Category Archives: Manga Drive-By

Yen Plus September 2011

It’s been a year since Yen Plus went digital and things don’t seem to have changed much, at least not for the Japanese side of the magazine. It’s still meager at best, and is losing another title this month with the final chapter of The Innocent appearing. We can hope Yen Press will be able to announce something soon, otherwise having the two sides of the magazine is going to be pretty pointless.

Continue reading Yen Plus September 2011

Shonen Jump September 2011

This month’s Shonen Jump starts out with a Feature on Pokemon: Black and White, the newest incarnation of the game and spans the trading card game, the video games, the anime and the manga. The fan art section also has a neat piece by guest artist Mr. Warburton, the creator of Cartoon Network’s Codename: Kids Next Door. But where’s Nami?

Continue reading Shonen Jump September 2011

Yen Plus August 2011

It was always my intention that my reviews of the chapters from the magazines were to be short, but I haven’t done a very good job of that, so starting this month, I’m going to try to be much more brief about my impressions of the chapters. There’s no Daniel X again this month, the final Gossip Girl, a side story, appears. But you don’t want to hear about that, right?

Continue reading Yen Plus August 2011

Yen Plus July 2011

This month’s Yen Plus features a lot of changes. The most obvious, as it’s features on the cover is the debut of Soulless, another novel adaptation, but not by James Patterson. This one is by Gail Carriger with art by Rem. But with this addition, two other titles are saying farewell. Gossip Girl ends this issue as does the color edition of High School of the Dead. I’m not going to miss Gossip Girl, as I wasn’t even reading it. But High School of the Dead…well, I’ll give my feelings about that later. And you might notice  something missing from this issue. No Daniel X. And no word why. Strange…

Soulless – This first chapter starts with some very nice color pages, as we are introduced to Alexia Tarabotti. She is at a party when she is attacked by a vampire, that doesn’t appear to be part of a coven, and has a run in with Lord Maccon, the head of Bureau of Unnatural Registry as well as Alpha of the local werewolf pack, and Professor Lyall. Her encounter seems to have attracted the attention of Countess Nadasdy, the leader of a vampire coven, so she goes to see Lord Akeldama, another vampire that she is on good terms with, for advice. I really enjoyed this first chapter, and absolutely love Alexia. I’m coming to appreciate stories set in Victoria London, and Rem’s art is a sight to behold. I think I have found my new favorite series!

Milkyway Hitchhiking – This chapter switches gears again, as Milkyway tells the tale of another “master” of hers. A cruel king is sending hunters out to bring back a creature with white fur. If they fail, they are killed. A new hunter is dispatched, a woman named Robin. But the creature turns out to be something Robin didn’t expect. Her perceived failure as seen by the King’s sorcerers makes the King decide to do the job himself. One again, Milkyway is ancillary to the story, acting more as narrator than wish-granter. This story is at least a two parter, so we’ll have to wait until next month to see where it goes.

Witch and Wizard – Whit gets the gang out of the jam the chapter ended on last month, and Wisty frees all the children in detention. A traitor is revealed in the resistance, but Whit and Wisty join their powers to defeat the warden and guards. The One Who Is The One then appears and taunts Whit with six prophecies supposedly about them before disappearing. I liked the action scenes with Whit and Wisty working together, and realizing it’s the adults who are scared of the children, and more importantly, of change. I still don’t like TOWITO. Not capturing or killing them now doesn’t make him a little good or grey. He’s still the villain.

Aron’s Absurd Armada – Aron and his crew return to port to exact revenge on Luthor and instead decide to go after the Crown of the Ant Queen. It was taken by Luthor as a gift for the King’s birthday, so they decide to the backway through some difficult mountains. Meanwhile we learn more about Aron’s parents and their relation to the Nelson family. While Aron and Luthor might have been friends, it obvious that his mother and Nelson is not. And like the rest of the cast, the King is just as odd.

Maximum Ride – The Flock is heading west, away from Itex, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone following them. An eerie sense of foreboding starts to settle over Max as rumors of a disaster coming starts to seem more real. Fang receives a message that one of the Flock is a traitor. They decide to go to a public place, a football game to see if they can draw their enemies out. They get spotted by members in the crowd, but still no Erasers. It really feels like we’re reading the climax of the story, as the impending doom seems to come ever closer. I am looking forward to see what that is.

Jack Frost – No-Ah is confronted by the new Iyel about emotion, and Siegfred is preparing to move out. Camilla has a plan as well, sending off her “pieces” to the Pillar of Solomon. Meanwhile, inside the Pillar, we are introduced to Beelzebub, another busty woman, and her master Solomon himself. Still not much going on, and really, I’m not feeling any anticipation for what’s probably supposed to be a big fit. I really wasn’t impressed with Beelzebub stripping and prostrating herself in front of Solomon either.

