Category Archives: Articles

Stories and musing about specific manga titles or manga in general.

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Eighth Day

“On the Eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,”

Akane Motomiya is walking to school, when she hears a voice calling to her from an old well.  When she goes to investigate, she is sucked into the well by Akuram, the oni leader who wants to control Akane and take over Kyou, a land that greatly resembles Kyoto of the Heian period.  Akane, it seems, is meant to be the Priestess of the Dragon God, and is given powers and eight Guardians to protect her.  Along with two her friends Shimon and Tenma, who were sucked in as well, she must protect Kyou from Akuma and his oni before they can return to their time.

Yes, Haruka, Beyond the Stream of Time, another Shojo Beat title.  I really like this title, mostly because it happens in the Heian period.  I love the history and the costumes.  It also has dragons and other legendary creatures, which is another thing I love.  This title has gotten a lot of flack for being so derivative of Fushigi Yuugi, the title that originated the “girl goes back in time and is surrounded by a ton of bishonen”, but that didn’t affect me when I first read it, since I haven’t read Fushigi Yuugi.  The characters are a little one dimensional, and Akane seems rather useless other than to constantly need saving, but I’ve still enjoyed the stories as a guity pleasure.  It’s one of many I read.

Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Sibling Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Seventh Day

“On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Seven Dragon Balls,”

Goku is a strange boy with a tail and super strength living by himself in the mountains.  One day, a girl named Bulma finds him while she is searching for a legendary object: a dragon ball.  If you collect all seven and call forth the dragon, he will grant you one wish.  Goku has one of the balls, left to him by his Grandfather.  He agrees to let Bulma borrow it, but wants to go along with her on her journey to make sure the dragon ball remains safe.  The pair then embark on a strange and exciting journey to collect the rest of the dragon balls, but they seem to have some competition.

Dragon Ball (the original series, not Z) has the distinction of being the first manga I ever bought, in English or Japanese.  I was into Dragon Ball well before it became the phenomenon it did here.  And I never like Z.  I stopped picking up the manga when they started heading off into space.  The first 16 volumes are all I need.  Goku was cute and fun, with his clueless innocence.  I’ll always like him best small and with his tail.  I liked Dragon Ball when it was an action comedy.  It still had the typical shonen issues of Goku having to fight bigger and stronger foes, but Toriyama did it in a way that it didn’t get boring or repetitive.  The fights didn’t drag on in the beginning, and there was more going on than just fights.  Dragon Ball is another classic that everyone should check out, but feel free to stop after volume 16.

Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Sibling Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Sixth Day

“On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Six Girl Volleyball Team,”

Tomboy Nobara Sumiyoshi has one passion in life; Volleyball.  Her mother, however, wants her to be the girlish hostess of the family’s ryotei (Old fashion Japanese restaurant).  Nobara runs away from home to try and fulfill her dream, but her mother tries to stop her, going so far as to try and force Nobara’s younger sister to take Nobara’s place.  The three make a deal; Nobara will play Volleyball until she graduates, when she will take over the ryotei, until then her younger siste will help out.  In the meantime, Nobara has to bring back the Girl’s Volleyball team at her chosen High School, Crimson High, and get the minimum required 6 girls to form a competitive team, all while playing dorm mother to the Boy’s Volleyball team.

This is another series I found through Shojo Beat.  I wouldn’t be reading shojo manga if it wasn’t for Shojo Beat. I didn’t really like this title at first.  I’m not much for sports, and all the romantic drama that was thrown out at first didn’t really interest me.  It wasn’t until the title got into some serious drama around Nobara trying to improve her playing that I started showing some interest.  While I’m not a Volleyball fan, the development of the Girl’s team and the characters that make it up make for some good dynamics.  They have lofty goals, but show to have the determination to reach them.  It’s a title to definitely look at for good sports drama and melodramatic romance.

Five Bronze Knights!
Four Friends in Winter
Three Sibling Cards
Two Girls named Nana
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

Saint Transformers!

As you can tell from my last post, I really like Saint Seiya, and not just the manga.  Saint Seiya also has an anime, and it’s where I was first introduced to the story.  One of the things that really pulled me into the series was the opening animation and music.  Here it is:

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Being a child of the eighties, I also really loved watching Transformers (G1 of course).  Apparently, other people share my loves, and one person, with a lot of talent (and time on their hands) has taken these two great things and made them great together!  I give you Saint Transformers!

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Twelve Manga of Christmas: Fifth Day

“On the Fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Five Bronze Saints!”

