Missions of Love Manga Is Ending in Japan in June 2015

The June 2015 issue of Kodansha’s Nakayoshi magazine has announced that Ema Toyama will end her Watashi ni xx Shinasai! (Missions of Love) romantic comedy manga in the magazine’s next issue, which Kodansha will publish on June 3, 2015. The announcement also notes that there will be more news about the manga in the magazine’s next issue.

Toyama launched the manga in Nakayoshi in 2009. Kodansha published the manga’s 17th compiled book volume in Japan on February 13, 2015. Kodansha’s North American branch, Kodansha Comics is publishing the manga under the title Missions of Love. Kodansha Comics published the manga’s 10th volume on January 20, 2015.

Source: ANN

Ema Toyama’s Pocha-Pocha Swimming Club Manga Is Ending in Japan

The March 2015 issue of Houbunsha’s Manga Time Family has announced that Ema Toyama’s Pocha-Pocha Swimming Club four-panel manga will be ending in the next issue, which will be published on February 17, 2015. Toyama began the series in 2010, and Houbunsha will ship the fourth compiled volume in Japan in April 2015.

North American publisher Kodansha Comics publishes Toyama’s Manga Dogs and the award-winning Missions of Love in English. Kodansha has also released Toyama’s I Am Here! and Shugo Chara-chan!. Tokyopop previously published Toyama’s Pixie Pop: Gokkun Pucho.

Source: ANN

Manga Review: “I Am Here!” Volume Two

I Am Here! Volume Two is a manga by Ema Toyama, and it was published in North America by Kodanasha Comics in 2011. It’s an omnibus that includes the remainder of the third volume and all of the fourth and fifth volumes of the series. This manga is rated “T” for ages 13 and up; after reading this series, I would agree with this rating.

I Am Here! Volume 2
Written by: Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: July 26, 2011

Hikage Sumino is the main character of the series, and she starts out being a shy girl who’s basically invisible to her classmates. She writes a blog and has two visitors who by the names of “Black Rabbit” and “Mega Pig.”

Her life changes when Hinata Muto and Teru Mikami, two of the most popular boys in school, talk to her while she’s taking care of a sunflower that she planted. After being encouraged by comments from her two blog readers, she tries to be more outgoing.

Hinata tells Hikage that he likes her, and as they spend time together, Hikage’s life becomes more complicated when others girls in her class bully her and try to keep her away from Hinata. After that situation is resolved, Hikage wants to thank Black Rabbit and Mega Pig by sending something to them, Hinata tries to discourage her. At the end of Volume One, Toyama really led the reader to believe who the identity of Black Rabbit really was; however, it was revealed in Volume Two that the person I thought it was wasn’t right. Also, I was incorrect in guessing who Mega Pig was.

Volume Two reveals the true identity of Black Rabbit, and learning his identity only ends up complicating things for Hikage. Not only that, the ringleader of the bullies in Volume One learns about Hikage’s blog and decides to cause trouble. The bully’s actions cause Hinata and Teru to hate each other and not be friends, and Hikage is caught in the middle. It ends up being up to Hikage to try to salvage the situation and help the two friends patch up their friendship.

This volume has a special chapter labeled as, “Mega Pig’s Love Story.” This chapter reveals the true identity of Mega Pig, and he’s commenting on Hikage’s blog to try to get advice on a love situation he finds himself in. There’s also a couple of other short chapters tacked on at the end.

Well, it turns out that I Am Here! wasn’t quite as predictable as I thought at the end of Volume One, since I was wrong about a couple of things that I thought were predictable. However, after reading Volume Two, I still stand by my assertion that this series feels like a generic shojo manga.

I realized after reading Volume Two that the author of I Am Here! is also the author of Mission of Love, another manga that uses something on the Internet as a major element in the story. Unfortunately, these are the only two titles by Toyama that I have any familiarity with, so  I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence that both series rely on the Internet for a plot device, or if that’s typical for her work.

While I found I Am Here! to be generic, my 16-year-old daughter loved it. This series seems to have a stronger appeal to teenage girls than it does to someone like me, since I’m really not in the target market for this series. It’s a series I’d recommend to manga readers who enjoy typical shojo romance stories that feature teenage protagonists.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of I Am Here! Volume Two that my 16-year-old daughter checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “I Am Here!” Volume One

I Am Here! Volume One is manga by Ema Toyama, and it was published in North America by Kodansha Comics in 2011. It’s an omnibus that includes the first two volumes and part of the third volume of the series. This manga is rated “T” for ages 13 and up; after reading this volume, I would agree with this rating.

I Am Here! Volume 1
Written by: Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: December 18, 2012

Hikage Sumino is the main character of I Am Here! She’s an eighth grader with no self-esteem, and is basically invisible to her classmates. She writes a blog, and has two visitors who go by the names “Black Rabbit” and “Mega Pig.”