Highschool of the Dead – This final preview chapter starts at the airport where unaffected people are trying to escape, and sniper Rika Minami is clearing a path for the planes to take off. Meanwhile, Saeko, Saya, Kouta, and Shizuka decide to leave the school van and meet up with Takashi and Rei, who are trying to reach one of the bridges to cross into town, but the military has them all blocked off. They meet up with their friends, and Shizuka tells them she knows a place nearby where they can stay, as it’s getting close to nightfall. While all of the fanservice is really annoying, I can’t help but be interested in Takashi’s narration, as he talks about how this zombie apocalypse is changing him and his friends. And while the color is nice, if I continue to follow this series, it’ll be in the black and white.

The Innocent – Johnny is helping Joshua find his sister, and takes him to where women are trafficked. They don’t find her, but Johnny’s powers continue to grow, and he is able to speak to the man responsible for his sister’s injuries, Frame. Johnny continues to skirt the rules, making his point without actually hurting anyone. He finally figures out where Joshua’s sister is, but Frame has sent to Whirl to the lawyer Rain, and he gets there first. I’m still finding this series to be interesting, but not engaging. It seems to be devolving into a typical action title, but the mysteries of Whirl and Angel, and why Johnny can keep doing things he’s not supposed to keeps me reading.

K-On! – The chapter of K-on! isn’t the usual 4-koma, but typical manga chapter. The girls take a break from practice, and Ritsu and Mio’s past is revealed. It’s not a bad story, and if K-On! had been more like this, I might have liked it more. I’m finding I’m not fond of the 4-koma format.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba tags along with Ena to Miura’s house, which is in a tall apartment building. In the elevator Yotsuba tries to press all the buttons, but Ena warns her off. At Miura’s home, they see Miura’s picks from her trip to Hawaii, and trade souvenirs, but then Yotsuba makes a most surprising discovery in Miura’s room. The scene in the elevator was cute.

Next month, the mag stays down one story, but Gossip Girl keeps going with a bonus chapter. Hopefully that really will be the last! And there’s no Daniel X scheduled next issue either. Hopefully, there will be some word on it next issue. It is the Patterson book I like the most, though I think I’m in the minority. But, what else is new?

Shonen Jump August 2011

It’s back to the monthly business as usual with August’s Shonen Jump. Since this issue came out before SDCC, it doesn’t have any of the news from the con, and nothing new was added from its month off. Not that really expected there to be any. Anyway, on to the issue! Neuro ended this month on vizanime.com and you can now divine your horoscope with Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds cards, and probably as accurately as Weird Al Yankovic. Now on to the manga!

Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds introduces a new character, Akiza Izinski, the “Queen of Queens” of duel racing. We get to see her in action before jumping to Yusei and Sect in a clinic on Satellite. Angry at his loss to Atlus, Yusei is presented with an invitation to the D1 Grand Prix where he has a chance of a rematch with Atlus. And it seems Akiza has a grudge to settle with Atlus as well. Even as the introductions continue, the manga is moving to the heart of the story, racing and dueling. This title was declared a Worst manga at the SDCC Best/Worst of manga panel, which I think is totally undeserved. 5Ds is far from the worst manga, or even the worst Yu-Gi-Oh! we’ve seen so far. I think GX gets that honor.

One Piece has Rayleigh showing up on Amazon Lily, where he’s apparently on good terms with the women. He come in search of Luffy with a proposition and some advice. Meanwhile, the rest of the Straw Hats has all learned of Ace’s death and are now searching for a way to get back to their Captain and we get to see their predicaments beyond the chapter openers that kept us up to date during the Impel Down and Paramount War arcs. The Thousand Sunny is being protected at the Sabaody Archipelago by Shakky and her allies. More perplexing, is something that Luffy seems to have put in the newspaper that gets confused looks from old friends and allies. Of course the chapters end without telling us what it is. It’s good to see Luffy’s desire to live return as he dives into the food Hancock brought him. Jimbei tells him to eat is to live, and Luffy starts to dive in like the Luffy of old. So we only get chapters, not volumes of grieving Luffy.

Bleach continues its tale of the past with Urahara as captain of the 10th company. These chapters introduce Kurotsuchi and the creation of the Research and Development Department. A young Byakuya and his grandfather is shown as well as his competition with Yourichi. Gin Ichimaru is also introduced as a new addition to Aizen’s company and the Ninth company launches an investigation into some disappearances where their konpaku seemed unable to maintain their form, leaving only clothes behind. What these chapters show is that both Gin and Aizen were always cruel, Byakuya was once not so cold, and the assistant captain on the 9th company was the most annoying character ever. At least this arc seems to be actually going somewhere, unlike the Heuco Mundo arc.

