Category Archives: Reviews

October Viz Previews

I’m almost caught up with reading my back issues of Shonen Jump.  I started reading October last night.  Both October issues of Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat had previews for new manga, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on them.

In Shonen Jump, the preview was for Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom.  I wasn’t sure what to make of this title when it was first announced, and when I started reading it, the first thing that came to mind was that it seemed like a cross between Inuyasha and Death Note.  We have a demon who can take the shape of a dog (or hell hound) that needs to be controlled.  He is sent to the human realm and put in the hands of human high school student who is successful at everything and bored.  I was thinking the “demon animal under human control” was also a genre that was getting old.  Inuyasha, Her Majesty’s Dog, and Mugen Spiral (from Tokyopop), had all done it before, so I really wondered if this series could do anything better.  By the end of the preview chapter, I was actually liking it!  It doesn’t do anything new.  But for some reason, I found myself liking Nora and Kazuma, and their very antagonistic relationship.  I’m going to read the first volume of this title for sure.

Shojo Beat previewed a new Matsuri Hino title, Captive Hearts.  I had no hope whatsoever for this title.  I haven’t liked any of the other titles by her that I’ve read/previewed, so I didn’t think this one would be any different.  The whole premise of a boy being controlled by a girl because of a curse sent up all kinds of red flags, and I imagined the worst.  But, when I started reading it, it turned out to be the complete opposite of what I had thought.  What’s more, I actually liked it!  Megumi was very funny as he started to feel the effects of the curse, and Suzuka was just cute.  The art is nice too.  There are a lot of light moments that seem to set his manga up for some fun.  I’d definitely consider buying this title.

Too Long

When I like a magazine enough that I want to read it every month, I subscribe to it.  That’s why I get both Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat.  But, sometimes I don’t quite get my renewal in on time, and that happened unfortunately to me this last April with Shonen Jump.  Sooo…  I missed getting an issue.  May 2008.  By the time I realized I wasn’t getting it, It was already gone from news stands, and both my local and online comic shop didn’t have it.  No big deal, I thought, it’d show up somewhere.  And it did.  Finally.  Two weeks ago!  So I have six months worth of Shonen Jump to catch up on, because I won’t read an issue without reading the preceding chapters.  Silly sounding, I know, but I want the full story, in order.

This weekend I dove back into Shonen Jump with this ill-fated issue.  It would figure it was the April Fool’s issue too.  Boy did I miss it!  After two volumes of that overstuffed and over hyped Yen Plus, I was glad to get back into some real shonen stories and battles!  It started with four chapters of Naruto.  Not a lot of exciting action with Granny and Sakura fighting Sasori, but it was a good start.  Two chapters of Slam Dunk followed.  I’m giving this series some time, but for the moment, it’s still in the take-it-or-leave-it category.  Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo I can leave, but I only have to suffer through one chapter.  Yu Yu Hakusho was only two chapters, but man, they were brutal!  It’s chapters like these that remind me why I got hooked on the series.  One Piece got three chapters of mostly flashback, but Luffy’s revelations at the end make it worth it.

Bleach got three chapters as well, but they were the most action-packed of the whole magazine.  And, I just gotta say, IKKAKU MADARAME IS TOTALLY FRICKIN’ AWESOME! The three chapters are mostly just his fight with Arrancar Trece Edorad Leones, but the fight scenes here totally rule!  Ikkaku has some cool poses and moves.  If you’ve ever just thought he was a side character, these chapters show how wrong you were!  I was riveted for the whole three chapters!  Kubo-sensei’s art only added to his awesomeness!

Then, the magazine finished with a chapter of Yu Gi Oh GX, another title I can take or leave.  What made this such a thrilling read wasn’t just getting back to stories I really love.  It was getting back to stories that weren’t painful to read.  The Japanese side of Yen Plus doesn’t have any titles like the Shonen Jump titles.  None of them pumped me and or made me so excited that I didn’t want to put the magazine down, even if my family was dying of starvation.  And even if there are any in that selection that can, they won’t be given the chance.  Shonen Jump is half the size, yet gives double the punch.  I got 16 chapters from 7 manga instead of 12 excrusiatingly short one.  But the real different between Yen Plus and Shonen Jump is that Shonen Jump felt like that from the start.

Yen Plus – Update

In my continuing evaluation of Yen Plus to decide if it’s worth subscribing to, I picked up issue 2.  I read it the same way as last issue, reading the Japanese side first, and then flipping to the OEL/Korean side.  With this second issue, most of my original impressions stand, if not becoming more ingrained.  The entire Japanese side is a complete and total waste.  The fan service continues unabated, and overrides any story that might be there, especially in Soul Eater and Sumomomo MomomoBamboo Blade has really deteriorated in it’s next two chapters.  Higurashi and Nabari stand on the edge, but they are not intriguing enough to hold up the other three.  The whole Japanese side is a write off as far as I’m concerned.

