Tag Archives: Manga

Bring Em Back: V.B. Rose

As I was pulling together titles for my post update on crafting manga, I remembered I had a couple of volumes of V.B. Rose. I won volume 7 from a blog a few years ago. I remember there being a lot of hype for the series back in the day, and being ever curious, wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. Then found volume 1 on Paperback Swap and snatched it up.

vb rose 1V.B. Rose is about high school student Ageha Shiroi. Her older sister Hibari, who she idolizes, is getting married and Ageha doesn’t approve. But, Ageha loves weddings and can’t resist when she is invited to see the dress design with Hibari at the boutique Velvet Blue Rose. The boutique is run by two men, Yukari Arisawa and Mitsuya Kuromine. Ageha gets off on the wrong foot with Yukari when she explodes over the wedding, and Yukari literally throws her out of the shop. Ageha, with the help of her friend Mamoru, realizes she did wrong and goes back to apologize. Things go awry again, and Mitsuya hurts his hand. Ageha volunteers to help out in Mitsuya’s place. Yukari balks at first, but Ageha is very crafty, and already know for the handmade purses she makes for Hibari and her friends, so he relents. It becomes a race to get the Hibari’s dress done on time as Ageha has to learn bead embroidery and how to deal with Yukari’s strict management and Mitsuya’s constant glomping.

I read volume 7 first and at the time wasn’t too impressed. I passed on reviewing it since I didn’t have anything useful to say. For this re-read, I read volume 1 first and then volume 7 and found I liked the series a whole lot more. The first volume set up the characters and relationships really well,  so when I got to volume 7, it wasn’t difficult to see how they got there. I think when I first read volume 7, it just didn’t work as well without that context.

Ageha and Yukari are amusing characters. Ageha is rather hot-headed and speaks without thinking, or worse, saying things she doesn’t really mean. Yukari can be just as abrasive, saying exactly what he means, when he chooses to speak. He more often reacts first without full explaining why. This poor communication, or complete lack thereof, leads to misunderstandings between them. It’s not so bad at first, when the misunderstandings are Ageha getting the wrong impression about what Yukari thinks of her craftwork. When it gets into their budding relationship, it’s easy to see how this will only complicate things.

vb-rose-7Ageha and Yukari are the main couple, but Ageha seems to have plenty of suitors for Yukari to worry about. Mitsuya isn’t serious about his advances, but there are other men around who could be serious competition. Mamoru’s younger brother, Nagare has feelings for her and declares them over Christmas, while Ageha is talking to Yukari. His anxiety over Ageha being courted by other men is fun to watch. Ageha has her own things to worry about as she wonders if Yukari’s ex-girlfriend Kana, who he still works with, still has feelings for him.

Since the setting of this series is a wedding dress boutique, there are plenty of beautiful gowns. In volume 1, there is a gorgeous Chinese inspired gown I would have loved to have worn. The gown that Kana makes the corsage for in volume 7 is just elegant. Ageha’s handmade purses are both cute and useful. What I wouldn’t give for a friend that could make a custom bag.

V.B. Rose is a romantic comedy that is a lot of fun. Tokyopop originally licensed the series, and nearly published it complete. They released volume 13 the same month they shutdown, making this one of the most difficult volumes to find in English. The series was originally published by Hakusensha in Japan, a publisher that doesn’t have an established relationship with a US publisher. This title would be a perfect candidate for Viz Media’s Viz Select program. While I would prefer getting this series digitally, I do have to admit that Tokyopop’s early prints of the series were very nicely done with gold imprinting on the cover to make it extra sparkly! Viz Select has already picked up and published several of Tokyopop’s old titles digitally. V.B. Rose would be another great addition to this program. It is probably completely translated, and is a shojo title that would an ideal fit their Shojo Beat catalog.