Psyren has Ageha, Sakurako, and Hiryu trying to save the newbies from the giant sand worm. They rescue Oboro, some of the others are eaten, while the rest are shot by a new player that Sakurako calls a Blaster. He also appears to be the friend Hiryu has been looking for, but it’s not the reunion he imagined. Oboro and kabuto come down with their fevers while they are still trying to get to the exit. Sakurako takes on the Blaster and sets to look into his mind leaving Hiryu and Ageha to protect the other two. This stint in Psyren is lasting longer than the previous, and psychic powers are appearing a lot faster, so this is looking like these five will be a team. I’m really curious to find out about the Blaster, and why he’s working against the drifters.

Kisame has one more trick up his sleeve in Naruto, which does finally end him, but his intel gets out as well. Konan faces Madara, determined to end him, but things don’t go exactly as planned for her either, though she does inflict a lot of damage. And even through Madara wins the battle he still loses. We learn more about Madara and what he thinks of himself, which is apparently a lot. The dichotomy of Naruto and Sasake is going to have to shift as Madara is proving to be the real threat, and he doesn’t seem to have Sasake under his complete control just yet. But on the other hand, I don’t see Sasake coming to anyone’s aid as he is now. It’s still a wait and see game here.

The manga preview goes to Prince of Tennis, whose final volume just came out. It’s only half a chapter that pits Ryoma against Seiichi in the final match to decide to National Title. This preview is really a disappointment as it throws you into a match already in progress with little to go on. It’s a very dramatic part of the volume and cuts off at a critical moment, it’s really not enough to get me to want to read it. And with what is shown, it looks so ridiculous that I wouldn’t want to pick it up. This is probably one reason why sports manga hasn’t take off in the US. I don’t mind seeing these kinds of powers in fantasy/action titles. I just don’t for them in sports titles.

Online, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan sees the Shikoku start their attack on the Tochigami by Lord Sodemogi. When Rikuo’s friend Torie is attacked and cursed by him, Rikuo joins the search for him, but it is Kurobado who finds and stops him. Rikuo becomes the next target while he is human, at school Inugami, who is very loyal to Tamazuki, poses as a student to get at him. But when he sees Rikuo getting the attention and respect he wanted, he looses control and attacks during a school assembly. I really liked Senba, the tochigami at the hospital where Torie’s grandmother is. His power to use the 1000 cranes to makes wishes come true is pretty cool. I can’t say I’m thrilled with the Yakuza-like power struggle that going on now. It is different for a shonen title, but I just don’t care for these kinds of stories.

I was really hoping for more manga announcements from Viz at SDCC. Actually I wanted to hear they had licensed the Neuro manga. I guess I’ll have to hope for NYCC/NYAF.

Yen Plus June 2011

Would you know, just as I decide to start reading Maximum Ride again, it doesn’t show up in the magazine this month! But it’s absence is made up for with 2 chapters of Witch and Wizard. And then I didn’t even notice that Jack Frost wasn’t in the magazine last month, but it’s back this month with a new chapter not collected into a volume yet in Korea. So, Yen finally caught up to its releases in Korea. I guess it will become more sporatic. That’s okay though, since next month starts the serialization of a new adaptation, and it isn’t a James Patterson title! Gail Carriger’s Soulless, drawn by another former Tokyopop RSoM winner, Ren.

Daniel X – Daniel finally defeats No. 5, but quickly learns there was more to him that just an electric alien catfish. Gathering all of the electronics in Hollingswood and destroying them in a decidedly non-environmental way makes his end final. Then No. 3 shows up to warn Daniel off, but that just makes him think he will definitely be his next target. The end of No. 5 was kind of anti-climatic, and I don’t know that I buy this one. No. 6 had a much better end.

Milkyway Hitchhiking – Milkyway’s adventures continue at the school from last chapter. She is passing through a forest that is near the dormatory where he runs into Shasha, a human with a cat in him. To everyone around him, Shasha is more cat than human, and this bugs the heck out of Lime, Shasha’s classmate. Lime seems to have a bird inside him, and he is constantly pecking at Shasha. Despite this, they share watching a sunrise together and Lime finds he can be friends with Shasha, even though their spirit animals usually can’t be. I’m getting the feeling that this title has strayed very far from its stated plot, and now is just a vehile for the artist to tell whatever short stories she wants. Milkyway is just an excuse to use to justify whatever story she’s telling.

Witch and Wizard – Whit and Wisty are taken on a tour of the City of Progress, the blueprint of the N.O.’s perfect city. There Wisty is accused by an older woman of being a witch, but Wisty turns the tails on the old woman who DOES turn out to be a witch. She makes eye contact with Wisty before disappearing. Then, the kids learn their parents have been captured and taken to the same place as the children the resistance was planning to break out, so Whit and Wisty join the team. The chapter ends on a cliffhanger for both Whit and Wisty, who split up. The first chapter with the visit to the city seemed pointless since it was so short, but perhaps the meeting of the witch will have some meaning later.

