Category Archives: Reviews

Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Volume 1

Hime Kino’s dream is to one day do voice acting like her hero Sakura Aoyama from the Lovely♥Blazer anime, and getting accepted to the prestigious Holly Academy’s voice actor department is the first step in the right direction! But Hime’s gruff voice has earned her the scorn of teachers and students alike. Hime will not let that stand unchallenged. She’ll show everyone that she is too a voice acting princess, whether they like it or not!!

To make matters worse, Sakura’s grouchy son, Senri, is in Hime’s class, and he seems determined to stomp on her dreams. He even has the nerve to call Lovely♥Blazer stupid! But Hime won’t be deterred by naysayers, her new nickname (“Gorilla Princess”), or even getting demoted to the Stragglers group. She’s ready to shine, and nothing is going to stand in her way!

Voice Over_01By Maki Minami
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

Voice acting has always interested me, and after ready Koetama on Jmanga, I became interested in reading manga about it. So when Viz announced this series, I was happy to finally have a series I could own about it. The only downside was that I hadn’t enjoyed Minami’s previous series SA, so I didn’t know which side would win out. Fortunately, I ended up liking this series much more than SA. The female protagonist didn’t come off dumber than bricks, which helped a lot.

The protagonist of the series, Hime, is anything but a princess, despite how desperately she want to sound like one. She isn’t cute and girlish like her younger sister, who is constantly reminding her and the reader of that fact. Her voice is rough and gravelly. Her attempts to sound feminine end in people imagining old women or effeminate men. She isn’t a princess at all. But she’s not willing to give up. When she finally does find her niche, it isn’t what she thinks is should be and doesn’t accept it. It’s not that she can’t accept it, she won’t because it goes against her dreams. I liked that about her. I don’t think she’s ever going to reach her dream of having a princessy voice, but that her journey is the accept and appreciate what she does have.

Hime’s rival and potential love interest is Senri Kudo, the son of Hime’s favorite voice actress who is already landing parts and becoming successful while still in high school. He comes off cold and uncaring, until he is shown to have a soft spot of small animals, but mostly cats. That put him in a new light for me. Anyone who loves and rescues cats can’t be a bad person. Senri won’t acknowledge Hime at first, until he hears her potential. In some ways she also reminds him of a stray cat, causing his soft spot to kick in. Right now, I like them more as rivals than a couple, but that could change.

Hime is surrounded by quite a cast of characters. She becomes part of the “Straggler” group when she can’t keep up with the lessons and is joined by the soft-spoken Tsukino, who becomes her friend. Sho, who acts more like an underboss than actor and Mitchy, who is full of himself, but gets stage fright. I loved Sho with his short temper and ready to lend a fist when one of his fellow “Stragglers” is threatened. Two more characters that become part of Hime’s circle are Mizuki and Shuma, the boy idol group Aqua. Hime borrows Mizuki’s closes to help Tsukino out of difficult situation and gains the ire of Shuma. His attempt at revenge on Hime is devious, but she is able to turn the tables on him, as well as feeling the ire of MIzuki. It was a great scene at the end.

This first volume of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy is a good foundation for the series. It sets up the characters well, as well as Hime’s problems and potential without beating the reader over the head about it. I thought the scout was a little harsh with Hime by calling her unsuitable when it was obvious she wasn’t, but she can’t start recording yet. I did like that Hime not only didn’t become depressed over her “failure”, but that she accepted the extra work she was given for if. She wouldn’t accept help from Tsukino and took responsibility for it herself. It’s a good example for anyone to follow.

I’m giving away a copy of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy volume 1 to one random reader. Leave a comment on this post about whether you prefer subs or dubs in anime to be entered to win. US residents only please.

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 37: Sweet Rein

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Seasons Greetings! This week there are regular features the Weekly Wish List, the Vizmanga.com update and the New York Times Bestseller List. And keeping with the season, I review Sweet Rein from Viz Media.

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Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Volume 10-15

Rikuo and his allies reach Kyoto, where the seals the that hold Hagoromo-Gitsune have been broken. They must fight the enemy yokai and with the help of Yura and her human allies replace them.  Along the way, Rikuo must face Tsuchigumo, and to do so, must gain a power that was one his father’s. The battle finally makes it to Nijo Castle, but it is too late as the reincarnation of Nue is born, and Rikuo and Hagoromo-Gitsune begin to battle.

Nura 10Nura 11Nura 12 Nura 13 Nura 14 Nura 15

 

 

 

 

By Hiroshi Shiibashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genra: Action/Supernatural
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ve been lukewarm about Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan in general, but the story in these six volumes brought it up. I got sucked in by the end of volume 10, and each subsequent volume just kept feeding my hunger. While I thought the fighting and training was tedious in previous volumes, here, in the midst of battle, it seemed to fit right in. A lot of characters backgrounds are revealed in these volumes as well, which proved to be the biggest draw for me.

