Tag Archives: Del Rey

Review: Mamotte! Lollipop Volume 4

Mamotte! Lollipop Volume 4
By Michiyo Kikuta
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Magic Exams have arrived and changes are on the way.  Nina will no longer have the cute boys Zero and Ichi to look after her.  What’s a girl to do–perhaps go out for a lollipop?  But which flavor should she choose?

It’s the end of the Magic Exams, and everyone and their brother (or sister) is after Zero and Ichi.  Nina finally gets the potion to remove the Crystal Pearl, but because she doesn’t want to be separated from Zero and Ichi, chooses not to drink it.  She has second thoughts as the competition stiffens.  She stays with them to end though, with new complications arising.

The light-hearted romance of the last volume gets tossed out the window, as the final days of the Magic Exam grow closer.  The first half of this volume shows that the Magic Exam isn’t supposed to the game the first three volumes made it out to be.  Examinees get tougher, and no one is pulling punches.  The entire end of the Magic Exam feels completely different from the story so far, and very out of place.  It’s like there’s a comedy/drama switch that the mangaka can flip.  It’s sudden, comes without warning, and his very jarring.

The second half of the volume picks up the romantic comedy back up, with the only differences being that Zero and Ichi are now full wizards, and Pearl the familiar to come out the Exam is attached to Nina instead of a wizard.  This is a convenient plot device to keep the boys with Nina so the romance can continue.  Immediately the story jumps right back to Nina’s love life, complicating it unnecessarily.

After seeing the way Nina, Zero and Ichi worked together during the end of the exam, it’s hard to imagine how Nina choosing one or the other can have a satisfying end.  They are a team, and work best that way.  But leaving no choice made isn’t any better.  The only reason to continue to read this series to find out how/if there is any solution to this love triangle.

This volume includes another short story, this time about how Rokka met Ichi and fell in love with him.  It’s cute, but doesn’t offer anything new or interesting.  She’s still an annoying, spoiled brat.

Mamotte Lollipop is a series for the tween-teen set.  It’s more fluff than melodrama, with lots of “love fortunes” for the romance, and the drama being hit-and-run.  There’s nothing serious for parents to fret over as the triangle of Nina, Ichi and Zero is more friendly than loving.

Want! Want! Want!

majin_tantei_nogami_neuro_volume_1ANN has reported that the Japanese supernatural mystery manga, Majin Tantei Nogami Neuro will end this month.  Starting in 2005, it’s racked up 21 volumes.  The only thing I want to know, is WHEN ARE WE GONNA GET THIS?!

I’m a professed lover of supernatural and mystery manga, so where there’s one that combine these two great tastes, I want to taste them together.  I’ve seen some of Nogami.  The anime was fansubbed, and being a mystery series, I had to check it out.  And I loved it.  Neuro is a demon who eats mysteries.  The stranger the mystery, the better the taste.  He teams up with (enslaves more accurately, he is a demon after all) a high school girl Yako Katsuragi.  She loves to eat, and has an unsolved mystery about the death of her father.  Neuro will help her solve the mystery if he can eat it.  Neuro uses Yako as his “public face”.  He solves all the mysteries, and she takes the credit.  They are joined by Godai Shinobu, a yakuza who is roped into working for Yako and Neuro after he wins a bet and takes over the Yakuza’s small office, and Akane, a disembodied braid of hair who is a wiz on the computer.

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The characters ranged from quirky to downright weird to disturbing.  Neuro can switch from gentle to psycho in .01 seconds!  He is just awesome in both his human and demon form.  He constantly refers to Yako and Godai as worms, and looms over them ominously if they don’t do as he says immediately.  Yako loves to eat, and seen most of the time downing several bento boxes.  Though any time it comes to her father’s death, she gets serious and meloncholy.  Godai was just funny as he’s forced to do Neuro’s bidding, and complains about it the entire time, but doesn’t mind help Yako.  Kind of the Yakuza with a good heart.

Neuro is actually a good detective, much the chagrin of the police officers who’s cases he and Yako always solve.  The mysteries were interesting, and the plot got more serious as the series went on.  Don’t know if it’s the same as the manga, since liberties can and often are taken, but I still love the characters and mystery, and that’s all I need.

So, someone, ANYONE that can bring out the full series, (Viz, Yen, Del Rey, I’m talking to you), please license this in the US!  It’s too good of a series to be passed up.  There just aren’t enough fun mystery titles to read!  It would make a great SDCC announcement/gift.  **wink wink**

Weekend Rerun Review: Mamotte! Lollipop Volume 3

Mamotte! Lollipop Volume 3
By Michiyo Kikuta
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Age Rating: Teen 13+
Price: $10.99

ISBN: 0-345-49667-6

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Nina’s in love – but who’s the lucky boy? After all, what girl could choose between Zero and Ichi? They’re both wizards, and they’re both supercute! When a matchmaking witch slips Nina a love potion, will the magic spell help Nina choose her soul mate?

It’s almost been six months since Nina swallowed the Crystal Pearl and the end of the magic exam is fast approaching. Examinees are still popping in, and Nina still can’t decide between Zero and Ichi. But it’s not like everyone isn’t trying to help her along…

This volume starts with a staple of romance plots; the love potion. Nina accidentally pours it into lunch and everyone but Ichi falls for her. Only the kiss from someone who’s had the potion can break it, so she has to kiss Zero? Then Zero’s “fiancé” becomes an examinee just to try and get Zero to love her and puts a spell on him and Nina that will turn them into animals unless Zero agrees to go back with her. The last chapters have Nina getting kidnapped by another new pair of examinees who also tell people’s love fortunes. They then cast spells on Nina to try and get her to find her soul mate, but even magic can’t seem to solve this conundrum.

Mamotte! Lollipop is another romance fantasy for the younger girls. A very average romance fantasy. I didn’t read this volume so much as I just breezed through it. Every plot was so cliché, from the love potion, to the previously unknown fiancé, right up to the “big” climax at the end. It’s not only all been done before, it’s all been done better. This volume played like the obligatory middle of a trilogy before you get back to the action. There was no reason to introduce two *more* examinees with the exam so close to being over. Eleven and Twelve’s (yes, those really are their names) only purpose was to build up the romantic tension between Nina and Zero and Ichi, which they don’t succeed at. By the end of this volume, nothing has changed.

The best thing about this volume is the extra story “Sun on the 17th of July”. It tells the story of how Sun and Forte first met. It’s really touching and gives depth to the characters, something that we just don’t get in the actual story.

With the end of the exam coming up, you’d think the examinees would be more worried about who is in possession of Nina and the Crystal Pearl, not about who she’s in love with. All the regulars are together acting as friends instead of competitors. The story was more exciting when they were all plotting to get Nina. It’s like they’ve all given up, so there’s no real point in trying. Unless things change in the next volume, there won’t be a real point in continuing to read it either.

Manga Drive-Bys

These are just quick impressions of manga I read during the week.  I’ll come up with full reviews some day.  The Rating scale for these quickies are as follows: Must buys, Would trade for, or Good way to waste an hour or so.

Fairy Tail Volume 5 – Gray’s past is revealed and Ezra, who came to retrieve Natsu, Lucy and Gray instead ends up helping them.  There is some awesome battle action as Natsu tries to save the villagers, Gray and Lyon continue their grudge match, and Lucy goes against a giant rat and her goth-loli owner.
Must Buy.

Rave Master Volume 2 – Haru arrives at Punk Street to find Musica the Blacksmith to fix his sword.  Demon Card is there and in control, of course, and he has to not only battle them, but figure out who the real Muscia the Blacksmith is.  This second volume seems rather bland as typical shonen fighting.  But what really made if hard to get through was the translation.  What is up with the constant cry of “Snap!”?  This book was painful to read, even though it shouldn’t have been.
Would Trade For
Translation: Epic Fail

Continue reading Manga Drive-Bys

January 2009 Previews

Just a few comments about this month’s Previews catalog:

Marvel/Del Rey collaboration: I have two words for the Wolverine manga; Emo Logan.  Does the world REALLY NEED more emo Logan?  I mean, honestly…  The art looks great, I’m not gonna knock that.  The Marvel catalog had some pictures of pages, and they did look nice.  But this isn’t going to win anyone over from one side of the manga vs. comics camp, and really hope it was never meant to.  If anything, this will probably fan the flames, but that seems to be the way Marvel likes it.  Not that they want to come up with anything original…

Continue reading January 2009 Previews

What's Been Going On

Some of you out there may be wondering about my lack of posts lately.  Most of you probably haven’t, but anyway…  With the holidays and work, I’ve been really bogged down and quite frankly stressed, which tends to kill my creative juices.  Distractions by things other than manga can also do it.

Continue reading What's Been Going On

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Twelfth Day

“On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Twelve Ecliptic Zodiac Keys,”

Lucy Heartphilia has always dreamt of joining the  guild of mages known as Fairy Tail.  While searching for the guild, she meets up with Natsu Dragonil and Happy, a blue talking cat.  They are both members of Fairy Tail, though Lucy doesn’t know it at first.  They have a few adventures together, where Lucy shows him her magic.  She is a Stellar Spirit practitioner.  She collects keys that allow her to summon spirits from another world and make contracts with them.  The rarest of these keys are the gold Ecliptic Zodiac keys.  At the start, Lucy already has two; Aquarius and Taurus.  Natsu then invites Lucy to join the Fairy Tail guild, where the two are often paired together for assignments.

Fairy Tail is a new series this year, and one I was hooked on from the first volume.  It’s a great action adventure title with lots of comedy as well.  Natsu is very much like Luffy or Goku.  He doesn’t care about a lot of things, but the things that he does, he cares a lot.  Lucy is very outgoing and determined.  The spirits she contracts with in her keys can be pretty entertaining too, talking back, and even refusing to help without some concession from Lucy.  Of course, having a blue talking cat that can grow wings and the promise of dragons doesn’t hurt either.  I really enjoyed this title and it’s quickly become a must have.  If you like stories with fun, action and adventure, then Fairy Tail is the one title you must get!

Eleven Band Member Battle,
Ten Inukami,
Nine-tailed Fox Spirit,
Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,
Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Siblings Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”


Halloween Manga

It’s that time of year again when ghosts and goblins come out to play. Do you want to get into the Halloween spirit, but just don’t know what to get? Well, here’s a list of manga that I’ve either read, or know something about enough to recommend (or warn you away from).

I first posted this on my Tokyopop blog, but I’m bringing here with a few updates.  Well, I thought it was going to be just a few, but every time I start to think I’m done, I come up with another book!  I tried to keep the books in this list to more appropriate to a Halloween theme, than just ghosts, vampires and monsters, etc.  It would take forever to list ALL manga with those in it!

Continue reading Halloween Manga

Never Go Against Your Instincts

Ordering from the Previews catalog can be like gambling. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. And I lost big time. See, the problem with Previews is, I’m ordering books 2-3 months in advanced, based solely on a picture of a cover, and a brief marketing copy that meant more to entice retailers into buying than the individual consumer. When there’s a new title in the catalog, I can sometimes try and research it, if it looks like something I want, as long as the US title is the same as the Japanese (or at least close to). But often, there isn’t much to find, and I’m stuck going on instinct.

Continue reading Never Go Against Your Instincts

Making the Tough Calls

It was really hard getting through Previews this month. In the catalog, May is Manga Month, so along with all the regular series, there were new ones coming out that had to be evaluated. Top that with a weakening economy, and you get some really tough decisions to be made with this month’s order.  More after the cut.

Continue reading Making the Tough Calls

Hell (Girl) Isn't So Bad

Hell Girl
by Miyuki Eto; Original Story by The Jigoku Shoujo Project
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Genre: Horror/Shoujo
Rating: OT 16+ (Teen 13+)
Price: $10.95

Rating: ★★★★½

I don’t get it. Someone really needs to explain this to me. What was so bad about Hell Girl Volume 1 from Del Rey? I just finished reading it, and can’t see any of the problems so many other reviewers seemed to have with it.

I’ve seen the anime this manga is based on, and, on the whole, the first volume follows the first 4-5 episodes in it. There are some minor changes, such as Enma Ai is seen as a student at the schools the girls go to, instead of always waiting in her home with her “Grandmother” for a request to come through the computer. And in the anime, those that ask for Ai’s help get a straw doll with a red string around it’s neck. If they decide to make the contract with Ai, all they have to do is pull the string. Ai also gives those looking to make the contract a taste of what they will be getting after they die and go to hell. Other than those small changes, this volume follows the beginning of the anime fairly faithfully.

First, to get one thing straight. I don’t know what happened, but the age rating on this volume is wrong. It’s marked OT (16+) on the book, but the Del Rey website has it at Teen (13+) . I really hope this was an oversight on Del Rey’s part, and not a concession to any groups that may have been upset with the title or the subject. I will be very disappointed with Del Rey if it was the latter. This is definitely a title for a younger audience than 16.

So, working with the premise that this is actually a Teen rated book, everything else about it would make sense. The art style, with the big eyes fits in with Del Rey’s other Teen titles for girls, Pichi Pichi Pitch: Mermaid Melody and Mamotte! Lollipop. The stories are very shoujo with young girls as the protagonists and lots of drama to drive them to the desperate action of seeking out Hell Girl. But, what really clinched it for me was when I got to the end of the veterinarian story, as he was being tormented before being taken to hell.

About 10 years ago there was a series of horror stories written for teen readers called R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps that were really popular. I’ve come to know these books very well. My oldest daughter was hooked on them for quite a while, and my youngest daughter has been watching the tv specials that were made from the books. And Hell Girl plays just like one of these stories. An innocent kid who gets sucked in by the normal looking person who turns out to be a demon, and has to find a way to defeat it. This is Hell Girl’s formula to a tee, with the only difference that the girls go to an external source to find their answer, and even though they win in the end, they have a consequence to bear for the rest of their life. It’s a Japanese style of horror, but it’s still teen horror. Once that hit me, the book just fell into place.

That said, this is a terrific book for teens that like things on the dark side. Not necessarily goth, but like to be scared every now and then. The stories may seem to be disturbing at times. The veterinarian story is hard for pet lovers to read, but you can’t deny he didn’t deserve it. They can also seem overly dramatic, but that’s just shojo. The teacher that is able to turn not only all of the protagonist’s friends against her, but also her whole family might seem a little unrealistic to grown adults. But to a 12-13 year old girl who thinks her parents are already against her, this might not seem so. The point is, sometimes you have to look at things from their perspective.

The only thing I wish was kept from the anime is the straw doll each requester was given. In the anime, making the choice to make the contract with Ai Enma was emphasized strongly. It was shown to be a big decision, and it almost seemed like Ai wished the people would change their minds, though she would never try to persuade. In the manga, the choice doesn’t seem as important. Ai does ask once more before completing the contract, but it doesn’t get that same emphasis.

Over all, Hell Girl is good horror for teen girls. This is one of those titles where I say ignore the age rating. Del Rey blew it on this one. Hell Girl fits in perfectly with a teen audience, and will appeal to them if they are given the chance to read it. Sometimes, demographics does matter.