Aron’s Absurd Armada – Luthor, who was only following orders to kill Aron finds his own motivation, and reduces Aron’s ship to a floating hull. The crew relocates to the island, where it seems like paradise, until the volcano explodes. Running back to the remains of the ship, the crew learns from Aron there was one other crewmember no one knew about. The ghost of the builder of the ship still haunts the ship. I can’t help but feel sorry for Ronnie. She tries so hard to tell Robin the truth about herself, and still no one believes she’s really a girl. I hope her hair grows back soon. Though with this creator, something worse than burning will happen to it.

Jack Frost – Jack finally catches up to Hansen, who isn’t happy with Jack not staying with No-Ah. Jack doesn’t seem to have any kind of response when he hears No-Ah has got to the East District except to turn and walk away…to the east. No-Ah and her father are locked up in a room, but Milita at least offers to make them comfortable, which earns her some gratitude from No-Ah. We’ll see how that affects her. After all the hype Yen made about this chapter being in the mag, it was actually kind of anti-climatic. It will be back again in the next issue, so we’ll see if there was anything to get excited about.

High School of the Dead – Takashi and Rei take a motorcycle to try to get back home. They see the extent of the damage the zombies have done. They find a police car, with its occupants dead, and relieve them of their guns. A stop at a gas station give Takashi an opportunity to bash in the register, and Rei gets some breast sqeezing as a survivor tries to take her and the motorcycle. Takashi uses the gun for the first time, and they leave him to the zombies attracted by the noise. I liked Takashi’s reaction to holding a gun for the first time. And Takashi and Rei’s argument was a nice break from the zombie tension and showed some actual character development.

The Innocent – While continuing his search for Mira Jones, Johnny learns that the laywer that represented him (and subsequencely lost the case) is now representing Jonas. He decides to help Jonas and promises Angel that he will try not to kill anyone or break the rules while doing it. He then proceeds to break Jonas out of jail. There have been lot of little clues dropped here and there through these first three chapters, but nothing seemst to fit together yet. Hopefully things will start to connect in the next chapter.

K-On! – Instead of going to the beach, the girls go to a music festival in the mountains with tickets provided for by their advisor, for their club trip. Azumi tans immediately, adn the girls see other bands, but get distracted by things like how the band members get their hair to stand up, and left handed players. Afterward, Azumi goes to the pool with Ui and Jun and has to deal with tan lines, while making Jun regret not joining the Pop Music Club with her. At least it wasn’t another trip to the beach. And Jun and Ui aren’t anywhere as annoying as Yui and Ritsu.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba gets to take Fuuka’s excersize ball home, and while bouncing it down the hallway, accidentally breaks some dishes. When confronted by her father, she tries to lie about what happened. So her father takes her somewhere that makes her think twice about lying. Putting fear into a child about lying might seem like a good idea, and might even work for a while, but in the long run, I don’t believe this is the best way to displine a child.

It’s going to be a full plate next issue! Maximum Ride will be back, as will more Jack Frost, and then there’s the debut of Soulless. That’s going to put the magazine up to 12 titles! It’s good to see Yen Press expanding its titles. That’s a good sign, right? That things are going well for the digital magazine? I really hope so.

Yen Plus May 2011

One of the good things about Yen Plus is that it isn’t filled with a lot of articles about things I don’t care about. There aren’t color spreads of anime I don’t want to watch, video games I don’t play, or ads for devices I don’t and will never own. It’s just all about the manga. The ads in the magazine are all in-house for YP titles. I don’t have to skip a lot of articles to get to the good stuff. And there is a lot of good stuff in this month’s manga.

Maximum Ride – I may have to re-evaluate my stand on this series. Things seemed to have taken an interesting turn, and I may start reading it again. If the major angst is over. This chapter has Max faced off against Max 2.0. It was a battle set up by Jed to see who was stronger. Original Max won, but defied her “programming” by refusing to kill Max 2.0. An explosion gives the flock the cover they need to escape. Jed is given an ultimatum from his higher-ups; the flock must be eliminated before their “New world Order” plan can go into effect. The whole NWO plan has the most interested, so I think I’ll read a few more chapters to see where this all goes.

Milkyway Hitchhiking – This chapter has Milkyway at a school. There is a timid boy who tries to speak to his fellow classmates, but he just can’t get the words out. Milkyway leads him to an old house where there is an old cello. With Milkyway’s help (though actions, not words), the boy learns to play the cello, where his first “concert” has more than a cat for an audience. This is the nice start to a story, but I wonder if it will be continued in the next issue. This title hasn’t had any two-part stories yet, and while this chapter does have an ending, it’s not really a satisfactory one. I’d really like to see more of the boy and the school.

