All posts by Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is the writer and reviewer for the manga blog, Manga Xanadu. She also keeps a personal blog at Fangirl Xanadu, and a writing blog at Muse of Xanadu. She contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. As the mother of two teen daughters, she needs all the escape she can get, which reading and writing about manga gives her.

Yen Plus January 2011

It’s a new year, and that means another new series in Yen Plus! Yeah! And it’s about a cat! Double yeah!! More on that later. But first, we’re six months in with Yen Plus being on-line. For the most part, things have been running smoothly. This issue was the first time I ran into any problems, and they were minor. First, it took a week after payment for the issue to go up, so it wasn’t available until the middle of January, but the holidays could be blamed for the delay. And I did have some trouble reading the issue, but those technical issues were taken care of quickly, and I could read the issue just fine the next day. Kudos to Yen Press for their quick response!

MilkyWay Hitchhiking is not only on the cover, but also starts the magazine this month. It’s in full color, with a nice water-colored look to it. It starts by introducing Milky Way, a special cat with a coat pattern on her back that looks like the Milky Way galaxy. She is able to make wishes come true. Her first wisher is a male cat named Sarah. He wants to be human for one day, or at least a few hours. Milky Way grants his wish, to which Sarah the proceeds to paint her black, and leaves her with his owners, a rich boy who doesn’t even recognize that Milky Way isn’t Sarah. Over the rest of the chapter, we learn how Sarah came to the boy’s home and why he wanted to be human for the day. Sarah’s past is kind of sad, but the whole story ends happily, for Sarah anyway. Milky Way still needs to get that black paint off.

Witch and Wizard continues Wisty’s and Whit’s ordeal as they are interrogated by a self-righteous classmate, a weasely type of boy who gladly joins the new regime for the power it gives him. They have the typical trial for a totalitarian society, with verdict already decided, but being a “humane” totalitarian regime, they will be held in prison until they are 18 before they are executed. The chapter ends with the revelation that Wisty and Whit’s parents escaped, so there might still be hope for them to get out. My jury is still out on this one. I’m probably going to need at least a volume to decide on this one. I know giving the villains so much power just gives the heroes more incentive to overcome them, but when they get too much it seems unrealistic, and I just don’t care for that.

In Aron’s Absurd Armada, the ship needs supplies, so Aron and Robin are sent out to get them, since Robin isn’t on the poster, and without his wisp of a mustache (forcibly taken) Aron is unrecognizable. Of course, it turns out to be a disaster. Then we get to meet Aron’s parents, who each have very different impressions of their son, with Victor’s being the more realistic. One of the things I love about this title is MiSun Kim’s ability to set up a serious looking scene and then turn it on its ear into something ridiculous and funny. What makes a lot of those scenes funny is because they are true to the characters.

Jack Frost finishes the fight between Hansen and Kay as well as Jack and the regenerator. Kay threatens to kill all of Hansen’s new friends, and Hansen responses with a new power that turns his gun into something closer to a canon. He gets Kay, and in his final moments, Kay tells Hansen he just wanted him to get over his grief, and now that he has, Kay can rest in peace. With the drama over, Jack makes short work of the regenerator. During it though, another part of No-Ah’s mirror image power awakens which seems to sync with the Pillar of Solomon. And it seems we will finally be seeing someone from the East District. It was nice to see Hansen finally get some closure, though the whole thing with Jack pretending to be dead was just too obvious. I’m still waiting for this title to make sense other a showcase for violence and fan service. I guess I’ll be waiting a little longer.

In Daniel X, Daniel gets an intergalactic email with one heck of an attachment; a whole bunch of gadgets to help make Daniel’s alien hunting easier. Now with a van full of electronics that can analyze an object’s component parts and where those parts come from to cloaking the van so they aren’t seen, Daniel goes after Number 6 and Number 21, who is working as a director for Number 6. Daniel tracks Number 21 to a small TV station transmission tower. Daniel X is still a lot more fun than Witch and Wizard. I can’t say anything about Maximum Ride, since I haven’t read it for ages, but I don’t miss it either. I wonder what the demographics for each series is, and if that is what makes the difference? At any rate, it’s nice to have a sci-fi series amid all the fantasy and cute girls.

