Cafe of Dreams

Unemployed college graduate Sunbae is job hunting when she meets, Na Bong Nam, a2016-09-20-1 young man working at the Cafe of Dreams. Sipping her first cup of hope she begins to rethink career plans with the help of the cafe employees. Sunbae’s heart is slowly makings its plans until a beautiful young woman returns to the cafe from abroad. Has Sunbae’s cup of luck gone empty or is this just the beginning to a far bigger journey?

 

My Review (Part 1)

Korean Tea HouseThe teahouses of the East remain a fascinating part of their culture. Reading a manhwa which surrounds one struck the interest of this reviewer. The translators have chosen to refer to the teahouse of this manhwa as a café. Teahouses are usually for the older men in Korea but this one is for meant to be a place for the young people aka the terminology café. Also, this café of dreams serves coffee which is kinda weird for a teahouse but it works best for the story!

Characters

2016-09-20-14Soo Ah Sunbae-College graduate who is downhearted over a lack of job prospects. Her future is changed when a young man invites her to the café of dreams. She is bolstered by the suggestions there but still struggles with self-esteem.

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Na Bong Nam– Worker at the café of dreams who makes each unique cup of tea. He is handsome with a charm not lost on Sunbae. Na Bong Nam appears to have a relationship with a former international volunteer.

 

2016-09-20-16Soon Bong– Has a stalkerish passion for Sunbae. He is in the same job scenario as his crush. The café of dreams becomes a place for him as well. Soon Bong sometimes speaks faster than he thinks but at the core is a well-meaning young man.

 

Recently returned from volunteering abroad she has an affection for Na Bong Nam.2016-09-20-19 Sunbae sees her as the perfect girl. She is very pretty and has a lot of passion for the work being done as an overseas volunteer.

 

 

 

2016-10-07-4Computer techie who connects tea-drinking customers to potential job opportunities. He is the counterpart to Na Bong Nam. He lacks the graceful confidence of his coworker even tripping over himself.

 

My Review (Part Two)

Sunbae is a college graduate searching for her first job. She spots Na Boom, who invites her to visit the Café of Dreams. His first recommendation is a cup of hope and a2016-09-20-4 meeting with his coworker opens Sunbae to the idea of a job outside of Korea. Internships abroad offer opportunities which add global to returning candidate resumes. Returning to the café of dreams Sunbae is followed by admirer Soon Bong. He’s got a passion for Sunbae. Sunbae is finding more than hope at the café. She’s starting to have feelings for Na Bong Nam. The return of a beautiful young woman to the café opens Sunbae to the choice to volunteer her time overseas. Meanwhile, she struggles to see this lady standing by her crush. Sunbae will need all her courage to find her path to a future career and her heart.

The Café of Dreams tackles a topic college graduates face every year: what happens 2016-09-20-22now? Sunbae has done the academic work, gained a degree, but now remains at a loss about where the future leads. Na Boom Nam’s invitation to a cup of hope in the Café of Dreams has huge potential to opening a manhwa of infinite possibilities. The humor in the computer techie who stumbles over to help Sunbae is there. The definite potential of a romantic relationship impeded by another beautiful woman is there. Every element is there! The difficulty is the author’s ability to weave them into a powerful narrative. Café of Dreams lacks the intricacy of endearing a character to the reader. This is not about length. There are oneshots which master the art of such a thing.

The Café of Dreams ending could be the opening to a beautiful future. Details skimmed 2016-09-20-24over by the author could have created a journey for the reader. One which would have filled the wonderings of many in the position of Sunbae. Even the possibility of a fantasy series where a cup of tea holds magic for the drinker to manipulate their future. Sunbae’s own dreams deserved to be explored. This manhwa should have been explored. Instead it leaves a reader pondering how such a sweet ending could have been so much more. The possibility remains open if the author were to release a sequel or further chapters exploring questions left unanswered.

 

 

To the Reader

Those seeking a webtoon tugging at the romantic heart strings would be better off with2016-09-20-12 Orange Marmalade. Slice of life fans would be interested in Sunbae’s realistic struggle on deciding just what to do when life transitions from academics to the real world struggles. Comedy fans might be amused by the antics of hopeful suitor, Soon Bong , in his quest for Sunbae’s affections. Those looking for a quick read will find it as Café of Dreams is a brief eight chapters.

 

Final Score: 5.2

 

Details

2016-09-20-1Name(s): Café of Dreams

Author(s): Seok-Woo

Artist(s): Seok-Woo

Chapter(s): 8

Year: 2008

Genre: Romance, Comedy, Slice of Life, Webtoon

Status: Complete

Anime:

Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Starting Life in Another World)

Self-described delinquent in the making Subaru Natsuki is leaving the convenience storemanga_volume_5_cover when he is transported to an unknown world. Attacked by the world’s thugs he is rescued by spirit user; the same spirit user who Subaru finds murdered. To save her he will need his new power ‘death by return.’ With every painful death he has the ability to change the past. The past which exists in memory fragments for Subaru. If he cannot complete his memories he loses all hope of saving Emelia from eternal death.