Long ago, the ancient Greek goddess Athena, had an army of warriors known as Saints.  They were young boys who trained to control their Cosmo, a power within, that allowed them to perform supernatural feats.  Thousands of years later, Athena has been reborn, and a new group of knights are training to earn cloths, or armor, and gain the honor to be one of her saints.  Seiya is one of these saints, who has one the Pegasus cloth and returns to Japan to compete for the prestigious gold cloth of Sagittarius.  But to win it, he must defeat the other returning bronze saints.  Shun, Shiryu, Hyoga and Ikki start out as rivals and enemies, but they soon become friends, and Athena’s staunchest protectors.

Saint Seiya is an old passion from my first getting into manga and anime in the eighties.  There were no translations of either at the time, so when Viz announced the release of it in English, I had to have it!  I just had know what was going on in these stories!  Saint Seiya is a basic shonen fighting manga, with our 5 protagonists getting ridiculously strong with each story arc.  They are only bronze knights, the lowest of Athena’s saints, but by the end of the first arc, Seiya is already handling gold cloths, that only the most powerful of saints can handle.  But I love mythology and the constellations, and this manga has plenty of both, as all the enemies are from Greek mythology, gods who are reborn just like Athena.

There’s only one thing I don’t like about this title, and half isn’t the title’s fault, is Saori, the reincarnation of Athena.  She’s supposed to be a powerful goddess, but she’s always getting herself kidnapped, or arrows stuck in her chest, so that the bronze saints have to get their butts kicked, and faces dragged through stone to save her.  It gets tedious after a while.  And then, for some mystifying reason, Viz changed Saori’s name to Sienna, but no one elses’.  Why?  What was the point of doing that?  Dumb.

Anyway, Saint Seiya is a great action manga.  So many other mangaka that are big today credit it as an influence on them.  Study your manga history properly and pick up this title!  There are only 4 volumes left until the end…

Four Friends in Winter
Three Sibling Cards
Two Girls named Nana
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Fourth Day

“On the Fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Four Friends in Winter,”

Ann Uekusa and her mother move back to her mother’s home town Shimane from Tokyo.  Her parents have divorced, and they have returned to live with Ann’s grandparents.  They arrive in the winter, before Christmas.  Ann becomes close friends with 3 kids; Daigo, Fuji, and Shiika.  Not long after returning, Ann’s mother commits suicide, leaving Ann with her grandparents.  Ann makes a life for herself in Shimane, and she and Daigo become a couple.  Then her father comes back from Tokyo offering to take Ann back to Tokyo.

Sand Chronicles is another series I started reading through Shojo Beat.  I don’t think I was hooked instantly, but it certainly didn’t take long for it grow on me.  Sand Chronicles also holds the special honor for making me cry not once, not twice, but three times over the same scene!  It’s rare that a title can do that to me.  Once maybe, but hardly ever twice.  So much care is put into the characters that the dramatic scenes with them hit that much harder.  Most of the story so far has been following Ann’s teen years, when things are the most melodramatic, but it isn’t annoying, which is what I find most teen shojo manga to be.  Sand Chronicles seems to avoid it by being more rooted in reality.  The difficulty of long distance relationships, holding on the first love, balancing family with friends, these are all things anyone can relate to.  And that just makes it easier to get to you emotionally.  This is definitely a “chick” manga, but I love it!

“Three Siblings Cards
Two Girls named Nana
And a One Piece for the Pirate King”

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Third Day

“On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Three Sibling Cards,”

Manami Minami decides to learn to play Chaos, a popular TCG.  Her cousin Tamotsu, who also plays, takes her to the hobby store to by a starter pack.  By a strange twist of fate, the pack she buys has an ultra-rare card in it, Sahgan, the Mighty Sorceror.  Manami quickly becomes the target of other Chaos players who want to challenge her for Sahgan.  With Tamotsu, her new friends from the card club, and Sahgan himself, who comes to Manami in her dreams to give her hints, she faces these challenges and grows as a player, while trying to balance her regular life.

I got King of Cards because of the art and the premise sounded intriguing.  I like a lot of game manga, such as Yu Gi Oh! Shadow Games, Legendz, and Hikaru no Go, so decided to give this one a chance.  And am I glad I did!  I have really enjoyed the shojo take on gaming manga.  Manami is more interested in enjoying the game than just winning.  Over the first couple of volumes, she gets a reason to get better, but it isn’t to save the world or prove herself better than someone.  It’s for love and her love for the cards.

