Category Archives: Reviews

Black Jack Volume 6

Revenge and redemption seems to be the theme of this sixth volume of Black Jack. Whether it’s a Mob Boss taking revenge on a prideful and corrupt doctor, or a father and son reconciling during a volcanic eruption, Tezuka explores these issues through Black Jack’s dealings with his patients.

By Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Medical Drama
Price: $16.95
Rating: ★★★★½
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Revenge can come in may forms.  Whether it’s the traditional “eye for an eye”, or in the name of justice, Black Jack ends up getting involved with people seeking revenge, and the patients often are the true victims.  In “Twice Dead”, Black Jack’s skills are sought to help save a boy just so he can be put on trial for murder.  “Brachydactyl” has a father trying to get revenge on his wife for cheating on him by denying their son the medical treatment he needs.  The ably titled “Revenge” has a Mob Boss punishing a doctor for not letting Black Jack help his son.  It’s Black Jack that administers the finale blow in this story.  “Terror Virus” has Black Jack and his rival Dr. Kiriko working to save men exposed to a biological weapon.  When Black Jack isn’t allowed to finish his work, Kiriko delivers “an eye for an eye” to the men who tried to condemn Black Jack’s patients.  While not commenting on whether revenge is right or wrong, Tezuka does an excellent job of eliciting an emotional reaction from the reader.

Through all this darkness of revenge and retribution there is the light of redemption, though endings are more bittersweet.  In “Brachydactyl”, while the father thought he wanted  revenge, he is given a chance at redemption thanks to an observation by Black Jack.  And in “Amidst Fire and Ash”, Black Jack’s resolve helps a father and son find reconciliation and redemption for the father.  “A Body Turning To Stone” has strong religious overtones to it, especially at the end.  But a father is again giving the chance at redemption with his first born, though the price ends up being higher than he intended.  While the redemption of these fathers with their sons is good to see, not all of the endings are uplifting.  But there is still a feeling of hope at the end that makes the reader feel that maybe the hardships will be worth it.

Throughout this volume of  Black Jack, Tezuka continues his social commentary on the medical community.  Perception is shown to be more valued than skill as Black Jack is denied a license to practice, and even jailed and kept there despite the need of his skills.  Though one again, he refuses a license on principle, and I can’t say I blame him.  There is also a subtle condemnation of experimenting on animals, and not so subtle one of man’s destruction of the environment.

Overall, this is another great collection of stories of the infamous doctor.  The diseases and situations Black jack must face continue to entertain as well as make you think.  There was only one scene that I found disturbing, during an operation, but is was only for one frame and could passed by quickly.  Don’t let the scenes of the operations dissuade you from reading this series.  Tezuka’s comment on the human condition far outweighs his portrayal of the human anatomy.  Don’t pass this series up.  You won’t be disappointed.

Review copy provided by publisher. Image © Vertical Inc.

Review: The Lizard Prince Volume 1

Lizard Prince 1
The Lizard Prince Volume 1
By Asuka Izumi
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: Everyone
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Comedy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

Canary is the princess of the kingdom of Linaria.  Her father, the king has promised her hand in marriage to Heath, the handsome prince of the kingdom of Gazania.  Canary isn’t crazy about this, because Heath has a bad reputation.  The Prince has his own reservations, and gets his brother Sienna to pose as him on their first date, convinced he’ll drive her away.  But the plan backfires when chemistry ignites between the two.  The only problem is, Sienna’s been under a spell, which turned him into a lizard.  And once he’s done posing as his brother, he reverts back to that form!  Will love really conquer all in this mixed up triangle?

The Lizard Prince is a fairy tale turned quirky romance.  It starts out much like the Frog Prince, but is able to transform itself into a funny and charming romance with wide spread appeal.

Continue reading Review: The Lizard Prince Volume 1

20th Century Boys Volume 7

Out in the middle of Tokyo Bay, a man called Shogun is trying to break out of Umihotaru Prison, a maximum-security island fortress, so he can save the world. Accompanied by a frightened young manga artist, these two men are prepared to risk everything as their daring escape plan grows deadlier by the minute. However, the prison authorities will do whatever it takes to return Shogun and his reluctant companion to custody.

Shogun’s ultimate goal: Tokyo, where a girl he calls the “final hope” lives, but a murder in Kabuki-cho has triggered a chain reaction of terror. Can Shogun reveal the truth about the false peace created by the Friends? And what are the facts behind the disaster that took place in the final moments of the 20th century?!

