Short-Tempered Melancholic and Other Stories

June 15, 2011 dreamkaleidoscope
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TITLE: Short-Tempered Melancholic and Other Stories
AUTHOR/MANGAKA: Arina Tanemura
RATING: Teen (13+)
SCORE: 7 (Good)
RECOMMENDED FOR FANS OF: Arina Tanemura (mangaka of Full Moon wo Sagashite, ION, The Gentleman’s Cross Alliance), romance, comedy

I want to apologize for the lack of a review last month. I’ve been busy with other projects and just didn’t have the time to read any manga. This month isn’t much better, but I did manage to squeeze in Short-Tempered Melancholic and Other Stories.

Short-Tempered Melancholic is an anthology of short stories written by popular mangaka Arina Tanemura early in her career. I’m not a big Tanemura fan, but I actually did enjoy this collection of cute romances.

My favorite is the the title story “Short-Tempered Melancholic”, which is actually a two-chapter story. It’s about a female ninja named Kajika Yamano, who has possession of her family’s legendary secret weapon, which other ninja clans want to steal for themselves. Yuga Tanimoto, her loyal childhood friend, has a crush on her, but she only has eyes for Fujisaki, the handsome president of the tea ceremony club. When Fujisaki tells her that she should be more ladylike, Kajika decides to give up being a ninja in order to pursue more traditionally “feminine” pursuits in the hope that he will return her feelings.

I’m not positive, but I get the feeling that the first chapter was meant to be the pilot to a possible series that probably didn’t do too well in the reader surveys. I say this because the first chapter ends with Yuga about to confess his feelings to Kajika, only to be interrupted by Kajika running off to rescue a dog before he can spit it out. It’s kind of a shame that it wasn’t picked to become a series, because I thought the premise had potential and the characters were quite vibrant and charming. It isn’t often that I finish reading a short story wanting to know more about the characters, but I definitely got that feeling after reading the first chapter. Fortunately, Tanemura went back and wrote a second part (subtitled “Without You”), giving the story a proper conclusion, as well as giving the main couple some backstory.

The second story is “This Love Is Nonfiction”, about a girl named Yuri who convinces her prettier best friend Karin to pretend to be her on a date with her penpal Ryono after sending him Karin’s picture. However, while on their date, Karin forgets that she’s supposed to be posing as Yuri — who is stalking them, along with a strange boy in a mask and glasses — and finds herself falling in love with Ryono as well. Though the ending twist is a bit silly, giving both girls their happy endings, and spoiled-sweet Karin is a bit of a ditz, there’s no denying that the story is really cute.

The last two stories are “Rainy Afternoons Are for Romantic Heroines” and “The Style of the Second Love”. As Tanemura’s earliest works, I feel they’re the weakest of the collection. The stories aren’t terribly interesting — the first is about a girl who keeps “forgetting” her umbrella in order to get close to the boy she likes, while the second is about a girl secretly in love with her best friend’s boyfriend — and the characters are rather boring. In addition, as “The Style of the Second Love” was Tanemura’s debut, the artwork isn’t as polished as the other stories. Still, both stories are enjoyable enough, I suppose.

Those who prefer deeper stories won’t get much out of this anthology, but if you’re in the mood for fluffy romance, you could do worse than Short-Tempered Melancholic. It’s cute, romantic, and even quite funny at times. Just don’t expect too much out of it and enjoy it as the light reading it’s meant to be.

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