Category Archives: Reviews

Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Volume 1

Cut alive from his mother’s womb after she had been eaten by a rampaging Titan, Kuklo has spent his life in chains as a freakish curiosity and a feared abomination. Eventually the boy they call the “Titan’s son” finds himself sold to wealthy merchant Dario Inocencio as a plaything for his cruel and ambitious son Xavi. Kuklo knows nothing but abuse and neglect, but help may come from the most unexpected place…

AoT Before the Fall 1Written by Ryo Suzukaze; Art by Satoshi Shiki
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $10.99US
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Even though it was easy to get into the original Attack on Titan fairly late in the series, it’s even better when you can start at the beginning. Attack on Titan: Before the Fall is prequel to the original series, taking place 70 years in the past. While it didn’t take much to get me onto the original Attack on Titan bandwagon, I was jumping even faster to ride with Before the Fall.

The story follows Kuklo, who has been persecuted and abused his entire 13 years for doing nothing but surviving. He burst from his mother’s womb after she had been eaten by a Titan, and people’s fear and misunderstanding made him the freak and outcast we see at the beginning. He can barely speak and has very few thoughts beyond surviving. He doesn’t understand why he’s beaten and ridiculed, and can barely speak, but he does have the presence of mind to know when he wants it to end.

Enter Sharle, the daughter of Dario Inocencio. She fears the Titans and their “son.” She decides to do something about him one night, and discovers Kuklo is no Titan, but just as human as she is. She is a kind and caring person. She helps Kuklo, first by feeding him, then by understanding him. A friendship grows between them as he learns about Titans and the human world, and he plots his escape.

I enjoyed this volume. Kuklo’s and Sharle’s relationship really pulled me in. I understand why Kuklo’s origin and dark history had to be shown, but it didn’t compel me as much as Kuklo’s realization and growing determination to learn about both humans and Titans. His driving need to know if he really was a “Titan’s son” made the continued abuse tolerable. Sharle was just as interesting. The daughter of an aristocrat wouldn’t be expected to pick up a dagger and try to kill a Titan. She showed strength along with her tenderness, and a mercy Kuklo had never known. I was really glad the volume ended the way it did. Kuklo shouldn’t be the only one escaping a cage, and Sharle is stronger than she thinks.

The volume did feel kind of short, with only three chapters. The original “trailer” for Before the Fall was included to help fill up the space. It does look like a movie trailer, with narration, lots of Titan action and one shocker to reel you in. If you look at it that way instead of as a chapter, it makes a lot more sense.

The art is very different from the original manga. In a lot of ways it’s better. The style reminded me a lot of The Guin Saga Manga published by Vertical, Inc and illustrated by Kazuaki Yanagisawa. Shiki did a good job of expressing the characters’ emotions, especially Kuklo’s. His expressions are the only way to tell what he’s feeling for much of the volume.

You don’t have to have read Attack on Titan in order to enjoy Before the Fall. The story stands on it’s own with two great lead characters that I am looking forward to following in the coming volumes. In no way is their journey going to be easy, but it is sure to be filled excitement.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Inu x Boku SS Volume 1-3

Ririchiyo Shirakiin is a girl from a family of old money who also has Ayakashi blood as a genetic throw back to a human ancestor who coupled with an Ayakashi. She moves to Maison de Ayakashi because she want to become independent, but every one who moves into the apartment building is assigned a member of it’s secret service. Soushi Miketsukaim is assigned to Ririchiyo, and he is about as devoted and protective as a dog, much to Ririchiyo’s chagrin.

INUxBOKU_SSv1_TPBy Cocoa Fujiwara
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Romance
Price: $11.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I had my doubts about Inu x Boku SS as I started to read the first volume. I wasn’t sure what to make of Ririchiyo at first. Her throwback is to a demon, and in some ways it seems to show. She speaks without thinking and comes off as mean and blunt. But that’s not the real Ririchiyo. After speaking like that, she immediately regrets her words but doesn’t know how to apologize properly. She is very awkward and is sincere in wanting to change. I didn’t like her at first, but as I continued reading, I found her growing on me. I found myself sympathizing with her as bits of her past is revealed. I also found her naiveté endearing, since she isn’t so much clueless as inexperienced with someone having feelings for her.