I also really love the mythologies used to make up the cards.  The three ultra-rare cards that are the heart of the manga, Sahgan the Mighty Sorcerer, Faras the Holy Shrine Maiden, and Taurus the Alchemist, aren’t a part of any established mythology, but seem to have had one built up around them.  They are call the Sibling Cards, as they were all drawn by the same artist who died at an early age.  Manami’s romantic woes are the center of the shojo side of the manga, while the plot around the Siblings is the center of the card side.  This is a great manga, and even though it’s shojo, I think guys will enjoy it just as much as the girls.

“Two Girls named Nana”
“And a One Piece for the Pirate King”

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Second Day

“On the Second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Two girls named Nana.”

Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu are two girls going to Tokyo to realize their dreams.  Nana O. is looking to put together a new band and make it big, with Nana K. is going to join her boyfriend with whom she hopes to find love and happiness.  From a chance meeting on the train to sharing an apartment, the lives of these two girls become entwinded as they strive to make their dreams come true.

I didn’t think I’d like Nana when I received my first volume of Shojo Beat.  I didn’t think I’d even like Shojo Beat, with all the emphasis Viz was putting on it being a “girls” magazine about romance and fashion.  But, when I got to those first chapters, which actually told all of Nana K.’s story in that volume, I was hooked.  I hadn’t read much shojo before SB, so I didn’t know what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t what Nana turned out to be.  The characters were realistic, with real flaws and real problems.  Ai Yazawa’s art is mostly realistic with a touch of manga comedy makes the funny scenes funnier and the dramatic scenes more serious.  Nana is a great series for fans of music, drama, romance, and just good story telling.

And a One Piece for the Pirate KIng

Twelve Manga of Christmas: First Day

It’s the holiday season, so that means, shopping, Santa Claus and christmas carols.  For me, it means combining manga with christmas carols!  This year, I’m doing the most obvious of carols, The Twelve Days of Christmas.  From now until Christmas, I will post one line, featuring a manga that I hope goes with the song.  So, here goes!

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, A One Piece for the Pirate King.”

Monkey D. Luffy has the lifelong dream of finding the One Piece, the treasure of the Gold Roger, the former Pirate King, and claim the title for himself.  As a child, he ate the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit, and gained the power of elasticity, but lost the ability to swim.  Undaunted, he set out on his journey, gathering a crew who have come to believe in Luffy’s dream because of his determination and friendship, as well as believing in their own dreams, and Luffy’s abiltiy to make them all come true.

One Piece is one of those titles I discovered by reading Shonen Jump.  I was familiar with the name from the interwebs, but once I started reading it, I really enjoyed it!  It’s a lot of fun to read.  Eiichiro Oda has created some unique and entertaining characters.  At no point in last 18 volumes have I once felt bored reading it.  There is plenty of action and adventure, as well as comedy and even a little drama.  It’s a great title for teens and adults.

You’re Kidding….Right?

I was listening to my tech podcasts this morning, like I do every Monday, and I got to Jumping Monkeys, parenting in the digital age.  And, on this show, the hosts Leo Laporte and Megan Morrone do a segment called Spend, Save, Give where they take about websites that have interesting things to spend on, save on, or give to the community, etc.  On today’s show, the Save was dedicated to, a site I have featured a few times myself on this blog.  Megan was featuring it for the great deals you can get on kids books (which can be REALLY expensive).  But Leo…I don’t know how he found it, but started taking about this title he found:

When he first said the title, I thought I was mishearing him.  He pronounced manga wrong (man-ga instead of mahn-ga), so I had to look this thing up myself, just to see if it was real.  And, as you can see, it is.  Check out the description of the book here.  It’s as good as the picture.  And buy a copy while you’re there.  There are only 58 left and at 80% off, it’s a steal!  Make it a new holiday classic in your home.

And We’re Off…

To the San Diego Comic Con.  It’s our annual summer vacation trip that we share with 40,000+ other fans.  Unfortunately is always feels like ALL 40,000 are in the Exhibit room at the same time…  Oh well.  Hopefully this year there will be better crowd control.  And we go for the panels just as much as the shopping.  At least Brian and I do.  The girls have DSes to keep them busy.  So Doctor Who, Stargate, and an MST3K reunion!  Whoo Hoo!  (Yes, I’ve been an MiSTie since CC’s second season.)  And of course the manga.  There’s certainly plenty of it spread around the Exhibit room.  Panels are sparcer this year than I remember last year.

Anyway, if we can get the WiFi in our hotel room working, I’ll post some thoughts Thursday and Friday night.  I know there’s going to be Wifi at the con, but I’m not lugging my laptop around in addition to all my purchases.  It’s not like there won’t be plenty of others giving you the scoops.  I’ll just do the commentary afterwards.  I can’t wait to see what Tokyopop’s “viral marketing” is going to be.  They were looking for volunteers who were going to the con…

See you soon!