Cherry Juice Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, October 11, 2007
Release Date: Sunday, September 30, 2007
Translated by:Kristy Harmon
Adapted by:Meadow Jones
What They Say
After five awkward years, step-siblings Minami and Otome are finally getting along as true siblings might--even to the point of offering each other romantic advice. But when Amane, Minami's best friend, confesses his love for Otome, suddenly the siblings' peaceful relationship takes an unpredictable turn that leaves them wondering: Who are they really in love with? From the creator of the fan favorite Kedamono Damono comes a romantic tale that gives a whole new answer to the meaning of love!
Standard shoujo fare distinguished by some perceptive obvervations.
A cover the color of cherries with Minami kun dominating and Otome the center of attraction. This very attractive cover may not look shoujo, but don't worry, there's a lot of metaphorical "pink" inside. The print quality is acceptable and the artwork comes across clearly with no muddiness or excessive contrast.
Haruka Fukushima's character designs are reminiscent of Arina Tanemura (Full Moon wo Sagishita) with just a touch of Tachibana Higuchi. (Doesn't granny look like Yone Tanaka of "Full Moon"? And Amane kun could be attending Gakuen Alice.) This is a comfortable style, well-suited to the genre. Fukushima shows a restraint in her page layout and panel decoration allowing some of the classic shoujo elements to make a positive impression, not overwhelm.
Continuing with past practice, Tokyopop has chosen not to translate sfx. Dialog reads well, reflects the energy of its young protagonists and the only glaring localization is overuse of the word "dude".
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Cherry Juice opens up with a scene guaranteed to appeal to the sensibilities of its target audience. Otome and Minami awaken, arms and legs akimbo, amid a tumble of bedclothes and blankets. Once the screaming and recriminations subside, we find the reason. Otome and Minami have been forced to share Minami's room since grandma has temporarily come to stay. The blanket that separated the two sleeping areas fell when Otome rolled out of bed in her sleep, with Otome landing so very close to Minami on the futon. (Squee!)
Step siblings Otome and Minami have had five years to get used to each other and, now as teenagers, they've become more like true siblings. Spats are more good-natured and they have developed respect and support for one another at home and at school. Although she may disparage some of his more obnoxious traits, Otome is proud of her "little" brother in his popularity with all the girls at school, in his participation in the cooking club. And for his part, while Minami may give Otome a hard time, he still considers himself her protector.
This harmony is upset by Amane's confession to Otome, who acknowledges and reciprocates his confession. Their official coupledom comes as no surprise to Otome's girlfriends - a trio of Minami fans joined by the observant and wise-beyond-her-years Naru chan. It's Naru who gives voice to what everyone knows - that Otome may be more attracted to Minami than she is willing to admit. In spite of her vocal denials, she does admit to herself that she feels something other than sisterly about Minami (although she can't define it to herself), but her obsession with Amane cannot allow her to entertain other thoughts. Otome wants it all - Amane as boyfriend with Minami still close to her.
It is Minami who is the most affected by this situation. He had Otome all to himself and now his "best friend" has appropriated her. While he outwardly retains his confidence and swagger, he's hurt. This volume of Cherry Juice centers on how Minami deals with this hurt and how he should define himself with respect to Otome.
Cherry Juice boldly states its intentions from the outset - Otome and Minami are meant to be together (even grandma makes a statement about it), the story is in how they come to realize it. This is a slender premise that might not be dynamic enough to make it through the four volumes that Tokyopop has listed. One hopes that there will enough surprises to carry it through.
The story is made up of constant challenges and changes to the romantic relationships of the characters. There is where the story gets its drive. While Otome's actions aren't likable, they are real, and Fukushima gives Minami some excellently realized and rendered responses to his situation and his hurt. We, like Minami, may not always understand the logic of an action, but we know why.
Cherry Juice is primarily a romantic comedy punctuated by some smart and savvy observations on human behavior. Light hearted moments are geared to the target audience - the kuma smoochie at the school sports meet, the Minami-Amane kiss, the background trio of boy-on-boy-action enthusiasts. Definitely a tweens and young teens title, older readers or those more widely read could appreciate some of the perceptive observation, but might be unimpressed with the rest.
Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Cherry Juice