on July 30, 2012
If you like animals, cute boys, troubled main characters, or all of the above, then you need to read this.
The lead girl, Takamichi, is weighed down with regret: her brother died while protecting her. Now she's inherited his role of hunting demons, and tries to protect others, and her own heart, by keeping everyone at a distance. Even the two half-human, half-wolf pups that serve as her familiars.
Snow and Night do their best to cheer up their mistress. They may have speech and look like humans half the time, but they are canines at heart. Which means they want to please her, sleep in her bed, have her take them for walks and play frisbee, and most of all, receive her praise and attention. And, inconveniently, it means they have no sense of modesty when in their human form (ie, if they're at home, they're generally in the buff).
There were lots of things that made this story interesting and special for me.
Takamichi is practically a parent to the pups. Which means she experiences the shock of seeing them grow up, and losing their sweet innocence. And sees the consequences of how she treated them when they were very little.
Also, when a story has a being who transforms between human and animal, they usually seem essentially human, with a few animal traits thrown in. But these guys are canines, through and through, in how they think, act, and what their priorities are.
And even though the story's premise is about fighting demons, there's actually very little content with that. Takamichi fights them several times in this volume, but maybe 2-5 panels will be spent on most fights. Which I think is a good idea. There's plenty of stories already about high school kids fighting demons. This one focuses instead on inner struggles, and interpersonal drama; in other words, the things that make this particular story unique. (Of course, later volumes might start having more action.)
The last thing I want to mention is the art style. Tobina's style is very crisp and sharp, giving the impression of having lots of straight lines. The character designs are lithe and dynamic. But now and then it relaxes into into nice soft curves, like Snow's gloriously curly hair. Overall, the art doesn't look mainstream, but it suits this story and the characters quite nicely.
Every couple pages, I would mentally melt, thinking "Aww, so cute!" or "That's so sweet!" It's interesting, the material is pretty dense, so I rate it pretty high for the enjoyment factor.
on December 14, 2012
Takamichi is from a family of demon hunters. She took this role after her elder brother died protecting her one day while they were playing. Alongside her two adorable half-wolf sidekicks, she fights monsters. She initially pushes them away like everyone else until they protect her, claiming that they loved her, their master, above all. She realizes that she does care for them and treated them so badly because she didn't want to watch them get hurt in this bloody profession of hers.
Jiu Jiu will almost certainly not be everyone's favorite cup of tea. It is loaded to the brim with love declarations and angst. Snow and Night's attachment to the abusive Takamichi may not be found funny as it is often played for laughs. The scene where she has them lay in the hall of their school to be stepped on after they pull another stupid stunt will not be as funny to some readers. It is not a very deep story. If you want deep, go watch Neon Genesis Evangelion or Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
I thought that the lightheartedness of this series was its main appeal. It is cute beyond belief and I just wanted to go into the book and give the wolf brothers a big hug. Despite it being about a demon hunter, the fights are relatively short and sweet. Nothing of Bleach's proportions where battles go on for chapters at a time. These fights take up thirty pages of the entire volume AT MOST. A lot of it is humor and Takamichi's backstory alongside those of Night and Snow.
Night, Snow, and Takamichi are the only real recurring characters in this story, so you get to learn a lot about their personalities. Snow get jealous of his brother very easily and feels unloved. Night has an almost needy personality as he cannot see very well without his glasses and feels insignificant compared to Snow, wishing for Takamichi's attention and praise. Takamichi fears losing people she cares for so she pushes everyone away.
It was fun how the brothers were more animal than human. Usually if there are shapeshifters, they will generally act more human-like, but Snow and Night are wolves through and through.
The art is beautiful and the thin characters are similar in nature to how CLAMP does their noodle-ish figures. However, you can easily tell who's done the art and it gives the entire volume its own layer of uniqueness.
Over all, Jiu Jiu's main appeal is it's lighthearted nature. For anyone who enjoys a cute story to read to cheer them up on a bad day, I'd definitely recommend this.
on October 19, 2012
[Also available on my blog.]
This book was fantastic. I wasn't even aware that Shojo Beat was releasing a new series, which is very unlike me, but I saw it on the shelf at the bookstore and immediately decided to get it. It looked pretty, and I only skimmed the back, as my faith in Shojo Beat is very big. I was excited to start it, and I'm glad that it was even better than I'd thought it would be.
It's about a girl, Takamichi, the daughter and heir to a clan of hunters. Her twin brother died, which resulted in her shutting out her heart and deciding not to get close to anyone. Several years later, she was forced to take care of two half-demon, half-human puppies. They were to serve as her servants/fighting companions, called her Jiu Jiu. Now, three years after that, the pups are two adult-like men that hugely adore her, while she tries to keep them at a distance. Most of the time, she's trying to push them away, and yelling at them, and unknowingly doing the whole tough-love thing, while they ignore it and run after her anyway.
