Friday, October 1, 2021

Manga Mini-Reviews: Those Not-So-Sweet Boys 1 by Yoko Nogiri and Sensor by Junji Ito

* Those Not-So-Sweet Boys 1 by Yoko Nogiri

Midori drops her wallet at school and Ichijo saves it from shady students looking to steal. It would be all the more devastating because her mom can't afford rent with out her part-time earnings from working at a bar. The chairman of the school sees her in her work uniform and strikes a deal with her: if she can get Ichijo and his troublemaker friends to return to school and participate, she will get a school approved job. Midori jumps at the chance, but it might be a bigger problem than she can handle.

Those Not-So-Sweet Boys is an adorable slice of life manga with a surprisingly heartwarming core. Midori sacrifices everything to provide for her family and take care of her brother. She doesn't mind missing out on typical teen things so her family can afford rent and her brother can be a kid. On the other hand, Ichijo and his two friends are from pretty affluent backgrounds and have bad reputations at school. As Midori gets to know them, she sees that it's mostly the result of misunderstandings and bored teens making stuff up. She sees that underneath their spiky, aloof exteriors, they are nice, decent boys that stick close together.

This manga is a fluffy, cute read. I felt for Midori and enjoyed the twists and turns of the story. I wouldn't buy the rest of the series, but I wouldn't mind checking it out from the library and seeing where the story goes. 

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

* Sensor by Junji Ito

Kyoko Byakuya is drawn Kiyokami village near dormant volcano Mount Sengoku. The inhabitants have shining golden strands in their hair that allow them to communicate with their minds and see into the cosmos. The strands are dried lava from the volcano that fall like rain. She stays to witness their ritual, but it all goes terribly wrong. 60 years later, tales of Kyoko endure and send many searching for her.

Sensor is a cosmic horror tale that differs from Ito's previous work. It's not as gruesome, but still has disturbing themes and situations in science fiction trappings. I was unnerved at the beginning because I expected the idyllic, almost Stepford-like village to have a dark underbelly, but I was wrong. The opposing cult of course wants to use the strands and cosmic power to call up a great darkness. Dueling cults surrounding the same supernatural phenomenon is something I'm surprised hasn't been explored more and I loved it. I am also interested in the background story in the Edo era (between 1603 and 1867) where a Christion missionary was harbored by the village, but eventually he was killed by the Shogunate for not renouncing his faith. I would have loved to see more of this time period in the manga before it moved on.

The villains are compelling, but felt pretty one dimensional.  I wish some of the ideas had been more developed. It felt a little like a rumination on the same ideas as Remina. I've been seeing criticism that this "isn't horror" and falls flat. Sensor is a departure from Ito's usual flavor of horror, but the shift to cosmic horror is equally effective and still employs his usual macabre art and body horror. Overall, Sensor had some interesting ideas and amazing art as always. I always look forward to  more of Ito's releases. 

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

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