Blue Flower

 

            An original spin-off of the Boogiepop world, Genius Doctor: Black Belly Miss introduces an entirely new cast of characters and a more linear story than the short vignettes in which the other manga series (and the anime) are told. A new Boogiepop emerges with a male host, once again called on to fight the spiritual displacements that threaten the everyday world. This time these disruptions are in the form of a teacher who sexually abuses his female students. Despite its chronological storytelling, the manga still makes the reader strain to put together all the clues, only tipping its hand at the very end. Takano’s art is creepy and atmospheric, while still delivering the familiar anime-style character designs, and the plot is easier to jump into than the other Boogiepop manga. 

 

                

 

            Tasuke, the reluctant son of a veterinarian, discovers that he can hear animals’ thoughts because his father is the “Nidoume no jinsei wo isekai de” Komainu-sama. When he develops a crush on Misato, the cute owner of the unfriendly old dog Wata, he enters a sort of human-dog romantic triangle. Primarily, though, this is a pet medical drama, with stories based on animal health problems, apparently based on the author’s experience as a certified veterinarian (“You know what’s the most important thing in summer, don’t you? It’s preventing filaria!”). The animals are drawn more realistically than the humans, and their behavior is more aggressive than any American cute-animal comic, with plenty of biting and scratching. More of the story was published in Raijin magazine but never collected.

 

               ½

 

 

            A long-running anthology series of short romantic comedies, mostly involving shy guys and flirty girls, although the sheer quantity of the stories leads to some interesting variations. Most of the stories involve kisses or love confessions, or are excuses for women to pose in scanty outfits, but the hero does not always get the girl, and a few of the stories are impressively funny. In “Attention Please! Chameleon Boy!” the main character tries desperately to keep his girlfriend from breaking up with him through abrupt personality changes. In “Our Unique Turn-Ons,” three guys talk about their favorite fetishes, such as the backs of women’s necks, mohair sweaters, and (the weird guy’s choice) the cross-section of an apple. Initially crowded with too many small panels per page, the art opens up and improves as it goes on; however, the repetitive character designs make it difficult to tell one girl from the others. In Japan, the series was printed as Boys Be … 2nd Season, a sequel to the original 32–volume (!) Boys Be … series. Historical trivia: the title is a reference to “Boys, be ambitous!”, a famous out-of-context English-language catchphrase in Japan, spoken by visiting American professor William S. Clark when he departed Sapporo Agricultural College in 1877.