That someone is Soushi. He is very over the top at first with his devotion to Ririchiyo. He asks her to “dispose” of him when she tells him she doesn’t need him at first. He waits outside her apartment for hours until she comes out. He even overreacts when she just leaves him alone for a few minutes while they are shopping. The devotion does get annoying at times. He uses it to manipulate Ririchiyo, something she realizes after he’s gotten what he wanted. The reason Soushi feels so strongly for Ririchiyo is revealed, and all of his mysterious hints from when they first meet now make sense. Ririchiyo’s interactions with Soushi start to change her, for the better.

Inu x boku ss 2And it’s not just Soushi that helps her change. Interacting with the other tenants of the building help her as well. Sorinozuka is Ririchiyo’s childhood friend, and isn’t fazed by her personality. He has ittan-momen blood in him, and spends as much time as a bolt of cloth as he does a human. Roromiya, a SS and Watanuki, a tenant, go to the same school as Ririchiyo, and they become friends, despite Watanuki’s continued claim that he is a delinquent. Watanuki has tanuki blood, but is a smaller type, and usually ends up as comedy relief. Zange is Watanuki’s SS, and he is rather mysterious and meddlesome. He helps Ririchiyo reach out to others and make friends. He also has a second sight that bode ominous things in the volumes to come.

Sadly, not all of the characters are likeable. After the first volume, I though Yukino, Sorinozuka’s SS was the most annoying with her yuri inclinations and shouts of “smexy” at Rirchiyo and Roromiya. And then Kagerou Shoukiin was introduced. He is a tenant of the building, and Roromiya is his SS. He is always traveling and isn’t at the building much. He is also a sadist, always wearing a masking and calling people “trollop” and “sow”. He labels everything as a “S” or a “M”. I dislike him, and can’t decide if he’s supposed to be funny or menacing. Either way, I can’t take anything he says or does seriously.

Inu x Boku SS 3Overall, I do like the direction of the story. While Ririchiyo and Soushi are the main couple, I like that the other tenants aren’t just there to support them. Watanuki gets a nice chapter that explains his obsession with being seen as a delinquent. Even the staff at the apartment building get some page time. After everyone is introduced, they continue to show up, such as cook Kawasumi and his son, and Concierge, the scary-looking nekomata throwback that is more pussycat than lion.

Zange’s premonition at the end seems to predict something dark on the horizon for Inu x Boku SS. As much as I’ve enjoyed these volume and their slice of life stories so far, these characters have ayakashi blood in them. There have only been short moments of action with them turning into their throwback forms. I’m looking forward to more of this, along with all the relationship development we’ve seen so far.  If you like supernatural romances or stories about yokai and ayakashi, definitely pick this series up.

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Review copies provided by publisher.

Black Bird Volume 16

Misao has made the choice to forego college and a normal human life in order to be Kyo’s wife and mother to the demon child she carries. But her pregnancy is unusual, even for the demon world. The last pages of the Senka Roku will reveal the truth of the matter, but now that Kyo has it in his hands, does he really want to know…?

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By Kanoko Sakurakouji
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Black Bird for a while now. I found Kyo’s skeeviness annoying, as well as Misao’s submissiveness. A lot of that changes with this volume. After defeating his older brother Sho, Kyo has learned the final fate of the Senka Maiden, and it doesn’t bode well for Misao. Kyo sets the Daitengu to work trying to find a way to keep both mother and baby alive. A single clue left by Sho and some information from the Senka Roku just might hold the answer.

There are a lot of emotions flying around this volume. Misao is faced with the prospect of either she dying or her baby. Neither are acceptable to her. But there are a lot of tearful moments as she faces Kyo and the Daitengu about not only what will happen to her and Kyo, but also the others. It’s kind of sad that it’s surprising that she figures it out on her own. Misao would be a much better character if she wasn’t played to be so dumb.

Kyo’s internal dialog was the big draw of this volume. Now that Kyo and Misao are married, all the skeevy scenes are done and gone. Kyo is serious about his love for Misao and is desperate to find a way to keep her alive. This volume is probably the most convincing he’s been about his feelings for her. He isn’t leading her own or playing around. Everything he says and does is all for her, and it shows.

Kyo’s observations about Misao and the changes he sees in her were the most interesting parts. He doesn’t know what a pregnant human female is like, so he doesn’t connect the changes at first. But as he starts to make the connections with the Senka Roku, and some of Misao own behaviors change, it really becomes clear that what she’s going through is different. I do wonder if Misao’s fear of Kyo isn’t in some way an extension of the baby she’s carrying. The change of perspective definitely makes these revelations more interesting, and Kyo into more of a detective as he works to solve the mystery of the Senka Maiden.

