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Alethea & Athena
Complex Age volume 3 
25th-Jan-2017 06:15 pm
Oh man, this month's chapter of Farewell, My Dear Cramer destroyed us. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if we hadn't had so many interruptions, but I guess it doesn't matter now. Let's get this Review Rednesday posted while we still have a chance! (Meaning unknown.)

This week we have Complex Age volume 3! Spoiler level: moderately high?

We just spent all day working on this translation when technically we could have waited until tomorrow, but we had just the right momentum that it made sense to keep going, so we did, and now it's like let's just go relax! But tomorrow we're going to edit the last volume of Your Lie in April, and that's sure to overshadow everything, so we wanted to get this review written while it was fresh.

And I think that this volume really exemplifies the problems we have with manga that seems to be geared toward an older crowd. I feel like in kiddy manga, the characters are required to have more reasonable motives, so that little kids can understand it, and more mature manga has characters making unreasonable decisions for indiscernible reasons because grownups know that nobody ever really makes sense, except to fit the mold of the world they've already constructed in their heads.

Okay, I should take a break here to point out that I did not dislike this volume. I just wanted to smack some people over the head a few times. And the motives made a little bit more sense the second time through, after they explained things more, but in some cases, it was still annoying.

First, though, I'm glad that Nagisa's mother told us why she really gave up on gothic lolita. That was never really clarified in that short story, and now we know and I feel a little bit better about it, and I can even understand that reasoning, but I still think burning all the clothes was extreme. Just design something that works on an aging body, for goodness' sakes. On the other hand, if she only wanted to wear the more childlike clothes... Then I just get annoyed with her for being closed-minded. (I think something somewhere explained that it's actually "close-minded", but I am prepared to argue that point.)

Now on to the stuff that was annoying. Aya was really cute making her own costume, but why did they decide to be the mirror-image Vocaloids? Well, okay, it does make sense, because Rin is Nagisa's favorite type of character, and Aya admires Nagisa so much that it completely makes sense that she would want to do a pair cosplay with her. But then came the much more annoying question of WHY IN THE SAM HILL did they take so long to start posing for pictures together? For crying out loud. I get that they just didn't arrive at the event at the same time, but everyone's like, "Oh, now that I have Rin's picture, hey there's Len, let's get that picture!" Why didn't anyone say, "Yo, Rin! Len! Get together, I need a picture!" It doesn't make any sense! It was making us unreasonably angry, as people who frequently do pair cosplay, and who also have a habit of being like, "Oh, look it's you from that series! And hey oh my gosh there's you from the same series! Come stand together, we need a picture of you both! No, drop the sandwich, you can eat lunch later! I don't care if you're starving, this will only take a minute! And on second thought, keep the sandwich, I want a candid shot." Sometimes I think we should direct cosplay photo shoots.

And then, before we realized why Nagisa was really so sad to see Aya in her amazing cosplay, it made us even more angry, because we were like, "Hello! Don't be upset that she's stealing your glory--go get in the stinkin' picture! You will be the greatest cosplay duo of all time! There's no need to make it a competition!" ...Of course, that's easy for us to say. We're not necessarily picky about who we cosplay as long as we get to do a group. We were talking about it the other day (maybe Friday, when we did the first draft). We like to cosplay because it makes us feel significant. But when you cosplay a popular character, you see a million other people cosplaying the same character, and there goes all your significance. But if you have a group! That's the best for two reasons. First, people love taking pictures of cosplay groups--it's one thing to find a favorite character, but a set? Awesome! Especially if they have great interactive poses. Now you're much more significant. But second, you have the added significance insurance of being significant to that group, so even if you see three other groups as Sanzo & company from Saiyuki, it's okay, because you still have your Saiyuki buds to hang out with. (Of course, in the case of Saiyuki, our group tended to be the only one with a complete set, which helped.)

But then Nagisa revealed that it was just hard because Aya was a reminder of how far Nagisa is from her ideal, and then it made sense, so it was okay. And to doubly make it better, they finally started posing together. Sheesh.

But then there was Kota. Oh my goodness, this guy. I don't get him. He makes me want to slap him. I mean, okay, when he made it about how all the creepers on the internet could be leering at his girlfriend as we speak!, it made a little more sense that he was uncomfortable with it, but it makes me really upset that the guy who made it his mission to make his entire high school class from eight years ago memorize the opening theme to a kid's anime is somehow weirded out that someone likes it enough to dress as the characters. He sets an alarm to wake him up for Ururu every week, and it's the Ururu theme song, for crying out loud.

