Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Seven

Article first published as Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Seven by Banri Hidaka on Blogcritics.

Tears of a Lamb Volume Seven is a shojo manga by Banri Hidaka that was published in North America by CMX in 2009. The series is rated “T” for teens, and after reading this series, I agree with that rating. Personally, I would say that Tears of Lamb is appropriate for manga readers who are thirteen years of age and older.

Tears of a Lamb Volume 7
Written by: Banri Hidaka
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: CMX
Release Date: January 19, 2010

Volume Seven is the final volume of the series, and it’s actually a rather quick read. This volume picks up exactly where Volume Six ended. Right at the start of the volume, Kei learns secrets concerning her friend, Kanzaki, and her cousin, Shinogu. These revelations help Kei to finally remember what happened on the day of the accident.

As this volume progresses, all of the layers of the story have finally been pulled back and revealed. While there are some aspects of the story that ended up being predictable, there were still some surprising details that are revealed over the course of this volume. By the end of the volume, Hidaka has basically wrapped up all the loose ends for the major characters. The only real “major” character who is an exception to this would be Shinogu.

I apologize for being rather vague, but providing any details here would only serve as spoilers and take away from the interest and surprise that a reader would have as they read the volume. However, I honestly believe that readers who have followed the story all the way from the beginning will be satisfied with how the series comes to a close.

When it came to the art in this volume, one thing that really stood out to me are the sections when Hidaka decided to have Kei wear her hair in braids. Not only did I think that this looked really good on the character, but Hidaka seemed to put a little more effort into the detail for the drawings when Kei’s hair is in the braids. Another thing that I appreciated seeing was Kanzaki actually looking sad and forlorn; throughout the series, he either looked frustrated, surprised, or indifferent. So seeing him in this emotional state added a little more to him as a character.

As I read the Tears of a Lamb series, I really enjoyed getting to follow the cast of characters and seeing how they evolved through all seven volumes. I found myself caring about these characters, and I also found myself rooting for Kei and Kanzaki.

Overall, I think that Tears of Lamb is a decent shojo manga series; however, I would have to say that Fruits Basket is just a little bit stronger.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Tears of a Lamb Volume Seven that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Six

Article first published as Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Six by Banri Hidaka on Blogcritics.

Tears of a Lamb Volume Six is a shojo manga by Banri Hidaka that was published in North America by CMX in 2009. The series is rated “T” for teens, and I agree with this rating. From seeing the content in this series, I would say that Tears of a Lamb is appropriate for readers who are thirteen years of age and older.

Tears of a Lamb Volume 6
Written by: Banri Hidaka
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: CMX
Release Date: August 11, 2009

The main character of Tears of a Lamb is a high school freshman named Kei Hasumi. In the first volume of the series, she wants to gain access into the apartment of her new classmate, Kyosuke Kanzaki. Kanzaki doesn’t know what to think of Kei at first, and wonders why she wants to get into his apartment so badly. He learns that Kei lives in an apartment across the way with her brothers, Saito Takama (who is their homeroom teacher) and Rihito Hasumi. By the end of the Volume One, Kanzaki learns that Kei wants to get into his apartment to try to find a ring that belong to a previous resident of the apartment; she thinks she lost it in there. The former resident is a man named Suwa Kakeru; he’s friends with Saito and Kei really looks up to him.

As the series progresses, it comes out that Kei had been in an accident, and that she has little to no memory of what happened. However, she is convinced that the accident has something to do with the missing ring that she’s looking for. Kanzaki discovers that he has developed feelings for Kei, but he feels he can’t compete with Suwa. It doesn’t help that Suwa drops by Kanzaki’s apartment uninvited one day, and that the two of them strike up a friendship. The appearance of Kei’s cousin, Shinogu, also complicates matters.

At this point in the series, Kei has started to get some small breakthroughs in the mental block she’s had concerning the accident. By the end of this volume, the details of that day start becoming even clearer. The reader is finally clued in to what truly happened, and the ending of this volume is a major cliffhanger.

What I appreciate about the writing in this series is how Hidaka reveals just enough new information in each volume of the series to keep the reader interested, yet still leaves enough details unanswered to make the reader keep following the story to learn what new information will be revealed. In a lot of ways, it’s like peeling away the layers of an onion; just as you peel away one layer, you discover there’s a new layer waiting to be peeled back.

