Four short stories about four high school girls looking for love!
Writer/Artist: Arina Tanemura
Translated by: Mary Kennard
Adapted by: Heidi Vivolo
What They Say
A one-volume manga featuring short stories from Arina Tanemura, creator of Full Moon, The Gentlemen's Alliance +, ION, and Time Stranger Kyoko.
Short Tempered Melancholic tells the tale of a female ninja torn between her ninja responsibilities and her need to impress the boy she has a crush on. In addition to the title story, the manga contains the shorts Rainy Afternoons are for Romantic Heroines, This Love is Nonfiction, and Tanemura's debut manga, The Style of the Second Love.
The front cover features the main characters from the title story. In a large pink-bordered panel are Kajika and Yuga. Kajika's in the foreground to the bottom right in a red ninja outfit and juggling several small red balls. An enlarged image of Yuga takes up the space behind her. For some reason, his image has a pink tint, and the way that his image was enlarged, his outline looks as if it was drawn with crayon. This panel of Kajika and Yuga is placed against a background of mint green with a faint Japanese style floral design. At the very top left is the publisher's logo, and just below that is the title in pink script. Author's credits are placed to the lower left in pink with a pink border below.
The back cover uses the same mint green background as the front. There are no illustrations on the back cover; they simply highlight some of the Japanese floral patterns of the background. The Shojo Beat logo is at the very top, followed by the title logo. Brief summaries of the four stories contained in the manga follow in black text. At the very bottom are printing orientation, rating, and publisher's icons.
Print quality, binding, and materials are satisfactory. Extras are comprised of a couple of sketches and VERY extensive author's remarks, which are embedded in the manga and on a couple of pages at the end. I think that it's interesting that the four stories are so short, but the mangaka has so much to say about each of them.
The manga's artwork is standard shojo. There are some simple hand-drawn flowers popping up in the background, but the mangaka seems to favor using flowery or sparkly patterned screentones to decorate the pages. The mangaka makes good use of screen tones throughout for backgrounds, hair, and clothes. Character designs are average. There is a lot of detail put into eyes, and hair and heads are on the larger side for the teenagers. Kajika's grandfather, however, is very simply drawn, and he rather looks like an elongated chibi drawing.
The layout in portions of the manga gets crowded so some of the action scenes are better conveyed than others. Also, because there are so many panels, there isn't much space left for setting drawings. However, This Love Is Nonfiction is the exception with some really quite nice aquarium drawings.
Viz delivers another solid job with the text/translation in Short-Tempered Melancholic. All signs, books, papers etc. are replaced with overlays in lettering styles compatible with the original Japanese feel. All the original Japanese sound effects are replaced with English sound effects that capture the flavor of the original, and a nice variety of fonts are used throughout the text. However, the layout of the author's notes is extremely crowded; there's hardly any whitespace at all, and it gets a little tiring reading what looks like a sheer wall of text.
Translation of the manga dialogue is satisfactory. They maintain the Japanese honorifics in this Shojo Beat title, and an explanation of honorifics is included along with cultural notes on a page at the end of the book. However, there aren't any asterisks or other indicators embedded in the actual text of the book to direct readers to the translator notes.
Shojo Beat presents the debut manga and three other early short stories of Arina Tanemura, the mangaka of Full Moon and The Gentlemen's Alliance, in Short-Tempered Melancholic And Other Stories.
Short-Tempered Melancholic: Kajika Yamano is a teenage ninja and protectress of her family's legendary secret weapon. Oblivious to the fact that her childhood friend Yuga has a crush on her, she strives to attract the attention of an older classmate, Fujisaki, by giving up her ninja ways.
This Love Is Nonfiction: Too embarrassed to send her own picture, Yuri sends her penpal Ryo a picture of her friend Karin instead. So when Ryo asks to meet Yuri, Yuri begs Karin to go in her stead. However, things get complicated when Karin finds herself falling for Ryo.
Rainy Afternoons Are for Romantic Heroines: Shy Minori falls in love with Takato, a boy who shared his umbrella with her one rainy afternoon, and now purposely "forgets" her umbrella every time it rains so that she can walk with him. When she discovers that he "doesn't believe in love," she becomes more determined than ever to convince him of her love.
The Style of Second Love: Mana is despondent because she secretly likes her best friend's boyfriend. Will boisterous Nakamura be able to help her forget him and win her heart?
This manga is a collection of four short stories. Except for Short-Tempered Melancholic, which has two chapters, all the stories are single chapter, stand-alone stories. None of the stories are related to each other; the only thing they have in common is that they are all romantic comedies with high school girl protagonists.
Because the stories are so short, it's difficult to say much about them without giving the entire plot away. However, generally speaking, each story deals with the joy and awkwardness of teenage love, and the problems that arise for our characters are because they are either too bashful or overwhelmed by their feelings of love or falling in love with the wrong person. Tanemura incorporates a lot of physical comedy into Short-Tempered Melancholic and This Love Is Nonfiction, which feature the more unusual heroines, ninja Kajika and rich girl Karin. Minori and Mana are more along the vein of ordinary highschoolers, so their stories include more interaction with their girlfriends at school. In the end though, all the problems are resolved, and the girls find their happiness.
This title will probably appeal to those who want a short dose of romantic fluffiness and manga newcomers who don't want to get overly involved with a multivolume series on their first try. I also think that the length, simplicity, and content of these stories would make them ideal for younger readers. According to the publisher, this title is rated "teen," but I'm not quite sure why they chose this rating because there is no swearing or nudity and the action scenes are largely silly antics. There is one "bathing scene" and a flashback where the child Kajika is looking at her deceased parents before their funeral. However, in the bathing scene, Kajika has her kimono on the entire time, and the funeral flashback, while sad, isn't particularly traumatizing as her parents' bodies are covered with cloths. I would personally rate this as appropriate for ages 10 and up if not all ages.