Digital Manga Publishing ‘s titles tend to sit on one side of the scale or the other. They are either really good or really bad. I don’t find a lot that sit in the middle. Read on to find out which side these two titles land on.

Beautiful Skies of Houou High Volume 1

By Aki Arata ♦ Digital Manga Publishing ♦ Older Teen ♦ Comedy ♦ $12.95
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Kei is a girl who likes girls and hates boys so much she gets physically sick aroun them. Her mother plots to “cure” Kei of her lesbian tendencies by tricking her into going to an all-boys school. Yui, Kei’s classmate, gave her mother the idea and works behinds the scenes to make it happen. Kei has to keep her gender a secret, while Yui constantly makes her uncomfortable and teases her about her secret.

There is so much wrong with the title, I don’t even know where to start. Kei, the protagonist, is dumber than a brick, something I really hate in leads. She doesn’t even notice that the application she filled out was for an All-boys school. Even her younger sister mocks her for her stupidity. And don’t get me started about her mother’s desire to “cure” Kei of her sexual preference. At least we see where some of Kei’s stupidity comes from. The story is all over the place, with plot points being thrown at the wall to see what sticks. Most of these involve Yui; his motivation in wanting Kei at the school, his issues with the Principal, the masochistic classmate who want to be abused by Yui and sees Kei as a “rival” for his affections. Yeah. There doesn’t seem to be any direction for the story, with the only point of the title being just to torture kei is as many ways as possible. The art is generic with characters all looking the same.

I can’t find anything redeeming or even entertaining about Beautiful Skies of Houou High. Avoid this one at all costs.

Fafner: Dead Agressor Volume 2

By Xebec, Mikami Akitsu ♦ Digital Manga Publishing ♦ Teen ♦ Action/Sci-Fi ♦ $9.99
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Kazuki still doesn’t understan Shoish and callous thinking, so he takes a Fafner and leaves the island to see the outside world, which is in ruins from the Festum. He is captured by the Neo UN, which uses him to find Tatumiya island because they want the island’s core. Along the way, Kazuki meets his mother, who was taken over by a Festum only to see her killed again. The Festum find Tatsumiya and attack, and it takes a reconcilliation between Kazuki and Soshi, facillitated by the island core, to stop the Festum.

This second volume was better than the first, but not by much. The story still feels very rushed as characters are again thrown out left and right with no introduction. Glimpses of the deeper plot are shown, but are never given the time they deserve to be developed; who/what are the Festum? What is the meaning of the phrase “Where are you?” that Kazumi keeps hearing? How had Kazumi’s mother merged with a Festum? Looking back over the two volumes, this series seems to have been about Kazuki and Soshi’s relationship in the past and the need for their understanding each other as part of the defeat of the Festum. It just did a poor job of showing it. Even with the narrowed view, this series had potental, it was just poorly developed. The art work also seemed to get worse. Like the story, it came off rushed and lacking in detail, such as some characters were just poorly drawn.

If Fafner: Dead Agressor had been given one more volume to focus and develop some of the characters, their relationships, and the plot, it would have been a much better series.

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