects it. So every once in a while I wish the boys would just hug or cry...in silence. Their thoughts are analyzed and they really just go on and on. Which isn't bad, because it gives great insight into their minds and characters. But no one really talks like that. A grand speech or apology once in a while is great, but silence is great also. You can say so much with a look. Youka Nitta sometimes achieves this affect to great success during their sex scenes when they finally stop talking and she lets the artwork talk and the emotion show through body language and facial expression. Her sex scenes are stunning.
Speaking of which, Embracing Love is fairly graphic with the sex. There's no cutting to black once they start kissing. But it's very tastefully done, in my opinion. It's certainly not pornographic. The guy's manly bits are drawn in screentone normally, or with the faintest detail, just hinted at or sometimes not shown at all. There are kissing scenes, cuddling scenes, and pretty much every position imaginable. Youka Nitta keeps it fresh, ranging from hot quick sex to romantic, wordy sex. There is a fair amount; sex normally features during the climax of each episode, once their fight is resolved, or if they're reunited after a long separation. All in all, not too much, not too little for me, but for someone else it may be a bit overwhelming.
Embracing Love is a classic of the yaoi genre and for good reason. It's well-paced, smart, always fresh and the chemistry between the lead couple is one-of-a-kind. The artwork is beautiful and a manga where a gay couple get married and face real life issues is a rarity. It's forgiving, loving and optimistic. Embracing Love truly is a manga about just thatl embracing love. Because it's worht it. The series iis well worth a look. You won't be disappointed!
62 of 62 episodes seen
Imagine a shonen series where the main character, a young boy, does NOT start out as a complete idiot who knows nothing trying to be the best trainer/ ninja/ fighter in the whole wide world. Our hero, Gon, from the first episode is already skilled, patient and persistant. He is young, boyish and naive but never annoyingly so. And his aim, reflecting his character, is pure and simple; he wants to meet his father, who he's never met.
Rather than beginning with long boring training scenes, Hunter x Hunter gets straight to the point and starts with the action filled Hunter's Exam. Well, it does take a few episodes to really get there, but as other reviewers have suggested, please give this series a chance through the first few, at least five episodes. Yes, the artwork is a bit dated and it's a bit cheesy and Gon makes animal friends. Skip the first few eps if you must. The real treat is coming.
The Hunter exam is not like anything you've ever taken at school before. And it certainly doesn't rely overmuch on simple muscle or physical strength. So you're not going to see boys beating each other up, moving on to the next bad guy, lather rinse repeat, oh no.
The Hunter Exam is about testing it's contestants, psychologically and physically. It forces them to form friendships to complete certain tasks, then pits everyone against each other, about giving choices where each choice is more deadly than the last and choosing not to choose is a gamble. Some episodes have a lot, and I mean a lot of clever dialogue and talking, while others are more action based. It's overall quite a smart series, and rather dark; people die (and stay dead) and good doesn't always triumph. In fact, some of the most morally ambiguous people and situations you may ever encounter take place in this series.
One of Hunter x Hunter's strong points is it's cast of characters. Not only do our main 4 boys have strong, three-dimensional personalities but so does every other character on the show, from old family friends who appear for a few episodes or recurring characters that appear ever so often.
We have Killua, the fan favorite, a white haired, sometimes angsty teenaged boy who is actually an assassin from a big, famed, filthy rich family of assassins. (Just wait till you meet his family). Killua is blunt and sarcastic, basically Gon's foil.
Kurapica, my favorite character, is another story. Aloof, proud, collected, highly intelligent and harboring plenty of dark secrets, Kurapica is the brains of the operation, getting them out of plenty of tight spots where muscle just doesn't cut it. But as you soon find out, it's not that he lacks muscle or fighting skill.
