chomiji: A chibi cartoon of Hotaru from the manga Samurai Deeper Kyo, with a book. Caption: Manga Joy (Manga joy!)

Take the teenaged cast and episodic nature of the old "Archie" comics, strain them through some "Comedy of Manners" novels (I'm thinking of Kushner's Swordspoint and Privilege of the Sword, and Wrede and Stevermer's Sorcery and Cecelia, but their common ancestors, the works of Jane Austen, would probably be even better), add a dash of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and a generous helping of the showiest, wooziest aspects of modern Japanese life. Beat until very, very light and fluffy ... and maybe you'd come up with Ouran High School Host Club.

I actually enjoyed this quite a lot, which is extremely strange, because it has very little in common with the other manga I really love.

Read more ... with spoilers! )
chomiji: A chibi cartoon of Hotaru from the manga Samurai Deeper Kyo, with a book. Caption: Manga Joy (Manga joy!)

OK, this was very cute, and most of the time it wasn't too cute. Mostly it was sweet - "like a good apple" rather than "like cotton candy." I will say that I was happier when the edgier characters were "on screen" and when there were hints about things being darker than they might seem at first. But that's because I'm a worldly person who likes the Lymond Chronicles (Dorothy Dunnett) and Cyteen (C.J. Cherryh) and stuff like that ... (not to mention older teen shounen manga).

Sweet young teen Honda Tohru, a recent orphan, is living in a tent in the woods by herself so as not to inconvenience her grandparents (they think she's staying with friends). The land she's on turns out to belong to the powerful, mysterious Sohma family, many of whose members are afflicted with a strange curse. One eventful night, Tohru falls ill and her tent is buried in a landslide. She's taken in by a little sub-household of Sohmas: successful young novelist Shigure and his two teenaged cousins, Yuki and Kyo, who attend Tohru's school. I'm tempted to say "hijinks ensue," but I'd feel cruel - and it actually doesn't really begin to cover the range of events.

Read more ... with spoilers! )

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