Pop Culture Gadabout
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
      ( 6/22/2010 06:07:00 AM ) Bill S.  


“I WANT TO HAVE AN EPIC ROMANCE, THE KIND THAT SHATTERS BOTH HEAVEN AND EARTH!” With the current repackaging of Natsuki Takaya’s hyper-popular shojo romance Fruits Basket in “ultimate” hardcover editions, fans of the still-active manga artist, looking for new material have doubtless already snapped up Songs to Make You Smile (Tokyopop). An anthology of earlier short romances with two more recent pieces added, Songs proves nowhere near as emotionally colored as Takaya’s fantasy opus, though it does touch on themes that crop in her fuller series. Writing of her older pieces, she notes that while they may be “a little out of control,” they “show traces of the current Takaya.”

Two of the early tales, for instance, focus on the difficulties that her introvert male heroes face in being emotionally open. In “Ding Dong,” for instance, a teenage girl obsesses over a father who remained so emotionally distant that he was unable to even hand her presents at Christmastime. In another, a quiet boy who sings in a pop band is unable to relate to his high school peers because he was born with a disapproving expression on his face. “If we could see the scars in people’s hearts,” he says, “maybe we would stop getting hurt.”

Per the collection’s title, two stories center on music as the protagonists’ way to more openly express themselves -- just the sort of theme you can imagine a young struggling manga artist to focus on -- though it’s not all adolescent angst in this book. The final entry, a jokey riff on the universe of her more recent series Tsubasa: Those with Wings focuses on a bipolar Snow White figure who drives all the handsome men in her kingdom into thoughts of murder. “I’m so lonely, I get irritable,” the beautiful but cranky princess explains at one point. This moment of self-realization doesn’t stop her from tormenting her servants by making them bungee jump off the side of the castle, however.

Though the last story could probably use a somewhat broader visual approach than the artist seems willing to utilize, the art in Songs has a yearning tone to it that well suits the remaining tiny tales of romance and new connections. If the earlier works are a trifle artistically "out of control," it isn't to their detriment. While I don’t think this volume is the one to use to introduce a newcomer to this popular shojo artist -- the melancholy fantasy Fruits Basket is still the way to go here -- I can’t see fans ultimately feeling cheated by this open-hearted collection.

(First published on Blogcritics.)

Labels:

# |



Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).



On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:



A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page







Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Attentiondeficitdisorderly
Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

BeaucoupKevin
Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog
Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Bookgasm
Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Comics.212
Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine

Egon

Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery

Estoreal
RAB

Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section
Hal

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures
Pata

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Journalista
Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett

Metrokitty
Kitty

Michael's Movie Palace
Michael

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag

Neilalien

News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

PeterDavid.net
Peter David

(postmodernbarney.com)
Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Rhinoplastique
Marc Bernardin

Scrubbles
Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren
Campaspe

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby

TangognaT

The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter



A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.




My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Alicublog
Roy Edroso

Eschaton
Atrios

Firedoglake
Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman

Modulator
Steve

Pandagon
Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
Skippy

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends



Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed



Powered by Blogger



Twittering:
    follow me on Twitter