My Review (Part 1)

volume_1_coverRe: Zero Starting Life in Another World is a light novel converted to manga. I have not read the light novel so every part of this review is solely based on the manga. The manga which has been growing steadily in popularity catching the imagination of this reviewer. I asked myself ‘will death by return’ make this manga worth living?

 

The Characters2016-08-31-3

Natsuki (Nakki) Subaru: Self-described delinquent in the making with a sense of humor. He considers himself a vagabond in this unknown world always on a mission. Nakki is savvy with turning the tables on a situation, learning from each past life. He believes three deaths are well-worth a smile and Emelia’s name. Waking up in the past it is revealed he has a deep affection for Rem. However, Emelia is the one who he cares for the most.

2016-08-31-10

Spirit User & Puck

Emelia is a silver haired part elf spirit user with a fierce independent streak. She has a strong sense of justice even stopping to help Subaru when he’s being mugged. After her death, Subaru uses his power to find a way to stop her from dying.  Her spirit counterpart is Puck, a cat who talks with a sense of humor.

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Satella or Emelia?

Satella: Emelia’s potential counterpart(?). The feared witch of envy who is immortal. Those who see her face don’t live. However her form is rumored to be a silver haired part elf spirit user.

 

 

2016-09-01Felt is a mischievous girl who makes a living via thieving. She’s clever at raising the prices on her clients delighting in seeing them frustrated by her. Pop Rom is a long-standing friend of hers who she is equally fond of. Felt and Pop Rom make a good team as fighters; protecting each other

 

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Rem-san appears after the ‘first’ ending. She is very fond of Subaru doing everything possible to make his life easier. Rem willingly puts herself in danger to Subaru. She is a fierce fighter who refuses to back down even when the odds are against her.

 

 

My Review Part 2

2016-08-31-1Re: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu is a bizarre smoothie blend of action with  sci-fi time travel. Just like the mechanisms of time travel Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu is beyond immediate understanding. Nakki Subaru’s life of a delinquent in the making gets screwed when he leaves the convenience store to then find himself transported into an unknown world.

 

2016-08-17-1The idea of being dropped into a new world is not a unique one. If the manga strictly kept to a basic ‘need to find a way home’ Wizard of Oz journey would be feeling the pangs of disappointment. Luckily nothing is every simple in Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu where Subaru’s arrival in this world is overshadowed by immediately becoming the target of a robbery. His reluctant savior is a spirit user girl who isn’t pleased to be distracted from stopping a wily thief named Felt. The meeting is a beginning to Subaru which will end in him finding he now has the power of ‘death by return.’ Put bluntly, his death is a rewind allowing him to make changes with the past life’s events to change the future.  This newfound power is his only weapon to save Emelia’s life.

Nakki’s own power reminds one vaguely of Miranda of D. Gray-Man. Before channeling

Subaru returns with his new power

Subaru returns with his new power

her innocence she would live the same day over and over with all the townspeople completely unaware they were in a time loop. Nakki continually begins ‘again’ with no one else aware but himself of what’s happening. Because of this Nakki has the ability to make small changes to past situations to create a butterfly effect (kinda). For example, he knows he is attacked the first time so the second time he cuts off his attacker before they can strike. Thus changing what happens to himself. The problem is he has no idea what the precise events are from the time of arrival until the death of his spirit user. To save her life he has to 1) recover all the events he’s forgotten and 2) make changes to stop her death from happening again.

A new daily life begins

A new daily life begins

Readers then hit the manga’s described ‘climax’ of the first arc. The chapter after it takes a reader from the delight of the manga to someplace different.  The character of Subaru changes from the young delinquent in the making. Readers are facing a total jump into the past(?) with new characters cropping up constantly. Much of what caught this reviewer’s interest abruptly changes. Instead of a naïve humorous Subaru readers get a young man who almost seems to be the protagonist of a new manga. Gone was the thrill of seeing Subaru trapped in a death time loop. The manga is less than 20 chapters and ongoing so this reviewer will assume this turn of events will be explained better in the future.

2016-08-31-9

Subaru & Emelia

The Art

The style of Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu is reminiscent of mangas like Mirai Nikki, Alive: The Final Evolution, and Le Chevalier D’eon’s creepy La Compte de Germaine. Subaru is the exception. He doesn’t have the beautiful elegance of Emelia. Nor does he give you the big eyed kawaii of Rem’s character. Subaru’s character design is an excellent unusual fit as it is more reminiscent of a self-described delinquent in the making over a hero with a magical power. Perfectly balancing how a part-elf magic user’s design is effortlessly lovely without being excessive.