Once the story gets past all the drama and emotion between Kyo and Misao, the volume of Black Bird become what I’ve been waiting for all this time. Finally, the mystery of the Senka Maiden is being delved into. While there are no answers now, with this being solidly in the final arc, those answer will be coming soon, making the final two volumes must reads. I’m actually looking forward to them now.

Sailor Moon Short Stories Volume 2

This second collection of short stories is really one long story and two ones. First Luna, Usagi’s cat falls head over feet for a human astrophysicist whose discovery of a new comet also heralds new doom from an old enemy for the Earth. Then some of Rei’s backstory is revealed is a tale of reflection and revenge, and finally in an undisclosed future, the children of Usagi and the other Sailor Scouts prove they don’t fall very far from the tree.

Sailor Moon Short Stories 2
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By Naoko Takeuchi
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I have limited experience with Sailor Moon, but I know just enough to know who everyone is and what is going on. The stories in this volume, while not all short, are still fairly entertaining, even if all them don’t quite hit their intended mark.

There are three stories in this volume, “Princess Kaguya’s Lover”, “Casa Blanca Memory”, and “Parallel Sailor Moon.” Of these three, “Princess Kaguya’s Lover” is the longest, and features the strange love triangle of Luna the cat, Kakeru Ohzora, an astrophysicist, and his childhood friend Himeko Nayotake. There were a lot of things I liked about this story. Luna getting to be the center of attention was a nice change, but I really loved the villain, Princess Snow Kaguya. She was supposed to rule over the solar system but was banished 4.5 Billion years ago, but has returned to reclaim reign. I liked that she wasn’t after any of the sailor scouts, or to take the Earth specifically, but to rule over the whole solar system. It wasn’t people that banished her, but the spirits of the planets, and that just appealed to me. The love triangle didn’t so much, since it was obvious that Luna didn’t have a chance as a cat, but the Christmas gift the other give her was very sweet.

I liked “Casa Blanca Memory” much more. It has a more traditional villain, but I liked that the weapon was memories and sentimentality. It’s so easy for people to fall under the spell of these things, including the rather unromantic Rei. It makes a good vehicle to explore Rei’s past and possible love interest without feeling forced. The seemingly never-ending rain adds to the atmosphere, drawing the reader into the melancholy mood of the story. Rei breaks out of the spell of course, because of her vow to never reflect on the past or fall in love. If anything, this episode only reinforces Rei’s personal beliefs, which is rather refreshing.

The last story, “Parallel Sailor Moon” takes place several years in the future, where the sailor scouts are married and have children. The kids run off for their own adventure, with Usagi’s youngest daughter Ko-Usagi stepping into her mother’s shoes, cat and all. I didn’t care for this story as much as the other two. It was supposed to be more humorous, but most of it fell flat for me. I just didn’t care for the other girls trying to lose Ko-Usagi for most of the story, though I can see that happening in real life. The threat they have to defeat is a herd of rabbits which was cute, but overall, it didn’t appeal to me.

What I really enjoyed about these stories, especially the first two, is the way Takeuchi incorporated antiques into the stories. Princess Kaguya was based on an Art Deco piece called Salome and her Snow Dancers were based on a porcelain piece called the Dancer. She wove these two pieces beautifully into the story and really gave those characters a unique appearance. I also loved the Art Deco lamp that became the basis of the Rain Tree. It looked like water cascading and made for a wonderful effect.

Overall, Sailor Moon Short Stories Volume 2 has some good stories with some solid moments. Takeuchi incorporates the holidays of Christmas and Chinese New Year without it being overt and creates some fun stories from objects you wouldn’t normally expect to be used as models for a manga. Even through this is called a volume 2 the stories stand alone, and only basic knowledge of Sailor Moon is needed to enjoy them.

The Earl and the Fairy Volume 1-4

Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, one of the few people with the ability to see the magical creatures who share our world. During one of her rare trips to London to visit her father, Lydia’s quiet life is suddenly transformed when she is rescued by kidnappers by a mysterious young man! Edgar Ashenbert claims to be descended from the human ruler of the fairy kingdom, and he urgently needs Lydia’s help to find and claim his birthright, the legendary sword of the Blue Knight Earl. Things will never be the same for Lydia as she is pulled into a dangerous quest against dark forces!