Yotsuba&! has some playtime in this month’s chapter. She pretends to make dinner and breakfast, and then she and her father go to the park where they swing on the swings, kick off a shoe to see who’s can go the farthest, and then have a race to see who can get their shoe back first. Yeah. Can someone please explain the appeal of this title? I am really not seeing it. Is it a kid thing? Do you have to like kids to appreciate it? Or is it a living vicarious thing? I’ve only been reading for the last 6 months, and I still don’t see anything appealing. There’s no way I could do 9+ volumes of this.

K-on continues on its merry-go-round as it’s summer break again, and the girls do the exact same thing as they did last time. Tsumugi has a summer-house near the beach which is bigger than the last one, but not really the “big one”. The new responsible girl, Asuza, gets sucked into playing around more than practicing, so nothing gets done. There’s more struggling to get through mid terms for Ritsu and Yui, and study sessions end up with manga reading instead of studying and Mio giving Ritsu a study guide so she really doesn’t have to do anything. If you’ve read one volume of this title, you’ve pretty read the whole thing. Unless you like to look at pictures of cute moe girls, there’s nothing here.

Milky Way Hitchhiking is a great title for the magazine, and Yen got a real win in getting it. It’s got the potential to be an all ages title and being a cat title only makes the win more epic! Let’s hope for the win for the Japanese side. It needs it badly now.

Half Way There

Back in 2009, I wrote a post expressing my desire to see the manga series Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro licensed after its end was announced in Japan, based on the anime series from 2007.  It’s been a long 4 years, hoping and waiting for that announcement that said I would finally get to read the adventures of my favorite demon detective, and now I believe we are half way to that point. Viz Media has confirmed that the anime will begin streaming on the Vizanime.com website in February.

Why does this give me hope of a manga license? Look at the last time Viz started streaming an anime; Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. They streamed nearly the whole series before they announced the license of the manga, officially. What did Viz say when asked about Neuro? It’s “not on the schedule through September”. That doesn’t mean it won’t be announced though. Con season is starting to gear up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Neuro isn’t one of the licenses announced at San Diego Comic Con, assuming a listing for it isn’t found for it before then. Anime licenses have been a good gauge of manga licenses for the last several years, especially with Yen Press. I sincerely hope it becomes the same gauge at Viz. I REALLY WANT this series!!!!

Shonen Jump February 2011

It’s a new month, so that means a new issue of Shonen Jump! Do the changes I liked last month hold up? Let’s dive in and see! The issue starts with the usual features/ads. This month adds a full-page for the Viz app on the iPad. **yawn** Call me when I don’t have to worship at the altar of Steve Jobs to read manga digitally. There is also a one page column written by Stan Lee that basically pimps the new Marvel movies coming out and Ultimo. The video games feature which used to be at the end of the issue is now at the beginning. And I notice the brain teasers that used to be at the back are gone. I guess no one really cared about them.

Psyren starts off the issue with all the newbies taking off toward the sound of a siren that they think is where the gate is. They ignore Ageha’s warnings of monsters and leave him with the still unconscious Sakurako. They are thinking of only the reward or going home. They are going to find out how wrong they are. Ageha, the delinquent with a heart of gold, after learning where the gate really is from Sakurako, runs off after them with her on his back. This title is still establishing itself, but I think it’s still on the right track. What happens next issue where we will hopefully see Ageha in a fight here, should really set the tone for what the series is about.

This issue prints the first chapter of Yura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, which was online last month. I gave my impressions of it in last month’s post. I’ll go into the next chapters of Nura after I’ve finished the print chapters.