I love the two pups. Their names are Snow and Night and I love them. I want them; both of them. I don't know which one I favor right now, as they're pretty equal in my mind. Snow is hyper and cuddly while Night is smart and quiet and wears glasses, and they're both super cute and sweet and I love them. They look like new adults, older teens maybe, but are still very much puppies. They love going for walks and wrestling, but they're very protective of Takamichi, and they love her endlessly. It's super sweet, and I have no doubt that it's making its way into a love triangle.
That's all I can really say at the moment, I think: that I love them.
In this book, Takamichi pushes them away one too many times, and realizes that she actually does enjoy having them around and maybe should treat them better. They're very loyal through all of it, never leaving her alone, persistent to stay by her side through everything. I understand why, as she is kind of their mother in a way (not in a creepy, incestual way, but in a she's been with them since they were born and kind of takes care of them way), and they've grown up with her, but she's a quite a bit too harsh on them. I mean, she'd never given them a bath before, or a birthday present. The bath thing isn't creepy, though, since they're in dog form for it. Although, a lot of the time when around the house in human form, they are naked. This is kind of weird, but I think she's grown used to it, having been around them for three years, and with how much they dislike being in clothes. (They are dogs at heart, after all.) Oh, and they always sneak out of their cage at night and lay with her, a lot of the time naked, which is just adorable.
They end up going to school with her, which she protests, where they learn more about normal human life things, like Birthdays, and even end up fighting over her at one point. By the end of the volume, she's grown to accept that they are going to be around her, they love her and want to share her hardships between them, and that she loves them just as much.
There's another chapter where Takamichi finds Nights diaries. She starts going through them, finding out how he felt about certain things when he was really young, how much he loved her and wanted praise. We're shown when he first gets glasses; and another time when him and Snow fought and then when Night got scolded, thinking that Takamichi didn't love him, he ran away, only for both of them to come after him, and both pups found out how much she really cared about them.
It's just... really sweet, and adorable, and funny, and I am so impressed. I really enjoyed this volume, like a lot, and I'm really looking forward to the next one.
on October 1, 2012
Reason for Reading: I've finished a couple of manga series lately and am looking for a new one to start.
I liked the idea of this series being about a female "Hunter" who pursues and slays demons and the pair of wolf cub shapeshifters she's given as her familiars to protect her. Unfortunately this is not how it read for me. Takamichi is a spoiled, rude, obnoxious girl who gets what she wants except for having the wolf pups dumped off on her. So she treats them cruelly, with disdain and no show of affection at all. She has a wounded ego and a sad past she cannot get over. The book mostly revolved around her being rude and mean to the pups while they slobbered and worshiped all over her. This could have been cute had they been tiny little pups, but no they were 3 years old and when transformed to adult form they were the same age as Takamichi herself, naked, and inevitably found in bed with her all snuggled up. There is no s*x in the book but these images have been drawn for their sensuality, Two n*ked men and a girl in bed? And later on there is a scene with one of them on top of her saying he wants her. (Is it innocent? We never find out as they are interrupted) So no demons, I guess that's waiting for the second volume and while volume 1 allows us an introduction to the characters; I found them all off-putting and would say this is not my type of Manga or story-line.
I loved the first volume of this, but I do have to say that the #1 issue with this manga is that it really is a stereotypical series. All of the most common story lines, characters, and ideas of a supernatural manga series are seen here. Loner chick with a tortured past? Check. Love triangle with two hot guys? Check. Supernatural creatures that pop out to further the story along? Check. There really isn't much here that you haven't seen in a bajillion other series in the genre.
Yet somehow I really fell hard for this first volume. It's just that adorable. I do have to say that part of the strength of the series is that they tend to focus more on the interpersonal relationships and family politics than on the actual monster hunting. The monster hunting is there, but it's delegated more to the background of the series, although at times this does sort of weaken the series. We're also plagued with the problem that we have a main character that's not particularly well developed. I'm aware that this is the first volume and I do admit that we get more character development later in the series, but much of Takamichi's role in the series is to the just "be" while Snow and Night dance attendance around her.
The guys are what truly saves the series from fading into the background. They're not only adorable looking, but they're endearing as well. Takamichi is their entire world and they'll do whatever it takes to stay around her. It's occasionally a little creepy when you realize that they're only about 3 years old in human years, but this does pose an interesting problem for the inevitable love triangle that you can already see forming. The two boys are beginning to see each other as competition for Takamichi's affections, but there's also the issue of how quickly they'll age and what the life span of human/canine hybrids would be.
This is ultimately a fun series but one that I'll suggest that you read in store first. For those who love it, you'll totally love it. For the others it'll just be something that you'll kind of shrug and go "meh".