This Week’s Manga: Demon Magica

This Week's Manga

Demon From Afar 2 Kodansha and Seven Seas Entertainment are back this week, but their selections just aren’t speaking to me. Kodansha is top-loaded with titles I have no interest in. I gave up on Vampire Cheerleaders a while ago, even though that interest was mild at best, and I lost track of the Alice In the Country Of… awhile ago. So, I leave it to Yen Press again to spark my interest and they do a pretty good job this week. Second volumes of Demon From Afar and Love at Fourteen are out this week. The first volume of Demon From Afar felt like a prologue, so I’m curious to see where it goes in the second. Love at Fourteen is a pretty cute romance, so I can’t wait to see where things go in volume 2.

Puella magi Oriko Magica ExtraYen Press is releasing a few new titles as well that I want to read. I unexpectedly really enjoyed the first Puella Magi Oriko Magica series, so I’m really looking forward to reading Extra Story. I love the glimpses at alternate universes the spin offs give us. I’m curious about Devil is a Part-Timer. I think the idea of a Demon Lord having to work as a part-time employee could be fun. I’d also like to read the first volume of Karneval. It sounds intriguing with a touch of mystery. Angel of Elhamburg is by Aki, the same creator as Olympos, a title I loved, so I have high hopes of enjoying this one as well, even if the premise is less than cheerful.

Full list per Diamond Distributors:

Air Gear Volume 33 GN, $10.99
Genshiken Second Season Volume 6 GN, $10.99
Sankarea Volume 11 GN, $10.99
UQ Holder Volume 4 GN, $10.99

Alice In The Country Of Joker The Nightmare Trilogy Volume 3 GN, $13.99
Vampire Cheerleaders In Space And Time GN, $12.99

Accel World The Twilight Marauder Novel Volume 3 SC, $13.00
Accel World Volume 3 GN, $13.00
Angel Of Elhamburg Volume 1 GN, $18.00
Are You Alice Volume 8 GN, $13.00
Big Hero 6 Manga Volume 1 GN, $12.00
Bloody Cross Volume 6 GN, $11.99
Demon From Afar Volume 2 GN, $18.00
Devil Is Part-Timer Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Disappearance Of Nagato Yuki-Chan Volume 7 GN, $13.00
He’s My Only Vampire Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Karneval Volume 1 GN, $20.00
Kingdom Hearts The Novel SC, $16.00
Love At Fourteen Volume 2 GN, $15.00
Puella Magi Oriko Magica Extra Story GN, $13.00
Soul Eater Volume 25 TP, $13.00
Sword Art Online Fairy Dance Volume 3 GN, $13.00
Sword Art Online Progressive Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
Triage X Volume 9 GN, $14.00

Sewing Manga

March is National Craft Month (among other things). So being a crafty person, I thought I would do some features about crafts in manga. I already did one post back in 2009 about some handicrafts, but it was focused more on knitting. This time, I’m expanding to sewing and fashion.

vb rose 1V.B. Rose is about Ageha, a girl with a serious big sister complex. When her older sister announces she is getting married, Ageha is against it at first, but goes with her to the boutique where the dress is being made. There she meets Yukari and Mitsuya, the two-man team that run Velvet Blue Rose. But when Mitsuya’s hand it hurt, Ageha volunteers to help keep her sister’s marriage on track. V.B. Rose features several kinds of crafts. Dressmaking the main one, with wedding dresses being the main focus. There is plenty that goes into making a wedding gown, designing and sewing the gown, and making the accessories such as corsages, beadwork, and the veil. Ageha also has her own skills as she enjoys making purses and bags, impressing Yukari and Mitsuya enough with her work that they let her help at the shop when she offers. This series is 14 volumes long and was published nearly complete by Tokyopop. They got as far as vol 13 before they shut down. It is now out of print.

parakiss1Paradise Kiss follows the story of high school student Yukari who becomes tangled up with four college fashion designer students as they prepare for the fashion school final and want Yukari to model their gown for them. She is drawn into the world of fashion professionally and into the romantically into the arms of George, the charismatic leader of the group. Dressmaking is shown in detail, from the design, to choosing the fabric, to putting on the flourishes. The story is as much a romance as it is about fashion and dressmaking. This series was first published by Tokyopop, and was rescued by Vertical, Inc., that published it in three volumes. It is still in print, but it is unknown for how long.