One Piece sees the end of White Beard, as he continues to stand up against the navy, to give his men more time to escape. A hint is dropped as well about what the “One Piece” that Gol D. Roger left behind might be. Black Beard and his pirates appear and show off a new ability. Inazuma continues to try to kill Luffy. He and Jimbei are saved at the last-minute by Crocodile and Buggy (who is just trying to escape as well), and taken in by Trafalgar Law, one of the 11 meteor rookie pirates. It’s another great ending for a character with the way White Beard goes out, and the momentary flashback he gets. The scene with Gol D. Roger has really sparked my curiosity about what the One Piece really is. Whitebeard seems to have known. I have my suspicions, and can’t wait to find out more.

Naruto surprised me this month. Naruto faces his dark side, and fails against him. He talks to Motoi to find out more about Killer Bee, and after some thought, he makes a decision. He is able to face his dark side and defeats him this time. Killer Bee then agrees to help Naruto get control of Nine-Tails. What surprised me about this month’s chapters is the decision Naruto came to, and where I really hope it leads him. If he can stop the sulking and go back to the way he was (in some ways) before the time jump, then I think Naruto might become a series I enjoy reading again. Only time will tell at this point.

Yamato finally makes it to Sayama’s party in Ultimo, but things don’t go quite as smoothly as he hoped. Rune makes his move as he now remembers who he was in the past and seems to have designs on Yamato, and it’s really creepy. Jealousy seems to be having second thoughts about being able to defeat Dunstan, and Vice continues his rampage with Eco getting it, again. I’m starting to get a really bad feeling about where this series is heading. I could be completely wrong, and it’s nothing to make me want to keep reading to find out if I’m right, but it’s in the mag, so I’ll keep reading it.

Mayuri seems to be at the mercy of Szayelaporro in Bleach, but Mayuri was just faking it. He’s too meticulous to ever be caught so easily by an enemy. The battle then becomes a series of one-ups as each tries to outdo the other in power. Mayuri seems to have the upper hand as the chapter ends, but I’m not believing it until I see his end with my own eyes. The healers get to work as Rukia and Chad are brought back, and Ichigo sends Orihime to heal Nel instead of him. There is still one fight left, with Kenpachi against Nnoitra, and of course the big battle that Byukyua hints at. I really hope this all means that the Hueco Mundo is almost over. It’s gone on far too long, and hasn’t seem to do much but show how powerful espada are and how much more powerful Soul Society captains are, things we already knew.

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5DS starts up Yusei’s battle with the Skeleton Knight, where the ante isn’t Sect, but Yusei’s soul. It becomes a typical battle, with the Skeleton Knight getting the first points and Yusei making a comeback. The chapter ends with the Skeleton Knight preparing his next big attack. I’m still liking this series, at least more than Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. If you don’t like hearing card abilities and stats shouted out as part of the story, this title might not be for you, but as a gamer-inclined reader, I actually find those parts interesting. So far.

For online exclusives, there were three chapters of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and an extended preview of volume 3 of Toriko. Nura has Rikuo reunited with an old friend from his childhood, Zen, the head of the Zen Group. He has come to try to convince Rikuo to accept his role as the Third. Rikuo still refuses, but when Zen is betrayed by his own men, “Other Rikuo” appears and defeats them, once again proclaiming his intention to be the Third, which he promptly forgets when he returns to human form. Then a new character is introduced. Yura Keikain is a new student, who also happens to be a Omyoji, an exorcist of yokai. She has come to Ukiyoe on a training mission to banish yokai. Kiyotsusu then proclaims the start of the Kiyojuji Paranormal Club, and Nura gets to be a charter member. This is seriously starting to look like the original Yu-Gi-Oh! with yokai instead of cards, and it’s really not impressing me. Rikuo is really more annoying than anything else. If there was more of his yokai form, then I might be okay with it. There were some classic funny moments with Rikuo seeing the yokai emerge from the doll when no one else did, but it’s not really enough to save this series.

