SHORT-TEMPERED MELANCHOLIC AND OTHER STORIES • Arina Tanemura • Viz • 13+
Despite the “T” rating, Tanemura’s work is pure kid’s stuff, girly shojo romances with fiery, energetic heroines. Short-Tempered Melancholic and Other Stories is a collection of her earliest work, in some ways bland and undistinguished; these tales don’t venture into the angsty territory of her later, longer works Gentlemen’s Alliance and Full Moon o Sagashite. The title story is about Kajika, a ninja girl who has a crush on another ninja, while her ninjutsu-less childhood friend pines away for her. When she must make the choice between her “femininity” and her strength as a ninja, the story drifts into typically sexist shojo territory but with some Tanemura flavor. (”Kajika doesn’t really need someone strong. She needs someone kind who will let her cry when she needs to cry.”) The other three stories are more conventional shojo one-shots: “This Love is Nonfiction” is a sort of Roxane situation with a girl ghost-writing love letters for her more attractive friend, “Rainy Afternoons are for Romantic Heroines” is pure implausible romantic wish-fulfillment, and “The Style of the Second Love” (Tanemura’s debut work) is a bittersweet story about a girl with a fruitless crush on her best friend’s boyfriend. Altogether, it’s an interesting curiosity for Tanemura fans, but pretty minor on its own merits. Her early artwork shows only a trace of her later hyperactive, shiny style. (Jason Thompson) (Review by Jason Thompson – originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
** (two stars)
Today’s winner is… Rachel L. of North Dakota! Congratulations, Rachel!