20th Century Boys 7
20th Century Boys Volume 7
By Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen Plus
Genre: Drama/Mystery
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★☆


What happened December 31, 1999?  The events of that night start to unfold as both Shogun and Kami tell the tale to two young people who want to know the truth.  But will learning these facts bring us any closer to the truth?  Once again, Urasawa poses more questions than he answers in this volume.  Why are the Friends rebuilding the 1970 Exhibition?  What exactly happened on December 31, 1999?  Even as we delve further into those events, answers are not forthcoming.

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Review: Jack Frost Volume 1

Jack Frost 1
Jack Frost Volume 1
By JinHo Ko
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆

Any high schooler on a nerve-wracking first day at a new school is apt to lose his or her head a little.  But in Noh-A’s case, she literally does!  When she wakes up in one piece with a little help from a mysterious doctor, Noh-A quickly realizes that nothing is as it seems at Amityville High, where paranormal creatures battle for supremacy.  Caught in the crossfire, Noh-A may have to rely on the unlikely (and possibly unreliable) aid of the most sinister student at Amityville…the deadly Jack Frost!

By all outward appearances, this title looks to be a pale shadow of the horror manga Hellsing.  Cracking open the book doesn’t do much to alter that appearance.  There is lots of action and decapitation, but not much in actual plot.

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Review: Princess Resurrection Volume 3

Princess Resurrection 3
Princess Resurrection Volume 3
By Yasunori Mitsunaga
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Supernatural
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Mummies, vampires, and a ghost ship: a typical day in the life of Princess Hime, monster slayer extraordinaire.  But when her kid sister visits, Princess Hime may have finally met her match.  Now she’s facing her toughest battle of all: sibling warfare!

The campiness we saw in the first two volumes of this series starts to get toned down in the third.  The fight between Hime and her brothers goes past simply sending hordes of monsters to something more serious.  It’s not going to be all fun and games from here on out.  It’s too bad the fan service doesn’t also take a hike.

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Review: Deka Kyoshi Volume 1

Deka Kyoshi 1
Deka Kyoshi Volume 1
By Tamio Baba
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: Teen Plus
Genre: Drama/Suspense
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★½

Toyama, a tall and beefy detective, goes undercover as a fifth-grade teacher.  The previous teacher was discovered on the ground outside of her condo and rumors say she jumped…or was she pushed?  Toyama is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, but it seems like he has a more pressing task at hand: his rowdy students.  One student, Makoto is a little strange and his eccentricities make him a prime target for bullies.  Makoto can actually see the demons inside people, which manifest themselves as visions of horrible monsters.  Will this strange student be able to help Toyama?

Sounding more like a take off of Kindergarten Cop, Deka Kyoshi is actually a title that looks at serious issues that kids are facing everyday.  It presents them in an interesting and unusual way, but CMX’s overly-conservative age rating of the book may keep it from reaching the audience it is meant and most appropriate for.

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Review: Princess Resurrection Volume 1

Princess Resurrection 1
Princess Resurrection Volume 1
By Yasunori Mitsunaga
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★★☆

Werewolves, demons, monsters, vampires – all these ferocious creatures are afraid of the same thing: the beautiful Princess Hime, an awesome warrior who fights the forces of evil with a chainsaw and a smile.  Not only does she look great in a tiara, she has magical powers that allow her to raise the dead.  She’s a girl on a mission, and with the help of her undead servant and a supercute robot, there’s no creature of darkness she can’t take down!

Take a Princess with a chainsaw, an androids in maid costume and a bit of a loser student who gains semi-immortality by accident and throw them into a battle with monsters out of a drive-in double feature and you have the first volume of Princess Resurrection, a series that balance’s campy horror with a more serious fight to become the King of Monsters.

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Honey and Clover Volume 8

Ayu still can’t give up on her love for Mayama, even though his relationship with Rika seems to be deepening.  Nomiya’s growing interest in Ayu might be a balm to her broken heart, but he’s moving to Tottori for six months! Is Ayu cursed to suffer hopeless love affairs forever?

