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jackifulwood

Infinite Satellite

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Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa
Benjamin Constable
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan
Joshua Dread: The Nameless Hero
Lee Bacon
Otomen, Vol. 1 (v. 1) - Aya Kanno While it's not going to replace Fruits Basket as my favorite shojo, I loved this light comedy about a straight high school boy struggling to hide his love of cooking, sewing, shojo, and all things kawaii by putting on a kendo-practicing mask of machoness. Asuka kicks butt and makes bento lunches with equal ease, but events in his past cause him to fear his "girly" side will be discovered and result in social ostracism. This fear only worsens when he finds out that his new love interest looks up to manly men, while his crush on her has him sewing kitty dolls and reading shojo in overdrive.

While the hero is a fun character, I adored Ryo, the heroine, as well. The blurb for the manga indicates that she fits more closely into the traditional male gender role than the female, but she isn't masculine in the slightest. Instead, she is hopeless at cooking and sewing, and she isn't afraid to fight for someone she loves - literally. I felt a modern-woman sympathy for her.

The centerpiece of the story is the relationship between Asuka, Ryo, and a boy who is secretly serializing Asuka's life as a manga (long story). Asuka goes through various phases of anxiety about the depth of his feminine talents, but his interaction with his friends provides the outward acceptance he needs to grow into his true self. It's a reflection on the little-explored positive side of peer pressure.

I will definitely read the rest of this series. I am interested to see if anyone in the story will mention that samurai practiced the manly art of flower arrangement, or that in many ancient and current cultures, true emotion was and is considered the province of men.

Recommend to: Age 14+, shojo fans, anyone needing a "be true to yourself" moral in their story