Archive for the Gag Comics/4-koma Category


Yuri Manga: Swap⇔Swap, Volume 2 (すわっぷ⇔すわっぷ)

June 16th, 2017

Today we open up the “really? This is still being published?” File for a look at Swap⇔Swap, Volume 2 (すわっぷ⇔すわっぷ). In Volume 1, we met Ichinose Haruko and Nikaido Natsuko who have vaguely similarish names and are in the same class. Haruko keeps to herself and is a good student. Natsuko is fashionable and garrulous. And, quite suddenly and inexplicably, when they bump into one another lip first, they…switch bodies. While thin on plot, Volume 1 managed to be decent right up until the final pages.

Here in Volume 2, Haruko and Natsuko have not only become good friends, their other good friends all know about them swapping bodies and their circle now includes two other couples who swap bodies, including a couple who is actually a couple.

This is all estblished in the intro pages and we are sent out to experience an utterly average 4-panel comic from Mangatime KR that looks like all the other 4-panel comics from Mangatime KR, with the schtick of switching bodies. The reasons for switching are never awkward or irritating – no taking each other’s exams – but they do switch for the flexibility test in PE which literally made no sense at all. ^_^;; (No, see, flexibility is not innate, it’s the actual muscles and tendons of the body that…just no, really, I can’t even.) And so they can all win at a certain game, allergic people can play with a cat, and other super brilliant reasons.

The end of Volume 2 did not descend into service, as Volume 1 did, in fact, it kind of ascended into Yuri. It has been established in a few early gags in the volume that Haruko was really starting to find other girls attractive generally and Natsuko, specifically, but towards the end, we learn that Natsuko is equally starting to be interested in Haruko. They do kiss quite a lot in this book. To switch bodies, of course. But still. And now Natsuko has a rival for Haruko’s affection which seems to have pushed her to consider Haruko’s affection.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Haruko’s weird eyes (that help you know who is in which body) seem to be a family trait.
Story – 5 They switch bodies. The rest is typical school-life gags
Characters – 8 Actually kind of decent, which is surprising
Service – 3
Yuri – 5

Overall – 7

I cannot tell you that this is good, but I also don’t think it’s bad. I am puzzled as to why it exists at all and make no promises about reading Volume 3, should there be one.

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Yuri Manga: Swap⇔Swap, Volume 1 (すわっぷ⇔すわっぷ)

June 6th, 2016

swap^2You may recall that I recently reviewed Only ☆You~Anata to Watashi no Futari Bocchi Keikaku in which a reasonable premise went south almost instantly.

Today, we’re going to talk about Swap⇔Swap, (すわっぷ⇔すわっぷ), Volume 1, by Tomekichi in which a horrible premise manages to almost not go bad until the last few pages.

Ichinose Haruko is the dark-haired girl on the cover with the weird eyes. Nikaido Natsuko is the blonde. They have vaguely similarish names and are in the same class. Haruko keeps to herself and is a good student. Natsuko is fashionable and garrulous. And, quite suddenly and inexplicably, when they bump into one another lip first, they…switch bodies.

I know, I know. It’s a totally cringe-worthy plot device. And worse, when we learn that Haruko is also quietly obsessed with girls with large breasts, and they switch back and forth by kissing, one immediately starts to imagine where this is going. Only, it doesn’t. Not really. Not yet.

Neither Natsuko nor Haruko are particularly put out by their relationship. And they seem to have a solid grasp of where the “no-go” zone is. When Natsuko wants to switch in order to have Haruko take a test for her, Haruko puts the brakes on switching and instead studies with Natsuko to get her grades up. In return, Natsuko introduces Haruko to her friends and they all go out shopping and to the pool and other average fun. Most importantly, Haruko and Natsuko tell their friends about their weird relationship, and their friends…accept it. It’s  a normal slice-of-life comedy, in which they kiss to switch bodies and switch back. It peaks when Haruko switches bodies to give allergic Natsuko the chance to play with a kitten and everything is just kind of sweet and cute.

All is well, with mild humor and goofiness until we meet a second couple who can switch bodies. And suddenly, the editor demanded more service. What was a readable, mildly silly gag comedy becomes a breast-fetish gag comic without humor, for the last 10 pages. And then it abruptly stops. Presumably, there will be a second volume.  But I’m not sure if the thin veneer of Yuri in Haruko’s sort-of burgeoning interest in Natsuko will be developed more than the breast fetish, so I’m on the fence about continuing.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Not quite dreadful, but Haruko’s weird eyes help you know who is in which body.
Story – 5 There is no story, only a premise
Characters – 8 Actually kind of decent, which is surprising
Service – 2, rising to 5 by the end.

Overall – 7

I’m not going to say this was spectacular, but it wasn’t terrible, either. And if the Yuri is developed, it has some potential to be good. If the breast fetish is developed instead, it has potential to be dire.

