Featured Columns

January 14, 2011

Bento Bako Bonus: Slam Dunk 13 & Mistress Fortune

Today I’m reviewing two titles that are about as far down on opposite ends of the spectrum as they can be. The popular sports title Slam Dunk, and the ultra-sparkly shoujo Mistress Fortune. One I can happily recommend, and one I wouldn’t wish on anyone but my greatest enemy (because it’s perfect, sparkly torture). I think it’s best if I start out in a good mood before unleashing myself on the title I didn’t like, so let’s start with some basketball.

Title: Slam Dunk
Author: Takehiko Inoue
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump)
Volume: Volume 13, “Unstoppable” (of 31), $9.99
Vintage: 1993 by Shueisha in Japan, December 2010 by Viz Media
Genre: Sports, basketball, comedy, drama

[Volume 12 review.]

Shohoku High School’s basketball team made it into the semi-finals of the tournament, and put up quite the fight against Shoyo, but barely squeaked by with a win. They’re now in the final four, and have been matched up with the best team around, Kainan. Kainan has made it to Nationals sixteen years in a row, and they’re standing in the way of Shohoku’s advancement to the Nationals. Shohoku’s team captain, Akagi, will graduate soon, and has been dreaming of the opportunity to play against Kainan. The team would love to help Akagi get to Nationals, but it’s not going to be easy. Kainan is exceptionally talented, and their coach is sharp and knows how to work the court and read the players.

The team has been playing well, but the game is far too close for comfort. Sakuragi has been benched for fouls, and Kainan’s Kiyota has been a real problem on the court for Shohoku. The fangirls’ favorite Shohoku player, Kaede Rukawa, steps up his game, and an intense battle between the two rookies begins. Though as Rukawa is wiping the floor with Kiyota, it’s not much of a battle. Unfortunately, just as things seem to be taking a more positive turn, team captain Akagi slips and injures his ankle, taking him out of the game. Kainan gets a burst of confidence, positive that Shohoku can’t hold it together without their leader. After hearing his captain give an impassioned speech about finishing out the game even though he’s seriously injured, Sakuragi gets back on the court with renewed drive, wanting to keep Akagi’s dream of beating Kainan alive. Their coach instructs Sakuragi and Rukawa to work together to keep the team strong, which doesn’t make the cocky Sakuragi or the serious Rukawa happy. Things get heated under the net as the game turns into a rebound war. Sakuragi goes back to basics as he remembers everything his captain taught him while he tries to hold things together until Akagi’s return. As Sakuragi remembers the fundamentals of the game, Rukawa becomes obsessed with evening the score on the board, not thinking about the flow of the game and taking risks that could cost the team everything if he fails. Fortunately, he manages to pull of some amazing moves, driving the crowd crazy, and ending the first half with one of the best shots of the game. But it’s a shot that doesn’t sit well with his teammate Sakuragi. As the volume wraps up, the second half of the game begins, with Akagi back in the court. However, despite his passion for the game, his injury may hurt the team if he continues to play.

It’s all about teamwork, support, and stepping up the game in this volume of Slam Dunk. What looks like a selfish kid trying to control the ball and show off, is really a strong player trying to keep the team alive for his captain. Sakuragi, however, feels that Rukawa is stealing his thunder…and his shot, the slam dunk. Expect to see the results of that in the next volume. Meanwhile, Akagi’s love for the game and his team is admirable, but he could be risking his future by insisting on playing when his ankle could very well be broken. Not only that, the injury may slow him down and cost the team the game. This time he may not be using the best judgment for the good of the team. Sakuragi has no problem stepping up and backing up his captain, but there’s only so much he can do as he has to pay attention to himself as well. Kainan is ruthless, and will take advantage of every weakness they can to trounce Shohoku. Their coach is a pro at uncovering a player’s weakness, and telling his players how to exploit it to the best advantage. Things aren’t looking good for Shohoku, and a tie at the half, while a good position at the start, can easily be blown away with the tiniest mistake. Rukawa takes much of the focus in this volume, and he’s amazing to watch, as if he were a real player on a real court, rather than a drawing in a comic book. It’s easy to understand why Haruko Akagi (Akagi’s little sister) has hearts swimming in her eyes while watching him score point after point. Sakuragi really can’t compete with that, poor guy. Another solid and exciting volume from Takehiko Inoue.

