Saturday, March 13, 2010

Otomen, Volume 4 by Aya Kanno

Asuka Masamune is an Otomen, a manly man who secret interests are in girly things. He is used to keeping that stuff hidden, but when he fell in love with Ryo Miyakozuka, he found he could let out his hidden, inner girly side.

Now, Asuka is planning a special party for Ryo, but runs into her father, who, in addition to being head of a dojo, works as a policeman. He asks Asuka to help him understand the minds of women, claiming he needs to know for his job, as female thieves have been a problem lately.

But as Asuka guides Mr. Miyakozuka through the girliest departments at the department store and a very girly restaurant, before he begs off. The next day, at school, they celebrate Ryo's birthday, and Asuka asks her out, but she already has a date with someone else. Who could that be?

Next, when a group of kids lose their ball inside a closed-off garden, Asuka finds it quite beautiful. It turns out that Kitora Kitokawa, a very tall, mysterious student, is the one behind the garden- even though he claims to hate flowers. Can Asuka find out the story behind his attitude and bring him to some understanding?

During Summer Break, Asuka wants to ask Ryo to go swimming at the beach, but Yamato needs Asuka's help. His uncle has a snack shack down at the beach, and he needs some beautiful people to hang out there to bring in business. But when Yamato's uncle is injured putting up a sign, he asks Yamato to take over for him.

Part of the problem is the shack itself, which is run-down and rather ugly looking, and the menu isn't the greatest. Further, there is a new place next door, the Sea- Dragon Bar, that is stealing away the customers from Yamato's Uncle's shack. Can Asuka and the others make the Snack Shack a success and woo the pretty girls and handsome guys into staying with them? And will Asuka ever get a chance to swim with Dolphins and Ryo during his summer vacation?

This was a cute continuation of the story, and Asuka and Ryo do manage to get closer to each other during the course of the book, but they haven't yet shared that all-important first in Japanese romance, the first kiss. Asuka tries to seem laid back, but he really likes Ryo, and it's hard for him to confess his feelings for her.

I liked the stories in this volume a lot, especially the story of their summer working together, which was fun and brought in a bunch of other characters to both work with, and against, Asuka, Ryo and Yamato. Thankfully, this story was free of Juta and his scheming ways, although there was plenty of other conflict

I loved this volume and the stories within. I hope that the story of Ryo and Asuka's romance gets tied up happily, but I suspect that this series will go on as long as the creator can continue to think up gags. I like the art style, which is full of clean. flowing lines- thin lines, lending the characters tall and elegant bodies without being freakishly elongated. It's pretty, if fluffy. Recommended.

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