Blue Flower


            Haruo, a naive country girl come to study in Tokyo, ends up working at a hostess bar but vows to stay loyal to the big-galoot boyfriend she left back home. Guileless and simple but self-reliant, she learns the ropes of the hostess business and struggles to resist temptation as she is wooed by handsome and wealthy men: baseball players, rich executives, and so on. A sort of reversal of the standard “one guy, many girls” seinen romantic comedy formula, Club 9 is a delightful series. The artwork is nothing like “normal” manga style—the chubby, busty girls and square-jawed men are cartoon characters whose rubbery expressions are too hilarious to be bound by looking cute all the time. The English rewrite makes Haruo’s heavily accented rural Japanese sound like she’s a hick from the classic newspaper comic strip Li’l Abner (“Don’t you talk laik a plumb fool, Kenji Nakamura!”). Additional material was serialized in Dark Horse’s anthology magazine Super Manga Blast! but never collected.

Nidoume no jinsei wo isekai de



            A lightweight but thoroughly entertaining sci-fi space adventure that served as Terasawa’s debut work. In a twist reminiscent of the Hollywood action movie Total Recall, a futuristic salaryman signs up for a virtual fantasy vacation only to discover that he really is an infamous space pirate, lying low after a face change and a memory wipe. Now that he’s had a taste of normal life, our hero can’t wait to get back to his old line of work, and who could blame him? Cobra himself is an endearing lout with a fondness for cigars and a unique “psycho-gun” installed in his forearm, and his interplanetary adventures always seem to involve plenty of foxy ladies wearing outfits that would make Barbarella blush. Terasawa’s early artwork feels like an amateurish emulation of Leiji Matsumoto and Osamu Tezuka, but its energy and expressiveness more than make up for the lack of polish. (MS)

 i shall seal the heavens



            The only Confidential Confessions story more than one volume long, Deai focuses on Japan’s subculture of cell phone text-messaging dating services (deai-kei). Rika, a girl who lives with her father and stepmother, gets involved in phone dating and organizes a sort of not-quite-prostitution ring with her friends, selling their time and underwear to perverts and lonely old men. What starts almost innocuously soon goes horribly wrong, and the story takes a turn into crime and suspense. The story is hardly groundbreaking (compare to the sleazier, stupider, but more energetic Voyeurs Inc.), but the plot is decently told, and the art is generic but cute.