The extended preview of Toriko had Toriko with another Gourmet Hunter Coco catching and trying to prepare a puffer whale, a difficult task. Komatsu gets directions from Coco and after a successful preparation, they are all treated to a heavenly meal. A creature then appears that puts Coco and Toriko on high alert, but it ignores them and moves on. It is apparently a robot sent by a rival corporation against IGO, so the “Four Kings” including Toriko and Coco are called to a Biotope to try to stop the next attack. I’m still not impressed with Toriko, though Komatsu has definitely moved up in my estimations with the skill he shows cutting the puffer whale.

It’s more of the same to look forward to next month, with just a preview of the upcoming Death Note omnibus edition. And it looks like I’ll be fighting my youngest for the magazine again as it has another Yu-Gi-Oh card in it. But things seem to continue to be looking up with the changes. Sadly, as I suspected, online chapters from the previous month are not available to read, which really sucks. I was hoping they would at least keep the online chapters up until the print volume came out, like they do on Ikki and Shonen Sunday. I mean, the viewership is restricted as it is! Why not leave the chapters up longer? At least Yen Press lets you read the previous issue along with the current.

La Corda d’Oro Volume 1

Kohako is a normal student in the General Education department with absolutely no musical skill, but all that changes when she catches a glimpse of an elusive fairy who lives on campus. The fairy grants Kohako a magic violin, and before she knows it, she’s nominated to participate in the school’s music competition with five very attractive boys. Will she win love and fame, or will bitter rivalry rule the day?

Continue reading La Corda d’Oro Volume 1

Tena on S-String Volume 3

As Kyousuke and Tena go about their contentious daily lives in Japan, they’re blissfully ignorant that something’s afoot at the tuner headquarters in France. And whatever it is, it’s starting to make the world a much more dangerous place for Kyousuke with his sought-after soul score! Though he’s managed to avoid detection by other tuners, like Arun, thanks to the gadget bestowed upon him by Mezzo and Sopra, it’s not long before his good luck charm runs out, landing him in a whole mess of trouble with tuners he’s never seen before! Will Tena be able to save him from a life as a tuner test subject, or will Tena need saving too!?

Buy This Book

By Sesuna Mikabe
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Romantic Comedy
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

This volume is a marked improvement over the last one. There is a lot less emphasis on Tena, and more attention given to the  Tuner plot and Kyousuke.

The focus of this volume is on Kyousuke. His musical abilities goes beyond technical skill. He can read people and see what kind of music they may need. When he, Tena and his students go to a hospital for some musical therapy for the patients, Kyousuke changes Tena carefully planned mellow score to a more upbeat one, cheering the patients up rather than just entertaining them. More is revealed about Kyousuke and his “viral” notes as well. As expected, he loses the ring that Mezza gave him to hide his viral notes. He soon learns though, that he has a tuner power like Tena. He is a Life Tuner. He can drastically change a life score, not just adjust it as most tuners do. Somewhere in his past, his power was suppressed. Now, Kyousuke wants to find out about his power more than ever.

The Tuners and their “grand finale” plot is on the most as well. More of the High Command of the tuners is revealed, but there was still very little information given on what is going on. Why are tuners needed all over the world WITHOUT knowing anything other than notes need to be captured? There is a very conspiratory feel to this plot. The High Command is planning something the rank and file know nothing of. The tidbits of information leaked in this volume only adds to my curiosity.

Kyousuke gains a harem of sorts, with many of the women seeming to have a relationship with the higher-ups. We already know about Arun being the sister of Lord Chord, but in this volume we learn that Mezza has a sister who is the head of covert ops for the tuners, and has been spying on Mezza. Arun’s connections come in handy though, when the group has to leave Japan, and head to France.

The biggest problem with this volume is again Tena. She is jealous of “elites” like Arun and hates them all. She has a serious chip on her shoulder against them for some reason. She throws a tantrum when Arun is impressed with Kyousuke’s ability to make good food on a budget. She came real close to giving Kyousuke up to some tuners that found him in exchange for the recognition she would get from the higher-ups. It was just another reason to NOT like her.