Earl and Fairy 1
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By Ayuko; Original concept by Mizue Tani
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★½

The Earl and the Fairy is a title I enjoyed the first volume of, but fell behind as subsequent volumes came out. I still collected the volumes and they have been sitting on my self until I realized the series would make a good addition to my St. Patrick’s Day themed manga. With only four volumes, it would be quick read too. It was easy to get back into the flow of the story and characters, for whom my love of only grew with each subsequent volume.

Earl and Fairy 2
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The story follows Lydia Carlton, a young woman trying to make it as a Fairy Doctor, a person knowledgeable in the ways of fairies and magical folk and tries to help humans and fairies live in harmony. I loved Lydia right from the beginning. She is determined and strong-willed. She doesn’t let what people think or say about her deter her. She accepts Edgar’s challenge to find the Treasure Sword more because of her pride than any desire to help him. She is soft-hearted, sometimes to a fault, but will always help other in need, both fairy and human. I liked that she isn’t drawn as some bishojo. She wears plain clothes and her hair is usually an unruly mess. She complains that it looks like the color of rust.

Edgar Ashenbert seems to be the opposite of Lydia. He has the air of a noble and is able to easily fool people. He can be manipulative and seemingly cruel, but underneath his cool facade, is the heart of one who cares about his friends and will do anything for them, including lie or kill. He has a tragic past, but his deceptive nature makes it hard to tell if he should be believed or not. Traveling with him are his two servants, Raven and Ermine, half-brother and sister. They are completely loyal to Edgar, and have been through many of the trials he has. Their shared ordeals has created a strong bond between them. It is for them, the last of his comrades, that Edgar continues the quest for the Treasure Sword.

Earl and Fairy 3
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The Earl and the Fairy is based on a light novel series that is currently at 33 volumes, but the manga only went four. Two volumes tell a complete story, no doubt making one volume of the light novels. The story for the first two volumes involves a lot of chasing and a treasure hunt that reminds me of National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code with the clues to be unraveled and the treasure, the Sword, to be found at the end. The second story has Edgar now officially recognized as the Earl Ibrazel and Lydia employed as his Fairy Doctor. More of Edgar’s past is explored as is the possible attraction between Edgar and Lydia, in the midst of finding a kidnapper and stopping an evil fairy.

One of the best elements of this series is Edgar and Lydia’s relationship. It’s hard to tell when Edgar is being serious about his attentions toward Lydia, and his deceptive nature makes it difficult for her to believe him even when he is being sincere. Their relationship is complicated at best. Edgar tries to only use Lydia, and she knows it, but either seems unable to give up on the other. Watching them maneuver and try to figure out what the other is thinking is a lot of fun.

Earl and Fairy 4
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Also a lot of fun is all the creatures that appear in the series. Nico is Lydia’s friend, a fairy that looks like a cat. He talks, and is very particular about his clothes, food and drink. He is suspicious of Edgar right from the start, constantly warning Lydia to get away from him. Though he doesn’t object when he receives new fineries from Edgar after Lydia comes under his employ. Brownies make several appearances in the first story, and the end takes place in the fairy realm, in a merrow town. The second story has an evil fairy known as the Fogman, and his servant, a Bogey-beast, using a nouveau noble girl to release him. It takes a group of Sylphs to truly defeat them.

The Earl and the Fairy was a really fun series, and I enjoyed reading it a lot. The biggest problem I have is that there are no more volumes to come. I want to keep reading about these characters and learn more about this world. I love all the bits with the fairies, and with 33 novels available, there is a lot more to learn. I guess I will have to be happy I got these volumes and that the anime was released here as well. It goes further than the manga in its short 12 episodes. It’s too bad it never got another series, or that the light novels will ever be licensed. Still, it’s a great series, and I highly recommend it.

Bakuman Volume 15

With Nanamine’s manga struggling, he proposes an interesting challenge to Moritaka and Akito. But will the duo accept and risk what they’ve worked so hard to achieve? And when the news media puts the spotlight on their series for the wrong reasons, how will it affect Akito?

Bakuman 15Written by Tsuguimi Ohba; Art by Takeshi Obata
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★½

One of the things I’ve come to enjoy about Bakuman is all of the behind the scenes peeks it gives about the manga publishing industry. The importance of the creator-editor relationship, the support the publisher gives their creators and the shattering of the myths behind being successful are all covered in this volume.

