Category Archives: Reviews

Review: The History of the West Wing

The History of the West Wing
Written by: Sun Jiayu; Illustrated by Guo Guo
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Lavishly illustrated in full color and based on the classic Chinese play Xixiang Ji by Wang Shifu, The History of the West Wings tells of the illicit romance between the daughter of a Chinese Government Official and the roaming scholar who seeks to win her hand.  But before he can turn his attentions to his ladylove, the young man must win the heart of her mother! When it seems even heroic deeds in the face of murderous bandits will not please the strict matriarch, the young man goes off to become a civil servant.  Will he return in time to marry his true love?

With a description like that, you’d expect a story filled with drama and romance.  Too bad this book provides doesn’t live up to it.  It opens with an introduction that explains the history of XiXiang Ji and its significance to Chinese culture and literature.  It is a play written in the 1200’s and is based on an earlier fable that tells of the romantic setbacks of a girl that gives herself to a roaming student.  A character in the story, the girl’s servant, Hong Nianging, worked so hard to get the two together, that her name came to mean “matchmaker” in Chinese culture.  Reading the story after this buildup is a real let down.

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Review: Mamoru The Shadow Protector Volumes 1-2

Mamoru: The Shadow Protector Volume 1 – 2
By Sai Madara
Publisher: DR Master Publications
Age Rating: 13+
Genre: Comedy
Price: $9.95
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Volume 1 Summary:
Mamoru Kagemori is a dull high school boy who’s not handsome, athletic or intelligent.  but things aren’t always what they appear.  He’s actually the eldest son of a 400-year-old Ninja clan that specializes in protecting their neighbors, the Konnyakus.  And the object of Mamoru’s protection is none other than their only daughter, Yuna Konnyaku, a natural-born troublemaker.  Mamoru must continue to protect her to carry out his duty, no matter what adversaries strong, bizarre or stupid.  And will Yuna ever learn who her protector is?

Volume 2 Summary:
When Yuna enters an idol contest and makes it to the finals, despite her hilariously bizarre performance.  Mamoru has to go all out with his ninja skills in order to fend off perverted judges and crazed fans!  But if Yuna becomes an idol will Mamoru still be able to protect her?

Mamoru: The Shadow Protector is a lot like it’s main character.  It starts out showing you a fun-filled romantic comedy, heavy on the comedy, but then like a ninja, tries to switch out into a harem comedy, where the laughs fall flatter than a dull shuriken.

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Review: Nephylym Volume 1

Nephylym Volume 1
By Rei Kusakabe
Publisher: DR Masters
Age Rating: 13+
Genre: Supernatural
Price: $9.95
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Shun has a unique power to electrically charge metal materials.  A mysterious winged being named Ale picks up on his powers and chooses him to be her partner.  Shun’s classmate and school crush, Sanari, finds out and reveals her winged partner, named Blissful.  She explains that the beings are called Nephylym, and their chosen partners are called Answerers.  Together with Sarari and Tsukasa (Shun’s rival in love and an Answerer as well), they battle along side their Nephylym against Noirs that possess human beings.

I can’t remember the last time I read a volume that was so lackluster.  The story and characters are just cookie cutter cutouts of typical shonen action fare with some moe and moments of fanservice to draw in a audience that will hopefully be too enthralled by the cute little girls to notice the complete lack of a decent story.

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Yen Plus – One Year Later

anthology13a-210x300It’s been a year since Yen Press debuted their manga anthology magazine Yen Plus.  I picked up the first issue at SDCC and reviewed it in two posts, one for each side.   I wasn’t thrilled with the Japanese side, and really enjoyed the Korean/OEL side.  A look at the second issue re-enforced those feelings.  It’s been a whole year, and at SDCC this year Yen Press had their anniversary issue, so I picked it up again.  I wanted to see if the magazine had improved over the year.

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Cute Dogs: Craft Your Own Pooches

Cute Dogs: Craft your own Pooches
By Chie Hayano
Publisher Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Craft
Price: $14.95
Rating: ★★★★★

Vertical Inc is a unique publisher in the manga world.  They are a boutique publisher who does more than bring manga over from Japan.  They also publish novels from horror to business, Sudoku puzzle books, and coolest of all, craft books.  Their newest release is Cute Dogs, which is filled with exactly that; little stuffed dogs that don’t just look cute, but look fun to make.

Cute Dogs is a thin book at just 79 pages, but it’s packed with 16 different dogs you can create on your own.  Ranging from the Boston Terrier, Chihuahua, Welsh Corgi, Miniature Dachshund, to the Miniature Schnauzer, you’ll find many of the most popular dog breeds.  The first half of the book is filled with pictures of each of the finished pieces, showing them from different angles so you know how they should look.  They are all posed with accessories like food bowls, wagons, bowls and baskets.  All the dogs have names and little sayings that give them personality.  It’s fun just looking at these pictures and reading about each dog.  After seeing all the stuffed dogs, we are introduced to the real dogs that worked as models.  They all have wonderful personalities too.