Overall, this was a better volume of Tena on S-String with more story and less Tena being a brat. Arun is still more interesting and makes a better lead to Tena as far as I’m concerned. I am curious to find out more about Kyousuke’s power and past, so I will give this series one more volume.

Karakuri Odette Volume 1: Manga Movable Feast

Odette is an android created by the young talented scientist Dr. Yoshizawa. Wanting to find the ultimate difference between humans and his android, Odette decides to persuade Dr. Yoshizawa to enroll her in a local high school. Follow Odette’s adventures as she ventures through high school, in search of the true meaning of being a human.

Continue reading Karakuri Odette Volume 1: Manga Movable Feast

14th Dalai Lama and Che Guevara

In Japan, manga covers all sorts of subjects. It isn’t all boys fighting to protect the planet or girls looking for love. There are manga for just about every subject. Penguin Books has tapped into one of those other subjects: Biography. They debut their manga line with the lives of two very influential people of the 20th century with mixed results.

Continue reading 14th Dalai Lama and Che Guevara

PR: End of an Era

It’s been a long time coming for this, the final volume of Inuyasha. I remember seeing the floppy singles Viz released in the early aughts. I had no idea what it was about then, but with the release of the standard manga sized volumes, I soon discovered what a great series it was. And with the omnibuses, you can too. But if you’ve been following the series to the end, you won’t be able wait for this. More after the break.

Continue reading PR: End of an Era

Yen Plus December 2010

Yen Plus finishes up the year with a new title and a new announcement. When Nightschool ended in September, a lot of people were disappointed. They were going to miss reading Svetlana’s story. Two months later, and Svetlana returns, not with more Nightschool (sadly) but as the artist on the third James Patterson series to be serialized in the magazine, Witch and Wizard. And then, in the “Next Issue” section, there is an announcement that only Yen Plus subscribers will see. Starting in January, Yen Plus will debut another new series, that is also their first simultaneous serialization. MilkyWay Hitchhiking is a new manhwa by Sirial, the creator of One Fine Day. It’s about a cat with a pattern on her back that looks like the Milky Way galaxy and the many wonders she discovers. It looks very cute, is in full color, and features a cat, so it’s already got a lot going for it. I can’t wait!

Witch and Wizard starts out the magazine, with a pretty dramatic scene of the heroes about to be hanged. It then flashes back to how they got into that situation. Not my favorite story telling device, as it’s been overused on TV recently. A new political party has taken over and is instituting new laws that make magic, real or imagined illegal. Our heroes, Whit and Wisty seem to have some of these magical powers and they and their family are taken into custody. There’s a lot of water throwing, and interrogation in the first chapter, and the reader in kept in just as much the dark as the characters. I don’t know if I like this series or not yet. The smugness and seeming absolute power of the bad guys is making me lean toward a no, but I’ll give the series a few more chapters before I decide definitively.

Aron’s Absurd Armada finally ends the confrontation between the pirates and the marines, but not before Ronnie makes an enemy of the leutenant…by falling on Dorothy’s chest. The pirates get a wanted poster that makes Aron happy. Ronnie gets a huge bounty and ONLY DEAD, while Robin is cut out, and Gilbert and Anton are officially identified. I’m still loving this title and will follow it all over the seven seas!

Daniel X jumps right back into his alien hunting, and decides to go after #5 on the list. Because he did so well taking out #6…. Anyway, he’s sticking to LA, as #5 hangs out in Hollinswood (Hollywood), making movies by forcing people to act and then killing them. Daniel is usually one step behind in this chapter, running into him at an S-Mart and gets a “screen test” to be the star in #5 next picture. The story is still being set up, so I don’t have much to say about it yet, but #5 isn’t really impressing me like #6 did. I did like S-Mart reference. I don’t suppose a guy from housewares with a chainsaw for hand will come to his rescue…

In Jack Frost, Hansen finally has to face his past and his brother. It takes Lucy sacrificing himself to get his gun to finally snap him out of his daze and get serious, which is where the chapter ends. Jack is still being used as a pin cushion, and I hope he’s just biding his time. Because, if he can be so easily contained by some big guy with some spikes, then he doesn’t deserve his title. Or is he just waiting for No-Ah to be threatened before he can level up again? Either way, Jack is a disappointment. Now that Hansen has his head in the game, maybe this part of the story can finally go somewhere.