The relationship between creator and editor is a big deal in the manga world. When it doesn’t work out, the situation can get out of control such as what happens with Nanamine and his editor Kosugi. Both Nanamine and the manga suffers for it. But when it’s a strong relationship, such as with Moritaka, Akito and Hattori, the support Hattori gives them helps them, most especially Akito through a tough spot when a copycat criminal uses their manga to justify their crimes. I really enjoyed the scene with the Editor-in-Chief and Hattori talking about it. The Chief seemed concerned for Muto Ashirogi and reminded Hattori about the importance of supporting the artists.

The Chief showed his support as well by standing behind Muto Ashirogi’s Perfect Crime Party, when it is used to commit some crimes and is reported on the news. I loved seeing how supportive not only he was that PCP not change, but that the other editors felt the same way. The manga shouldn’t be censored because it was being used by other to do illegal things. That was never the point of PCP, and even through Akito hits some bumps, he and Moritaka find a way to show that and put the whole thing behind them.

The biggest bit of reality that is dropped in this volume is when Morishita and Akito plan to go to their 2nd grade reunion. Akito ends up missing it, but Moritaka meets his old classmates and the difference in their lifestyles becomes painfully obvious. They all think Moritaka has it easy because he’s successful, while Moritaka sees how easy it is for them to make plans to go off on vacation while he can only think about work. His ink-stained hands are a testament to his dedication to the work. While this could have been a moment of crisis for Moritaka, it instead becomes a reaffirming moment. He doesn’t regret the last ten years or the young adult moments he’s missed. It’s a simple scene with Akito, but still a moving one.

Bakuman continues to surprise me, since it was a title I expected to hate at the beginning. But every volume has managed to show me something that has entertained or moved me. Moritaka’s concern for his fellow manga artists and rivals always warms me, and I really like how Fukuda, who seems so tough and unsympathetic is always right there with him. I just can’t stop recommending Bakuman. It never stops being a great title.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Sickness Unto Death Volume 1-2

When college freshman and future psychotherapist Kazuma Futaba responds to a curious call for a room to let, he ends up living in a mansion owned by Emiru, a frail beauty his own age. Although neighborhood kids call the place haunted, if anything the young mistress nurses a darker affliction. Kazuma learns that his young landlord and love isn’t who he thought she was. Aided by Danish thinker Kierkegaard’s titular proto-existentialist treatise, the future counselor finds a way forward.

Sickness Unto Death 1Story by Hikaru Asada; Art by Takahiro Seguchi
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romance/Psychological drama
Price: $11.95

Sickness Unto Death starts out by misleading the reader into thinking the story has a supernatural spin, but turns it back around with a compelling and completely natural twist. While the psychological drama dominates the story, at it’s core, it’s really a tragic love story.

The story starts with Futaba, a practicing psychotherapist and instructor, visiting a grave with no name or inscription. He is found by a student, Minami, and proceeds to tell the story of Emiru, a young woman he met when he first started college, who is slowly wasting away due to some great despair that plagues her. In the first volume, there is a sense that something supernatural is going on. Emiru speaks of a ghost living in the house and being responsible for drawing on her bedroom wall. Combined with the grave at the opening and it’s easy to assume that there’s a supernatural element to the story.

Sickness Unto Death 2The second volume plays on this and throws out a twist that not only makes perfect sense, puts everything in the first volume into perspective. It’s an explanation that shows not just how fragile the human psyche can be, but how desperate we can be to be to want to live and remembered. I was riveted by this part of the story. The whole psychology and how it played with the title and Kierkegaard’s treatise was fascinating.

Tied in with all of this was the love story between Futaba and Emiru. She was his first love, and it appears to be one he has not gotten over. Their feelings for each other go beyond the physical, though they do enjoy each other’s company a lot. But there is a quiet desperation to their time together, especially from Emiru. As the truth is revealed, the tragedy of their love just becomes more heart-breaking as Futaba becomes more desperate for it not to end while Emiru becomes more resigned.

Sickness Unto Death is a powerful story about love and accepting ourselves, both the bad and the good. Part of that is being accepted by those around us and more importantly, that we won’t be forgotten after we are gone. While the love story has a tragic ending, the story as a whole is inspiring and ultimately uplifting. I highly recommend this title.


Until Death Do Us Part Volume 2

Protecting Haruka from Ex Solid has gotten Mamoru involved in an even more sinister plot, organized by the terrorist group known as the Plunderers. The swordsman’s reckless tactics generate results, but they have also attracted the attention of the terrorists’ leader, Edge Turus. Mamoru’s allies in the Wall and the very people who hired him begin to fear that Mamoru’s methods are too extreme and could endanger those around him, including Haruka herself. Meanwhile, the police are connecting the dots between Haruka’s abduction and the recent string of attacks. As they and Edge close in, it may only be a matter of time before Mamoru has nowhere to run!