Death comes for Subaru

Death comes for Subaru

Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu shines at its character movements in action. Their bodies appear natural as they strike. Details like these are important to this reviewer. Nothing is more distracting in a panel then a character’s anatomy being at odds with their actions. This is key when a manga relies heavily on character’s engaged regularly in battle. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu does it well.

 

 

To the Reader

Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu’s beginnings are heavily filled with action battles

Save Emelia from death by his death

Save Emelia from death by his death

which have everything from amputation to fist fights to magic user death battles. The entire manga is a trip in the fantasy genre. Romance is touched on but a full-out relationship between character’s is still in the works. Readers need to be cognizant this manga is not a simple read. The jumping between scenes, constant character additions, and time skips means following the story line takes a moment’s thought. Best to go with the flow when confused.

Final Score: 7.8

Death can’t stop this fantasy

If you enjoy Re: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu support it by purchasing the manga:

and give its light novel counterpart a readl:

Details

volume_1_coverName(s): Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – Daiisshou – Outo no Ichinichi Hen Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – Volume One – Capital City Chapter, Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu- Daiisshou – Outo no Ichinichi Hen, Re:Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – Daiisshou – Outo no Ichinichi-hen

Author(s):   NAGATSUKI Tappei

Artist(s):     MATSUE Daichi

Year: 2014

Genre: Fantasy; Romance; Drama; Action; Adventure; Comedy; Sci-Fi; Time Travel

Chapter(s): 16

Status: Ongoing

Anime: Yes

Light Novel: Yes

 

 

Bloody Sweet

 Power blogger and social outcast Shin Naerim is forced by her classmates tobloodysweet break the seals on a foreboding door. Alone in a remote church she wakes a vampire from his slumber. The meeting will spark a relationship which innocent beginnings may hide a sinister secret.

My Review (Part 1)

TappyToon SiteThe TappyToon webtoon site contacted my LaRuse News Twitter account asking about reviewing a work of theirs. I happily agreed and they recommended their most popular site webtoon “Bloody Sweet.” Before beginning a review I scope out more information to ensure I am not going to find myself in the midst of a yaoi, josei, or pwp. None of which I review for my site. This was where the TappyToon surprised me. Many of their webtoons begin free then require purchased tokens to continue on. I promote supporting manga authors by purchasing their works but am uncomfortable at promoting purchasing a chapter by chapter commitment. Feeling conflicted I have chosen to read and review ONLY those chapters freely available to my readers. Having explained that…enjoy the review.

 

2016-08-25 (7)

Characters

Shin Naerim makes dolls, writes novels, and is uber popular as an online blogger. In real life she is bullied by her classmates and is silent to most real people. She silently handles the cruel taunts of her classmates without seeking revenge. Shin’s true persona will be revealed in a single fateful meeting.

 

2016-08-25 (11)Song – former friend of Shin. She is popular for her cute looks. Song has confidence and is a leader among the girls. She takes delight in finding ways to make Shin’s life miserable.

Looks good for being undead

Looks good for being undead

 

Main male character- Kept hidden behind talismans in a creepy old church he is a handsome young man who was originally mistaken for being dead. He has a sense of humor and a liking for Shin’s blood.

 

 

The Art

Heterochromia!

Heterochromia!

Many webtoons have a particular style which Bloody Sweet embodies. The similarities in characters are shared in works like Orange Marmalade and Subtle Disaster. Bloody Sweet does have several unique character looks. For example, the main male character has complete heterochromia. One of his irises is red and the other yellow. I loved seeing this because 1) it’s a bit different and 2) I have incomplete heterochromia.

 

 

There is one character whose look bothered this reviewer. Son2016-08-25 (21)g shared an uncomfortable resemblance to certain blow up dolls. I asked for collaborating opinions and the consensus was the same. I would have loved to see her with a design similar to the rest of the characters.

 

My Review (Part 2)

Bloody Sweet Twist

Bloody Sweet Twist

The vampire and human scenario is not unique in the world of mangas, manhwas, and webtoons. To actually stand out an author must have some unique tidbit. Lee’s  is Shin’s family history of a mother who is a moodang (although the term in the summary is a shaman). The summary assumption would be this becomes a part of the drama making a not to so simple relationship even more complex, perhaps sinister.

 

Even a shaman mother would leave me skeptical about chancing Bloody Sweet. Maybe2016-08-25 this is why it’s not focused until chapter 2. The webtoon wants the reader to ‘know’ the unique being of Shin Naerim. Bloody Sweet pleasantly fools the reader by setting up a person one believes is the character before turning the assumptions upside by presenting the exact opposite. Shin Naerim is an online novel goddess and reality’s bullied misfit. I found myself loving this unconventional girl who embodied the double life of a lot of internet junkies today. She isn’t an obsessed fan either; but a ‘power’ blogger making it all the more fascinating someone so beloved online could be so victimized by her peers.