Volume 10 starts out slow, concentrating on the human side of the battle in Kyoto with Yura and her onmyoji clan, the Keikain clan, defending the humans as Hagoromo-Gitsune’s yokai grow stronger. But once the ship Rikuo and the rest of the Kanto yokai forces reach Kyoto airspace, that’s where the story starts to move. I loved Rikuo’s battle with Hakuzozu. He shows his guardians that he has come into his own, and doesn’t need to be shielded by them all the time. Rikuo’s growth in strength and as a leader continues to the volumes, as he learns Equip, a power his father developed that allows him to use his followers fear with his own. This was a power-up that I actually liked, as it isn’t just about strength. It’s about trust that both he and his followers feel for each other. It actually meant something more than having a stronger punch, which is what I find tedious in a lot of these shonen manga.

Throughout all the action, there is some good character development as the past of several characters are revealed. I loved the reveal of Ao’s past and how he became a yokai as he protects the children at the Keikain main house. Kubinashi’s past is also revealed as he gives into his anger at not being able to protect Rikuo in the battle against Tsuchigumo. His connection to Kejoro is explored some, and their battle together at the sixth seal was great. Finally seeing Abe no Seimei’s past was illuminating, as it explained not just his desire for immortality, but also his hatred for humans despite being half human. But what I liked best was the glimpses into Rikuo’s past and the death of his father. By the end of volume 15, I was dying to read the next volume and find out more.

There were some really fun shorts in these volumes too. Watching the Supreme Commander taking care of his baby son was funny, and I loved the Mysterious Tales of Ukiyoe Middle School. Seeing that all the mysteries were really just yokai was amusing, and seeing another potential girl enter Rikuo’s life was entertaining.

It took long enough, but now that Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan is getting into its own mythology, and having battles that not only move faster, but move the story along, it has become something worth reading. The growing ensemble of yokai is a real draw too. I love not only seeing, but also learning about new yokai, which his title does as well as incorporate them into the story. I would now recommend Nura to fans of yokai as well as shonen fighting manga.

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 27: Umineko When They Cry Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch Part 2

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This week I look at some manga news, news from Vizmanga.com, the Nielson Bookscan for September, and review the Yen Press title Umineko When They Cry Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch Part 2.

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Official Casebook Volume 1: The Phoenix Wright Files

Only one name strikes fear into the hearts of evildoers everywhere: Phoenix Wright, ace attorney. Join Phoenix Wright and his adorable assistant Maya–plus Miles Edgeworth, Detective Gumshoe, Franziska von Karma, and others–as they investigate twenty intriguing cases. And find out why Phoenix Wright has devoted his life to fighting injustice!

Phoenix Wright Case FilesBy CAPCOM
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Mystery;Video Game Adaptation
Price: $14.95 (OOP)
Rating: ★★★★★

I think it is safe to say my kids can influence my reading habits. Some people might say it’s good that I’m looking into what my kids are reading and playing. I’ve been reading the web comic Homestuck after they told me about it. And now, after my oldest daughter discovered the Phoenix Wright Nintendo DS video games, and basically told me the whole plot of them, I am now reading the Phoenix Wright manga. I read the first volume of the ongoing series of Phoenix Wright, and didn’t find it appealing from a mystery-lovers perspective. But having gotten this title for her, I decided to read it and see if it could win me over as the ongoing couldn’t. And it did so, in spades!

This volume is a thick 304-page anthology with 20 different stories written and drawn by 20 different artists, as well as 4-koma strips that appear between chapters. Like each creator, each story is different, some being cases, some looking at the characters relationships, and some just going completely meta! The first story, “Progress Toward Tomorrow” has Nick looking inward, trying to answer a simple question posed by Maya; Why did he decide to become a defense attorney? It’s a really nice story that has Nick questioning his reason and motives, and ultimately his effectiveness as a defense attorney. Fortunately for him, Miles is there to slap some sense into him, and get him out of his self-doubt. It was a nice story validating Nick’s choices and his friendships.

“Turnabout Kitten”, “Spirit Medium or Bust”, and “It’s Not Easy Being a Defense Lawyer” are three stories in a row that gave me some laugh out loud moments. Fortunately, no one else eats in the lunchroom at my work. In “Turnabout Kitten”, Maya finds a kitten, and Nick, determined not to have it in the office, tries to find a home for it. He calls Miles, Gumshoe and Larry, all with increasingly funny results, especially between Larry and Gumshoe. “Spirit Medium or Bust” has former client Mr. Grossberg trying to repay Nick and Maya for their help, and goes a little overboard. But the funniest of the three was the meta “It’s Not Easy Being a Defense Lawyer.” Everyone convenes on the Phoenix Wright Offices when they hear Nick isn’t getting any cases. They all have their own ideas, but end up ganging up on Nick for being a weak lead character.

The 4-komas had some great hits too. “Anything But That” is hilarious while also being the stuff nightmares are made of with Larry finding a new job. I also really liked “Let’s Turn It Around.” It explains a lot about Phoenix’s hair.