16 UntilDeathDoUsPartV2_TPWritten by Hiroshi Takashige; Illustrated by Double-S
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $18.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

The African country of Galboa is revealed to be the force behind the terrorist acts, and through some intel from Ex-Solid and discover Haruka’s ability. The leader, Edge Turus decides he wants her as well. Mamoru does his stuff, stopping Ex-Solid and their cloning operation as well as Turus, cutting off his arm in the process, which makes him none too happy. He puts a contract out on Mamoru. In the meantime, Mamoru officially becomes Haruka’s bodyguard and Sierra, the female agent that’s been helping them, decides to stay with him and Igawa, so Haruka will have a female influence. Haruka gets a fake id and to go to school, but a new enemy shows up, an invisible one that Mamoru must try to figure out how to defeat.

I wasn’t impressed with the first volume, though I did like the “Global Frequency” vibe that it initially had. This volume had none of that. It was a lot of Mamoru being awesome with his sword and Haruka fretting over him. I’m okay with the Mamoru being awesome part, but really for the most part, I don’t care about any of these characters or what happens to them. I’m not too thrilled with “The Wall” suddenly deciding to turn on Mamoru for doing just what they pay him to do; get past the bad guys and get them results. That’s all he and Igawa have done. They keep dwelling on what could be instead of keeping what they have now.

An explanation is given for Haruka’s powers, and I’m actually okay with it. It’s still mixed up with some techo-babble, but as long as it sounds plausible, I’m good. I actually liked the “invisible” enemy that Mamoru has to take on. It actually becomes timely with some of the news that’s been going up lately, and puts Mamoru’s skills to the test.

I’ll still read the third volume, but more for “Can this get better?” than “I like it!” There is still a lot I don’t care for such as Haruka as the female protagonist and all the upskirt shots that get thrown in, mostly with Sierra. It’s run for 19 volumes in Japan so far, and is still ongoing, so it’s got to have something going for it. Maybe if I keep reading, someday I’ll find it.

Review copy provided by publisher.


Oresama Teacher Volume 13

So far ever Student Council member who has gone up against Mafuyu has fallen to the team’s superior friendship skills. But Kanon Nonoguchi has a plan to turn their strengths against them! She’s spreading rumors that Midorigaoka girls are in danger and counting on Super Bun to run to the rescue…and right into her trap!

Oresama Teacher 13By Izumi Tsubaki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

Oresama Teacher has fallen into a bit of a rut as this volumes continues the Public Morals Club’s battle with the Student Council, just as the previous 3 volumes have. This time they are up against man-hating Kanon Nonoguchi, who leads the special all girls class at the school. But the possible monotony this could get into is kept at bay by less Mafuyu and Takaoka, and more Natsuo and Bancho Okegawa, making this fun read after all.

The story starts out typically with Kanon trying to figure out who Natsuo and Super Bun, the “secret” members of the Public Morals Club, really are. Her plans are foiled by Mafuyu’s clumsy and clueless nature, and Akki’s willingness to cross dress. But it quickly turns from this into Kanon’s story as her background is revealed, both her men-hating and her admiration of the Student Council President. I liked this switch up in the story. It kept the volume from becoming a “Student Council Member of the Week” volume into a more interesting story. I don’t blame Kanon for her dislike of boys considering what happened to her. Boys teasing girls they like is one thing, but things really got out of hand with Kanon.

I loved that Natsuo, Mafuyu’s boy disguise, got to feature so prominently in this volume. I like him better, both personality and appearance wise. I know Natsuo and Mafuyu are the same person, but I just really prefer Natsuo, so seeing him instead of Mafuyu made this a much better volume. The confusion Natsuo caused Kanon was more entertaining because the reader knows he’s really a she. I also enjoyed the return of Okegawa, the cute-animal-loving former bancho of Midorigaoka. He’s been a favorite of mine since his appearance in the second volume, so not only getting more of him, but also possibly getting him into the Public Morals Club just makes me more happy. The surprise appearance by Ayabe at the end was cool too.

I still can’t say Oresama Teacher is a title I really like, but I’d be lying if I said there I didn’t enjoy it. Parts of it anyway. I wouldn’t mind continuing to check out the random volume. It’s good for borrowing but It’s still not making it onto my permanent print or digital bookshelf.