2016-08-25 (17)The accidental meeting between human and vampire in a cliche’ church ‘oops I shouldn’t have done that’ was above average. The humor was there. The quirky ‘extra’ was there. Even a definite smack to the face for tasting blood without asking was there. Bloody Sweet’s only problem with the meeting was it just was not hugely original. I felt deja vu disappointment. Could there have been a more creative meeting than this one? Definitely. Does that make the webtoon less of an enjoyable potential read? No. Bloody Sweet has that something to draw potential readers back to its pages. Unfortunately, readers will have to decide how much this draw is going to cost them. Chapter three onwards requires ‘tokens’ to unlock this webtoon’s unfolding drama.

Note: Tappytoon offers regular token specials for different actions (e.g. one can gain tokens by liking them on Facebook or Twitter). This gives readers a chance to keep on reading for making use of the sites they already love.

To the Reader2016-08-25 (4)

Bloody Sweet is perfect for those who have a passion for the relationship between vampire and human. I’m talking to all you fans of Vampire Knight, Orange Marmalade, and such. I also highly recommend it to lovers of the supernatural genre and fantasy. There is drama mixed in with comedy so readers will have an added bonus in the two.

Final Score 7.8

A webtoon to sink your fangs into.

Details

bloodysweetName: Bloody Sweet

Author: Lee Narae

Artist: Lee Narae

Genre: webtoon; fantasy; romance; supernatural; comedy

Complete: No

Anime: No but would love to see it!

As the God of Death Dictates

Sixteen year old Ayumi has one month left to live.

Knowing it she finally has the courage to confess her love to long-time crush, Musashi. Now she´s in love but the grim reaper sent to take her away has other plans. He´s obsessed with this unusual girl and no human boy is going to stand in the way. Can Ayumi´s love last or will her heart be stolen away by Shiro? Will thirty days be her last chance at happiness?

My Review (Part 1)

Grim-reaper tells Ayumi the bad news

Six months ago a good family friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Medically most pancreatic patients pass away in less than six months; rarely do they live a year. The horrifying idea of counting down your final thirty days is terrifying. Ayumi´s own accidental discovery of knowing you are living on limited time struck home.

I thought this manga would merely be a girl living life

to the fullest in thirty short days. As the God of Death Dictates completely surprised me. Her story was proof no life is ever so simple. You need to have more than courage to keep an open heart and still be yourself. Ayumi is proof a person´s self can be powerful enough to change fate.

The Characters

Ayumi Maki is a love-struck sixteen year old. She is naturally open-hearted, compassionate, and feels for others. When a grim reaper tells her about the thirty days she has left, Ayumi makes a change becoming more outspoken in her affections.

Musashi Hiroe is a classic teenage boy. He doesn´t give off the clearest of signals and struggles to understand Ayumi. Musashi is often jealous to the point of being hurtful. Genuinely caring for Ayumi he tries to ´solve´ the grim reaper problem. When his first method fails he continues to promise he will protect her from harm.

 

Grim Reaper (Shiro) claims to be emotionless over his job. Yet he cries over taking the soul of a cat. He becomes dangerously obsessed over Ayumi who brings out the curiousity in him for human feelings. Shiro can be extremely childish. He wants his way. When Ayumi stands up to him, Shiro is forced to consider what it means to feel for another.

The Art
Ayumi´s looks in the first chapters reminded me of a

Ayumi is awkward here

drag queen just beginning. The overly large lashes made the eyes comical and odd. Her face was awkward and her body boxy. The ´pretty´ men around her made her looks stand out for all the wrong reasons. Then something changes a bit. Ayumi gets a bit toned down. She becomes far more beautiful with far less.

I love the light beams. The soft shading makes me happy.

The manga´s overall feel is one of a romance. I love the shading of the background. There is a softness to it. Light is such a central part of this story it seems only natural it be that way. I do wish the artist had taken a bit more time on Shiro´s clothes. He is such a pretty face but I get distracted by Near type pajamas.

My Review Part 2
I enjoyed this manga so much because it had a

Jealous Shiro threatens to kill Musashi if Ayumi doesn´t comply

storyline more than a girl living life to the fullest in thirty days. You had three very different character types locked together over one girl who first seemed so average. I liked the romance. I loved that Ayumi didn´t get locked into a freaky love triangle. She got distracted but stood strong even when her man acted like a d-bag.

My wish for this manga would be it had expanded a

Who are you grim reaper pajama boy? We want more!

bit. The was the author´s first two part manga which made me very proud to see. You really got a storyline in those two volumes which some mangas fail to do in thirty volumes. I just wished it could have given us a bit more on Shiro. He is so central and gets rushed towards the end. You find yourself wondering more about how his journey happened.

To the Reader

Romance!

Romance lovers open your heart to As the God of Death Dictates. This is a manga which has love at its heart. There is a definite romance and even a love triangle at times. The manga is relatively short but what you get is a full love story. I do not know if Ayumi´s love will last a lifetime. She is only sixteen but what is happening at that moment is worth risking a read.