Witch & Wizard – Whit and Wisty escape the Shadowlands with Sasha’s help and make it to Freeland, where a bunch of kids that have escaped the New Order live and continue to resist the N.O. by freeing other accused “witches” and “wizards”. Whit and Wisty aren’t ready to commit to help the others, but a description of their abilities puts them immediately onto a higher level than many of the other witches and wizards, but also makes them prime candidates for being the “Liberators”. Now that there seems to be a plot in full swing, this series isn’t as boring (or melodramatic) as the first few chapters. Where it seems to be going though, does seem rather obvious. But maybe it won’t be boring-obvious. Svetlana’s art does keep it fun.

Aron’s Absurd Armada – The truth behind the attempted assassination on Aron is revealed, and I was half right. The crew is distracted by the appearance of an island where Ronny, Anton and Gilbert go in search of treasure. They find only half. The chest. Fear of facing the demon that is Robin has them worried, but the appearance of Luthor is just the distraction they need. I’d really love to see more webtoons like this show up in Yen Plus. It’s really funny.

Daniel X – After learning Number 5’s plan, Daniel and his imaginary crew goes to work. First, they take out Number 21 and then go to face Number 5. Number 5 is waiting for them of course, and tries to distract Daniel with the story that he was there when Daniel’s parents died, filming the whole thing. But Daniel doesn’t rise to the bait and tests Number 5 himself. It doesn’t seem to inconceivable that Number 5 could have been there, but at the same time it does sound like an attempt to get a rise from Daniel. But with this being from a YA novel, it’s probably going to be closer to the former. We’ll have to wait for next issue to see what Daniel’s next move will be.

Highschool of the Dead – An argument on the bus erupts that give Shidou the opportunity to take over. Rei won’t stand for it, so she gets off. Takashi follows her and makes an arrangement with Saeko to meet at the Easter Police station at a specific time. The two students fight with a zombie motorcyclist, and take his ride. It’s strange where the hostility toward Takashi comes from. It seems to just be a reason to get him and Rei off the bus and on their own again. This is just a transition chapter to get the plot moving on to Rei and Takashi killing zombies, which is what this title is better at than coming up with plot.

The Innocent – Johnny is given his next assignment. Deliver a letter for a man on death row, wrongly accused of murder. Of course, Johnny isn’t interested at first, but when he sees what the man, Norton Graves has been working on, he goes to look in on Graves’ wife. The angel goes to try to find out how Johnny/Ash became an emissary, and meets another angel how taunts him. Johnny arrives too late to get the evidence Grave was hiding, but meets Whirl, a man who can see him. They fight, and Johnny is almost killed in the process. The angel saves him while Graves’ wife and child escape. In the end Johnny fulfills assignment. Once freed from the chains that bound him, he goes after Whirl, who seems to have had a hand in harming his sister. The introduction of Whirl adds a new dimension to the series. of everyone in the room, he was the only one who could see Johnny, and even injured him. It leaves a big question about who or what he is.

K-On! – It’s summer, so Yui is of complaining about the heat. The girls try to come up with ways to practice and keep cool. Then Ritsu runs into Tsumugi and shows her how “the little people” have fun with little money. Some cute but obvious moments.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba, Koiwai, Fuuka and Jumbo continue their adventures in the electronics store. While Koiwai and Jumbo look at cameras (the reason they are there), Fuuka and Yotsuba explore the rest of the store, checking out refrigerators, exercise machines and massage chairs. Yotsuba rocks out with some headphones to some loud sample music. This was a “been there, done that” chapter, and I don’t need to live vicariously through Yotsuba.

This month’s issue was a good read over all. The Innocent is going in interesting directions, and I’m looking forward to mindless zombie killing. I may be back to reading all of the Patterson adaptations. It they weren’t soooo angsty at the beginning, I wouldn’t have such doubts about them. I would like to see at least on more Japanese title, and some more Korean manwha. The adaptations are really overrunning the English/Korean side. Something needs to balance against the Patterson/angst.

Shonen Jump May 2011

The Drive-Bys are a little late this week do to the blog moving to a new host, the Manga Movable Feast, and most importantly, I didn’t get my subscription again, and had to go out and buy it. This is the 4th time in the last 6 months that I haven’t gotten my subscription. I can’t blame SJ though. I know it’s my local post office and mail carrier that can’t seem to figure out the difference between the streets Alabama and Tennessee, which is where a lot of my mail ends up. Oh well, I’ve got my sub extended to August now. One thing I learned from having to buy this month’s issue it that Yu-Gi-Oh CCG cards are more popular than Naruto. Last issue I had to buy had all the Yu-Gi-Oh cards removed from the magazines at my local Barnes and Noble. This issue has the Naruto card intact.