Jack Frost Volume 7-9

Seeing her father killed before her eyes, Noh-A flies into a rage, with most of it directed at Jack. As the two square off, the story of the previous Mirror Image unfolds, explaining who Noh-A’s parents are, how they met, and why Noh-A had to be the next Mirror Image. It ends with the plans laid by Solomon and Camille in that past finally coming to fruition.

JackFrost_Vol7_TP By JinHo Ko
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $13.00
Rating: ★★★½☆

Jack Frost has been a series I don’t go out my way to read, but if it’s available I’ll give a perusal. I read it when I had a Yen Plus subscription, but it was a story that never seemed to have a specific direction. It was all a lot of fighting with Jack taking on opponents from the different factions within Amityville. Finally, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, as events from the past are shown and connected with current events, and the story seems to have a direction.

JackFrost_Vol8Jack and Noh-A face off against each other as Noh-A confronts Jack about the death of her father. This begins a long
flashback that shows how Noh-A’s father, revealed to be Jack the Ripper and her mother, the previous mirror image, met and became a couple. I shouldn’t be surprised that I found this interesting. I love getting the back-story of characters, a place or time. This is mostly Jack R’s story. He drives the action, protecting Noh-A’s mother and in the process falls for her. Noh-A’s mother, who is unnamed for most of the story, is mostly dead weight. She is practically emotionless, letting Jack R take her wherever and just being the damsel in distress. I didn’t care for her, and found Jack R’s growth much more interesting.

What really made these volumes for me was all the back-story about the North District and the connection between Helmina, the Tailor and Solomon. What happened in the faculty lounge was shown, and it’s revealed that Helmina’s title of “Witch of the North” is more than just a nickname. She has a connection to Solomon, and more of who he was and why he was sealed away is revealed. But, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of him in the next volume. The Tailor’s motives continue to be vague in the past as it is in the future. He is key to Noh-A’s birth and her inevitable return to Amityville. I find his possible agenda intriguing.

JackFrost_Vol9As the main character, Jack Frost himself doesn’t get as much development as the other characters. He is still the one to beat around Amityville, and he still takes great pleasure in the killing. He and Jack R are sort of rivals, as Jack R was the previous wearer of the Devil’s Thread, and even though he loses, Jack R gladly gives Jack F his showdown when they are face to face in the real world. This last scene for Jack R also explains the seeming contradiction of Jack F killing him, and yet telling Noh-A to look to Jack F for protection.

I still haven’t been won over with these volumes of Jack Frost. But they do introduce enough new elements that I wouldn’t mind reading the next volume. With Yen Plus is no longer being printed and the title no longer serialized, there shouldn’t be as long a delay between volumes. But with Yen Press being one volume away from being caught up, it’s gonna be a while until the next one anyway. At least with not a lot going on, there won’t be much to forget.


Missions of Love Volume 5-6

Yukina is running into some trouble with rivals. Mami is a childhood friend of Shigure’s who has feeling for him, but hasn’t been able to tell him. She instead tries to trick or chase away any girls who might get close to him. Then there’s Akira, her cousin, who is now trying to be in serious competition with Shigure to win Yukina’s feelings. In the middle of these battles, Yukina and Shigure are trying to figure out their own feelings for each other. How much of it is real, and how much is still a game?

Missions of Love 5
Buy Volume 5

By Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★½

I read the first chapter of Missions of Love in Kodansha’s sampler Real and really enjoyed it. I initially had doubts about it from just the series description, but the first chapter was enough to convince me otherwise. Despite being 4 volumes behind, I had little trouble getting into these two volumes and continuing Yukina and Shigure’s competition to see who would fall for who first.

What initially attracted me to Missions of Love was the friction between the two protagonists, Yukina and Shigure. Neither really liked the other much; Yukina for Shigure’s shallowness and Shigure for Yukina’s cold reputation. By these volumes those feeling are still there, but there is a lot more sexual tension now between them. Yukina is starting to think about how Shigure feels about her, but she doesn’t seem to understand why. She doesn’t recognize that the reason she’s bothered by Shigure spending time with Mami is because she’s starting to have feeling for him. Shigure is just as bothered by the attention Yukina gets from Akira, but he isn’t as oblivious as to the reason why. He’s just in denial. They are both trying to keep their relationship to be game, but the feelings are growing, and it isn’t just for fun anymore.