 

Where do we go when we die?
Ayumi may find out

Supernatural lovers might be surprised to find I recommend this to them as well. I have a fascination in the way mangas view death. This author´s idea is one which takes a turn from the usual view of death I see in manga.

Final Score: 7.9



Details

Name(s): Kamisama no Iu Toori; As the God of Death Dictates; Как велит Бог Смерти; 神様の言うとおり; 神的预言好准
Author(s): Mimori Ao
Artist(s): Mimori Ao
Year: 2002
Genre: Romance, Drama, Supernatural, School Life
Chapters: 8
Status: Complete
Anime: No

Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (Our Happy Hours)

Recovering from her third suicide attempt, Juri is

convinced there is nothing left to live for. Yuu is a death row prisoner continually attempting suicide to atone for his sins. The scars on both their hearts are to overwhelming to handle alone. Forced to meet each Thursday they find themselves learning to embrace the simple hope: I want to live.

My Thoughts

Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan is based on a novel which also has a movie. The only movie to ever make me cry. Me. Who gets dirty looks for being the heartless one sitting dry-eyed through even the biggest tearjerkers. When I found the manga I wanted to read it. Not to cry but to see how the emotions of a powerful film could be conveyed through manga. Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan didn’t bring me to tears but it was still damn powerful.

Aunt Monica is the one who cares, the one who sees what Yuu & Juri do not

The characters in Watashitachi no Shiawase are the heart of the story. The manga characters convey a great deal of thoughts which you experience through their first person view. Juri, especially, who is a figure so consumed by hatred close to the point of murder. To the outside world she is coldly beautiful, a wealthy young woman with every advantage. Once a famous pianist she now refuses to ever play again. Juri repeatedly tries to die because she cannot see anything to live for. 

Yuu is an angry young man awaiting execution for the murder of three people. His past is filled with the worst life can give. Left to care for his younger

Yuu’s life has given him no love for pretty words & lies

brother (who went blind from his father’s harsh beatings) Yuu turns to prostitution and eventually crime to keep them alive. One morning he awakes to find his blind little brother has supposedly thrown himself into the street out of guilt for Yuu having to prostitute himself to care for both of them.  Yuu finally reaches a point where his despair in life turns to revenge. Now he awaits execution with nothing but loathing for the ‘do-gooders’ false attempts at comfort.

The artwork in Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan has

The looks say it all. This woman is no soccer mom.

more of a realistic feel then what most imagine in manga. Where many mangas use the eyes almost as part of a personality, Our Happy Hours uses the entire body to convey personality. You see this in how the kind Inoue has softer features while Juri’s cruel mother has a stern almost forboding look about her. Even the clothes speak about them. Altogether it’s why I really love the artwork; also, because the use of watercolor for the cover really stands out in softness compared to the realities inside.


To the Reader

Warning. This manga contains sensitive content which may
bother some readers.

This is a manga for those who can handle the very sensitive issue of suicide. There is a reason one of the genre descriptions is tragedy because Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan has an immense amount of it. Rape, prostitution, and abuse make Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan a manga for the mature reader. 

You may wonder…íf it’s so mature and tragic then

why should I read it? The same reason I reread it. This manga has a way of reaching out, snagging your heart, and making you want to say ‘I want to live for today.’ I want to enjoy the day free from regret, anger, and hatred. Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan is the manga which reminds us it’s never to late to want to keep on living. 

Note: Today, September 10th is #WorldSuicidePreventionDay. This is why I chose to do Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan. Suicide has touched my life. The hole it leaves behind doesn’t go away or close up neatly over time. You can’t begin to imagine how those you leave behind will feel. Reach out to them. There are things in this life worth living for. Sometimes it just takes one person to prove it.


Details

Name(s): 私たちの幸せな時間 ; 우리들의 행복한 시간 ;  Our Happy Hours ; Watashi-tachi no Shiawase na Jikan; Our Happy Time
Artist(s): Gong-JI Young; Sahara Mizu
Author(s): Sahara Mizu
Release: 2007
Chapters: 8
Genre(s): Tragedy; Drama; Mature; Romance
Status: Complete
Anime: No
Novel: Yes Based on Novel
Movie: Yes (Maundy Thursday)

Hajimete Ageru

Yano Atikata-senpai is the most gorgeous guy in school and no one is more surprised than Sayu when he confesses his feelings for her. Sayu is thrilled but jealous whispers and negativity surrounding the two make Sayu wonder why Yano-Senpai would have feelings for her.

My Thoughts
‘Hajimete Ageru!’ is a manga which will make you say

‘awwww!’ Even I, who normally lacks patience for romance, really enjoyed this one shot. Part of it is just the feeling of how you would love to see a school life romance actually happen. You show up nervous on your first day. The most gorgeous guy approaches you. He confesses. You feel like a fairy tale princess and he walks you home. 

