Manga Marching Orders, 11/30/09

fromfar1Wow, y’all sure can pick ’em! The results of the last Manga Marching Orders post, in which I asked for help in deciding between several shoujo fantasy series that take place in other worlds, were overwhelmingly in favor of From Far Away, and now I see why: it’s awesome! You can find my review of the first five volumes here. I’ll definitely be continuing that series through to its completionβ€”how I let it languish in my to-read pile for so many years is beyond me!β€”but in the meantime, I’m soliciting advice once again.

Recently, I read the first three volumes of Honey Hunt, which was my first time reading anything by Miki Aihara. I liked it a lot, and it made me intrigued about the series she’s best known for: the ultimate guilty pleasure of shoujo, Hot Gimmick. This, in turn, got me thinking about other shoujo/josei classics with possibly over-the-top/raunchy romance drama that I really should read.

Here, then, are the five series I’m trying to decide between. All are complete and owned by me in their entirety, inveterate hoarder that I am. I note, too, that 80% of these series were released in the US by TOKYOPOP. They sure don’t license them like they used to.

hotgimmick11. Hot Gimmick by Miki Aihara – shoujo, 12 volumes
Believe me, I have heard the complaints about this one. Forewarned is forearmed, they say, and since this series is still being talked about so often, I feel like I should experience its icky-yet-addictive blend for myself.

2. Peach Girl by Miwa Ueda – shoujo, 18 volumes but split into two series by TOKYOPOP
I want to read this for the same reason I want to read Hot Gimmick. I’ve been reading Miwa Ueda’s newest series, Papillon, and have seen other reviewers note its similarities to this earlier story. I remain ignorant of any recycled story elements, and this just won’t do!

3. Tramps Like Us by Yayoi Ogawa – josei, 14 volumes
I’ve heard many good things about this series and though I’ve read some josei, I’ve never read a josei series as long as this one. Plus, I’m always ridiculously excited to read about a heroine who has a career.

4. Happy Mania by Moyoco Anno – josei, 11 volumes
Connie mentioned this series recently in a review over on Manga Recon and it really intrigued me, especially when she said, “the series reveled in dragging the characters through all sorts of relationship miseries, then having them beg for more.” I went out and procured it (got a great deal on eBay!) based on her recommendation. I think it’d be fun to read about a succession of guys instead of just one true love. Sex and the City in manga form!

5. Mars by Fuyumi Soryo – shoujo, 15 volumes + 1 one-shot
From what I’ve heard about Mars, there doesn’t seem to be much really raunchy about it, but I’m willing to bet that in a series this long there’s going to be some major crazy drama somewhere along the line. I’m also intrigued by this mangaka in general; her seinen series ES: Eternal Sabbath looks really good, and I feel like I should read this one first to better appreciate the contrast.

Reader, help me choose!

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  1. I haven’t read all of Peach Girl or Happy Mania, but out of all these series I have the most enduring affection for Mars and Tramps Like Us.

  2. Tramps Like Us is the best. One of my very most favorite manga. All of the others are good, except for Hot Gimmick, which is awful not just because of the rape and the sexism, but because it goes absolutely nowhere.

    • Heh, that’s definitely something to consider. I didn’t actually know there was rape in Hot Gimmick; I thought it was mental/physical abuse and misogyny at the worst, which is, of course, awful enough!

  3. I would definitely go with either Mars or Tramps Like Us or both!

    Peach Girl is fun, but it’s rather petty sometimes. It sort of reminds me of emo without being terribly emo itself.

    I also read Hot Gimmick, but it’s just not my favorite Miki Aihara work. The main character is spineless and I dislike her for it. Honey Hunt is a lot better that way. The girl at least has some determination.

    Happy Mania I just can’t say anything about, but I just read another work by Anno (Hataraki Man) and I liked it a lot. It’s not in English though…(yet)

    • Thanks for the input! I didn’t expect that I would really *like* Peach Girl and Hot Gimmick, but thought of them as series I should be conversant with, if that makes sense.

      I am positively desperate to read Hataraki Man! I continue to believe it’ll get licensed eventually, though.

  4. I’d have to vote for Happy Mania. From your descriptions, it sounds like the only one that’s really different.

    I read the first 2 volumes of Peach Girl (in Kodansha bilingual editions, where they were split into 4 volumes) and I remember it being okay but clearly not good enough for me to have bothered to get the rest.

    • Thanks for the vote. πŸ™‚

      I actually have a few of those bilingual Peach Girl editions, but I’ve never read them. I recently acquired the series when BookCloseouts had the volumes for 99 cents each!