The OEL/Korean side carries this magazine.  Nightschool and Pig Bride stand as the strongest titles, with Maximum Ride and Sarasah close behind.  One Fine Day is a take or leave title, and Jack Frost continues to show it’s Hellsing influence.  Actually it’s just plain a rip-off, but still has some potential.

All of these titles together as a package just doesn’t do it for me.  I’m paying $9 a month or $50 a year to read half a magazine?  I don’t think so.  Yen Press’ best bet would be to divide the magazine up and bring out two different mag and market them to two different audiences.  The Japanese side is purely for the guys.  It’s hard to find anything substantial for females to really latch onto and enjoy.  I don’t mind some fanservice, but these just go too far for even my tastes.  Actually, most of it is just plain offensive pandering.  The OEL/Korean side is closer to what a general audiences magazine should be.  Action, fantasy, romance, and slice of life all together.  This is the side that has the best chance of surviving as it has the greatest ability to appeal to a wider audience.  The Japanese side for the fanboys.  Why not just give it to them, and leave the rest of us to have 1 or 2 titles we don’t like rather than 6-7.

I will not continue to pick up Yen Plus, but will follow my favorite series in graphic novels.  It was a good idea, but the titles in Yen Plus just doesn’t make it worth it.  Maybe when Hero Tales is added, as was just announced at NYAF, things might change.  I may pick up the first issue with Hero Tales and see if there is any improvement, but at the moment, I don’t have a lot of high hopes for it.  I’ll pay $4.99 monthly/$29.99 yearly for the OEL/Korean side, but I’m not sinking my few spare dollars into a year of titles I couldn’t care less about.

Review: King of Cards Volume 2


King of Cards Volume 2
By Makoto Tateno
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Game
Price: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★☆

A lovesick Manami passes out when she sees the object of her affection with another girl.  When she wakes up, she finds herself in the world of the cards, where matches aren’t simply imagined: players summon actual monsters and gods to do physical battle!  Later, back in the real world, she must take on Japan’s number one Chaos player!

Finally!  My long awaited review of this book!  At least, I hope someone’s been waiting for it.  After much trial and tribulation, I finally got an error free copy of this title, and then after another long time, I finally read it.  This volume turns up the romance, though it’s more unrequited love, and it’s only through the Chaos cards can any resolution be found.

Continue reading Review: King of Cards Volume 2

Eagle: The 2008 Election Edition Volume 3

Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President Volume 3
by Kaiji Kawaguchi
Publisher: Viz Comics
Genre: Drama/Politics
Age Rating: Teen+ (16+)
Price: $19.95/used
Rating: ★★★★☆

Volume 3 picks up where Volume 2 left off, at the New York debate, with every waiting with baited breath for Yamaoka’s answer to Noah’s accusation of waffling on an environmental issue.  It is here that we see how much of a work of fiction this title can be.  Yamaoka gives a straightforward and honest answer.  He is human and made a mistake.  There is no way any politician that was looking to get votes would ever give an answer like this.  But, with Yamaoka being our protagonist, he not only gets away with it, but turns the tables on Noah, and wins not just the debate, but the primary.  Now the next big hurdle he must overcome is Texas.  In order to win in Texas, he must win over Don Taylor, a democrat in charge of a large food corporation who holds sway over most of the farmers and ranchers not just in Texas, but in most of the South.  But it won’t be easy, as Taylor doesn’t believe either Yamaoka or Noah has a chance of winning against the prospective Republican candidate, and won’t support either.  Yamaoka’s got to change his mind.

Continue reading Eagle: The 2008 Election Edition Volume 3

Krissy's Korner: Mail Order Ninja Volume 1

Mail Order Ninja Volume 1

Story by Joshua Elder; Art by Erich Owen
Publisher: Tokyopop
Age Rating: 8-12 (Youth)
Genre: Comedy, Action
Price: $5.99

Rating: ★★★★☆

What is the story about?

It is about Timmy ordering a ninja from a catalog named Jacques Co. Industries.

What did you like about the story?

I like the drawings.  I also like the ninja.  And I like the comic ad for Jacques Co. Industries.

What did you dislike about the story?

Nothing.

Would you recommend the story to kids your age?

Yes.

Review: Yen Plus Volume 1 Issue 1 OEL/Korean Manhwa

Yen Plus
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Anthology
Price: $8.99

Picking up where I left off last post, the OEL/Korean side starts out with lots of ads, mostly for Yen Press and related, as well as some other company ads.  Since this is the side that read like normal for Americans, they probably thought they were best placed here.