Hajimete Ageru! is a little more realistic than the school life fantasy. There’s always jealousy, especially when no one understands why two people are together. Also, this manga does give us the answer to the mystery of why Yano Akitata (the gorgeous) senpai seemed to choose a random girl who does’t even know him. The answer is quite sweet just like the rest of the manga.

As for the art? Holds a bit of similarity to Vampire Knight what with the wide-eyed innocent gal and the sexy maturer looking older guy. Rather pretty as well. Even the blushes, which sometimes are a huge negative for me, manage to look right. Hair? Gorgeous. Eyes? Beautiful. Well done Hoshimori Yukimo!

To the Reader
If you are in the mood for a short yet absolutely sweet

Taaj Manzoor: Hilarious as Always

romance then Hajimete Ageru! is a must read. At thirty-five pages it can be read as a pick-me-up on a break at work or a relaxing moment by the lakefront. Alright that one applied more to myself but as Taaj from Come Fly With Me Says…¨You get me? You don’t get me? You got me?..Good!¨

Details

Name(s): 『はじめて』あげる! ; Hajimete Ageru!

Author(s): Hoshimori Yukimo

Artist(s): Hoshimori Yukimo

Release: 2009

Chapters: One Shot

Genre(s): School life; One shot; Romance

Status: Complete

Anime: No

Note: I apologize if this recommendation/manga review is rather shoddy. I am fighting with my health a lot today and this week particularly. Hopefully, the outlook will be better tomorrow 😕

Umerareta Yami to Shoujo (Sugar Dark)

Accused of murdering his superior officer Muol is now prisoner 5772. As punishment he is condemned to serve as a gravedigger in a sinister graveyard. While planning his escape from this nightmare he befriends the mysterious Melia, the night grave keeper. Muol must decide if he will save her or make his escape before he has to dig his own grave.

My Thoughts

Melia introduces herself to Muol

Umerareta Yami to Shoujo (Sugar Dark) shares many similarities with other supernatural dramatic mangas. Accused of murder, evil hiding in humanity, horror in the night…etc..I’ve read a lot of them. Despite the similarities I did find the uniqueness in Sugar Dark. There is a genuine mystery behind Melia. You think you have her figured out then you get to chapter nine/ten and say ‘What the f***? This shite is disturbing. I don’t know why I read this genre! Then you calm down and get back to reading because now you need to know where this will end.

What is the siinister dark which is buried by Muol?

I also appreciate how Umerareta Yami to Shoujo has an excellent character to chapter ratio. You have enough characters to fill the pages but not so many they never get any ‘page’ time. Or if this were a quilting example: enough design to make it aesthetically pleasing and interesting but not so much it looks like color vomit. Although the manga does keep you occasionally guessing about a character’s intentions. Are they mischievous or devious? And what does it mean to take a life to gain one.

It does the job, the gore is okay, but falls flat of inspiritational

After looking over the manga one last time I have this to say: 1. The artwork (while at times intensely gory) didn’t stand out for me. I think because at times it just seemed rather flat. I love when manga artists have something unique in their work. They can do the exact same scene as fifty others but something just screams out in your vision about their work. I just didn’t see that in Sugar Dark. It was well-done just not outstanding.

Muol and Melia are what makes this manga stand out

 2. The relationship between Melia and Muol is the core of this manga and what makes it stand out. Forget being from two different worlds, they are almost like beings from two different Twilight Zones. And there are no romantic shortcuts when it comes to a gravedigger and grave keeper stuck here. I do have to admire Muol for for not giving up. Not many men could stomach what he sees happen to the girl he cares for. Without these two Umerareta Yami no Shoujo may just have faded into the horror manga background for me,


To the Reader
I am going to warn readers RIGHT NOW! If blood, gore, dismemberment, and horrifying scenarios disturb you then this manga is not for you. We aren’t talking ‘o someone got killed.’ What I am saying is ‘in detail intestines being ripped out. Arms cut off. Several pages of gory slow murder. Lots of tears with snot and nudity. Not sexy nudity! The type of nudity which just amplifies the goriness. When it comes to ripping a body apart Sugar Dark intends to give you the complete bloody picture. 

Horror genre manga lovers should enjoy Umerareta Yami no Shoujo. You should be horrified. If not, then that is a tad horrifying in itself and you may want to get checked out. If you don’t mind the gore then mystery genre fans will enjoy uncovering the truth behind Melia, The Dark, and what happens behind the strange masked figures. 

Can love exist in such a hopeless place?

There is definite romance in Sugar Dark. Even the ‘blushing I accidentally saw her naked’ moment. Though if you are thinking it will be starry eyes and roses you might want to reconsider. After all, they are known as the grave keeper and gravedigger. And when Muol says he would do anything to escape, it does mean ANYTHING. The first time I read Sugar Dark (several years ago) even I was shocked to near tears for Melia. Which is near impossible for someone who sits dry-eyed through tearjerkers. Muol and Melia are not your standard manga romance characters but there is something special about these unique souls.

