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Nessa's Thoughts

Just a British girl who reads a bit too much.

Currently reading

The Dead Zone
Stephen King
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
Samuel Richardson, Angus Ross
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Piper Kerman
The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith
Mars #1 - Fuyumi Soryo So... How about them bad boys?Yes, bad boys. From what I've seen and read over the years, bad boys tend to go a little something like this:They are aloof, coldhearted yet incredibly interested in this one girl. Authors of certain hackneyed works make their bad boys undeniably what Hollywood considers 'bad'. They smoke, they drive motorcycles, they get into fights a lot (Travis Maddox from Beautiful Disaster), they gamble (Patch Cipriano from Hush, Hush), and they consider stalking to be a perfectly legitimate hobby (Edward Cullen from Twilight). Also, they aren't forthright with their emotions or motives, so it provides a perfect excuse for our heroine to start looking into this mysterious boy who suddenly seems to like her after some contrivance brought them together.Now, I'm not going to say that the bad boy archetype is the worst thing ever and that I hate it, but... yeah, I kind of do. I just don't see the point of this kind of thing. I may have once swooned over Edward Cullen, being a naïve fourteen year old, but now I just find it laughable. I like men of mystery, sure, but not miserable, insulting bastards who make a show of how badass they are.I bring this up because I am now a twenty one year old girl, and I have fallen for a manga 'bad boy'. Hook, line and sinker. Why was I not reading this before?I also love the art in this manga. It's gorgeous. Everyone has nice, expressive eyes and fluid movements. My only complaint with the art is that the characters can look a little bit spaced out from time to time, but that's not really a big issue. Fuyumi Soryo communicates a vast array of emotions through the simplest things, such as Kira haphazardly pulling away from this one boy whose hand brushed against hers, Kira's mother hesitating before she shakes Rei's hand, etc. It leaves you wanting more, because we just don't know that much about the characters yet, nor why they act this way.So, what's the story? Kira is an extremely shy girl who has barely ever spoken a word to anyone in her class. She has a passion and a talent for art, however. She first meets Rei, her new classmate and the 'bad boy' I was talking about, and she talks to her mother about how she doesn't like him at all. Not because of anything he's done to her, per se. She just doesn't like his smoking habit, or how he seems to be quite a lady's man.I... kind of didn't understand this to begin with, but as you get further in the manga, the underlying implications of Kira's behaviour becomes crystal clear, and when the penny drops, it's quite harrowing.To begin with, Kira is a bit of a blatant wish fulfilment device. She's quiet, and she's easily flustered. She voices our desires, basically. She asks Rei to model for her, and he returns the favour, having rescued her from the slimy grasp of a teacher who seemed nice but was actually a creep. But she develops a lot more personality throughout the manga, even though she doesn't ever really stand up for herself.Rei is really quite fascinating. He's so emotionally distant, and though he's quite confident he can charm any lady who comes into his periphery, he sees something completely different with Kira, which is quite refreshing. He's a very unclear character, with details of his background only given to us quite sparsely throughout the story. Plus he's very nice to look at, so that helps.If there's one thing that annoyed me about this manga, it was the bullying subplot that comes in just about halfway through. It turns out that Rei had a girlfriend when he first met Kira, but they broke up because she needed to study for university entrance exams.The next most popular girl in school, Harumi, assumes she'll be next in line to be his girlfriend. When Rei starts turning his attention to Kira, however, Harumi and her friends start viciously bullying Kira. They come up to her and say they don't like her attitude, they threaten her to stay away from Rei, or else they'll burn her arm with a cigarette. Near the end of this volume, Harumi and her friends threaten Kira by saying they'll smash all the bones in her drawing hand and ruin her burgeoning art career. Kudos to Kira for looking up at them and saying she'll just learn to draw with her left hand if they do, but seriously?In two instances, Rei goes over to Harumi after she's finished threatening Kira, and tells her to stop it. And each time she just gets mildly upset over Rei's attitude towards her. That's it. Harumi doesn't really learn anything or realise she should move on. The ending even has this cliffhanger where Harumi outright tells Kira she will kill her if she gets any closer to Rei. Since Harumi is thwarted each and every time and never goes through with what she says, I kind of tired of the bullying scenes quickly. I have heard that Harumi becomes a good friend of Kira's later in the series, but for now she's just a cheap villain in a barely-there love triangle that clearly supports the idea of Kira and Rei being together. Just move the hell on, already, Harumi.Normally, the description 'fluffy shoujo romance manga' makes me jump a mile backwards, but here, everything works together so nicely. There's a great cast of believable characters whose story you will want to follow, as well as a compelling burgeoning romance. It's a shame the bullying subplot was kind of weak, but I suspect it'll improve over subsequent volumes. 4.5/5.(This review is also available on my blog: http://nessasky.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/manga-review-mars-volume-1-by-fuyumi-soryo/)