Because there are different artists for each story, the art does vary greatly, but I really didn’t have a problem with it. I actually liked the different styles. Kaname Uchimura’s big-eyed, shojo-esque portrayal in “Turnabout Misunderstanding” was cute, as was the SD-ish art in “Ball Search Team, Head Out!” by Tomo and “The Mystery of the Missing Manju” by Tsukapon. Not all of the more realistic artwork worked for me, but I think Daigo’s for “It’s Not Easy Being a Defense Attorney” was the style I liked best.

While I really enjoyed this volume, this isn’t the book to pick up if you’re just getting into Phoenix Wright. This is a title for someone who is already a fan, and who knows who the characters are and their relationships to each other. Even with knowing a lot about the characters, I was still thrown by Maya channeling Mia and who Mia was. I had to consult the Encyclopedia Daughterica for that information. If you’re a fan of the Phoenix Wright games, you really owe it to yourself to pick this volume up. It is out of print, but volumes are available new and used for reasonable prices. It’s mostly funny, sometimes emotional, but always enjoyable.

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 22: Alice in the Country of Hearts

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This week I check out a new manga kickstarter from Manga Reborn, what’s up at Vizmanga, and review the last two volumes of Alice in the Country of Hearts.

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Paradise Kiss Volume 3

As the much-anticipated Yaza Arts fashion show gears up, an unexpected visitor from George’s past makes an appearance. Yukari’s modeling career heats up just as George makes an announcement that shocks the ParaKiss group to the core. George is hearing the siren call of the City of Lights, but where does that leave Yukari? Will she find the key to Paradise?

Paradise Kiss 3By Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fashion
Price: $19.95
Rating: ★★★★★

In this final volume of Paradise Kiss, fashion takes a back seat to all the relationship drama that is going on. George and Yukari’s relationship remain turbulent and with the introduction of Kaori Aso, an important female friend of George’s, things just go to an 8 on the Richter scale. The reason behind the complex relationship between Miwako, Arashi and Tokumori is finally revealed, as is Isabelle’s past. The series ends with everyone having to make choices about their future, the biggest in question being George and Yukari’s; do they have one together?

While fashion was a backdrop, the focus of this series has always been on George and Yukari, and with the fashion over, that focus just intensifies. Yukari, who wants to be the center of George’s universe gets booted out of the limelight as Kaori Aso, a close friend of George’s, comes back to Japan to see the fashion show, but more importantly, to try to convince George to continue designing. Yukari gets a lot of shocks during this meeting, as she learns George has shared many things with Kaori that he didn’t with her. The realization she comes to from this is harsh but true; she more of a dress-up doll for George than an equal partner in their relationship. I was disappointed when even after realizing this, she was still willing to go along as long as she was with him. I really expected better from Yukari.

The Miwako-Arashi-Tokumori relationship finally gets some attention in this last third as the root of Arashi’s jealously is revealed to both Arashi and the audience. Tokumori is a great character, the only real voice of reason in all the madness. Even though he has been Arashi’s rival for Miwako, he gives Arashi the pep talk he needs to accept Miwako’s feelings. Their talk is one of my favorite scenes of the volume. I also really enjoyed finally seeing more of Isabelle outside of the atelier, and seeing how she became the person she is now.

The big question of the volume, and really the whole series, is, will Yukari and George stay together? Yukari and George are fine together as friends. Yukari was a muse for George, inspiring him to create some great things. George also helped Yukari get out of her rut of being a student and find something she could enjoy and be passionate about. But as a couple, I never liked them together. They didn’t fit well for me. There was a lot of passion, both in their feelings and their interests, but I didn’t feel any love between them. If Yukari were to follow George, I think she would suffocate in that relationship, and George wouldn’t really be happy with Yukari not taking advantage of her full potential. The way Yazawa ended the story was just right. Everyone ends up with just who they should.

Paradise Kiss is a great story filled with rich and colorful characters. It’s fashions are outrageous but fun, and the drama of the relationships are a bit over the top, but just realistic enough to ring true. This is a series that should not be passed up, especially since readers have been given a second chance with it. Do regret not picking it up. This title is a Buy It Now.

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 12: Umineko When They Cry: Episode 1 Legend of the Golden Witch

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This week I check out some news, the goings-on at Vizmanga.com and review the Yen Press title Umineko When They Cry: Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch.

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Manga Dome Podcast Episode 11: Skip Beat Volume 1-11

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This week I check out some news stories, see what’s new at Vizmanga.com and review the first 11 volumes of Skip Beat for this month’s Manga Movable Feast!

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Manga Dome Podcast Episode 10: From the Bottom of the Pile

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This week I check out the ranking from Bookscan for May, the Vizmanga top 10 and other happenings, the new manga streaming site Manga Reborn and do some short reviews of three manga titles; Until Death Do Us Part vol 2, Rurouni Kenshin Restoration vol 1, and Kingdom Hearts Final Remix vol 1-2.

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