Category Archives: Articles

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

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 Bookcloseouts.com, 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!

Good Ideas, Bad Ideas, and Some Ranting

From the Great Ideas Dept:

John Thomas over at Mecha Mecha Media takes another look at Light Novels in the US and comes up with a GREAT new name for them:  J-Pulp.  I think this is a perfect name for them!  It describes them exactly as they are meant to be.  Short prose books meant to kill a few hours.  And it’s a term book retailers and publishers can understand.  They aren’t meant to be high literature, nor shoved into the foreign books section (is that really a category in bookstores?)  It’s all about the genre.  Get the light novels with the other novels they fit into best; Ghost in the Shell and Vampire Hunter D in the Sci Fi/Fantasy section.  Then at the end of the novel, mention that the manga series is available for more stories, etc.  If you’re not going to tell anyone about these book except the people who already know about them (don’t get me started on the incestuous relationship manga and anime keep cultivating), then at least get them into places where non-manga fans might stumble on them and decide to find out more.

Continue reading Good Ideas, Bad Ideas, and Some Ranting

Kindaichi Case Files: A Lament

What I’ve been dreading has finally become official: Kindaichi Case Files has been canceled.  As part of Tokyopop’s slashing, the January 2009 solicitation of volume 18, Burial Francs, is on the list.  I was hoping against hope that this title would some how survive, since it was one of the few good titles Tokyopop had to offer.  Even though it’s a shonen title, it’s mysteries could keep an adult guessing.  Engaging characters and intriguing mysteries made this a series a must for mystery aficionados.

Even though I love mysteries, I didn’t pick up Kindaichi immediately.  Wanna know why?  Because Tokyopop can’t market a title properly to save their life!  When this series first came out, they advertised it as a Japanese “Scooby Doo”, emphasizing the supernatural parts over the mystery.  That was a failure on so many levels.  Kids looking for short, quick mysteries with goofy characters would be disappointed, and people looking for a good murder mystery series (like me) would avoid it like the plague.  I’m not quite sure what made me pick up the series.  I think I just kept seeing it in our local Waldens Books, and finally gave it a real look over.  I bought the first volume and was sold!  If this title had been marketed as a proper mystery series, and/or put closer to the mystery section, it could have had a chance of selling.  But that’s not Tokyopop’s way of marketing it seems.  They seem to prefer the “throw it at the wall, and see what sticks” method, which is probably why they are in the position they are in today.

So, Kindaichi, I must bid you a fond farewell.  I loved following you on your many adventures with Miyuki and Detective Kenmochi.  I’ll miss your lecherous, yet foiled ways, and your swearing by your grandfather’s name to solve the mystery.  Reading your adventures was like getting together with old friends, as I had come to know you all so well.  I am glad to have been able to know you even for the short time we’ve shared.  I will miss you and your 10 remaining volumes.  Perhaps we can meet again, if I ever learn to read Japanese.

Or ever better.  Kodancha USA picks you up.  (Please, Please PLEASE!!  ONEGAI!!!!)

Tokyopop Online Watch: Bizenghast

Bizenghast Vol 1Tokyopop, being one of the few companies to embrace the potential of online manga is doing it again.  Starting this week, and until Wed. 7/2/08, you can read all of Bizenghast Volume 1 on their website.  And for every week after, you can read another volume leading up to Volume 5, which will be available to read on 7/15/08 only.

I got hooked on this series through reading it online.  Last year Tokyopop did this for the first two volumes, for the release of the third.  If you want to check out a series, reading it online is a great way to sample it.  And if you do like it, buy the volumes.  Online manga lets you taste the series, but having the book in your hand gives you the real experience.

It is Armageddon!

The apocalypse is nigh, the end of the world is near, the impossible has happened. My local Barnes and Noble actually had a decently stocked manga section! (Cue dramatic chords).

This weekend I decided to go out and see if I could find a physical copy of King of Cards Volume 2. I’m not getting this one again sight unseen. My youngest was going to a birthday party, so I thought after dropping her off, we could drive down to the nearest Borders, which is about 20 minutes away. A check of their stock online said they might have it in stock. I had already written off Barnes and Noble. The one by us always has really lousy selection and the shelves are badly maintained. But, on a whim, I checked out the B&N website, and they said our local one might have it as well.

Well, B&N was on the way home, and a whole lot closer than Borders, so I decided to take the chance. (And, I had a gift card for B&N, just in case.) So, we stopped and went to the back of the store, and to my utter surprise, the shelves were full! OMG! (as my kids would say) I was stunned for a moment that not only were the shelves stocked, but I could see them! No manga-cows were blocking the shelves! I could’t believe my eyes.

I immediately went to the other side (our manga section is a single four shelf, standing alone in the back) to the K’s. Shock again! Not only did they have some CMX titles in stock, but they had King of Cards Volume 2! And, it didn’t have printing error that I had already been hit with twice! There was something wrong. Things never go this right for me. It had to be a sign. A sign that the end was coming.

I now have my working volume, and am working at getting a credit for my printing error copy from the store I bought it from. I want to thank Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading, for trying to get the word out about my problem. But, apparently I AM the only person who will admit to reading this series.

I will be posting a review of this second book. Before the world ends.