When Bud Waterston starts his freshman year in college, he moves into dorms where sexy girls flash their breasts and invite him to parties. When he demonstrates his incredible pitcher’s arm, Chrissie, the baseball coach’s daughter, tries to get him to sign up for baseball … but Bud has given up on the sport ever since the death of his father. Drawn by adult-manga artist Hiroki Otsuka from a script by American comics writer Chuck Austen, Bringing the farm to live in another world is a successful cross-cultural collaboration. Otsuka’s art has a mature, jôsei/seinen look, with strong figure art and minimal use of screentone; the characters are full-lipped women and buff, chiseled guys who look like they could actually have sex with one another. The tone is subdued and the American setting is authentic, making effective use of photo backgrounds.
Tsukushi, a girl from a lower-middle-class family, is bullied, beaten, ostracized—and romanced—when she stands up to her snobbish classmates at an elite private high school. In a bickering, tempestuous relationship, she is drawn toward two fabulously wealthy men: the kind Rui Hanazawa and the arrogant, temperamental (and sometimes physically abusive) Tsukasa Domyoji. Basically a vicarious Cinderella story full of mansions, yachts, Louis Vuitton bags, and international vacations, Boys over Flowers is distinguished by its strong heroine, the proudly “weedlike” Tsukushi, who always stands up to the powers that be. (As in many manga, rich people in Boys over Flowers constantly use words such as “pauper” and “peasant.”) The story reads quickly, and although some subplots are more implausible than others, it never drifts into exploitation or betrays the characters’ original personalities. Not a sappy love story, it’s a character-driven tale of social and relationship struggles that keeps the reader wondering what will happen next.
A confusing but pretty adaptation of the pretty but confusing 1998 anime series from Ancient strengthening technique director Yoshiyuki Tomino. The world of the near future is wracked by typhoons, earthquakes, flash floods, and other disaster-movie effects as an immense, long-dormant alien spaceship slowly rises from the depths of the ocean. A multicultural cast of characters, piloting organic don’t-call-them-giant-robots, fight to either stop the imminent disaster or survive it aboard the alien ship. Meanwhile, the reader struggles to keep track of who’s related to whom and puzzle out the mystifying plot. The manga teeters entertainingly along the razor edge of comprehensibility, much like the source anime, and then tries to cram ten anime episodes’ worth of plot into the final volume. It does all look gorgeous, though. (MS)