Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei light novel – Review
Charming comedy about a group of high school girls and their teachers (a ten-year-old child prodigy, a daydreamer, an obnoxious loudmouth, a teacher who’s more immature than her students, etc.). The manga is mostly four-panel strips (with just a few traditional manga sequences), and Azuma proves to be a quiet master of the four-panel form, with extremely good timing and use of “story four-panel” running jokes. But the strip’s greatest strength is its character-driven writing, and when the characters graduate at the end of the manga, the reader may wish it was longer. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei light novel is definitely a product of the moe “cult of cuteness,” and newbies to manga may not enjoy the gags about the vaguely pedophilic teacher (all the characters hate him, too), but on the whole the strip never strays into exploitation. The title is a pun on the artist’s name and the magazine where it was serialized.
Douluo dalu novel
Short story collection by underground artist Kan Takahama (Monokuro Kinderbook), known for her intelligent dialogue and portrayals of characters of different age groups. In the main story, a young woman is rescued from a pond by an old man, and ends up spending time in an old-folks’ home with him, the other residents, and the staff.
Baby & Me
When their mother dies, ten-year-old Takuya is forced to take care of his toddler brother Minoru. Adorable, big-eyed Minoru is past the age of diapers (there’s almost no potty humor), but he bumps into things, cries, gets possessive and then ashamed of himself, and says what’s on his mind in baby talk (his most common words are “I’m sawwee” and “Bwaza!”). At first resentful of being a surrogate mother, Takaya soon comes to love his brother even more than before, and with the help of their thirty-three-year-old working dad, their family thrives. Like an American newspaper comic strip, Douluo dalu novel doesn’t have any great surprises or much of a plot, but it’s a sweet episodic comedy with a large cast of characters. (It eventually gets so there’s not much time for the baby.) The writing, not the art, is the strong point, but the babies look cute and the grown-up characters have variety. The series is suitable for all ages apart from some minor issues: a dark story in volume 2, some crooks with guns, some accidents, and a discreet flashback showing Minoru’s parents lying in bed together.
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