SJ continues its celebration started last month by spotlighting the heroes from all the Shonen Jump manga that didn’t appear in the magazine. It’s quite a list with over 30 titles, both new and ongoing as well as complete. This month’s manga highlight is Blue Exorcist, and I’ll have more on that later. Also featured are the new 3-in-1 omnibuses that Viz is releases with Naruto, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Kekkaishi, as well as a re-release of the One Piece 3-in-1s that cover the East Blue arc.

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s starts off the magazine with the arrival of a new duelist, Jack Atlus who is obviously not looking to make friends. Fresh off his duel with the Skeleton Knight, Yusei is taking Sect to the hospital when he is attacked by Atlus and forced into a duel. Atlus has all the making of a typical archrival. He’s gunning to be the “king” and is taking on all duel runners to prove how great he is. I do like Yusei still. He acts a lot like “Other Yugi” and even looks a little like him. His hair though, looks like he has dragon antlers, which just makes him all that more cooler. Yeah, I’m still liking this title.

Naruto continues the story of the day Naruto was born and the attack of Nine Tails against Konoha. We the man who calls him Uchiha Madara (I have my doubts about that) is the cause, and had his crazy plan to take over the world back then. Minato faces him, and breaks his control over Nine Tails. But, in order to save the village, both he and Kushina must sacrifice themselves and make baby Naruto the new Jinchuriki. With the end of the story, so ends Kushina’s chakra and she disappears. While we learn a little more about “Madara”, and how far back his plans started, it’s still just tidbits. Naruto himself takes the story of his birth pretty well, but I wonder if it’s just going to make him all that more determined to stop “Madara.”

Bleach finally ends the battle between Kenpachi and Nnoitora, where we get a few flashbacks of Nnoitora and Nelliel, and some insight into why Nnoitora did what he did. Not that I really cared. But he’s no longer a problem. With this battle over, Aizen makes his move, taking Orihime as further bait for Ichigo while he, Kaname, and Gin prepare to destroy Karakura Town, gloating first. But it seems the Soul Society might not be as unprepared as he believes. I really hope this ends the Hueco Mundo arc. It went on way too long, and had no point other than to have lots of fighting with zero plot movement. If that’s what Kubo was after, he should have just held a tournament like everyone else, and left us thinking the arc might go somewhere.

One Piece continues the story in the past with Luffy, Ace, and their friend Sabo. Background is given about the Kingdom of Goa and the set up of the capital city. Sabo’s past is revealed as well, as is his reason for waiting to become a pirate. A plot by the nobility of Goa though threatens their lives and lives of everyone in Trash Mountain. Luffy and Ace try to fight the pirate Bluejam who did the bidding of the nobility but gets betrayed by them. Dadan comes to their rescue, just as Dragon, who has returned to the land of his birth does some rescuing of his own. These chapters show just how oppressive society can be in the world of One Piece. Not just of the wealthy over the poor, but over each other as well. Freedom is just a wish for someone like Sabo who has to fight not just society, but his own family as well. I liked seeing Dragon as he was just starting out as a pirate. Goa is a great reason to start a revolution.

In Psyren Ageha and Hiryu finally meet Matsuri, Sakuranko’s psi teacher. She was once a Psyren Drifter, who survived game. She explains what she knows about the game, and confirms that it is happening in the future. There is a mystery about what happened to Japan, and where the Taboo came from. She also explains about the psi powers and starts Ageha and Hiryu on their training. Sakuranko takes over, where Hiryu catches on quickly, but of course it takes Ageha longer. We are also introduced to a new character, Oboro. He is a famous actor who has acquired a Psyren card, but hasn’t tried to use it…yet. I really liked all the background Matsuri gave about Psyren. I like that Nemesis Q just might not be a villain, but is actually trying to save the future. But I’m not taking anything on face value. Hopefully more info in the future will reveal more about his and his goals.

The preview this month is the new title Blue Exorcist. Viz did the thing that I really HATE them doing with their previews. They didn’t start with the first chapter. This preview starts with the second chapter with a note to go find the first volume to read the first one. Jerks. Anyway, the story picks up with Mephisto Pheles, the President of True Cross Academy taking Rin and Yukio with him back to the Academy. Yukio already goes there, and Rin will just be starting. Rin wants to become an exorcist to stop his real father, Satan, the god of demons. His first day in his first class comes with quite a shock when he learns who his instructor is. I’m on the fence about this series, especially started from the SECOND chapter. Sorry Viz, this isn’t the way to convince me to buy your first volume. I really don’t care for the way Yukio treats Rin at the end. It felt really wrong to me. I may, or may not, try to find out more.

There were 4 chapters online for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, finishing up the fight with Gyuki as well as the second volume. Gyuki’s history is also revealed, explaining why he has such a problem with Nura becoming the Third. But, at least Nura finally commits himself to taking on the role. In the final chapter, Kana’s jealous really starts to grow as she spys on Nura and Yukio, thinking they might be dating, but she’s got bigger problems. A yokai seems to have targeted her… I’m glad Viz put Nura online, because I never would have made it past the first volume. The end of the second volume does give me hope for the series, and that it will move out of the internal squabbles about Rikuo taking over, and into more serious conflicts with more yokai. Cause really, I’m just into it for the yokai. And the Night version of Rikuo.

Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m hooked on Bakuman now. The four chapter preview of volume 4 really sold me on it. Moritaka and Akito try going solo after Akito couldn’t come up with a story by the deadline. Unknowingly, they start working on the same kind of story. Mr. Hattori realizes it, and tries to slow the boys down. But after a month, they start talking to each other and realize they are better as a team and decide to trick Mr. Hattori just as he tried to trick them, and come up with 10 storyboards for their detective manga. Mr. Hattori then challenges them to do a one shot for the next Gold Future, and at the same time, a final draft every two weeks to see if they can handle it and go to school. If they can, he will submit their story at the next serialization meeting. It’s hard to explain why I was so hooked in by these four chapters. I think I just find the whole process of making manga fascinating. Because these are the parts that really keep me reading. I don’t really care about Moritaka and Miho’s relationship. I like the insights into the decision-making at Shonen Jump. And the competition between would-be mangaka isn’t something that has to be made up. With these chapters, Bakuman jumps into my must read pile.

I’m not sure when next month’s post will go up. I’m not sure I’m even going to get my subscription issue! But I do wonder what is going on with next issue. Viz is calling it the June/July issue. Does that mean it’s going to be a bigger issue? Is the magazine going bi-monthly? Nothing has been said so far in press release or on the Shonen Jump website. Maybe it’s something they are trying to push through quietly?

Yen Plus April 2011

Yen Press continues to add to the Japanese side of Yen Plus (finally!) with a new series, The Innocent. It’s an interesting collaboration of an American writer, Avi Avad (yes, THAT Avi Avad) with a Japanese writer and a Korean artist to create a unique story about love and vengeance. It has me intrigued to say the very least. Yen Press’ talent search round is over (and they emphasis talent search, not competition),but nothing was found to be showcased in the magazine. It was interesting to hear that they are not just taking their time to find good creators, but that they are also giving advice on where promising creators can improve and be ready for the next round. I wonder if Tokyopop had taken as much care, if OEL would have actually taken off.

Milkyway Hitchhiking – In this chapter, Milkyway is just an observer, as the story is about Baek-Ryun a gesaeng and Chung who is a shoemaker. They seem to be constantly fighting, this time it’s over Chung’s cat Miya (Milkyway). He accuses Baek-Ryun of taking her, which she denies, but did. Their bickering leads to a confrontation where they both end up in a lake, and though they don’t stop fighting, there is an implicit acknowledgement of feelings. It’s a cute story of budding romance, though what happened to the premise of the series, that Milkyway is a cat that grants wishes? Did that get worn out fast, or is this just a long break? Or are we to think that Milkyway grants wishes that are left unsaid?

Witch and Wizard – Celia, Whit’s friend, appears to Whit and Wisty, and tells how they can escape by going to the Shadowlands, though a brick wall that is guarded by several vicious dogs. The pair make it through, as well as one of the dogs, and gain a new friend. They are joined by Byron the ferret and introduced to Sasha who will take them to Freeland, one of the realms in the Underground not under the New Order, or,N.O.’s rule. But before they can get going they are surrounded by residents of the Shadowlands, the Lost Ones, who don’t seem to want them to leave. Now that the story is out of prison, and the angst of their torture is past, the story is starting to take a turn for the interesting. Hopefully when they reach Freedomland, we’ll get more information on the N.O. I’m not happy though that it’s Wisty’s girly scream that gets them into trouble at the end of the chapter. Realistic, maybe, but very cliche as well.

Aron’s Absurd Armarda – Aron’s feeling a little paranoid, and believes that the crew is out to kill him. It turns out he’s not too far off, as the new crewman, Mercedes, is actually an assassin, sent to kill Robin. But why Robin? I have an idea about that. There’s a short break while the crew celebrates the 100th strip (yes, it’s that kind of comic) And the ship’s cook gets some more abuse, not just from his shipmates from this his own body parts, when an attempt to appease his fellow shipmates goes awry. Aron’s is that great breath of fresh air that keeps you from taking anything too seriously, especially after the angst of the James Pattison titles.

Daniel X – Using a time machine (of sorts), Daniel is able to see what happened with No. 5 first appeared on Earth and how he got the townspeople to forget about everything alien after a scene has been ‘shot’. He takes Judy out on a date, which becomes a spying foray. He gets rid of the alien block for her, so she can truly understand what is going on. Though, I still don’t completely get what’s going on. What is No.5 up to? Is he filming a show, or is he planning an invasion? Or is it a little of both? It’s still hard to tell. There still aren’t enough clues to piece it together. Hopefully things will start to make more sense soon.