And then we have...Leorio. At first glance you may wonder why he's really even there. He spends most of the series lagging a bit behind his younger friends.He's really just an average guy and provides a lot of the series humor. Though some people consider him to be an extra addition that doesn't make sense, I think the series just wouldn't be the same without him. Somewhere in the midst of all the insanity this average guy barely keeping up with them just works.
Really it's the characters that pull this series together, from the ever talkative ninja, to the Hunter Examiner without a mouth (who nevertheless talks a plenty), to the evil Hisoka who delights in finding those challenging enough to kill to the deranged family of assassins. Everywhere you turn is a new, interesting character, some of them more unique and original than many main characters in other series.
So overall, if you're looking for a solid anime that isn't regularly interrupted by filler, features great battles, great characters, dark, gritty artwork and smooth animation then Hunter x Hunter is for you. read more
The artwork alone is truly reason enough to buy the entire series. I confess to being a Yuu Higuri art fanatic and this series had me swooning. Higuri did her research and the clothes, scenery and background art is as authentic as you could ever hope to expect from a manga. (As far as I can tell, having not lived in Renaissance Italy, or modern Italy for that matter.) The clothes are never-ending, the gowns, the puffy-sleeved shirts, the jewelery, the elaborate hairstyles, capes and shoes! Always changing, always beautiful. The artwork, mirroring the setting it depicts, is pure opulence. Concerning character design, well, this is a shoujo title, so expect plenty of beautiful men and big eyed women, still, I never had a problem confusing characters with one another. Either the facial features or hair of each character is distinct enough to keep them all looking just like themselves.
As well as being beautiful eye candy, the art is there to tell a story and tell a story is does, brilliantly so. The panels flow smoothly, the characters are suitably expressive and the pacing is perfect. Higuri has it all down to an art.
Now, to get down to business.
Cantarella is a fantasy very loosely based on Cesare Borgia, Duke of Valentinois, a Spanish-Italian condottiero, lord, politician, and cardinal. Thank you, wikipedia. Rather in the style of Higuri's Ludwig II, she borrows freely from history but puts plenty of her own twist on the tale, so don't plan on referencing this for an upcoming history exam.
The three main characters are simply perfect for the story and all it's twists. Cesare, our hero, or anti-hero, is sacrificed by his father for the papal crown as a baby. Basically, his soul is sold. Nice dad. So we get to watch the sweet, innocent boy at the start of our tale grow into a twisted, evil being slowly losing hold of humanity. And Higuri sure takes her time, it's a slow process that is so delicious to watch unfold. His sister, Lucrezia, has quite the brother complex and adores her brother...more than she should. Chiaro, who has sworn to kill Cesare should the demons ever take over him completely (but will he be able to?), is Cesare's friend and very possibly much more than that to Cesare.
Being quite the yaoi fangirl I was slightly disappointed to find that there really is no actual boy x boy love, it's definately touched upon and there is a kiss (sort of), but it's mostly left up to the imagination.
For some reason, Higuri's weak point is, as always, the female characters. All of her girls are mostly one-sided creatures, revolving completely and entirely around their love interests, whoever they may be. It's interesting to watch Lucrezia being tossed about here and there as nothing more than a political pawn, but it's hard to feel that much sympathy for her, since there isn't much to her. Cesare's...um...love buddy? is the same, her character revolves simply around her obsession with Cesare.
And yet Higuri IS capable of deep and complex characters; Chiaro, Cesare, Juan, and more. If they're male you can be sure that they are multi-faceted, interesting and very human. If they're female...they'll be swooning over some guy.
The story is long and epic, going through all the stages of Cesare's rise to power and his subsequent fall into madness, his friendship with Chiaro and his power struggles with his father, the loves and lives and betrayals of those surrounding him and the effect that all of this has on the rest of the world.
Cantarella is a solidly good work, featuring great storytelling, brilliant, brilliant art and a cast of colorful and intriguing characters that are sure to catch your interest. Whether you're a long term fan of Higuri or a newcomer to her work, I'm sure you'll find something in it for you. Highly recommended. read more