I've been doing Manga Mondays every week since I started my blog 18 months ago. It's always been a personal feature, but now I'm going to try turning it into a meme. There are quite a few people who do Manga Mondays. I don't claim by any means that I owned or created the idea of Manga Mondays - it's an obvious choice given the alliteration. I think a meme would be a good way for everyone to publicize their own Manga Mondays and get a little more publicity.
The linky will be below my review.
Kimi Ni Todoke vol. 1 by Karuho Shiina
Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she's often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting character from Ringu. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that--she's about to make some enemies too!(courtesy of Goodreads)
*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.
In my recent quest to discover good Contemporary Shojo Manga, many people recommended Kimi Ni Todoke. I can definitely see why everyone likes it. Volume 1 of Kimi Ni Todoke was alternately sweet, heartbreaking, happy, and sad.
Sawako is an outcast. Her looks and serious demeanor make her unapproachable to her classmates. Unfortunately for Sawako, bullying is a universal tendency of teens, regardless of culture. Her classmates generally aren't outright mean. Instead, they've perpetuated this idea that she has evil superpowers. If she looks at you for 3 seconds, you'll come down with some horrible malady. Even worse, some of the teachers in the school are afraid of her as well.
I felt horrible for Sawako. She was one of the shyest characters I've ever encountered. Also with one of the lowest self esteems. She's stuck in a vicious circle. She thinks all the people hate her because they don't know her, but because they don't like her, she's too scared to get to know them.
All this changes when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in school, takes notice of her. She is incredibly flattered that he would condescend to speak to her. With his encouragement, she starts reaching out to other people and is surprised that a few kids are willing to befriend her.
I loved the depth of both Kazehaya and Sawako's characters. Shiina did a great job at showing Mr. Popular Kazehaya as vulnerable and embarrassed. He "likes" Sawako, but she only looks up to him as an older brother type (at least to begin with). He is such a nice guy that it feels unreal, but portraying him with typical insecurities makes him seem like a real person. Similarly, Sawako is devastatingly realistic. The look on her face and her thoughts when she was rejected and ridiculed and contrastly, the amazement and joy when someone took the time to be nice matched exactly how I often felt as a teenager - and imagine many of us have felt at various times in our lives.
I will definitely keep reading Kimi Ni Todoke. The first volume is slow. It hasn't captured me with a lively, fast moving plot. Rather the characters have worked their way deep into my heart.