Jack Frost – As I predicted, there was a flashback with Avid, that showed how he became a vampire. Seems he and Sigfried were in competition for control of the South District. Guess who got betrayed. But it seems the Iyel that Avid met may not be the real one. With Avid gone now, Sigfried feels safe in declaring war on the Ethan and the East District. Hansen meanwhile has found No-Ah and Ethan. He tries to get No-Ah back, but Ethan’s control over her father’s soul keeps her from escaping. I’m not sure if this is an interesting turn of events or not. I suppose it all depends on what happens when Jack and Sigfried meet up with Ethan. I don’t think it’s going to go well for him, but then, that might not be such a bad thing.

The Innocent – The story starts with an angel being sent to find a man who has been executed for a crime he didn’t commit. Johnny, a detective before he died, has been chosen by the mysterious Committee to help out others in order to clear out his misdeeds so that he can get a chance at reincarnation. Angel, is there to show him how to use his powers and keep him in line, which isn’t going to be easy. He picks up quickly on his ability to use ash to affect the physical world, but is just as quickly swallowed by vengeance when one of the men who helped to frame him shows up while he is trying to help a woman. While playing by the rules isn’t his forte, he decides to go along with the Committee, just for another chance at the men who framed him. There isn’t anyone nice in this first chapter. The angel who is sent to help Johnny has nothing but contempt for humans, but has a job to do. Johnny himself is an anti-hero. He’s definitely no angel, but he really cared for his sister and will do anything to avenge her. And there are indications that he has a greater power than most spirits. Is that why he was chosen? Or has the committee bitten off more than they can chew with him? It will be interesting to find out.

Highschool of the Dead – This chapter introduces more survivors. School nurse Shizuka Marikawa and Saeko Busujima,the captain of the Kendo club (of course). They pick up a military otaku Houta Hirano and self-proclaimed smart girl Saya Takagi.  Takashi and Rei get out of the astronomy club room and meet with the new characters, and make a break for the school van, intent on finding their families. A newscast has shown them that it’s not just their town, but the whole world that is dealing with the zombies. As they make a break, another group of students, led by Shidou follow. Rei warns not to help Shidou but they do anyway. He is obviously not a nice guy. The addition of this obviously power-hungry opportunist doesn’t fill me with hope. I really am not interested in reading “Lord of the Flies in Zombie Land”. I’m really hoping he doesn’t stick around long. Though, he’s obviously going to be thorn in everyone’s side if not now, then later.

K-On! – It’s the start of another school year, that has the girls now seniors. They have their class trip to Kyoto, which they proceed to spend at a music shop. They have to decide on their future plans after high school, which of course Yui and Ritsu can’t seem to come up with anything. And then Azu starts to get panicky about possibly being the only member of the Pop Music club next year. Yui’s past is revealed, and it shows she hasn’t changed much from elementary school, and Yui freaks out about leaving her guitar at school overnight. The best thing I can say about these chapters, is that at least they are different from the first two volumes.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba, Koiwai and Jumbo are headed to the electronics store to buy a camera. Fuuka decides to come along since her midterms are finished. Once they arrive, Yotsuba finds the cellphone displays, and her imagination takes off again. This single chapter doesn’t really go anywhere, and it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, if you care about what it is that Yotsuba is imagining.

The addition of The Innocent continues to add to the breakup of the moe block that dominated the Japanese side for so long, but it’s only a one volume story, so it’s only going to last for 6 months or so. K-On! is also coming close to its end. With the last volume scheduled to come out in December, you know it’s going to end the magazine well before that. We already know that Yen has another OEL planned with the adaptation of Soulless, but do they have anything more planned for the Japanese side? Or is it becoming the neglected side with no Japanese publishers willing to serialize online? Square Enix shouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s not like it’s putting content that isn’t already available in print in English and has been for months or even years.

Yen Plus March 2011

Yen Press is really taking advantage of having their magazine online. Back in January we got the debut of a new manhwa in color, Milkyway Hitchhiking, and now this month we get, not only a new Japanese title, but we get it in color! Highschool of the Dead is a zombie title that combines brain munching with fanservice, and it’s made to be put into color. Finally, a new title in the Japanese section that isn’t about little girls being cute! Is it a good addition to the magazine? You’ll have to read on to find out!

Continue reading Yen Plus March 2011

Shonen Jump April 2011

Shonen Jump finally hits its 100th issue and its a party! The issue starts with a look back at all the titles that started and either ended or were “graduated” from the magazine, numbering 12 in all. Yu-Gi-Oh! gets the spotlight in the TCG section, and goes back to the original Yu-Gi-Oh! game. I have to keep my youngest away from this card too. Then there’s the usual features about anime and SJ titles on the iPad.

Continue reading Shonen Jump April 2011