Yotsuba&! is still at the Hot Air Balloon race. Yotsuba goes for a ride in one of the balloons, drops her teddy bear, plays with a bamboo dragonfly and ends by sliding down a hillside and ignoring the race they came to see. It’s just more the same. Cute if you like the series, boring if you don’t care for Yotsuba or kids being kids in general.

K-On! has the pop music club worrying about new student orientation, both for performing and getting new members. They do get one, Nakano Azusa, a girl with a lot of musical background and enthusiasm that is quickly snuffed out by the rest of the members, and teacher advisor. She is welcomed into the club with a pair of cat ears. I’m still feeling ‘meh’ about this series. I really don’t see what so funny or cute about it.

I’m really happy to see Yen Plus getting some new titles for the new year. Milkyway Hitchhiking sounds like a lot of fun and kid friendly, and it’s good to see Sveltana’s work, even if the story isn’t rocking me yet. But it’s really the Japanese side that really needs some help. Yotsuba&! and K-On! have their audiences, sure, but it looks pretty pathetic, especially when compared to the more varied OEL/Korean side. Something with some real action would be good. Something with good action and story would be even better. Yen has to have something in their catalog now or upcoming that can help this side rise up to at least meet the Korean/OEL side.

Shonen Jump January 2011

It’s the beginning of a new year for Shonen Jump and they start it off with what they call another “evolution” I wouldn’t call what SJ did an evolution, but it is a definite improvement. Two new manga are added to the magazine, bringing the number of titles back to six, and the page count back those of the good old days. Subscribers also have online access to Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. So let’s jump into it!

The magazine begins with all its ad stuff. Merchandise, DVDs, video games and TV/Online airings of Shonen Jump anime. There was also a free Yu-Gi-Oh! card. I only mention this because I had to buy this issue for my youngest daughter so she would stop asking for my card. Not that I collect the cards, I just like to keep my issues complete.

Psyren is the first manga and first new manga in the magazine. It’s about Ageha Yoshina, a high school boy who likes to fight. He picks up a call at a public phone booth and gets a red phone card with the world Psyren on it. It turns out Psyren is the name of a secret society, made of people who want to create a new paradise on Earth. It’s treated like an urban legend, but one of his classmates, Sakurako seems to be involved. Unable to keep his nose out of her business, he uses the card, and ends up being transported to another world, where he runs into Sakurako who is being attacked by a strange bug-like monster. Meeting up with others new to the world, he learns the psyren is some sort of game, and you can’t leave until you finish the level. I enjoyed these first two chapters. Ageha is the trouble-maker with a heart of gold. He helps people using his fists, and doesn’t tolerate bullying. We still don’t know much about Sakurako or how she got involved with Psyren, but with the two of them together in the game, hopefully next issue will give use some useful exposition.

Naruto starts with Kabuto making Madara a deal he can’t refuse, though we are kept in the dark about why. Meanwhile, it’s decided to hide away Naruto and Killer Bee to keep them safe from the Akatsuki, and they go off to a solitary island where Killer Bee learned to control his Biju. Naruto wants to learn to, so after a rocky start, he begins training. These chapters were too bad. I like the frog sages, so seeing more them is always a plus. I don’t know how much I like Bee. All the rhyming is fun, gets old pretty fast. Naruto’s enthusiasm is a nice change, and I’m interested to see how his training goes with Nega-Naruto.