Missions of Love 6
Buy Volume 6

Akira and Mami stepping up their game to get their respective crushes to notice them doesn’t help matters much. Mami’s tricks only gets Yukina thinking more about what her relationship with Shigure is rather than pushing her away. Akira’s attempts to make Shigure jealous by spending time with Mami only helps him to let her go. Akira thinks he’s gotten a step on Shigure when he notices Yukina is sick and stays the night to take care of her, but what’s going through Yukina’s mind isn’t what he thinks it is.

These complications affect the missions. There aren’t as many in these volumes as more attention is put on the growing relationships. Yukina throws a few out at Shigure and Akira, but they are minor, and all come out of Yukina’s attempts to figure out her own feelings. She pushes for more compromising situations such as her mission to seduce Shigure, and for Akira to forcefully kiss her.

Overall, I enjoyed these two volumes of Missions of Love. While I don’t generally like clueless characters, Yukina is different. She’s not dumb, just inexperienced, and she’s trying to change that with the missions. She is very logical in her thought processes about love, which is probably why she is slow in understanding. I like that. So many shojo protagonists are overly emotional and think they know all about love. Yukina is trying to work it out herself. While she claims it’s for her writing, it is affecting her own emotional growth, in a good way. Missions of Love is a fun romance that I can’t wait to read more!

Midnight Secretary Volume 1-2

Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being an excellent secretary and a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s re-assigned to the office of her company’s difficult director, Kyohei Tohma. He’s as prickly-and hot-as rumors paint him, but Kaya is unfazed…until she discovers that he’s a vampire!!

Midnight Secretary 1lBy Tomu Ohmi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Mature
Genre: Romance, Josei
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I’m picky about the vampire romances I read. Most I’ve read have been hit or miss. I hated Vampire Knight, but loved Millennium Snow. What sparked my interest most about Midnight Secretary was that it was a josei, a manga written for older women. It features not a high school girl, but a career woman and all the problems that come with working in an office. This part appealed to more than the romance.

Well, maybe. I’m not really sure how I feel about Kaya and Kyohei as a couple. As separate people, I can see why they think and act as they do. Kaya is very smart and capable, and doesn’t want to be judged based on her appearance. This is exactly what Kyohei does at first, but she proves to him that looks aren’t everything. Even after she learns his secret, she doesn’t flinch or back down from her work, which is what gets her into the compromising situation of starting to have feelings for him.

Kyohei starts off as an obnoxious jerk, and really doesn’t veer from that course. He is a vampire forced to live in the human world because of his mother’s decision to stay with his father. He is bitter about this and takes it out on everyone around him. It’s not right, but it is an understandable thing to do. He refused to admit he cares for any humans, and gives his brother, the Senior Director Masaki a hard time, but does show he cares. He chastised his brother for being soft, and tells him to learn to use people since he will lead the company someday. Kyohei does the “dirty work” so Masaki can keep his hands clean. He’s rude and cold, but cares in his own way.

Midnight Secretary 2Usually I like romances where one or both of the partners have a bit of a “bite” to their personality. I like more banter and snarky remarks flying back and forth, but that’s not really what happens here. Kyohei is more abusive of Kaya, dismissing her coldly and leaving her to think of her own reasons for his actions. I did like that both had to discover their feelings for the other, especially Kyohei. He couldn’t believe he would have feelings for a human, but a frank conversation between he and Kaya did finally get him to admit his desire for her blood had more to do with his feelings than he thought. I’ll admit, I’m still waffling on them as a couple. I’ll have to see what happens in the next volume.

One thing I really appreciated was how Kaya’s job as a secretary wasn’t dismissed as simple or fluff. She is seen not only keeping Kyohei’s appointments, but also organizing the materials he needs for meetings and even accompanying him to outside functions such as dinners. Kyohei appreciates her work and skill, respecting her professionally before things start to get personal. I also liked how she showed the President of Erde Company, a member of the Tohma Group, how useful a secretary could be to help the whole company work more efficiently. So much attention is put on things such as sales, that it the support they get from the back office is often overlooked. I liked that it got some acknowledgement.

I’m on the fence about Midnight Secretary. There are a lot of elements I like in it, but I’m having a hard time seeing Kaya and Kyohei as a couple, and as a romance, it’s a major component of the story. But there is enough here that I am willing to give it a few more volumes. If Kyohei could be less of an arrogant jerk, at least to Kaya, I would probably like it more.

Review copies provided by publisher.