Stolen Hearts v1Stolen Hearts is about Shinobu Okuma, a petite girl and Miharu Koguma, a boy who looks intimidating, but is really gentle. Koguma’s grandmother owns a kimono shop and needs models to wear the kimonos as advertisements for her shop, and Okuma is tricked into helping by Koguma. At Koguma’s grandmother’s shop, kimonos can be bought or custom-made, and Koguma’s other brothers help out with designing and making the garments. It was licensed by CMX, but only 2 volumes were released before CMX went under. The series went for six volumes and is now out of print.

Buruki no Kazume Buriki no Kanzume is about Nabiki Oukawa, a girl who dreams of being a stuffed toy maker. Itsuru Fukamachi wants to be a silverwork designer. They both join Kousei High’s Crafting Club, intent on working hard to become professionals in their chosen fields. They both have their obstacles to overcome. Fukamachi’s father opposes his choice of professions, while Nabiki’s grades threaten her club activities. Since it’s set in a crafting club, there more crafts that the main characters stuffed animal and silverwork. Beading, glass work, and woodworking also get shown. This series is complete in one volume and was published by Hakusensha. It is currently unlicensed.

Handmade PrinceHandmade Oujisama is about Michiru Asaba, a successful fashion magazine editor who is dumped by her boyfriend because she can’t even sew on a button. Lacking in sewing skills, she decides to make a change and goes to a sewing class run by Shou Igarashi, who has been given the nickname “Handmand Prince.” This title looks cute, and has an older lead, something that appeals to me. This is another one-shot volume. It is a josei, and was published by Shogakukan. It is currently unlicensed.

OsenOsen follows Sen Handa, nicknamed Osen. She is a popular hostess at the longstanding restaurant Isho-an. As well as being a good hostess, Osen is a “jill of all trades.” She is a master chef, entertainer, potter, and art connoisseur. She uses her many skills to solve the problems that pop up around Isho-an. While crafting isn’t the focus of this series, it still sounds really interesting, and has a cool-looking female lead. This series is 16 volumes long. It is a seinen and was published by Kodansha. It is currently unlicensed.



PR: Big Shojo Beat Update for Comixology

Since Shojo manga doesn’t tend to get the attention shonen does, its encouraging when it gets a big update like this, especially to a site mainly known for US comics that doesn’t cater to feminine tastes. There are a lot of really good titles in this update. I would personally recommend Library Wars: Love and War, Otomen, and Skip Beat. Please Save My Earth and Ouran High School Host Club are on my list to check out as well. They all should be on yours too if you haven’t. Most of them are complete and there’s no waiting for the next volume.

Continue reading PR: Big Shojo Beat Update for Comixology

Weekly Top Ten – March 21, 2015

Weekly Top Ten Manga

Every week, the New York Times and Amazon posts the top ten bestselling books. The New York Times gets their numbers from print sales from retailers, while Amazon and Vizmanga.com calculates their own numbers. Once a month the Nielsen Bookscan posts their top twenty graphic novels of which manga is included. Offered here is a listing of these books with their status this week compared with the previous week, and some way-off analysis of the activity.



New York Times Bestseller List for the week ending March 14, 2015

  1. Monster Musume 6Monster Musume Vol 6     ↑ 1
  2. Naruto Vol 69      ↓ 1
  3. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds Vol 7     ↑ 1
  4. Nisekoi False Love Vol 8     ↑ 4
  5. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 1 Phantom Blood Part 1     ↓ 2
  6. Kamisama Kiss Vol 17     ↑ 1
  7. Seraph of the End Vol 4     ∗
  8. Attack on Titan Vol 1     ↓ 2
  9. Unofficial Hatsune Remix     ↑ 1
  10. Wolf Children Ami and Yuki     ↵ 10