I have only one thing to say about these chapters of One Piece: Oh.My.God. Whitebeard continues to try to hold off the marines so his men can get to safety. He splits the island in two so his men can’t keep trying to help him. The whole thing ends with Black Beard and his crew appearing. I dont’ want to say what happens in the middle with Luffy, but needless to say, I so did not see that coming!! It’s not a moment that bring tears, because your mind is so shocked by what happens that it never gets to that. I still can’t believe it, but if there was to be anything happen to shake Luffy’s faith, in himself, and in the world, I can see it being this.

In Ultimo, Vice decides to go on a killing spree. It seems he’s determined to upset Dustan’s plans as well, but only for self-preservation. He takes out Gauge, Slow, and Pardonner, while Yamato has rushed off to Sayama’s birthday party with Rune, not knowing that Rune has contracted with Jealousy. I have no idea where Ultimo is going, and frankly I really don’t care. It has moments that look like it will have potential, that then get swallowed up in pointless fighting. I can just see another time travel reset lingering in this series’ future.

Bleach continues to the battles between Byakuya and Zommari which takes up the whole of the two chapters. Byakuya wins, but not before Zommari runs off his mouth with some speech about Soul Reaper arrogance. The last chapter ends oddly, with Mayuri seemingly at Szayelaporro’s mercy. I find this hard to believe, even with Mayuri’s arrogance, I don’t see him falling so easily to Szayelaporro. He has to have something up his sleeve. I’m still waiting to see where this Soul Reaper invasion is going. Aizen’s true goal still hasn’t been revealed, so he won’t be defeated anytime soon. Perhaps the invasion will lead to a confrontation that will lead to a reveal? Or at least a better idea. I’m really getting tired of all this fighting.

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is the second new title to join the print magazine. It takes place in 20XX, on a satellite. The new hero is Yusei, a cool and confident-looking guy whose hair is throwback to the original Yugi, with duo-tone spikes. Duel Monsters is now played on Duel Runners, motorcycles that the players race on while they throw out their cards. Their speed is dependant on how well they play. We see one race, Yusei vs Sect, his seeming sidekick/rival. The chapter ends with the appearance of an urban legend come to life, the Skeleton Knight who challenges Yusei. I actually liked this first chapter. Not a lot has been explained about the world or the games, but I like Yusei, and that’s enough to make me want to see the next chapter.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan is the first online only manga for Viz that only subscribers can access. The first two chapters are available online. It starts by introducing Rikuo when he is 8-years-old. He’s loves playing with the yokai in his grandfather’s mansion and is really gung-ho about one day succeeding his grandfather as the Lord of Pandemonium. He thinks yokai are good. A presentation at school suggests that they aren’t. A powerful yokai tries a power play, and attempts to assassinate Rikuo by destroying his school bus. Rikuo wasn’t where and now his classmates are trapped. Rikuo’s yokai blood reacts to the danger and he leads a group of yokai to rescue his friends and stop the rouge yokai. Fast forward 4 years later. Rikuo has done a complete 360. Now he wants nothing to do with yokai while all of his classmates at school believe in and love yokai. They all go to a local abandoned building to look for them, as Rikuo tries to keep the yokai away from his classmates. I really liked the first chapter, and was feeling a lot of good potential coming fromt his title. Then I got to the second chapter. I did not like the total change in Rikuo. He’s become a “nice” guy, offering to do things for kids at school, which almost looks like he’s being bullied and/or taken advantage of. He really comes off as weak and useless, and reminds me a lot of Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! I really didn’t like him, and preferred the stronger, more confident “Other Yugi.” I’m getting the same vibe here from Rikuo. It’s only two chapters in, so things might change for the better again. I’ll wait and see.

This was definitely a good issue. The new manga greatly improved the magazine in general, and now I have more reasons than just One Piece to read it. I can’t really say the same for the online side though. Viz pushed that other manga would be available to SJ subscribers, but that’s turned out to be “extended previews” of upcoming volumes, and will only be available when the volume is actually releases. There still no world at how long the previews will last, or if previous chapters of Nura will remain on like or if they will be taken down when the volume comes out. I’m guessing it’s gonna be the latter. But, I’m not subscribing for the online content, so it’s no big deal…for now.