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Yuri Manga: Kimi no Tame Nara Shineru, Volume 5 (姫のためなら死ねる)

October 21st, 2015

KnTnS5In Volume 5 of Kimi no Tame Nara Shineru (姫のためなら死ねる) Sei Shonagon of The Pillow Book fame has hit a slump. Not just a slump, but a debilitating, crushing and potentially career-damaging slump. And near-constant harassment from the onmyouji “Abe no Hito” isn’t helping.

Not only is Shonagon suffering because of this slump, but Teishi-sama is starting to think that Shonagon doesn’t care for her any more, as her requests to read new entries in the diary are met with vague promises, and excuses. Shonagon, it turns out, is fearful of showing her mistress the uncensored delight she has in the Princess. Too embarrassed and too scared to let anyone know what she’s feeling, she is unable to write anything at all.

Koshikibu and Benkan are alternately worried about and annoyed by Shonagon, but it’s Murasaki who shakes her out of her slump and encourages her to pen openly adoring verses about Teishi-sama. Teishi-sama is likewise embarrassed at the near-worship of Shonagon’s Diary, but they reconcile at last.

As the book comes to a close, Murasaki Shikibu is confronted the disorder known as “reading fanfic about your characters.” And, as it usually is in the real world, it’s not a good thing.

The gags are, if anything, becoming denser. There’s a lot of research that goes into this book and it shows. It’s also getting harder to follow for this reader, as my knowledge of the Heian-kyo is superficial to say the least. ^_^; But what is funny is funny and even when there are hints of somber things to come, it’s all jokes all the way down.

Ratings:

Art – 6
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 2
Service – 4

Overall – 7

Luckily for me, in between the otaku humor, there’s more “Shonagon is gaga over Teishi-sama again.”

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Yuri Manga: Kyou mo Futari ha Nakayoshi Desu. ~Kuzushiro Short Story Collection (今日も2人は仲良しです。)

April 17th, 2015

FutarihaNakayoshiKyou mo Futari ha Nakayoshi Desu.~Kuzushiro Short Story Collection (今日も2人は仲良しです。) is a collection published not by Yuri Hime Comics, but by Rex Comics, also an Ichijinsha imprint. I found that interesting, although without any particular context.

The short stories are right in Kuzushiro-sensei’s ballpark – two people who are lovers/rivals and both slightly nuts, so that the situations, while they may start off normal, are guaranteed to descend immediately into wackiness. The majority of the stories are or could be considered to be Yuri, but there are a few male x female pairings which work just as well.

The first few chapters follow various couples in a idol group. Each couple is equally amusingly dysfunctional, but anyone familiar with Nekoyama-san to Inugami-san, would instantly recognize the formula. And speaking of Nekoyama-san to Inugami-san, this collection includes an early story idea for that series.

My favorite stories follow a seriously creepy eye-patch wearing girl and the girl she targets in school…and yes, I know that’s utterly predictable of me, but it’s not the eyepatch that worked for me this time, it was the utterly fucked up eye she had under it. ^_^

The art was clean, much cleaner than I’m used to from Kuzushiro-sensei, but the comedic gags weren’t quite as sharp, as befits earlier work.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – Variable, we’ll say 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 2

Overall – 8

A great way to enjoy more from a creator whose work makes me happy.

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Yuri Manga: Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san, Volume 3 (犬神さんと猫山さん)

December 19th, 2014

istns3Here we are at Volume 3 of Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san (犬神さんと猫山さん) and…I’m not tired of it yet. Why? I don’t know, but I’m not! There’s something about Kuzushiro’s characters that make them completely not-boring to me. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a gag comic this much since…well, ever really.

So here we are and Nekoyama is fully invested in being too interested in Inugami, with no real way to express herself, while Inugami wears her heart on her sleeve.  We follow Aki for a good portion of the book and get a new seasonal addition with her Kendo sempai Touko (whose name is written with the character for “winter.”) Most of the other animals take a back seat to  to Ryuuzaki and Torao. And we see that indeed, they are the couple they appear to be. In addition to Otome and Mari, we get to see Nekoyama’s older sister, Tamaki with her girlfriend. So the Yuri level is significantly higher than previous volumes.

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For the rest, it’s basically a balanced mix of genuine emotion and excruciating jokes that I nonetheless laugh out loud at.

What is it about this comic that I like so much? It’s taken me a while to nail it down, but I think I’ve figured it out. Kuzushiro-sensei likes these character and as a result, so do I. ^_^  Despite the animal puns, there’s a sense of depth to all the characters (except Torikai). While we’re mostly seeing the silly side, every once in a while we see that depth – just a glimpse – and it convinces us that time spent in this boisterous crowd is time well spent.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 7
Character – 7
FanService – 6
Yuri – 8

Overall – 7

Apparently the key to a good gag comic is not one loud joke-cracking annoying character, but about half a dozen of them all at once. ^_^

This volume is also available on Kindle for folks with Japanese IP addresses.

 

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