  5. I really liked Peach Girl and Kimi wa Pet (Tramps Like Us).

    I recently started reading Mars myself because I’ve seen a lot of good reviews of it. I’d read vol. 1 years ago and never felt like continuing, but figured I’d give it another try. I’ve read the first three vols. now and it still hasn’t really grabbed me, but I will probably finish it anyway. I can’t believe it goes on for fifteen volumes, though. That seems pretty long for what it is.

  6. I vote for Mars and Tramps like us. Those 2 are my favorite in this list. I’ve read Happy Mania and like it better starting vol 7. I didn’t like Hot Gimmick and gave up after 2 vols (viz big), even though I do enjoy Honey Hunt.

  7. Danielle Leigh says

    I’m going to go with Mars. It is kind of….quality trash? Anyway, it makes me feel less bad about myself than Peach Girl or Hot Gimmick.

  8. Hm, tricky. You might want to try Hot Gimmick just to see why everyone talks about it. But you’ll feel bad about yourself for kind of enjoying some bits of it, I warn you. Soiled, even. ‘Cause it is a little addictive, but the gender stuff is just AWFUL. Mars, on ther other hand, is quality melodrama, and quite a good read. Happy Mania was my first ever exposure to the wondrous Moyoco Anno, and I recall it being very funny, though perhaps a bit draggy by the end (where I felt like yelling at the main character “get your act together, woman!”). Tramps Like Us has many delightful things about it, and manages to be quirky, funny and insightful. And hey, a working woman who is exceptionally competent and likes to work! And Peach Girl – well, I’ve only laid hands on one volume, ages ago, but this is a series lots of people whose judgement I respect talk of fondly.
    Heh – I seem to have recommended all of them. Which is no help to you! πŸ™‚

  9. Trend indeed! It’s a toss up between Mars and Tramps, but I vote for Mars first – if only to get the melodrama out of the way.

    Then Tramps Like Us next, because I like to save the best for last. (It’s also probably one of the best josei out there, licensed or not.)

  10. I haven’t read Tramps Like Us, though it’s on *my* list. I’d vote for Mars out of these. Very enjoyable. πŸ™‚

    • Aaaand Mars takes a slight lead! πŸ™‚

      I probably shouldn’t comment thusly ’til it’s all over, but the nerd in me is totally keeping track of votes in a spreadsheet. πŸ™‚

  11. Here’s my thoughts on all of these –

    Hot Gimmick – my reading experience was probably quite different from most people’s, as I read it totally out of order. Thus, I read it as a surreal story where time is out of joint and it’s up to the reader to put the pieces together (why is this character doing that totally insane thing? what could possible be the context?). I rather enjoyed that, and I suspect that it worked a lot better for Hot Gimmick than most stories.

    Note that in addition to attempted rape, other forms of physical and sexual abuse, and general misogyny, there is quasi-incest. But really, the most disturbing this is how it glorifies the abusive guys. Ironicially, Ryoki is my favorite character, indeed, the only character I actually liked, for reasons which are too spoilerish to disclose.

    Peach Girl – I read a few volumes years ago, and hardly remember anything.

    Tramps Like Us – only one on the list I haven’t read at all.

    Happy Mania – the first few volumes were not very enjoyable to read. It gets much better later on, and I get why some people admire it … but as there is a constant love interest throughout the entire story, it does not exactly deviate from the “one true love” theme (though there are a lot of guys, and even a girl, in between). It’s also not Sex in the City – those women have class and sophistication, whereas Shigeta is a downright anti-heroine (though that makes her a more unique character, and sets up a lot of the humor).

    Mars – yeah, there’s some melodrama [/understatement]. It’s not totally innocent, but the characters spend more time having introspective moments than raunchy fun. It’s also the first shojo I ever fell in love with.

    My vote: Mars

    • Thanks very much for a thorough reply! I knew about the quasi-incest angle in Hot Gimmick but obviously not about the differences in Happy Mania from my conception of it.

      Your vote is noted, and Mars is definitely in the lead now. I should note you’ve tempted me to purposely read Hot Gimmick out of order! πŸ™‚

  12. Okay, I’m calling it. Mars wins! Thanks again to everyone who weighed in!

  13. That’s handy I would have voted for Mars as well, and then Tramps like us ^^. There’s an insanely tasty Jdorama adaptation of Tramps and an also lovely Taiwanese dorama adaptation of Mars.

    *snoopy dance for you enjoying From Far Away*

    • I have yet to watch any j or k dramas, unless you count the live action Pretty Guardian Sailormoon from a few years ago. I tried watching Goong, but Chae-Kyung came off so very, very stupid that I couldn’t make it through a single episode.

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