Category Archives: Reviews

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?

Continue reading Brian’s Spot: Broken Blade Volume 1

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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Krissy’s Korner: Pokemon Adventures Volume 1


Pokémon Adventures Volume 1
By Hidenori Kusaka
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Game/Action
Price: $7.99
Rating: ★★★★★

Red doesn’t just want to train Pokémon, he wants to be their friend too. Bulbasaur and Poliwhirl seem game. But independent Pikachu won’t be so easy to win over!

What was the story about?

This story is about a 10 year old trainer named Red.  He goes through many adventures.

What did you like about the story?

I loved the part when Bill was picked up by Fearow.  I just couldn’t stop laughing at Mr. Director.  I love the part when a Pidgey poops on Professor Oak.  I think the pokemon Red chose were great because they help him.

What did you dislike about the story?

I just hate Blue for hurting the Kangaskhan and it’s young.

Would you recommend the story to kids your age?  Why?

Yes, because pokemon are so loveable!

Review: Naruto Volume 32

Naruto Volume 32
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $7.95
Rating: ★★★★½

A new ninja causes trouble among the ranks of Team Kakashi when they return from the battle against Sasori.  The secrets this stranger hides could be disastrous for Naruto.  Meanwhile, Naruto’s old nemesis Orochimaru has troubles of his own-his stronghold may be infiltrated by a spy!

After saying their goodbyes at the Sand Village, Teams Kakashi and Guy return to the Hidden Leaf.  Kakashi is laid up since his new jutsu takes so much out of him, so a new leader is needed for the team as well as member to even it out to four members.  There’s only six days left until the rondevou Sasori told them about.  Naruto goes searching out his old friends to get them to join, and we see Choji, Shino, Kiba and Hinata.  But the team has already been decided.  Sai, a member of the Foundation of the Black Ops is chosen, and Yamato, also Black Ops, is chosen to lead.  Sai gets on Naruto’s nerves immediately, and on Sakura’s only a few moments later.  But, in order to accomplish the mission, both try to tolerate Sai.

Continue reading Review: Naruto Volume 32

Oishinbo a la Carte: Fish, Sushi, and Sashimi

Yamaoka and his father Kaibara Yuzan, have never enjoyed an ideal father-son relationship.  In fact, it’s about as far from ideal as possible, and when they start arguing about food–which they inevitably do–the sparks really fly.  In this volume of Oishinbo, the subject of dispute is fish, starting with the question of whether mackerel can ever be truly good sashimi.  Later, things come to a head during the “Salmon Match” which pits father against son in an epic contest to develop the best dish before a panel of judges.  Will Yamaoka finally defeat Kaibara?  Or will he once again be left in his father’s shadow?

Story by Tetsu Kariya; Art by Akira Hanasaki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Food
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★½

The overall premise of Oishinbo is that Yamaoka and his partner Kurita are compiling the “Ultimate Menu” of Japanese cuisine for the 100th anniversary of the publishers of Tozai News.  Each volume of Viz’s compilation of this long running series is centered around a type of food. This volume is all about fish.  The stories are episodic, and can be broken down into two types; Yamaoka helping someone out or putting someone in their place about food, and Yamaoka vs. Kaibara, his father, over some kind of food dish.

Yamaoka comes off as lazy and a cynic, but at heart he really is a good guy.  Whether it’s coming to the defense of a young boy’s opinion, helping a man get over being dumped by a girl, or a student accept getting into his second choice college instead of the first, Yamaoka finds a way through food.  I really enjoyed these stories, as they showed both Yamaoka’s knowledge and skill as well as his good heart.

What I didn’t enjoy were the stories with Yamaoka competing with his father Kaibara.  Now, I don’t mind the competitions themselves.  They require both skill and knowledge, with much of the latter being imparted to the reader.  What makes a good sashimi, why salmon and other fresh water fish shouldn’t be used as sushi and what’s really important when making a meal for someone are all topics covered in this volume.  While I found the information interesting and informative, I just couldn’t stand Kaibara.  His overly smug attitude toward Yamaoka, and people in general really struck me the wrong way.  I know I’m not supposed to like him, but his whole demeanor made some of these chapters just unpleasant to read.

The art in Oishinbo isn’t very realistic.  It’s rather simplistic, with a newspaper comic feel to it.  There aren’t a lot of the manga conventions you see in a lot of other titles, making this very friendly to a non-manga reading audience.  The food and the fish are very realistic, on the other hand, showing the emphasis is on the food more than the people.

Overall I found Oishinbo A la Carte to be an enjoyable read, though Kaibara did drag it down some.  Other people may not be bothered by Kaibara so much, so this is still a title I recommend.  If you’ve ever wanted to try a manga without all the baggage, or are just curious about Japanese cuisine, this is a title you definitely want to check out.

Review: Naruto Volume 31

Naruto Volume 31
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $7.95
Rating: ★★★★★

Naruto and his fellow ninja engage in deadly conflict with the enemy.  If any of them makes the wrong decision, it could be one of Naruto’s closest friends who pays the ultimate price.

This volume finishes up the rescue of Gaara arc started back in volume 28.  Granny Chiyo and Sakura are fighting Sasori of the Red Sand, and Granny Chiyo’s grandson.  Meanwhile Naruto and Kakashi are chasing Deidara to get Gaara back.  Kakashi uses his Sharigan eye to get Deidara to drop Gaara, and then his new technique when Deidara tries to blow everyone up.  But is there any chance of saving Gaara?