Another thing I have come to appreciate about Tears of a Lamb is how Hidaka has developed her characters over the course of the series. They are designed in such a way that the reader cares about them, and they don’t come across as stereotypical or one-dimensional. I have also appreciated how Hidaka can combine the dramatic and serious portions of the story with the overall light-hearted feel of the manga.

With that being said, the weakest part of this series is the art. While Hidaka’s art style has evolved and improved over the course of the series, it has remained rather simplistic in nature. In some respects, the simplistic style works well for the story that Hidaka is telling; however, there are times that this simplistic style doesn’t effectively convey the look and feel of the characters.

Hidaka also relies heavily on some of the “stereotypical” shojo manga tropes and styles. In some cases, using these tropes is an effective way to enhance what’s going on. However, more often than not, these tropes really don’t enhance the story.

Even with the issues I have with the art style, I do enjoy Tears of a Lamb. I’m really looking forward to reading Volume Seven, which is the final volume of the series, to find out how the story is resolved. If you appreciate shojo manga with relatable characters and an interesting premise, then you will probably enjoy Tears of a Lamb.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Tears of a Lamb Volume Six that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Five

Tears of a Lamb is a shojo manga by Banri Hidaka that is published in North America by CMX. According to the rating published on the back of the volumes, this series is rated “T” for teens. Personally, I agree with this rating; from the content in the series, I would say that Tears of a Lamb is appropriate for readers who are thirteen years of age and older.

Tears of a Lamb Volume 5
Written by: Banri Hidaka
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: CMX
Release Date: March 24, 2009

The main character in Tears of a Lamb is a high school freshman named Kei Hasumi. At the beginning of the series, she wants to get into the apartment of her new classmate, Kyosuke Kanzaki. Kanzaki doesn’t know what to think of Kei at first, and wonders why Kei wants to get into his apartment so badly. First, he discovers that Kei lives in an apartment across the way with her older brothers, Saito Takama (their homeroom teacher) and Rihito Hasumi. By the end of the first volume, Kanzaki learns that Kei wants to get into the apartment to try to find a ring she thought she had lost in there that had belonged to the person who had lived in the apartment a couple of tenants prior to Kanzaki. He also learns that former tenant is a man named Suwa, who is friends with Saito and is someone that Kei really looks up to and admires.

As the series progresses, the reader learns that Kei had been in an accident, and has little to no memory of what happened, but thinks the accident has something to do with the missing ring. Kanzaki also has issues of his own, such as vision impairment in one of his eyes and two overbearing older sisters. Kanzaki also discovers that he has developed feelings for Kei, but he feels that he can’t compete with Suwa; it doesn’t help that Suwa drops by Kanzaki’s apartment uninvited one day. The appearance of Kei’s cousin, Shinogu, also complicates matters.

In the fifth volume of Tears of a Lamb, Kei is beginning to get some small breakthroughs in the mental block concerning the accident; however, what details she is starting to get glimpses of aren’t entirely clear. Kanzaki also acts on his feelings for Kei, and the reaction isn’t what he expected. There are also hints dropped that there could potentially be someone else who is also interested in Kei. Kanzaki receives another unexpected visit from Suwa, and Kanzaki is affected by him in a way that surprises him. However, the biggest payoff for the reader in this volume is learning the whereabouts of the missing ring; unfortunately, Kei is still in the dark.

What I have come to appreciate in writing of this series is how Hidaka reveals just enough new information in each volume of the series to keep the reader interested, yet still leaves enough details unanswered to make the reader want to read future volumes in order to find out what new information will be revealed in each one. In many ways, it’s like peeling away the layers of an onion; just as you peel away one layer, you discover there’s a new layer waiting to be peeled back. I appreciate how Hidaka has worked at developing her characters over the course of the series so far. I really don’t feel that any of the characters are one-dimensional or stereotypical. The characters are designed and written in such a way that the reader cares about them. I also enjoy how she is able to combine the dramatic and serious portions of her story with the overall light-hearted feel of the manga.

With that being said, though, the weak point of the manga is the art. While Hidaka’s art style has evolved and improved over the course of the first five volumes, it has remained rather simplistic in nature. In some respects, the simplistic style works well for the story that Hidaka is telling; however, there are other times in the volumes where this simplistic style doesn’t work as well for conveying the look and feel of the characters.

