My first manga review here! Yay! :)
To make it short, I'm also moderate reader of manga and since there are lot of great series out there that people may know or have not heard of or even haven't heard of manga, then I thought I'd share some of the series I've read form now on from time to time.
Author: Fuyumi Soryo
Release period: 2002-2003 (In English)
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: Tokyopop
Pages: Around 200 pages each volume
Source: Bought from manga shops
Availability: Slim to none, they have been out of print for a long time already and the best bet where to find it are libraries
Popular Rei and shy Kira are worlds apart, until one fateful day brings them together. Rei stumbles upon Kira in the harassing hands of her sleazy art teacher and saves the quiet girl from his clutches. And when the jock plants a kiss on a statue of Mars in the studio, Kira finds herself drawn in and even summons up the nerve to ask him to model for her but problems already lurk on the horizon.
Vicious upperclassman Harumi has had her sights set on Rei for a long time, and is not about to let go now.
One of the most popular teen girl manga series in Japan, Mars is a drama that will meet the demand of the growing female comic-reading market.
This was one of the first manga I’ve ever read and being in the intended target group (and at that time there being no YA fiction in the current sense) it’s no surprise that I loved it to bits. Come on… it had everything my later teenage heart wanted: a hot guy falling in love with a quiet and shy artistic schoolmate, this hunky guy racing motorcycle, getting into fights, being a big flirt, but settling down for this troubled cutesy girl, there was bulling and justice being served, so much baggage and issues to overcome, oh… and angst, glorious painful angst! After rereading it a while ago, it still left me with a happy sigh on my lips when closing the last volume.
Times have of course changed my perspective of some of the aspects of this manga that I didn’t mind or notice during my first read, namely, oh my god, how much can Kira cry! She cries over everything, if she would even cry because of taking out the trash, it wouldn’t surprise me. But yet again, my overly emotional late teenage heart felt her a kindred spirit, because as shamed I am to admit it, I also cried on the drop of a hat and over everything (the most fatal trigger were movies with animals – and it didn’t matter if nothing really bad actually happened to the animal). I now understand that this is quite an overdramatic and over-the-top series and, yes, well… it is as it is, BUT you know what? I don’t care! This series is awesome new adult romance in manga format that was great then and is more than up to the level now, even compared to similar themed and new adult genre books popping out like crazy nowadays.
More on the plot:
Well, as I said there’s a lot of emotion and feelings, pain and past secrets, twists and turns building up the basis of this series. Both Kira and Rei have enough sinister skeletons in their pasts that they wouldn’t want to, but are forced to face sooner or later, the question just stands if they are strong enough to deal and if they are dedicated and bound together tightly enough to remain by each other’s side. Next to past issues, there are circumstance and most of all several selfish, messed up and intruding characters trying to break them apart, mainly because Rei is apparently hot merchandise and everyone is drawn to him for one or another reason and want him for their own egoistic purposes. So, due to there always being some obstacle on the path to happiness for Kira and Rei, the pace is quite fast and there is constantly something looming over the temporary peace time in their relationship. It's definitely never boring during this manga. Plus, there is also humor in this series, it’s not only crying, pain and dark clouds. Rei is a seemingly careless and easygoing wiseass who doesn’t seem very bright at first so there is much fun on his juvenile delinquent persona’s expenses.
This manga isn’t, however, only about the angst, there are also positive topics in the foreground: friendship (from enemies to friends), forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, … there are various values highlighted. Nevertheless, there is also quite a bit of violence, sexual situations and other delicate topics shown and explored, so this is a mange more for the older teens and young adult audiences.
Something about the characters:
There certainly was a lot of psychologically less or extremely wacko people in this. Almost everyone seemed to have some complex, issue, insecurity, or a definite mental disease – it made the cast quite colorful, unpredictable and was the basis of the whole plot. Kira and Rei were the opposites attract couple that I totally bought. There was stuff that annoyed me about them, but I liked them as the main couple.
I also like the art in this. While nothing overly spectacular, it’s clean and clear with less emphasis on background and detail, and more on making characters distinguishable and pleasant looking. Kira is cute as a button, but Rei is most definitely modelly gorgeous with his outgrown blonde hair (yes, a blonde Japanese, deal with it – hair in manga/anime doesn’t really reflect reality, especially the color) long limbs and a pretty face.
P.S: If you’re a romance reading girl and also like motorcycles and racing then this is just what the doctor ordered! There really is a lot of emphasis on racing and the part it plays in Rei’s life, he wants to live and breathe for the racetrack most of the time. The art during competitions is quite excellent and engaging storyline-wise.
Since it’s one of my first manga then I feel confident in recommending this to people who haven’t really read manga before, but are interested to try it out. Especially, if those people also enjoy YA or new adult fiction – it has the same basic gist, but simply the format is different, so the transition shouldn’t be too shocking. All in all, this is a great manga series that I still remember clearly and wouldn’t mind rereading it again in the future.
And here are some more covers from the series: