On her first day at her new school, Penelope – Peppi – Torres reminds herself of the basics; don’t get noticed by the mean kids and join groups with similar interests. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start call her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jamie and running away! Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals – the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!
I’ve enjoyed the manga adaptations of video games that have been released so far: Legend of Zelda and Pokémon most notably. What makes these adaptations so fun is the deviations they can take from the original work, making them more interesting or filling in the story better. I’m happy to hear this volume will be no different.
While other may be excited to get the new Dragon Ball Z content, I’m just glad to get new Akira Toriyama that isn’t Dragon Ball Z. There is more to Toriyama than Dragon Ball and I’m always happy when we get it.
After a short break with a series of short stories, the action starts back up with Hikaru hungry to climb the Pro ladder and start competing at the same level as Akira. Hokuto Communications, a telecom, decides to sponsor a Go tournament for young pros from Japan, Korea and China called the Hokuto Cup. Akira is a shoe in, but Hikaru has to fight for a place on the three-man team. When the tournament finally starts, it’s a battle of wills, ego, and pride.
While I really enjoyed the previous six volumes, these six volumes which also finish the series were not as strong. It was really great to see Hikaru get his fire back, but the short stories, while cute, took away from the building excitement of seeing Hikaru play again, and the Hokuto Cup was too much drama and not enough intense play, which is what has been so addicting about the story.
After the end of volume 17, the story doesn’t pick up immediately. Instead, we are treated to 5 stories that feature mostly side characters, in times of their lives before or after they meet Hikaru. For the most part, these are good stories. I enjoyed seeing how things were for Akira right up to before he and Hikaru played their first game. I also liked seeing what led up to Yuki’s game with Dake, and what’s like to try to date as an Insei with Asumi. While I enjoyed these stories for what they were, their placement in the middle of the series didn’t feel right. These were stories that were better off as bonus stories to fill at the end of volumes, or as a filler at the end. They didn’t feel so well after such an emotional moment at the end of volume 17. I didn’t want to be entertained with cute stories, I wanted to get back to seeing Hikaru play.
And in Volume 19 that is precisely what we get. Hikaru is playing to make up for the lost time from all the games he missed while in his slump. He takes no prisoners, especially against Pros, as he continues his race up the ladder. In his rematch against Gokiso 7 Dan, the pro Hikaru beat back in volume 12 with Sai’s help. This time, he doesn’t need any help to take this haughty pro down. He gets his first real taste of defeat when he goes up against his teacher Morishita, who shows Hikaru a player can have more than one face, and more that one style of play. Morishita’s advice to Hikaru is forthright, and it along with some other things said hint at a possibly broader arc coming up, but instead, the story goes into the Hokuto Cup.
The final volumes of the series show the prelims in Japan, and the tournament itself. As a lead up to it, a reporter for Go Weekly, the newspaper for Go players in Japan, goes to Korea to speak to the players in the Hokuto Cup, but arrives a day early, so there is no translator there for him. He tries to interview Ko Yong Ha, but a poor translation of his words causes a misunderstanding that carries through the Hokuto Cup and the series. I really didn’t like how or more why this misunderstanding was perpetuated. Ko Yong Ha was an arrogant jerk to not only keep the misunderstanding from being straightened up, but then throws gas on the fire. I hated the whole plot point and Ko Young Ha. This made the end so much harder for me to accept. He didn’t deserve Hikaru’s true feelings, and really just needed a good whop upside the head for being so full of himself.
The series also ends rather abruptly. It really doesn’t feel like the story was meant to end there. In the volumes building up to, and even during the Hokuto Cup, there was a lot being made about Japan not remember their Go history, only focusing on the present, and how that is a weakness for them. It really felt like this show plot line should have been taken somewhere. Instead, it feels like it got cut off prematurely with the end of the series. I really would have liked to have seem more about Japanese players rediscovering their past as they continue into the future.
Despite these complaints, I still really enjoyed these volumes of Hikaru no Go. I loved seeing how much Hikaru has grown, not just emotionally, but physically. By the time of the Hokuto Cup, he is standing tall and looking confident. The whole series only covers three years, basically Hikaru and Akira’s time in middle school. In that short amount of time, he’s come to look like a serious pro, and not the goofy kid the started out the series as. Losing Sai had the most profound effect on Hikaru. While Akira always had a serious air about him, his rivalry with Hikaru gave him the focus he needed, and gained the both of them lifelong friends.
Hikaru no Go is one of those rare shonen titles that makes the battles about brains and not brawn, and shows rivals can also be friends. I think this is one of the title’s strengths. Hotta created some great characters, and developed them with such depth, while Obata’s art struck the perfect balance between realism and comedy. Hikaru no Go is one of the best titles you will ever read. It is a must for any manga collection. Do no pass this one up.
Hikaru has passed the Pro test, and is waiting to hear about his official schedule. In the meantime, Sai pesters him to let him play more, and Hikaru relents, allowing Sai to play Akira’s father in the Shindodan series with a handicap, and then again on the internet in an even game. Hikaru’s skills are growing fast, and Sai worries he won’t be able to remain with him for much longer. Just as Hikaru’s pro games start, something happens that causes him to have a crisis of faith, and nearly gives up on Go. But the return of Isumi, a fellow Insei from the previous year, shows Hikaru he hasn’t lost anything. Hikaru returns, more determined than before to not only be Akira’s rival, but to surpass him.
I started reading Hikaru no Go when it debuted in Shonen Jump back in 2004, and read it religiously until it was “graduated” out in 2008. Once it went to graphic novels, I stopped reading, as my acquiring of volumes was sporadic. I only finished collecting my missing volumes this last year. With the MMF schedule for this month, I put off reading the series until now to participate. I had thought this might be a series to pass on as part of my Manga Wrap Up, but after reading these 6 volumes, I have come to realize that this is not just a compelling series, it’s one that needs a spot on bookshelves.
Over the last 11 volumes, we have been watching Hikaru develop and grow into a Go player in his own right. Sai continues to want to play games, but now he is getting resistance from Hikaru, who wants to play more himself. In these 6 volumes, we see how much Hikaru takes Sai for granted. He assumes he’ll always be around to play, so he’d rather play other people. But after finally getting to play Koyo Toya, Sai sees something much different in the future. It really feels frustrating to see Sai almost pleading with Hikaru, and Hikaru just brushing him off as being annoying. But Hikaru is just acting like the kid he is, so while it’s not surprising, that doesn’t mean you still don’t want to smack him for it.
There are a lot of emotional punches in these volumes that stem from that not-so-distant future that Sai sees. It’s emotionally draining to see Hikaru running around to all the sites where Hon’inbo Shusaku, the boy Sai possessed before Hikaru, lived, played and died. It was just heartbreaking when he looked at old records of Shusaku’s and could see Sai’s moves in them. He not only realized Sai’s genius, but could truly appreciated it. The effect is devastating for both Hikaru and the reader. But all of the emotional moments are sad. After being talked into a game with Isumi, who has just spent a couple of months in China to improve his game, Hikaru has an epiphany, that not only shakes him out of his funk, but reignited his passion for Go, and seemingly for life. The final chapter of volume 17 is bittersweet as a sort of passing-of-the-baton occurs, but knowing that Hikaru will be alright now is worth it.
It’s these strong, emotional moments that really make Hikaru no Go such a compelling read. When a writer and artist came make the emotions they want to express feel real to the reader, they have truly succeeded in making a great story. Hotta and Obata do that, not just with Hikaru’s story, but with all the characters that are followed throughout this series. Obata’s art is beautifully rendered, and realism with which she draws just makes the emotional punches to the gut all the more stronger. I’m gonna miss Sai, with his Heien dress, and often cute expressions.
Because it had been so long since I read Hikaru no Go, I thought it would be a series I could let go. But after getting through this gantlet of an arc, I’ve come to realize that not only can I not let go of this series, but I must have it in print. It’s too good to relegate to a digital bookshelf. It needs to be on a bookshelf for all to see and reach for.
Christie Holmes is a prodigy. At ten-years-old, she’s as familiar with the sciences and classics as any older student at Cambridge or Oxford. And her facility with logic is reminiscent of her uncle, the eminent Sherlock Holmes himself. So, what’s a brilliant young girl to do when her parents are away in India, leaving her behind in the care of maids and servants? Why, solve mysteries, of course. Along with her giant hound Nelson, Christie’s implacable curiosity leads her from one dangerous adventure to another, often joining forces with Uncle Sherlock and Doctor Watson on their famed investigations. Christie may look pint-sized, but her clever mind is never to be underestimated!
I was really excited when I heard about Seven Seas’ acquisition of Young Miss Holmes. I love mysteries and Sherlock Holmes, but have also lately acquired a taste for stories about female relatives of Holmes also solving mysteries. First, his sister Enola Holmes in novel form, and now his niece Christie.
Young Miss Holmes takes classic Sherlock Holmes stories and makes changes to them, mostly to add Christie to the story, but also to make other changes as well. The way Christie becomes part of the story varies. Either she is visiting her Uncle Sherlock and deduces what is going on such as in the “Mazarin Stone”, or she stumbles onto a case the Sherlock is brought in on, such as “The Problem at Thor Bridge”. Christie can find cases on her own as well, as in the “Red-Headed League”, or takes on the whole case herself as she does in “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”. Her inclusion is done very naturally, sometimes needing only minor changes. In “Mazarin Stone”, instead of there being a dummy of Sherlock that he switches places with, Christie plays the part of a life-like doll and gets Sylvius’ confession.
Some of the changes to the story itself include adding characters such as Arthur, the adopted son in “The Problem at Thor Bridge”, and a slightly happier ending to “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire”, with the inclusion of real vampires in the guise of characters from the series Dance in the Vampire Bund by another creator, Nozomu Tamaki. This story is book-ended nicely with a short story by Tamaki herself.
Christie is just what you would expect from a relative of Sherlock Holmes. She is hyper observant and very knowledgeable in the sciences and classics. She has a strong will and stomach to go with it, and is willful to the point of being reckless. At times she wishes she was born a man and has little patience for other girls her age. She may be just as sharp as Sherlock, but she doesn’t have the experience to put it all to use. Fortunately for her, she has Grace Dunbar as her governess. While there isn’t much Miss Dunbar can do to further Christie’s education, she still assists Christie by helping her look at things in a different way, such as there can be value found in girl’s gossip, and her quiet demeanor calms Christie so she can think more clearly. She is like Christie’s Watson.
There are two maids who often accompany Christie, Ann Marie and Nora. Ann Marie is the head maid and is Christie’s Handmaid. She is the one most often put out when Christie goes on one of her adventures, but she also seems to have a temper and carries two revolvers, which she brandishes whenever Christie is threatened, leaving Christie to sometimes beg Ann Marie not to harm the perpetrator. Nora is another maid, and comes from the lower class. She can’t read or write, and speaks with a lower class accent. She always carries a whip called the Snake Tongue, which she will whip out for any reason necessary. These traits are made all the more fun by the maids’ appearances. Ann Maria appears very proper, but when she pulls her guns, she is far from reserved. Nora has an innocent look with freckles and curly hair, that turns done right demonic when she has her whip in her hands.
I really enjoyed this first volume of Young Miss Holmes. The characters are great, and the stories retain their Holmesian feel while adding a feminine touch. I also liked that Shintani kept the Victorian mores that restricted women so much at the time. Not only does Christie have the mysteries to solve, but she must also do it within the confines of Victorian society. I really enjoy watch females break through that barrier. The art is beautiful, and the dresses Shintani comes up for Christie are just as elegant as they are varied. The art is geared more toward a younger female audience, but that doesn’t make it any less attractive. I had a lot of fun reading Young Miss Holmes, and anyone who loves mysteries and/or Sherlock Holmes will love it too.
Now that Chi lives in a pet-friendly apartment, she is free to go out and explore the world past the sliding glass door. In addition to continuing to find trouble at home, Chi goes out and explores the area around her new home. She meets old friends and makes new ones, but will she meet her Mama?
When a little boy brings home a dinosaur egg, the cat of the house isn’t too keen on her new reptile roomie. But after a few weeks of showing the ropes to the new baby, Kitty and Dino form a fast friendship that transcends species!
This week I didn’t work on any particular series. I said it was because I wanted to catch up on some newer review copies, but really, I couldn’t decide what series I wanted to to work on next. I thought I would be making some room on my review copy shelf, and I will be moving 3 volumes off my shelf, and on to my younger daughter’s shelf. Another 5 may be moving on my keep shelf, with another 3 to add to them.
First, I read a trilogy of Pokemon movie adaptations. The Rise of Darkrai, Giratina and the Sky Warrior, and Arceus and the Jewel of Life are movies 10-12 in the Pokemon universe. I will be doing a full review of them for Good Comics for Kids. I first read The Rise of Darkrai, and then I got Arceus, and noticed it referenced back to Darkrai, and a title I didn’t have yet, Giratina. So I traded for Giratina and finally read all three volumes. Since I’m doing a full review of these volumes, I’ll just say that like all trilogies, the middle volume was the weakest.
I finished up Pokemon quickly and moved on to a shojo series from Viz. I’ve had St. Dragon Girl volume 1-5 for a while, and had started on the first two volumes, but kept getting distracted. I finally decided to finish the volumes I have. I think this series is going to be another keeper. It’s only 8 volumes total (unless Viz licenses the sequel series), and it’s filled with beautifully drawn dragons. That alone is enough for me to want to keep on my shelf. I’m going to give this series a dedicated review in the near future.
Since the Osamu Tezuka Manga Movable Feast is next week, I’m going to try and read and review two titles that I’ve gotten recently. I liked the preview chapter of Princess Knight that was run in Shojo Beat issue 25, back in July 2007, so I’m looking forward to reading the whole series. I’m also going to give Apollo’s Song another try. I couldn’t get anywhere with my last attempt at writing a review. Maybe I’ll do better this time, with another reading.
I’ve already pulled more books, so next week I’ll be getting back on track with my cleaning up titles. I’ve already filled up my box, so it may be time for another trip to the library soon.
- Pokemon: The Rise of Darkrai
- Pokemon Giratina and the Sky Warrior
- Pokemon: Arceus adn the Jewel of Life
- St. Dragon Girl Volumes 3-5
Arrr, guess what time of year it be again. That’s right! It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! And that means lot’s of “Arrrs” and “ye bes” and “yo ho ho”ing and sounding like ye should have a parrot on yer shoulder. A few years ago I did a post about pirate manga what was available to help enjoy the day. Normally I would do a post updating what’s new, but sadly, there hasn’t been any new additions in the last three years, except one.
With No-Ah’s childhood friend/tormentor added to the mix, all sorts of new adventures are brewing at the green-roofed house. Nanai the dog, Guru the cat, and Rang the mouse have cooked up even more fun this time around: visiting the library, searching for treasure–and tailing Rang on her first date?! But life isn’t always strawberries and cream — it’s all kinds of experiences that make happy times taste even sweeter.
New and more permenant characters open up the story opportunities as Aleriu becomes a regular, Rang gets a suitor in the form of a stray cat, and No-Ah takes on a renter, the just-as-poor girl Lili. Even with all the new friends, Nanai, Guru and Rang still find all kinds of fun and adventures to go on their own.
The days continue to roll by in these next, and last, two volumes of One Fine Day. Aleriu, who was introduced in the first volume, now lives with No-Ah and the animals. Aleriu has a knack for finding (or creating) trouble. A magician like No-Ah, he is better skilled and tends more toward the dark side. He like to place curses on people, which has become his livelihood, and has a dark shadow living in his room that is always laughing. While his pranks in the first volume were annoying, Aleriu is toned down, with more threatening looks and less actual follow through. Captain, the gray cat who takes a liking to Rang, is very soft-hearted for a street cat. He likes cute things, so of course he falls for Rang. This human form is a tall, rather bishonen man, making walking and holding Rang’s hand rather difficult.