Continue reading Review: Yen Plus Volume 1 Issue 1 OEL/Korean Manhwa

Review: Yen Plus Volume 1 Issue 1 Japanese Manga

Yen Plus
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Anthology
Price: $8.99

I was excited to hear last year at the Yen Press inaugural panel as SDCC that they would be publishing an anthology.  I really like by Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat, as they give me an opportunity to sample lots of different manga at an affordable price.  At that panel, Kurt Hassler promised the anthology would be ready by the next SDCC.  And, low and behold, it was there, Friday, for free!  Needless to say, as soon as we got back to the hotel, and for the rest of the weekend, I read it.

First, a few general observations about the anthology.  It’s big.  If you combined one issue of Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat, you would get the approx. size.  And it’s almost all manga.  There aren’t a lot of filler articles (that I tend to ignore in the other anthologies anyway).  There are ads, but they are well done, and put mostly on the OEL/Korean Manhwa side of the anthology.  They are mostly for other Yen Press titles, with a few others thrown in (Dark Horse, Right Stuf etc.).  This anthology also reads from both sides.  The left-to-right side features OEL titles and Korean Manhwa.  About half way through the anthology is a divider page, that tells you to flip the anthology.  On the other side are the Japanese titles in their right-to-left direction.  Tokyopop did this for a while with the manga magazine before they reduced it to just a shadow of it’s former self.

Continue reading Review: Yen Plus Volume 1 Issue 1 Japanese Manga

Jenny’s Journal: Warriors: The Rise of Scourge

Warriors: The Rise of Scourge

Written by Erin Hunter and Dan Jolley
Art by Bettina Kurkoski
Publisher: Tokyopop (Harper Collins)
Age Rating: Y (10+)
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $6.99

Rating: ★★★★★

Storyline:
Tiny, a small kit with a loving mother and two siblings that dislike him, at one point, visited the forest. He was attacked by the patrol from Thunderclan (Tigerstar attacked him) and Bluefur pulled them away. Tiny went to the city in fear of being thrown into a river. He then stuck a dog tooth into his coller, and told a lie, which made him change his name to Scourge.

Review:
I liked this side-issue. It completely changed how I thought about Scourge. Before, I thought of him as an ugly cat with hatred but from this manga, I learn that it was his bad past that shaped him and he’s actually kind of cute.

Did I like it:
100% sure. I definitely like it, Scourge is cute, but his past shaped him into what he had become. He may be small, but he proved his littermates wrong. He killed Tigerstar nine times over and Tigerstar deserved it.

Could there be anything changed:
Nothing, not from my eyes. The manga is as good as perfect, from what I see.

Is this for children:
There is a bit of death, and some blood. As far as I’m concerned, it might be for children if they can handle cats dying.

Digital Review: The Mysterians Volume 1

The Mysterians Volume 1
Story by Jay Antani, Art by Matt Hentshel
Publisher: Tokyopop
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Sci-Fi
Price: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★☆

My name is Vox. I am the last surviving member of an underground resistance. Our mission: Expose and destroy a vast and sinister plot to take over planet Earth. Aliens have infiltrated the Earth’s entire political, industrial, military and socio-industrial complex. They are determined to extinguish life on our planet. Since birth, the five of you were fated to receive this message. You are possessed of extraordinary abilities… Logan, you have superior strength and superhuman intuition. Leelee, no Olympian has ever had your level of agility. Jenna and Jamie, your parents knew of your telekinesis and ESP when you were still children. Tony, your intellect is off the charts. The entire world needs you. You must use your talents to join together and stop this invasion…And in doing so, the five of you will become…The Mysterians!

Science Fiction doesn’t get nearly as much love in manga as it should, but this title seems to be trying to make up for lost time, and does a pretty good job of it!  Even with the fairly generic plot of “5 strangers from all walks of life coming together to save the world”, rich character development makes the difference.

Continue reading Digital Review: The Mysterians Volume 1

Digital Review: Dark Metro Volume 2

Dark Metro Volume 2
Story by Tony Calen; Art by Yoshiken
Publisher: Tokyopop
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $9.99

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Terror awaits the people of Tokyo, with gruesome lessons only the dead can teach. In this second collection of shorts, a waitress at a maid café sparks jealousy. A mother who can’t handle the responsibility of raising her child commits a horrible crime. An ancient sword awakens a psychotic samurai. And finally, the solemn guide Seiya reveals his own tragic past and the nature of his gifts that are his curse.

Things don’t get any better with this second volume of this series.  Following the same unsuccessful pattern of the first volume, there is some slight improvement story-wise, but technical issues with the formatting wipe it out.

Continue reading Digital Review: Dark Metro Volume 2