Friday, December 02, 2005

I had to special-order Tenshi Ja Nai through the local Comic Swap, due to it being published by a johnny-come-lately manga republisher called Go! Comi - word has it that they're escapees from one of the big two - Viz, I think. It's in the hoary old tradition of the cross-dressing roommate/partner micro-genre - there's more of 'em than you'd think. W Juliet and Girl Got Game are just two that have gotten published over here - an unpublished example would be Mint no Bokura, which featured a set of fraternal twins pretending to be identical, with the cross-dresser being the protagonist's possessive brother. Hell, one of the first manga I ever read, Twinkle Twinkle Idol Star, was a not-very-good cross-dressing idol-star-team manga, although that one was shounen, not the usual shoujo affair. Tenshi Ja Nai's schtick is that the protagonist, Hikaru, isn't the usual good-girl or "genki" archetypal heroine, but rather an introverted, determined loner who just wants to be left alone, damnit. Sort of a much-less-psychotic version of Sunako from the Wallflower. It makes for a different sort of dynamic than the usual idol-with-a-secret, roommates-conspiring-around-a-gender-secret love-comedy stuff. The one weak part of the book is the half-painted high-drama building up around the cross-dressing roommate/idol, Izumi. It's all too much, too soon in the story for my preferences. We'll see if the story settles down, or gets pat and repetitive like W Juliet. It's worth ordering the second one at least, I think.

I kind of promised to no longer buy from CMX, but Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne was just too pretty to pass up. It's a fairly rote magical-girl version on the usual "kaito" or gentleman-thief genre, which piles one set of ritual and stylization on top of another, equally rigid set of rituals and stylization, but it has a certain cheerful charm. The first volume was a little thin, but the art's nice, and you occasionally need a slice of pretty-and-stupid to break up the angst and drama. As a bonus, it *appears* as if CMX is in the process of addressing its quality-control issues, as the binding was vastly superior to the last few CMX books I've bought, and the overall presentation was superior and highly distinctive. It damn near jumped off the shelf at me.

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