Continue reading Review: Naruto Volume 31

Review: Naruto Volume 28-29

Naruto Volume 28-29
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $7.95
Rating: ★★★★★

Volume 28 marks the start of Part Two of the Naruto saga.  Two years have passed since the end of volume 27.  Naruto returns to the Hidden Leaf Village after training with Jiraiya.  No soon does he get back that he, Sakura and Kakashi are sent off on a mission.  The Akatsuki have attacked the Sand Village and kidnapped Gaara, now Kazekage.  Distracted from Sasuke, Naruto is determined to save him.  He understands Gaara’s pain, and will do whatever it takes.  On the way, Kakashi’s team, now including Granny Chiyo from the Sand Village confront Itachi while Guy’s team, sent by Tsunade to help Kakashi’s team face another Akatsuki, Kisame.  They are diversions, sent to keep Kakashi’s team from reaching the Akatsuki base before they finish extracting the One-tailed demon from Gaara.

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Brian’s Spot: Gimmick Volume 3

Gimmick! Volume 3
By: Youzaburou Kanari & Kuroko Yabuguchi
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Action
Age Rating: T+ (Older Teens)
Price: $9.99
ISBN: 1-4215-1780-9
Rating: ★★★★☆

Gimmick! is the story of Kohei Nagase, an up-and-coming young makeup and special effects artist who loves his work and is capable of amazingly intricate work.  If you ever saw the movie F/X, starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy, you get the idea.  If you didn’t see it, go out, rent the movie and watch it right now.  Go.  I’ll wait.

This volume finishes the “Over the Rainbow” story started in the last volume, plus most of a second story, “TB Confidential” and a one-shot.  There aren’t any spectacular reveals in “Over the Rainbow”, it’s obvious it was simply room that prevented it from being printed in the previous volume and it’s a bit disappointing to have waited a couple of months for what is essentially wrap-up.  At least this time, “TB Confidential” ended on a cliffhanger, but I can’t help wondering why they didn’t just put the complete story into this volume and move the one-shot elsewhere?

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Eagle: The 2008 Election Edition Volume 4

eagle-v4-2Eagle: The Making of an Asian American President Volume 4
By: Kaiji Kawaguchi
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Drama/Politics
Age Rating: Teen+ (16+)
Price: $22.95
Rating: ★★★★☆

I know it’s been a while, but I’ve only go 2 volumes left of this series, and I’m determined to finish it!  Okay, so this volume ends the cliffhanger from the last about Yamaoka possibly having an affair, and that Rachel was the result.  Takashi helps clear that up, as he had a personal stake in the possibility.  Then it’s on to the National Convention in Chicago.  Here we see Bill Clinton step in, trying to get his wife “Ellery” the vice-president nomination.  He goes to Noah first, who turns him down outright, so it’s off to Yamaoka, who seems more receptive.  With the political weight of the Clintons behind him, Yamaoka takes the nomination, but instead nominates Noah for VP.  With the Democratic players in place, the campaign can move to the national front, and we finally meet the Republican Candidate Richard Grant.  He’s a Lt. General in the Air Force Reserve, former Astronaut and Senator from Colorado.  He is also very much a flag-waving republican and supporter of the military complex.  Yamaoka starts off a controversy at a Remembrance Ceremony at the Vietnam Vets Wall, denouncing the war.  After some uproar, Yamaoka clarifies his statements by declaring he wants the US to stop being the world police and build up the UN to do it.  He does this by courting his former CO, General Kerrigan, who is Special Advisor to Peacekeeping Forces to the UN.  The volume ends with a trip to Seattle to see Yamaoka’s family and meet the next hurdle, the unions who represent the military and aerospace workers.

Continue reading Eagle: The 2008 Election Edition Volume 4

Brian’s Spot: Gimmick Volume 2


Gimmick! Volume 2
ByYouzaburou Kanari & Kuroko Yabuguchi
Publsiher: Viz Media
Genre: Action
Rating: T+ (Older Teens)
RRP: $9.99
ISBN: 1-4215-1779-5
Rating: ★★★★☆

Volume 2 opens with the continuation of the Alien Panic storyline, Kohei and his partner Kannazuki are hot on the trail of the criminals who tricked him into constructing a complex alien animatronic creature in the last issue.  Now they’re using the prop as a diversion while they commit crimes and Kohei is none to happy about it.  What’s worse, the criminals have framed Kohei for their crimes!  Next, in The Mask of Del Fuego one-shot, Kohei helps a famous actor disguise himself from a stalker, only to find that she’s not the only one out to get him.  Finally, in the beginning chapters of Over the Rainbow, a young woman named Mone is convinced that Kohei killed her father.  He has to find the truth and discovers it’s closer than he thought.

Honestly, all I can say is if you liked the first volume, you’ll enjoy this one as well, it’s more of the same entertaining stories.  Kohei comes up with an endless array of nifty gadgets and gizmos, most of them pretty over-the-top, to save his never-ending list of clients.  I’ll have to admit, however, that the “oh no, the police are after me” started to run very thin as time wore on in Alien Panic.  Also, I have to wonder where Kohei gets the time to create some of these masterful appliances, does he always wear a blood squib chestpiece, just on the off-chance he might get shot?  Some stories are a bit long on the “ooh, ah” factor, a little short on the logic.

That’s not to say these aren’t fun, light-hearted manga, the character of Kohei is wonderful, Kannazuki is fun to read about, and seeing how they get out of the various jams is always interesting, so long as you don’t think about it too hard.  Just accept that whatever happens, happens, don’t wonder why, don’t try to figure out how, it just does.  If you can do that, you’ll have a good time and blow some time chuckling.