Monster Musume Vol 6 was finally able to climb Mount Naruto to stick its flag at the top, taking the #1 spot, but the orange-suited ninja only fell down one to stay hot on the monster girls’ heels. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds  Vol 7 made a nice move up one as does Kamisama Kiss Vol 17 and Unofficial Hatsune Remix. The biggest mover was Nisekoi False Love Vol 8, jumping four spots to #4. And it’s interesting to see the return of Wolf Children Ami and Yuki, with it being such a thick, hardback edition. Even through Seven Seas took the top spot, the majority of the list, 6 spots, belongs to Viz Media and their shonen/shojo machine.



Amazon.com for the week ending March 21, 2015

  1. Attack on Titan 15Attack on Titan Vol 15     ↔
  2. Naruto Vol 69     ↑ 2
  3. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past     ↔
  4. Monster Musume Vol 6     ↓ 2
  5. Attack on Titan Vol 1     ↑ 1
  6. Uzumaki 3-in-1 Edition     ↵
  7. Sword Art Online: Progressive Novel Vol 1     ∗
  8. Attack on Titan Vol 14     ↵
  9. Attack on Titan Vol 13     ↵
  10. Tokyo Ghoul Vol 1     ↔

Several stable titles as well as returnees this week. Attack on Titan Vol 15 holds on to the top spot as preorders turn into orders. It is accompanied by volumes 13 and 14, as readers catch up with the latest. Naruto Vol 69 and Monster Musume Vol 6 bounce around slightly, but keep their spots in the top five. Uzumaki 3-in-1 is an interesting title to return to the top ten. Sword Art Online: Progressive Vol 1 is the novel, and new to the top ten. Tokyo Ghoul Vol 1 continues to just hold on with its preorder for print even though the eBook is now available.

∗ = New Release
↑ = Title moved up specified # of spots
↓ = Title moved down specified # of spots
↔ = Title didn’t moved from previous week
↵ = Title returned after dropping off list with total # of weeks (when available)

Master Keaton Volume 1

Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, the son of a Japanese zoologist and a noble English woman, is an insurance investigator known for his successful and unorthodox methods of investigation. Educated in archaeology and a former member of the SAS, Master Keaton uses his knowledge and combat training to uncover buried secrets, thwart would-be villains, and pursue the truth… When a life insurance policy worth one million pounds takes Master Keaton to the Dodecanese islands of Greece, what will he discover amidst his scuffles with bloodthirsty thieves and assassins?

Master Keaton Volume 1
MasterKeaton-GN01-3DBy Naoki Urasawa; Story by Hokusei Katsushika, Takashi Nagasaki
Publisher: Viz Medial
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Drama
Price: $19.99
Rating: ★★★★★

Master Keaton is one of those licenses that was always talked about but never dreamed it would become reality. Or maybe, dreaming was all fans of the series could do. A 24 episode anime was released here by Pioneer/Geneon back in 2003, but that was as much of the story as fans could hope to get. I was so thrilled when Viz Media announced it last year. It is one of the few titles I will pre-order, sight unseen.

I almost had my doubts at first. Urasawa has been hit and miss with me. I loved Pluto, but didn’t care for Monster or the latter half of 20th Century Boys. But I am happy to say I was not disappointed with Master Keaton. What initially drew me to the series was the title character, Taichi Hiraga-Keaton. He is both an archaeologist and an insurance investigator, combining to things I love; archaeology and mysteries. I really liked Keaton as the absent-minded professor type. He is easy-going, and a bit of a dreamer, but behind this non-threatening facade, is a keen eye and a sharp wit. Even though it is a convenient plot point, I love his quirk of taking seemingly random things that end up helping him get through his current adventure.