Name(s):シュガーダーク 埋められた闇と少女; Sugar Dark; Sugar Dark 被埋葬的黑暗; Sugar Dark: The Buried Darkness and the Girl; Sugar Dark: The Girl Buried in Darkness; Sugar Dark: The Girl Filled with Darkness; Sugar Dark: Umerareta Yami to Shōjo 
Released: 2010
Author: Arai Enji
Artist: Ooiwa Enji
Genre: Horror; supernatural; fantasy; suspense; tragedy, mystery, romance
Chapters: 19
Status: Complete
Anime: No

Orange Marmalade

Jae Min is returning home when an unusual girl shocks him with a gentle bite to theIMG_2971 neck. Ma Ri is terrified she has just blown her cover as a vampire. To keep her secret she chooses to close her heart to any chance of love even with the unusual Jae Min. Jae Min is still wondering how he fell so fast for someone so odd. Is it even possible for a vampire and a broken young man to change each other for the better? Or will Ma Ri stay the ‘ice queen’ forever to keep her family safe?

 

My Review (Revisited)

I revisited this review as part of updating my blog to my site and was reminded all over again of the beauty in Orange Marmalade. The webtoon has grown immensely in popularity since way back when I first enjoyed it. Creators have come out with a real life rendition for tv but nothing real people do will match a scene like the ‘first’ bite which brought Jae Min and Ma Ri together.

Orange Marmalade’s unlikely beginnings to a romance

Characters

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Smile Ma Ri!

Ma Ri is a normal looking student with a huge secret. Her entire family are vampires who face intense discrimination if discovered putting a lot of pressure on Ma Ri to keep to her human charade. She does her best to ‘fit’ in but over time begins to let more of herself show despite facing threats from those around her.  Ma Ri is constantly in turmoil over her feelings for Jae Min, the struggle to appear ‘normal’ to her classmates, and having to deal with a not so welcome suitor.

 

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Jae Min

Jae Min: Jae Min is attractive and not used to being confused by a girl acting like Ma Ri. His background is a dark place and he remains estranged from his mother over her new husband. Jae Min’s feelings will be tested when he finds out what Ma Ri is.

 

Orange Marmalade’s Art
I remember being so happy over realizing the whole manga of Orange Marmalade was96567l in color. (Of course it wasn’t a manga, it was a webtoon!) Whatever it was it’s colors were outstanding. The warm tones blending in a watercolor wash of sunset against the solid figures give one a sense of being able to almost reach into the panel.
Manga covers give readers the insight into a full color vision of what the artist envisions.orange-marmalade-3477993 The focus is almost always given to the characters which is logical considering a color page only comes once a chapter or so. Orange Marmalade’s characters are well-done but being a webtoon they get the chance to become something more. In black and white panel, a scene like the fountain would be nice but hardly outstanding. The artist stunned me with the sky’s coloring. To see such a wash of colors makes me long to pick up a brush and paint. Usually a background which looks so realistic is jarring when paired with characters who are clearly anime figures. In the case of Orange Marmalade I find a balance between two which actually works quite well.
Review (Part 2)

tumblr_mmdnf8UOcB1somq4lo2_500The storyline itself was well done. I did appreciate the manga becoming deeper as it went on. Although there were a few chapters where I was very, very, very, tempted to skip to near the end. Romantic manga lovers would find me a bit crazy for wanting to skip the dramatics but I’m a simple girl. Looking back I am so glad I did not give in. Orange Marmalade is a journey which needs all the events to be complete.

 

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Jae Min’s childhood memory

What I loved most about the manga was just how much it is able to touch you. There are a lot of sensitive issues which are faced. From childhood abuse, to bullying, and painful discrimination Orange Marmalade takes them on. One of the saddest parts was learning about Jae Min’s past and just how badly it still affects him years later. And his reaction to Ma Ri’s vampirism? If you get teary-eyed easily you might be crying your eyes out at what it leads Ma Ri to do.

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Ma Ri tells a classmate

As for the vampire element, I was really glad to see it didn’t take it to a ‘corny’ place. If Orange Marmalade has started approaching Twilight [shudder] fandom I would have backed off immediately. There were times where I felt like saying, ‘That’s like Tru Blood!’ but mostly I found the vampire element extremely well done. Orange Marmalade is about vampires but the elements of friendship, romance, and drama make it more than just another vampire tale.

To the Reader:

Orange Marmalade is no action manga or tale of horror. This one is all for those who like the dramatic, school life, and romantic genre. If you have an issue with one of those types you might want to check out another one of my manga choices. Before you do, take a moment to appreciate the colors of Orange Marmalade. You can find more pictures of this manhwa under the Gallery tab: category Orange Marmalade

Final Score: 9.5

A marmalade worth experiencing.