The second half of the book gets into the crafty stuff.  All the materials needed to make these pooches are pictures and described, as well as all the tools.  There is also a basic sewing guide that shows all the stitched needed and how to do them.  There are only three, and they are pretty simple.  Then it gets into the nitty-gritty of cutting, preparing, and sewing the dogs together.  It’s step-by-step, taking you from start to finish through Bob, the Boston Terrier.  He’s the template.  The rest of the dogs have their own variations, but the construction is the same for all.  The directions are clear and concise, with pictures illustrating them, making them easier to understand.

I really enjoyed Cute Dogs.  The dogs are cute, and they look to be fairy easy to make.  Teens would have no problem making these, and even Tweens, with some supervision could do them!  I’m definitely going to try making some of these pooches.  Just paging through the book started giving me ideas of what could be done with them.  Crafters and dog-lovers alike with love this book.  Now, where’s the Cute Cats book?

Review copy provided by publisher.

Shonen Sunday


Viz’s second big foray into the online world of manga is Shonen Sunday.  It’s based on another manga magazine from Japan.  Several popular titles came from this magazine, such as most of Rumiko Takahashi’s works (Urusei Yatsura, Ramna 1/2, Inuyasha, Mermaid Saga), Detective Conan, Zatch Bell, and Yakitate!! Japan, just to name a few.  Now Viz has brought some titles from the magazine online.

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Dark Hunters Volume 1

It’s just another night on the prowl for vampires for Kyrian of Thrace when he meets the most frightening thing imaginable. And accountant. But Amanda Devereaux is much more than she seems. Hunted by one of the deadliest of vampires, Amanda is the key to our survival. If she goes down, so does he, and –no offense– he doesn’t want to die (hence the whole immortality thing). And he doesn’t want humanity dead either, which is a good thing for us since he and Amanda are all that stands between us and oblivion. Let’s hope they win.

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Viz Signature Ikki



Manga for older readers has been few and far between, as teen manga dominates bookstores and sales.  But as manga readers grow up, there needs to be something to appeal to them and keep them interested in the medium.  Viz Media has been working in that direction with their Signature line, and now with a website that provides manga to read for free.  Working with Ikki Monthy magazine, they have brought out a diverse line of titles, many of which I liked, but not all will appeal to everyone.  But the beauty of doing this online, it doesn’t have to.

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Children of the Sea Volume 1

When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does.

Sora begins investigating their strange connection to the sea. But the current research is too slow for Sora, who is lured away by with the promise of answers. This leaves Umi severely depressed, and it is up to Ruka to help her new friend find his brother. But time is quickly running out…

Children of the Sea Volume 1
By Daisuke Igarashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Mystery
Price: $14.95
Rating: ★★★★★


In an attempt to draw in more adult readers, Viz has been expanding their Signature imprint.  The titles in this imprint are meant for a more mature audience that have out grown or aren’t interested in the eternal power ups of shonen or the angsty drama of shojo.  Children of the Sea, the first title from the online manga magazine Ikki, is the perfect debut title.  With none of the usual manga conventions, beautifully rendered art, diverse characters, and a compelling mystery, this is a title that both non-manga readers and long time fans will enjoy.

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Property Taste Test

A few days ago on Twitter, @debaoki mentioned she liked Animal Academy, an all ages title from Tokyopop, and thought that kids would like it.  She mentioned she thought the books based on properties, like Disney were boring, but ended by saying, she didn’t know, since she wasn’t the target audience.  Well, I have a daughter that’s in the target audience range, and both Animal Academy and Disney’s Kilala Princess.  So, I gave both books to my youngest daughter Krissy and asked her to read them.  When she finished, I asked her questions about the books.

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Brian’s Spot: Broken Blade Volume 1

Broken Blade Volume 1
By Yunosuke Yoshinaga
Publisher: CMX/Flex Comics
Rating: T+ (Older Teens)
Price: $9.99
ISBN: 978-1-4012-1882-9
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Rygart Arrow is a man with a problem.  He’s one of the tiny minority, perhaps one in a million, who cannot charge the quartz crystals that power all of the machines in his world.  He cannot drive vehicles, he cannot use machinery, he’s what is known as an “unsorcerer”.  However, he is well educated and old college friends with the King and Queen of Krisna, who are facing an incursion from their neighboring nation of Athens.  When they learn that the Athen army is led by Zess, the final part of their college foursome and he’s marching on their borders, they call on Rygart in their time of need.  Can he figure out how to operate the Under-Golem, an ancient magic-less machine in time to save his friends?

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Digital Review: Rin-ne Volume 1

rin_c16RIN-NE Volume 1
By Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Comedy
Price: $9.99/Free online
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ever since a childhood incident Sakura Mamiya has had the power to see ghosts. Now her life has gotten a lot more complicated with the arrival of her mysterious classmate Rinne, who seems to know a thing or two about detecting ghosts himself!

Having enjoyed so far Takahashi’s shonen titles since Urusei Yatsura, I was thrilled to hear that we in the US would not only be getting her newest, Rin-ne, at the same time as Japan, but it would available for free online to read.  Having now read the first volume’s worth of chapters, I have to say my initial excitement may have been premature.

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