One day, Hinata Muto and Teru Mikami, two of the most popular boys in school, talk to her while she’s taking care of a sunflower that she planted. After sharing the news on her blog, her two readers leave comments to encourage her to try to be more outgoing.

During the volume, Hinata reveals to Hikage that her likes her, and starts hanging around her. The other girls at school notice her because of this, and they start giving her a hard time and bullying her because they’re jealous. They threaten her to stay away from Hinata, and she tries to; however, Hinata ends up forcing the issue. They are seen by the female classmate who’s been bullying Hikage the most, and this classmate tries to make Hikage apologize to the class. But she finds strength from comments left by her two blog readers and stands up to the girl that’s bullying her. Most of the other girls back down, but the main bully doesn’t. When the bully goes to slap Hikage’s face, Hinata jumps in and takes the blow instead. Teru also enters the classroom and comes to Hikage’s defense.

When Hikage talks to Hinata about her two blog readers that comment on her blogs, he reacts when he hears one of the names. When Hikage says she wants to make something to send to them, Hinata tries to discourage her. Around the same time, one of her readers posts that they’re not going to be commenting on her blog anymore…

After reading the first volume of I Am Here!, I have to say that it felt like a rather typical shojo manga that relies on story ideas and tropes that have shown up a lot in these type of stories over the years. I have to call it a “typical” shojo story, and that there’s really not much there to make it stand out from similar shojo stories that I’ve read. The tropes I’m thinking of include the shy and awkward girl getting to know at least one popular boy, and getting the attention of a jealous classmate after becoming closer to the popular boy and being bullied by the jealous girl and her other classmates. Unfortunately, the blog angle just isn’t enough to make this story stand out.

I also have the say that the art also has an average look to it, and that there’s really nothing there to make this series stand out from similar shojo series, either.

As I read this volume, I was able to guess rather quickly who “Black Rabbit” and “Mega Pig” are. I had the identity of one of them confirmed by the end of Volume One, and it matched my guess. I suspect one of the other volumes will reveal the identity of the other, and I suspect my guess is right on that was well.

Overall, it’s not that I Am Here! is a bad series, but I just find it to be rather generic and a bit predictable. I will continue to read the series, though, because maybe, just maybe, Toyama will do something in one of the remaining volumes that will surprise me and help this story feel less derivative and predictable than it currently is.

I Am Here! would probably be best enjoyed by readers who don’t mind reading a manga series featuring a rather typical story for the shojo genre.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of I Am Here! Volume One that my 16-year-old daughter checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Missions of Love” Volume One

Missions of Love Volume One is a manga by Ema Toyama, and it was published in North America by Kodansha Comics in 2012. The series is rated “OT” for ages 16 and up; after reading this volume of the series, I would agree with this rating.

Missions of Love Volume 1
Written by: Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: November 6, 2012

The main character of Missions of Love is Yukina Himuro, a high school girl with an icy reputation. She’s gained this reputation because of how she looks at people and by the fact that she’s cold to the touch due to her poor circulation. Yukina writes cell phone novels under the pen name of Yupina. Her cell phone novels are successful, because she is able to observe her classmates from a distance and come up with ideas for her stories.

One day, she overhears some of her classmates wishing that there was romance involved in the stories. Unfortunately, Yukina has no personal experience in this department, so she has avoided including this element in her stories. One day, she sees a classmate confess her feelings to Shigure Kitami, the most popular boy in her class. After Shigure turns down the classmate, he runs into Yukina and they talk briefly. When Shigure leaves, Yukina discovers he accidentally dropped a notebook on the floor. She discovers this is a journal where Shigure keeps tracks of the girls who confessed their feelings to him, when they did, and where they did.

Yukina uses the notebook as a way to blackmail Shigure to start doing things like holding her hand, kissing her, etc. That way, she can experience these things firsthand in order to incorporate these elements into her stories.

I will admit that the high school student secretly being a popular cell phone novelist is kind of an interesting idea. However, this whole blackmailing business just isn’t doing it for me. OK, Shigure does find a way to get back at her by blackmailing her back; however, I find what her secret is to be a little on the lame side. By the time I finished this manga volume, I thought there was potential for the concept, but I really wasn’t interested in it due to the execution. Ultimately, I found myself not “feeling” the story like I thought I should.

When it comes to the art, I can say that I’m impressed by the details that Toyama utilizes in panels with closeups of characters’ faces. While the rest of the art looks good, I think Toyama’s strongest work comes through in the closeups.

While I may not personally be in a hurry to read more of Missions of Love, I think this series will appeal to manga readers that enjoy shojo stories that include romance and blackmail.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Missions of Love Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.