By Chica Umino
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★

This volume is all about the love polygon of Mayama, Ayu, Rika and Nomiya.  Ayu seems to be deliberately torturing herself by working with Mayama and Rika, and seeing their relationship grow.  Rika is preparing for the Valencia Art Museum Annex, a project she and her late husband submitted for and won, and seems prepared to also make it her last, something Mayama’s not prepared to let Rika do.  And Nomiya, the player, finds himself doing something he never thought he would, falling for Ayu.

There’s a lot of drama going on in this volume, especially with Rika.  She still haven’t been able to get over her husband’s death, no matter what kind of face she puts on.  A flashback from Hanamoto shows what a difficult time she had after the accident, and how she became a ghost of herself, like part of her was lost with Harada.  Mayama seems to sense that too, as he watches over Rika, even to the point of invading her privacy by reading her emails.  But it doesn’t feel like he’s trying to be controlling or possessive.  He senses that she doesn’t want to keep living and fights to keep her alive, despite her.  It’s this that seems to make a stronger impression on her than his feelings for her.

Ayu’s drama isn’t any less than Rika, but it isn’t quite as serious either.  Her problems are dealt with a lighter tone.  Though we see her suffering, her way of dealing with it is by eating.  A lot.  And when Nomiya gets involved, the humor really ramps up, as Ayu is shown to be surrounded by unicorns, intent on protecting Ayu’s virtue.  Very aggressive and mouthy unicorns.  It’s a really good balance of humor to the some of the tenser moments in the volume.  The unicorn appearances are my favorite scenes.

Honey and Clover continues to be a good romance that balances the drama without going over the melodramatic cliff, and makes a really good read for older audiences.  The relationships are realistic, making you want to laugh and cry.  This volume picks up right where Shojo Beat left off, so if you were following it in the magazine, this is a must have.  Even if you weren’t, Honey & Clover is a title anyone who loves a good story should be reading.

Manga Drive By: Shonen Jump February 2010

86_largeThere are a lot more changes coming to Shonen Jump, according to this latest issue.  The issue starts with the first of a three part preview of the new manga Toriko.  It’s a food manga done shonen style, so everything is exaggerated to the extreme.  It is the Gourmet Age, with man is constantly striving to find best ingredients to make the ultimate menu.  Toriko is one such man.  He is a gourmet hunter.  He travels the world catching the most delicious and dangerous foods, since, of course, the best tasting food is in the form of giant monster-like animals.  And in best shonen tradition, he is also the best at it.  In the first chapter he is hired to catch a Garara Gator.  It’s very over the top, with Tokiro looking like a character out of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.  He’s all upper body muscle.  He also eats.  A lot.  I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve read the other two parts before rating it.  But for now, it feels kind of average.

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Review: Black God Volume 2

Black God 2
Black God, Volume 2
Story by Dall-Young Lim, art by Sung-Woo Park
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Balancing a normal existence and an unbreakable pact with a divine being is anything but easy. Much to his chagrin, Keita is discovering this the hard way. Try as he might to distance himself from recent events, Keita can’t shake Kuro, the mototsumitama who saved his life. But when the stakes get higher and another human-mototsumitama pair comes looking for a fight-one with Keita’s childhood friend, Akane, as the prize-Keita is forced to reevaluate his attitude and stand by both his old and new friends. Who will emerge victorious?

Several different plot lines pick up in this volume.  Keita and Kuro starting training, beginning with Kuro, and growing to include Keita working with her.  Keita’s game coding start to take off with a company showing an interest in both the game and Keita’s skills, and the group that is searching for the doppeliners continues to reduce the thirds down to the root.  I get the feeling that these three plot lines are related, but it’s hard to tell how.

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Review: Heaven's Will

Heaven’s Will
By Satoru Takmiya
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Romance
Price: $8.99
Rating: ★★★★½

Sudou Mikuzu has a very special talent – she can see ghosts.  And because of this predisposition, she’ become a magnet for all sorts of unwelcome monsters.  Luckily for her she’s just met Seto, a friendly, cross-dressing young exorcist.  Sudou needs protection from all the creepy phantoms bugging her, and Seto needs to practice his exorcism skills.  consequently, the pair decides to team up and help each other.  In return, Sudou promises to back a cake every time a ghost gets zapped!

At first glance, Heaven’s Will appears to be a typical supernatural romance title with a cross-dressing twist.  Once you start reading though, you’ll find that it’s actually the start of an interesting that should have been given more of a chance to develop.  The characters really grown on you, and the story, which has some sad twists to set it up, could have gone on to do so much more.

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