And I think I would have been more sympathetic if, for example, he found out that Nagisa was a closet Ururu fan all along but she lied to him about it, and that made him upset, but even that seems like it should have been something that would easily resolve itself. I mean, man, we found out that he had the same favorite character and we were like, "It's a match made in heaven! He'll be ecstatic to find out you love her enough to dress as her!" On the other hand, suddenly when I put it that way, it does make it sound a lot creepier. So maybe he shouldn't have been ecstatic, but he could have at least told himself well, if she loves Ururu enough to dress like her, yay! we have similar taste! Or something.

I guess that's why Sakuma-sensei specifically pointed out that he's not generally an otaku, he only started watching the series for work. But I bet if he started watching more anime, he would give in pretty quickly.

Anyway, this is what I was talking about earlier when I said that people only see the reactions that fit the world they've already imagined. In manga like this, it seems to become reality more often. Nagisa assumed that Kota was going to be uncomfortable with her cosplay hobby, and then he was, even though it didn't make any sense based on his love of Ururu. Or maybe that's just my overly optimistic view of the world which causes me to hate everyone and everything as soon as I'm confronted with reality. I don't know. But they were a cute couple until it turned stupid.

This week, we have one new release! First Love Monster 6! If anybody out there is enjoying this series, please comment, because I want to hear about it! And tune in next week for our review of the eleventh and final volume of Your Lie in April!

Today I'm thankful for turtle Chex Mix, finally making it through that chapter of Cramer (we should probably read through it one last time...), our visitor still being alive the last time I checked, it being time to take a break for dinner, and Page not giving our visitor any trouble.
29th-Jan-2017 08:12 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you posted review on Complex Age #3.
I just finished 3 volumes last week and can't wait for volume 4
Once I had an English teacher who was a Japanese decent and she told me that Japanese culture valued conformity, it was very hard to be individual. If you stuck out like a nail, you'd be hammered down.
I can understand Nagisa and how she wasn't comfortable with who she was and had to hide that part of her. At the end of volume 1, I thought the one-shot was a bit random. I understood the context after volume 3. I felt that her mother felt that she had to get rid of her past and moved on because that how she felt that she had to do. I find all the characters in Complex Age have flaws except Nagisa's father (he's pretty perfect for supporting his wife during her loli phrase and understanding his wife and Nagisa, too) and Nagisa's best friend from high school (she doesn't have any character flaws so far) I wonder if Kota and Nagisa will move forward or break up, I can understand his reactions, I don't necessarily agree with him.
Regarding First love monster, I think the art is nice. I can't say I enjoy the series. I only read up to volume 3. My local library has up to volume 5 and is ordering volume 6. I find characters who don't look their age but act their age are distracting. I think there's a reason why the author writes a romance between an elementary and a high schooler and in their respective physical looks. I can't tell what the reason is. I'm not sure if I'd read the story if the main characters look their age.
30th-Jan-2017 02:08 am (UTC)
We'll post a review for every volume!

I believe that there are people in every culture who feel like their culture values conformity, and I believe that conformity is emphasized more in Japanese culture than American culture. But if I've learned anything from the hundreds of volumes of manga I've read, it's that it's okay to try new and unusual things in Japan, too. If that weren't the case, there wouldn't be a cosplay culture there to begin with. It really just all depends on what circles you find yourself in, I think.

The one-shot at the end of volume one wasn't supposed to be an addition to the story--it was the original version of the story. The one-shot came first, then it was developed into the series about Nagisa. Sakuma-sensei tied them together later on. The impression we got (after reading volume three) was that Sawako gave up gothic lolita fashion because she felt like it was becoming impossible to achieve her ideal, and in that case, she foresaw a future of constant frustration if she kept it up. Clearly her problem wasn't conformity, or she wouldn't have kept doing it all the way into her thirties.

We agree that the characters are flawed, but that's generally how a storyteller creates conflict, so it's okay. The question is whether or not the reader can accept those flaws as natural, or if they come across as being little more than a plot device. Or, as in the case of Kota, if it's believable but so incredibly annoying that the reader (me) doesn't want to waste any more time on him.

First Love Monster... Again, we agree that the art is nice. I think our biggest problem, though, is not that Kanade and his friends act their age, because they don't. They act younger than their age. We hang out with kids their age and younger every week, and I think once they hit seven, they're pretty much done with a lot of the stuff Kanade and his friends are doing.
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