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Cherry Juice: Volume 1    by Haruka Fukushima Amazon.com order for
Cherry Juice
by Haruka Fukushima
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
Paperback
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Haruka Fukushima's Cherry Juice is your typical romantic school comedy, except for a twist that only manga can get away with - the two main characters are step-siblings.

Minami and Otome, both in their last year of junior high, are step-siblings stuck with sharing a room since their grandmother moved in with their family to recover from a hip injury. Unrelated by blood, the teens are attracted to each other, but also like other classmates whom they use at some points to get back at each other. The story follows the pair through the typical school manga situations sports day, a summer festival, club meetings, etc.. By the end of Volume 1, Otome is trying to choose between her stepbrother and her boyfriend while Minami's relationship with a girl in his cooking club is heating up.

The premise of Cherry Juice is very similar to that of one of Tokyopop's first unflipped releases, Marmalade Boy. However, Cherry Juice, or at least its first volume, is missing the key ingredient that made Marmalade Boy so popular sexual tension. The tension between Minami and Otome is implied through other characters, and while some of Fukushima's panels could maybe have some tension, she never lets it build enough to come across clearly and transfer the feeling to the reader.

Another thing in the artwork that detracts from the story is the overuse of English-word screen tones for backgrounds. I know it is popular in Japan to use English text in art, but where some of it was located, I began reading it instead of the dialogue, especially in some parts where it stood out more than the words of the story. Cherry Juice could be a really good series, and maybe it becomes so in subsequent volumes, but Volume 1 lacks what it needs to compete with all the other romantic school comedy mangas on the market today.

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