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.
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.
Written by Erin Hunter and Dan Jolley
Art by Bettina Kurkoski
Publisher: Tokyopop (Harper Collins)
Age Rating: Y (10+)
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.
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.
The Mysterians Volume 1
Story by Jay Antani, Art by Matt Hentshel
Age Rating: Older Teen
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.
Dark Metro Volume 2
Story by Tony Calen; Art by Yoshiken
Age Rating: Older Teen
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.
Zombie Powder Volume 1
By Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Somewhere in the desert are the 12 Rings of the Dead. Anyone who can find all 12 can have the mysterious Zombie Powder, a substance that can raise the dead or give eternal life. Those who seek the rings are called Powder Hunters. One of these hunters is named Gamma Akutabi, a man with a metal hand, a 6-foot chainsaw and a price on his head. He rolls into Blue Note seeking information on the rings when he runs into Elwood, a young down-on-his-luck pickpocket who is desperately trying to earn money to cure his sister’s heart condition. Together, they set out to find the mysterious Rings of the Dead that can either give new life to Elwood’s sister, or make Gamma absolutely invincible.
This is the first manga series by the man that would later go on to give us Bleach, so you pretty much know what you’re in for. He’s very clear about it at the beginning of the manga when he says “Mainly it’s all battles. It’s completely OK to just read through it without thinking about anything.” That’s a decent description, at least in part, but it’s not just battles, there’s a lot of great humor involved as well. As soon as Gamma gets off the train in Blue Note, everyone comments at the fancy, well-dressed man… who gets his coat stuck in the door and gets dragged behind the train. The story is no great shakes, it’s your generic quest story that’s been done to death in shonen stories. Find the 12 Rings. Find the Dragonballs. You get the drift. What makes it fun is all the comedy, especially the physical comedy, done to Gamma. In their first meeting, Elwood slams Gamma’s head into the bar as he picks his pocket. When Gamma stands up, there’s a fork stuck in his forehead that apparently, he doesn’t notice right away, although everyone else does. That kind of sets the tone throughout the series.
If you’re looking for something that’s not too taxing mentally, but is still a fun roller coaster ride, give Zombie Powder a shot. The story does get more interesting as you go on, but it’s the visual humor that really makes the ride worthwhile.
Dark Metro Volume 1
Story by Tokyo Calen; Art by Yoshiken
Age Rating: Older Teen
What lies below Tokyo’s subway system is more frightening than you could have ever imagined…in its subways there exists a boundary between this world and the next–the land of the dead, and the mysterious young man Seiya is its guide. In this collection of bone-chilling shorts, follow the twisted tales of death and hauntings that inhabit this horrifying underworld, where innocent youth fall victim to the ghosts who inhabit Tokyo’s underground.
Dark Metro is a title in a category all it’s own. It’s not a come-uppance theater title, as the main characters in the stories aren’t bad. They are just ordinary people experiencing the supernatural in Tokyo’s subways. But it’s not like the Twilight Zone, as Seiya, the guide to the underworld, doesn’t narrate the stories either. He possesses the power to decide who lives and who dies in the subway, just appearing somewhere in the story to save the protagonist from whatever horror is after them. This title falls through the cracks of horror genre and should probably stay there.
AS I promised, here are a few reviews of some Tokyopop titles. There won’t be too many more though, as they keep canceling my favorite titles. I’m down at least three titles so far, and the bad news just keeps coming… Oh well, I’ll just have to enjoy what I’ve for as long as it lasts.
The Palette of 12 Secret Colors
By Nari Kusakawa
Age Rating: E
Genre: Fantasy/slice of life
On the island of Opal live the world’s most colorful birds. The birds have attracted a school for aspiring “Palettes” – wizards who have the ability to borrow color from one object and paint its qualities on to another. Young Cello has the potential to be a great Palette, but she just can’t seem to control her power. As the end of freshman year approaches, she’s on the verge of failing, so she’s going to need all the help her bird Yoyo can provide.
The Palette of 12 Secret Colors is the sort of book you would want to read on a summer day. It’s slice of life approach to Cello’s adventures on a tropical island makes for perfect light reading. It also makes for excellent reading for younger readers.
The Kindaichi Case Files, Vol. 16: The Magical Express
Story: Yozaburo Kanari, Art: Fumiya Sato
Age Rating: Teen
Kindaichi is summoned to examine a mysterious note declaring that a train bound for Hokkaido will be transformed into a “magic train of death.” When Kindaichi boards the train to investigate the threat, he meets members of a magic troupe who perform on the train. But as the magicians go missing before they can complete their tricks, it’s up to Kindaichi to uncover the identity of “Hell’s Puppeteer” — who has announced that he has planted a bomb aboard the train. Is this the end of the line for Kindaichi?
What was supposed to be a trip to police headquarters for a commendation turns into another tantalizing mystery from Kindaichi. A package has arrived at the police station containing a twisted marionette and note promising magic and death on a train to Hokkaido. Kindaichi, Miyuki, Kenmochi and videographer Saki get on the train, where the Magic & Illusion Troupe perform on the way to Shikotsu-ga-hara to the hotel and theater at the end of the line. The first murder happens on the train. The Troupe’s leader, Gentle Yamagami is found dead, and just as quickly his body magically disappears, only to reappear in the hotel. Soon after, other Troupe members are murdered. Who is responsible, and why is he/she doing it?
By Ryo Takamisaki
Publisher: Viz Media/VizKids
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Game/TV Tie-in/Action
Ash and his friends have discovered that they’re walking toward the ancient Alamos Town after befriending a girl named Alice. Once they’ve arrived, they find out that the sacred garden of Alamos town has been ransacked, the mysterious Darkrai appears, appearantly not pleased and tells Ash and everyone else to leave immediately. Strange things have been happening as well…
What I liked about this manga:
Practically everything. The best parts were Brock (he’s so loveable) and the Palkia, Dialga and Darkrai battle scenes. Being that I’m a great Pokemon fan, that adds to the liking of this manga.
What I did not like about this manga:
Almost nothing. The great graphics and how it’s extremely alike to the movie makes it hard not to like the manga. Although, the character’s scripts make it really obvious to what just happened. It makes me want to say “Dur da durrr.”
Nope, not even a script change. Baron Alberto is quite annoying, however.
Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai
By Ryo Takamisaki
Publisher: Viz Kids
Age Rating: A (All Ages)
Genre: Game/TV tie-in/Action
What is the story about?
It’s about Ash, Pikachu, and Darkrai. Darkrai fights both Dialga and Palkia before he disappears into space.
What did you like about the story?
I liked the fight against Dialga and Palkia. I also like the pokemon Dialga.
What did you dislike about the story?
I hate it when Baron turned into Lickilicky, because it is freaky. I also hate the way they drew Infernape.
Would you recommend the story to kids your age?