The last new addition is Lili, who is introduced in volume 3. She seems to be as poor as No-Ah, though we never see if she has a job. She moves in to the green-roofed house since it’s the cheapest room she can find, despite discouragement from the real estate company. She takes the weirdness of No-Ah’s house and roommates fairly well, and even ends up not minding finding Aileru in her bed. I really didn’t see a point to adding her to the cast so late, unless the series ended sooner than expected. Lili only appears in three stories, and only does anything in two.
There are some very enjoyable stories in these two volumes. “Night with the Moon” has a fairy tale feel to it, where the animals try to help the moon and a star return to the sky. “Talking About You” is funny as the animals all complain about Aleriu. “Mabrit’s Treasure” and “Home Sweet Home” have an innocent magic to them, as the animals go on a treasure hunt set up by No-Ah and Aileru, and we finally hear from the house they have all been living in. The dancing furniture was fun and the what the house had to say was sweet. “Little Voyage” tells of Rang’s past and is a real bittersweet tale. “Summer Explorer” shows the animals exploring the woods near their home and getting into general trouble. “La Vie En Rose” is another magical tale of everyone working together to fix up a doll for a little girl. My favorites are “Mabrit’s Treasure”,”Summer Explorer” and “Home Sweet Home”. The ending of “Summer Explorer” was especially heart-warming.
Overall One Fine Day is an enjoyable series. There is nothing objectionable in it, and the simple, straightforward stories make it great material for younger readers. The art is cute, and the kids are especially so when they are in their animal forms. The stories are fun and light, and makes a good pick-me-up after a stressful day.
Being a “Projectionist” can bring lots of money and fame, but only if you are good at it. If you want o become one, first you need to have the power to cast a four-dimensional image. The it is really important to be able to hone and perfect you projecting abilities. The best place to do that, of course, is at a high school filled with other aspiring projectionists. Step into this multi-dimensional world with a very special student body and see how each student deals with his or her special gifts!
It’s an interesting world that is created in The World I Create, where completely realistic “projections” are created for entertainment. It’s a lot of hard work, and can be very rewarding. In this volume, we are introduced to 8 students, all attending school to learn to perfect their abilities. The all have different reasons for wanting to be a projectionist, but in the end this title just doesn’t distinguish itself well enough from other rom-com titles.
The first volume is comprised of 4 stories that feature two characters each it. It’s usually a boy and girl, and they are all from different grades in the school. All have different motivations (or none at all) to be Projectionists. The first story is about a boy and girl who keep failing their first year final and must work together to get a passing grade. The second is about a boy who calibrates other student’s lanterns, and a prodigy girl who only has one projection left in her. The third story is about a boy of meager means who accidentally angers a girl with height issues, who then tries to sabotage his tests. The last story is about a boy who hates projectionists, and must come to terms with his female best friend becoming one. Each story is self-contained, though characters from the other stories can make cameo appearances.
Overall, I enjoyed this first volume. The characters are well developed and each couple compliments each other. They are different from one another, but not so much that they can’t get along. And none of the main characters are annoying or dumber than bricks. My favorite story of the four was the second one with Akitsu the lantern cleaner and upperclassman Kawanami, the prodigy with only one projection left in her. Akitsu is quiet and reserved, while Kawanami is more outgoing. Their story is touching, and while it’s kind of a sad ending, it’s a good kind of sad.
While there’s nothing really bad about this volume, the characters are well written and stories are competent enough, there’s really nothing great about them either. Nothing about this title really inspired me or got me excited to read more. It was entertaining and I don’t regret the time I spent with it, it just isn’t a memorable read. There’s nothing remarkable about the art either. It’s decent enough, but also very standard.
The World I Create is still a good title, and I would recommend it for the tween-to-teen crowd. The stories aren’t too complex or overwrought with melodrama. This title would make a great addition to an elementary and/or middle school library, where the readers may get more out of it that I did. This isn’t a title that should be passed up. It has some good stories to tell, just don’t expect to be wowed.
Review copy provided by publisher. Image © CMX Manga