 

Details: 

Name(s): Orange Marmalade; 오렌지 마말레이드, 橘皮馬末蘭果醬
Author: Seok Woo
Illustrator: Seok Woo
Genres: Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, School Life, Fantasy, Supernatural, Webtoon, Comedy
Year:2011
Status: Complete
Anime: No but it is a webtoon

Hakushaku to Yousei

  

  Earl and Fairy (Hakushaku to Yousei) is not your average fairy tale; actually you might not want to go so far as to even call it one. 

 The (not your typical fairy tale-tale) begins with interrogation at gunpoint. Edgar, a strikingly handsome young man, is ready to kill for the information required to grant him vengeance. Information which requires the knowledge of Miss Lydia Carlton, one of the world’s few remaining fairy doctors.

Lydia Carlton is a seventeen-year old fairy doctor living in a world which no longer believes in the existence of fairies. Instead of seeking out her help, her fellow townspeople gossip about the crazy girl who talks to ‘fairies’ and does all manner of odd things. Lydia’s closest companion is a fairy cat named Nico who acts pompous, drinks his tea from a cup, and has a bit of a mischevious side. Nico is also the one who points out the dangers in front of his mistress.

Danger which starts when Lydia attempts to make a visit to London to see her father. Instead she is unknowingly kidnapped, saves a young man imprisoned on the same ship, and finds herself the now ‘guest’ of this man, Edgar. Edgar whose good looks win him hearts but underneath is a manipulative liar. Edgar who leaves Lydia with no choice but to help him find the sword of the merrow, the sword which belongs to the Blue Knight Earl. Claiming the sword would show him to be the true descendant of the Blue Knight Earl. Edgar doesn’t believe in fairies and he certainly is no descendant but he will attempt it.

 At his side is a young man, Raven, who is the host to an evil sprite. Any implied danger to Edgar and the blood-thirsty sprite turns Raven into a kick-ass fighting demon. Raven proves himself to kill mercilessly to protect his master. His sister, Ermine, is Edgar’s other companion who escaped with him from the clutches of an evil man known simply as ‘Prince.’

Lydia may appear to be a delicate naive girl but she has definite courage and fiery spirit. Even knowing Edgar is only using her she protects him. Edgar who never fails to be amazed at Lydia’s kindness. Who is also entirely baffled by Lydia’s continued refusals about his ‘undying’ love for her. She knows he has no qualms about taking out anyone in his way, including her. Finding the sword of the merrow will only be the beginning for this unusual pair. And what will Lydia do when Nico reveals Edgar’s plan to use her as a sacrifice? Not all is at it seems in this unconventional fairy tale.

A Quick Recap:

My Thoughts:

Hakushaku to Yosei is an anime, light novel series, and a manga. I’ve watched, read, and gone through all three for one reason. Anyone who knows me knows just why I would’ve gone for this series, even if it had been called Lamest Manga on Earth. Thankfully for me I really found myself enjoying Hakushaku no Yosei. I found a lot of admiration for Lydia who has put up with so much crap for using the gift she was given in life. The girl has courage, a huge heart, and the ability to see the best in even the worst of people (like Edgar).

Edgar himself at times reminds me of a smarter Tamaki from OHSHC. He’s got the surface charm. If that were his only trait the manga would have gotten old fast. Instead his dark past (a bit like Ciel’s from Kuroshitsuji), incredible intelligence, and genuine confusion over the good in Lydia makes you want to keep on reading. Not to mention having Raven who is a bit of a bad-ass sociopath.

I also like the way the manga follows the light novels (mostly and a bit out of order). Sadly no one has gotten far enough to translate anywhere near to the last one. Which makes me a bit frustrated as I really enjoy the storyline. I plan on checking back in regularly in hopes of  further translations.

To the Reader:
Having been reading mainly darker manga lately Hakushaku no Yosei was like a refreshing mojito. There is a lot of fresh humor (think the mint in a mojito) and an overall sweetness to the storyline. If you are an action manga fan there may not be enough for you here. For pure romantics you may get frustrated at the lack of whimsical love scenes. O well. In the manga world nothing is ever simple which is part of why Hakushaku to Yousei is a mix which should be sampled by any reader.

If you would rather try it out via anime, the anime does stick to the light novel storyline and via that the manga. You don’t have to do all three to get a feel for whether or not this is the one for you.

Details:
Name(s): 伯爵与妖精; 伯爵與妖精; The Earl and the Fairy, Earl and Fairy, Hakushaku to Yosei, Hakushaku to Yousei, The Earl and the Fairy
Author: Tani Mizue
Artist: Ayuko
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Historical, Humor, Drama etc
Volumes: 4 (15 chapters total)
Pages per Chapter: ~30+
Released: 2008
Complete: Yes
Light Novels: Yes (however not all translated)
Anime: Yes