Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 228 (9/19) -- Tena on S-String, Vol. 1 by Sesuna Mikabe

I'm slumming this week --- I freely admit it -- picking generic and unambitious manga to toss into a barrel and take aim at. But I'm having fun with it, so you're in for another couple of days of the same thing. (In the background, I'm slowly making my way through China Mieville's new novel Kraken -- which I'm happy to say is just as ambitious as, but substantially more successful than, last year's The City and the City -- so I'm conserving mental energy for that. Or, at least, that's my current excuse.)

Tena on S-String is a bit of fluff, in which a young music teacher (Kyousuke Hibiki) comes out of the hospital after an accident to find that he has persistent auditory and visual hallucinations of music. He has become in tune with the Secret Music of Everything, and so an overbearing fifteen-year-old know-it-all named Tena Fortissian shows up, declares that he's her "property," and proceeds to overturn his entire life. (Manga heroes, as a group, are a great case of the excluded middle: either they're ridiculously extroverted and insanely self-satisfied, or they're utter doormats for the first girl -- and it always is a girl, not a woman of any description -- to come along. And Kyousuke is definitely a Type II hero.)

Tena, of course, has magical, musical powers, blah blah blah, collecting a bunch of evil/bad/flat/rogue musical notes around the world blah blah blah competition with other cute girls with the same job blah blah blah gets her panties stolen by a two-girl team intent on kidnapping and studying Kyousuke. Oops, I may need to back up slightly. No, nevermind -- it's all standard manga stuff, vaguely titillating to teenage cram-school boys, and the panty-stealing is just the most egregious example. (There's a shower scene earlier, though it's in that Barbie-doll manga style that wouldn't be sexy to anyone who's even seen a picture of a naked person.)

Kyousuke is nice and needs to assert himself; Tena is over confident and needs to learn to respect him. I'm sure they'll fall in love around volume eight. Tena on S-String has strong art (stronger if you like the gothic lolita look, or lots of almost-upskirt shots), a story that hits a host of manga cliches but uses them mostly gracefully and knowingly, and absolutely no surprises. If you like this sort of thing, you already know that this is the sort of thing that you'll like, so I'll leave you to it.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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