Hidaka also has a tendency to rely heavily on some of the “stereotypical” shojo manga tropes and styles. In some cases, using these tropes work well and enhance what’s going on; the best example of this is in Volume 4, when she uses a lightning background, combined with the expressions on the faces of Shinogu and Rion, to depict how much they dislike each other when they first encounter each other at the beginning of the volume. However, there are other times when I feel that utilizing these tropes doesn’t help to enhance the story.

Even with the issues I have with the art style, I do enjoy Tears of a Lamb. I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to read Volume 6 to find out how the story will go to next and how the characters will evolve.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Tears of a Lamb Volume 5 that my older daughter checked out through the King County Library System.

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Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Four

Tears of a Lamb Volume 4 is a manga with the story and art by Banri Hidaka. CMX holds the North American rights to distribute the manga in the United States. The fourth volume of the series was published in the United States in 2009. The English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” release, was adapted and translated by Sheldon Drzka. Tears of a Lamb is rated “T” for teens.

Tears of a Lamb Volume 4
Written by: Banri Hidaka
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: CMX
Release Date: November 18, 2008

In this volume, we get to know a new character introduced at the end of Volume 3; it turns out he is Kei’s cousin, Shinogu. During one of Kei’s conversations with Kanzaki, we learn a little more about what happened after the accident that involved Suwa and Kei. Kei also throws a surprise birthday party for Kanzaki. Next is the school athletic meet, where, unbeknownst to Kei, Suwa is visiting Saito and watching the events. This is followed by Kanzaki discovering that Suwa has dropped by his apartment for an unexpected visit. Kanzaki ends up having to keep that visit a secret from Kei, which starts to add some tension and strain for Kanzaki to deal with.

About halfway through this volume, six months have progressed since the beginning of the series. Hidaka has made some subtle changes in the designs of some of the teenage characters to reflect this passage of time. Outside of that, though, this volume has the look a reader has come to expect from this series. I also noticed that Hidaka also seems to be relying on some of the manga tropes that she had really backed off on in Volume 3. However, how Hidaka utilizes these tropes really helps to emphasize what’s going on. One of my favorites is how Hidaka uses a lightning background, combined with the expressions on the faces of Shinogu and Rion, to depict how much they dislike each other when they first encounter each other at the beginning of this volume.

What I’ve really been appreciating about Hidaka’s writing style is that she reveals just enough new information in each volume of the series to keep the reader satisfied, yet leaves enough details unanswered to make the reader want to read more to find out what other information will be revealed in the next volume. In a lot of ways, it’s like peeling away the layers of an onion; just as you peel away one layer, you discover there’s a new layer waiting to be peeled back. When I reached the end of this volume, I really wanted to be able to read Volume 5 to find out what information, twists, and turns will be revealed. If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous three volumes of Tears of a Lamb, then I think you will enjoy this volume as well.

I wrote this review after my older daughter checked out a copy of this manga volume through the King County Library System.

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Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Three

Tears of a Lamb Volume 3 is a manga with the story and art by Banri Hidaka. CMX holds the North American rights to distribute this manga in the United States. The third volume of the series was published in the United States in 2008. The English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” released, was adapted and translated by Sheldon Drzka. Tears of a Lamb is rated “T” for teens.

Tears of a Lamb Volume 3
Written by: Banri Hidaka
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: CMX
Release Date: August 5, 2008

Where the first two volumes focused a lot on developing the protagonists, this volume focuses more on providing development for some of the minor characters; in particular, more backstory is provided for Choko and Saito. However, this is one revelation that comes out about Kei in this volume, and it takes Kanzaki by surprise. During this volume, Kei’s friend Rion, along with Rion’s brother, Aoto, appear a little more prominently than they did in Volume 2; also, a new character is introduced right at the end of this volume. Kanzaki also finally starts figuring out his feelings for Kei as this volume progresses. In addition, some pieces of the puzzle about Kei and her brother’s friend, Suwa, start falling into place. In fact, by the end of this volume, I found myself wanting to read the next volume to see if any more information will be revealed.

Hidaka’s character designs really haven’t changed much since Volume 2. However, I do have to note that the character design for Kimijima, especially the hair and face, make him look like a girl; in fact, I have to keep reminding myself that this character is male, not female. While Hidaka does use some of the typical manga tropes, they’re not nearly as overused as they were in Volume 1. I also noticed during the course of reading this manga, that I was seeing lambs appearing in some of the panels; I honestly don’t remember seeing the lambs appearing in the previous two volumes.