Title: Mistress Fortune
Author:
Arina Tanemura
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: One-shot, $9.99
Vintage: 2008 by Shueisha in Japan, February 1, 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Shoujo, romance, comedy, science fiction

Fourteen-year-olds Kisaki Tachikawa and Giniro Hashiba are a two member psychic team working for PSI, a secret government organization that fights aliens called EBE. Under the codenames Tiara (Kisaki) and Quartz (Giniro) and calling themselves Mistress Fortune, the pair use their electromagnetic psychic powers to defeat the strange aliens. They can also fly and use psychokinesis. Though they are not aloud to share personal information or interact outside work, Kisaki has still developed a crush on her partner. Because she is not as strong as other psychics, Kisaki must drink a special medicine that raises her powers before battle. Unfortunately, this medicine causes her to gain weight, which actually make Giniro quite happy, because he is obsessed with her size DD breasts. In her regular life, Kisaki must keep her job a secret, but she has told her best friend Kagami. It is Kagami that gives a frustrated Kisaki a strange stuffed animal as a gift, but the “toy” turns out to be an EBE, and Kisaki has brought it into her home. After overhearing Kisaki wish that all the other women would disappear so she could have Giniro to herself, the EBE begins to grant the wish, sucking up the women around her into a tornado. With Giniro’s support, Kisaki sets out to make things right, and they end up capturing the EBE in the process. In exchange for its freedom, the EBE agrees to help the PSI fight other EBE that come to Earth. While in the middle of yet another argument, Kisaki and Giniro are sent out to defeat another EBE, but while they are distracted yelling at each other, the EBE shrinks them down and traps them in a bottle, tossing them into the ocean. While they’re in the bottle, Giniro reveals why he has been hesitant to open up to Kisaki – he is worried someone will find out and they won’t ever be able to see each other again. Because he lost his family when he was young due to an accident with his powers, Giniro’s life is being a psychic, and he owes much to the PSI for taking him in. Amazingly enough, Kisaki manages to cheer up Giniro, who had just described how he killed his own father and sister and placed his mother into a coma, with a story about her mother yelling at her for opening up their rice cooker. Giniro manages to gather the power to get them out, and after their miraculous victory, Giniro informs Kisaki that they can use telepathy to talk to each other without anyone noticing. Just as they start growing closer, a surprise visit from the American branch seems about to tear them apart, when Kisaki is asked to go to California to help with some research. Will this request tear the two apart, or will Kisaki decline the offer? Will her love for Giniro ever have a chance to be returned? Two bonus stories feature the friendly EBE, EBE-ko, trying to acclimate to a life on Earth by searching for a job so she can buy her own things and find her own home. Another has the characters speculating if the effeminate Commander Haruka Gunjo is really male, or a female in disguise.

Why does Tanemura’s stuff continue to get licensed here, when awesome series like Gokusen and Tokyo Crazy Paradise still remain unavailable? Boo to that, I say. This is the third time I’ve been exposed to Tanemura, and that’s way more than I ever wanted. OK, deep breath, we know I don’t like her at all, time to (try to) be objective. Merits, merits…. The main character is a 14-year-old Japanese girl with size DD breasts. Wait…what? Isn’t that supposed to be a trope used by men writing harem stories, and not a 30-something-year-old woman writing cute shoujo romance stories? There’s a cute mascot character. Oh, wait. It’s not cute at all. It’s a weird blob that feels tacked on for no reason, but at least it takes some time away from the main characters. Ridiculous cleavage baring costume. Oh, wait. The keyhole top is actually on the guy (although the girl wears a more revealing one later). OK, hopefully that’s out of my system. Arina Tanemura is great at writing fluffy (both in substance and appearance), hyper cute, very silly, sparkly, girly, romance manga. If her books were in color, I can only imagine (horrified) how much pink and pastel colors would be spread across the pages. And I really don’t have to imagine that hard. The cover of this particular book is good evidence, as is the double-sided fold out page within (which is actually a nice touch by Viz), which features characters surrounded by sparkly stars on one side, and sparkly flowers on the other. If that’s your thing, you’ll probably love Tanemura. As for me, the only thing I found remotely interesting was Giniro’s rather unfortunate past, which drives him to be a good psychic…angel…thing…and makes him hide his incredibly obvious feelings from Kisaki. That was sweet in its way, but it really seemed to take too long for him to suggest they communicate telepathically…and then it was never really brought up again, besides. It was a little pointless. He’d already explained why he didn’t want to give personal information to Kisaki, and she accepted his explanation. The story was far too short for the telepathy thing to make much difference, other than to provide an excuse to pull together the ending. Really, there are so many better books out there to read.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copies provided by the publisher.

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4 Comments



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Manga Critic. The Manga Critic said: RT @girlg33k_Kris: New #manga reviews, @Viz_Media's Slam Dunk 13 & Mistress Fortune http://comicattack.net/2011/01/bbbslamdunk13minstres … […]


  2. Billy

    Fourteen year old’s with DD breasts? Yeah, OK… 🙁



  3. […] Kanoko (The Manga Curmudgeon) Connie on Sense & Sexuality (Slightly Biased Manga) Kristin on vol. 13 of Slam Dunk and Mistress Fortune (Comic Attack) Casey Brienza on vol. 4 of Soul Eater (Graphic Novel Reporter) Sean Gaffney on vol. […]



  4. […] [Volume 13 review here, and to be honest, I didn't even notice I hadn't read volume 14.] […]



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