PAPILLON • Del Rey • Miwa Ueda • 16+
Ageha, a beautiful but shy girl, lives in the shadow of her popular twin sister. Her life changes when she meets Kyû, a handsome 24-year-old guidance counselor whose unbelievably inappropriate behavior (you know, skirt-flipping, hitting on students, the usual) contrasts with his always-helpful, if optimistic, advice. (“Your attitude affects your behavior.” “Try really hard and your wish will be granted.”) With Kyû’s help, Ageha starts to stand up for herself and challenge her sister for the boy she loves…but will she fall for her guidance counselor instead? “Papillon” is French for “butterfly,” appropriately for a manga about a shy girl’s caterpillar-like transformation. Despite the absurdness of combining manga melodrama and “real” psychology (Ueda mentions that she consulted a real therapist to write Kyû’s scenes), the result is an interesting story that’s a little more serious-minded than Peach Girl, but far more entertaining than the preachy Peach Girl: Sae’s Story. As always, Ueda’s art is great; all the characters look extremely hot, so that you just can’t wait to see them get over their problems and start making out with one another. The scene where Ageha’s sister thanks a boy for slapping her is a bit hard to get over, however, as is the characterization of the sole unattractive character—in what’s supposed to be a “beauty is more than skin deep” story—as a spiteful villain. (This review was originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
** 1/2 (two and a half stars)
Today’s winner is Michael W. of Utah! Congratulations, Michael!
Karyna sent this photo of herself with her yaoi prizes! Unfortunately, it’s true, I wasn’t able to find volume 1 of two of the series, and I was only able to send one standalone book, “Endless Rain.” But I’ll make sure to send you something good, something you can jump right in to, for your second batch of manga!
At Comic-Con this year I did a panel on The Best and Worst Manga of 2010 with Deb Aoki, Shaenon Garrity, Christopher Butcher, Tom Spurgeon and Carlo Santos. For those who couldn’t make it to Comic-Con, Deb Aoki has put up a transcript of the panel, please check it out!