In some respects, the story has developed as I expected, especially when it comes to Kanzaki and his feelings for Kei. However, I wasn’t expecting to see the backstory for Choko and Saito, and I definitely wasn’t expecting some of what I learned about Suwa during the course of reading this volume. I also wasn’t expecting the introduction of the new character at the end. I’m curious to see how this character’s introduction to the series adds to the story at such a point that I can sit down and read Volume 4.

I wrote this review after my older daughter checked out a copy of this manga volume through the King County Library System.

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Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume Two

Tears of a Lamb Volume 2 is a manga with the story and art by Banri Hidaka. CMX holds the North American rights to distribute this manga in the United States. The second volume of the series was published in the United States in 2008. The English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” released, was adapted and translated by Sheldon Drzka. Tears of a Lamb is rated “T” for teens.

Tears of a Lamb Volume 2
Written by: Banri Hidaka
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: CMX
Release Date: April 15, 2008

Where Volume 1 put a lot of emphasis on developing Kei’s backstory, the majority of Volume 2 is devoted to Kanzaki. The main bulk of the story in this volume takes place at their school’s Summer Sports Day, where Kanzaki must try to overcome a fear of basketball that he had developed while he was in junior high. In addition, Kanzaki discovers that Kimijima, a boy who’s a year older than him and went to the same junior high as him, is now at this school; in fact, Kimijima is the vice president of the student council. After the Sports Day storyline, we, along with Kei, are introduced to Kanzaki’s older sisters, Ibara and Shizu. The object that Kei was looking for so fervently in the first volume is only referenced in about two or three scenes near the end of this volume.

While Hidaka’s character designs are still a little on the simplistic side, she seems to have a more concrete idea of how her characters should look; the character designs are more refined in Volume 2 than they are in Volume 1. Also, I noticed that Hidaka didn’t rely as much on the “stereotypical” manga conventions in this volume that I complained about in my review of Volume 1.

By the end of this volume of Tears of a Lamb, there is definitely a setup to continue the development of Kei’s backstory in the next volume. Also, as a reader, it’s becoming more obvious in this volume that there’s a relationship developing between Kei and Kanzaki, although neither one of them seems to be willing to admit it quite yet. I was glad to see Kanzaki’s character development in this volume; he has become more likable in this volume in comparison to how he was at the end of Volume 1. Now I’m really looking forward to when I can get the opportunity to read the next volume of Tears of a Lamb to see where the story goes to next, and to see what new details and developments are revealed.

I wrote this review after my older daughter checked out a copy of this manga volume through the King County Library System.

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Manga Review: Tears of a Lamb Volume One

Tears of a Lamb Volume 1 is a manga with the story and art by Banri Hidaka. CMX holds the North American rights to distribute the manga in the United States. The first volume of the series was published in the United States in 2008. The English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” release, was adapted and translated by Sheldon Drzka. Tears of a Lamb is rated “T” for teens.

Tears of a Lamb Volume 1
Written by: Banri Hidaka
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: CMX
Release Date: January 2, 2008

The main character of the series is Kei Hasumi, and she’s a high school freshman. She wants to get into the apartment of her classmate, Kyosuke Kanzaki. It turns out that she’s trying to find something that she believes she lost in his apartment a couple of tenants earlier. Kei lives in the apartment across the way from Kanzaki with her older brothers, Saito Takama and Rihito Hasumi. Kei’s insistence on trying to get into Kanzaki’s apartment becomes a starting point for these two high school freshmen to start a friendship. By the end of the first volume, you learn that both Kei and Kanzaki have gone through trauma in their lives. Can these two friends help each other get over their demons from the past?

Admittedly, the art in Tears of a Lamb is a little on the simplistic side. There are also some panels that fall into some of the “stereotypical” manga facial expressions and actions. However, I thought this simplistic style worked for the storytelling that’s being used for the series. While the panels that employ the “stereotypical” manga conventions can be a little annoying at times, they do seem to work with the characters and the overall feel of the story. I feel this especially works with a character like Kei, who has a “never give up” attitude and who can also be a little obnoxious at times.

I thought Tears of a Lamb has a decent story, and as the background stories for the two main characters become revealed, you start to become emotionally invested in them. With this emotional investment, you find yourself wishing to learn even more about them; at the end of the first volume, I found myself wanting to get to know these characters even more and to find out what happens to them next. I really wouldn’t have any objections to reading future volumes of this manga series if I were to come across them at the library.

I wrote this review after checking out a copy of this manga volume through the King County Library System.

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