Saturday, August 7, 2021

REVIEW: Sorcerers & Secretaries (OEL manga, vol. 1) by Amy Kim Ganter

Sorcerers & Secretaries is, I believe, a contemporary romance series with possible fantasy elements. It was originally published by Tokyopop. It looks like the author now goes by Amy Kim Kibuishi.

I bought this volume used.


Nicole has extremely vivid dreams and daydreams about a lonely sorcerer named Ellon who was betrayed by his familiar and only friend, Sonneth. She writes these vivid dreams into her dreamlog, paying only the most minimal attention necessary to things like her business classes and her friend Susan. At night she works as a secretary.

Josh is a bookstore employee who's gotten all his tips about interacting with women from Riley, a pickup artist who happens to be his roommate. Female customers practically fall over themselves to give Josh their number, which he always deposits in a jar. The person he's really interested in is Nicole, who he was never able to charm. When Nicole enters his store, Josh figures he'll give it another shot, but he doesn't realize that he's competing against Nicole's daydreams about Ellon.

I wanted to like this more than I actually did. A big part of the problem was that I was not on board with what appeared to be the central romance, between Nicole and Josh. I think readers were supposed to view Josh as a nice guy who just had unfortunate taste in friends. He didn't see anything wrong with collecting girls' phone numbers like trophies - weirdly, the only person who had any problems with it was Nicole. I'd have thought he'd have at least one regular customer who got fed up with or annoyed at his constant flirting. It certainly irked me.

I could sympathize with Nicole's annoyance at Josh's behavior, especially considering the flashbacks to the time when he lived a floor below her and would literally bang the ceiling with a broom and cheerfully call her up to let her know that he was causing that noise (was that supposed to be cute??). And the fact that he wouldn't leave her alone, even though he noticed she was trying to avoid him. And when she asked him to quit all the constant flirting, his response was: "I wouldn't be flirting with you if you didn't make me feel like it was working! So, whose fault is this?" Ugh. Josh, you're responsible for your own behavior, and Nicole asked you to stop, so just stop. Unfortunately, considering all the blushing, I'm pretty sure readers were supposed to view that moment as romantic or something.

I've written a lot about Josh, but I wasn't really wild about Nicole either. I could understand her tendency to escape into daydreams, since she didn't seem too excited about the direction her life was taking and appeared to mostly be doing whatever would make her mother happy. However, her daydreaming was so constant that she barely paid any attention to the people in her life. Granted, she didn't seem to care much about any of those people - she had nothing in common with Susan, her supposed friend, and her feelings for Josh were a muddled mess.

This is a short series - just one more volume to go. Let's see if it improves.

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