Most of the chapters are stand alone cases, with a few multi-chapter stories. Sometimes Keaton gets a case due to his knowledge of archaeology, but in almost every case his skills as a former S.A.S. member and survival skills trainer come into play. Both these skills mesh nicely in the two-part story “Hot Sands, Black and White” and “Qehriman of the Desert.” Not every chapter is a case. This volume also introduces Keaton’s daughter Yuriko and his father. These stories are more about his relationships with his family. He helps out Yuriko when she has problems with a teacher at school, and a girl who thinks his father is also her father. These chapters were just as enjoyable as the more action-oriented chapters. They give more insight to Keaton’s character. “Journey With a Lady” was another wonderful chapter where Keaton’s patience is tested, and ultimately rewarded.

This series is from 16 years ago, but the art is still very Urasawa. The characters are recognizable as his work, and match well with the story. Urasawa’s more technical skills are put to the test as he has to draw, old ruins and life-like statues to fit the archaeological side of the story, and he does it well. The backgrounds are very detailed too, giving the feeling of the place Keaton is in, whether it is England, Italy or the Taklamakan Desert.

Master Keaton is a great series. The stories are well written, and very engaging. I didn’t want to put it down once I started. The investigations are readily solved, with all the piece set in place before hand. There is plenty of action and mystery to keep fans of both happy. I certainly am. I highly recommend it.

This Week’s Manga: Seven Deadly Masters

This Week's MangaSeven Deadly Sins 7Well, this is much better! At least there’s an actual selection to choose from. Seven Seas Entertainment has a decent drop this week including the debut of their new series Servamp vol 1. I think I was curious about the series when it was announced, but it’s low on the priorities list. Kodansha scores much higher with both of their releases; My Little Monster and Seven Deadly Sins, both vol 7. I need to catch up with My Little Monster, but I have been wanting to know what happens next in Seven Deadly Sins. The last volume ended on such a cliffhanger, and I really want to see those Holy Knights get the stuffing kicked out of them! Especially that obnoxious-smirking Guila! I want that smirk wiped off of her face!

Master Keaton 2I would be greatly remiss if I didn’t mention Viz Media’s Master Keaton. I have said how much I love this series? No? Let me tell you so more then. Volume 1 was just great, with a perfect balance of action, humor, and drama. It’s exactly how I like my media to be, so not only is this series a must buy, it’s a preorder! The only problem I seeing with preorders is that I get the volume later than everyone else! I’m also looking forward to Udon Entertainment’s Manga Classics The Scarlet Letter. I missed out on a lot of classic literature growing up, and these books are perfect for some like me, or anyone to catch up fast. The Scarlet Letter is used so much in books and movies, having some grounding the primary source is an absolute must.

Full list per Diamond Distributors:

Oh My Goddess Volume 47 TP, $12.99

My Little Monster Volume 7 GN, $10.99
Seven Deadly Sins Volume 7 GN, $10.99

D-Frag Volume 4 GN, $12.99
Kokoro Connect Volume 3 GN, $12.99
Servamp Volume 1 GN, $12.99
Strike Witches One-Winged Witches Volume 2 GN, $12.99

Manga Classics The Scarlet Letter HC, $24.99
Manga Classics The Scarlet Letter SC, $19.99

Master Keaton Volume 2 GN, $19.99

Wish List: Illegal Rare

Illegal_RareBack in September it was announced that Hiroshi Shiibashi’s latest original manga, Illegal Rare was ending, and the final two volumes were to be released in October and November. Shiibashi is the creator of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, a series about Yakuza yokai and ran for 25 volumes.

Illegal Rare is another ensemble series about the supernatural. Humans and supernatural creatures live together in the same world, but these “Rares” are being hunted to extinction. To protect them, the Illegal Rare Counter-Protection Unit was formed. It is championed by Fukumen, a police officer that wears a mask. He goes to Axl, a member of the very rare and highly hunted Black Vampyr clan, to help him. In the first chapter, he rescues a mermaid, Mirror and she joins the unit as well.

Illegal Rare is similar to Nura. It has a big cast, and features supernatural monsters. The monsters have branched out beyond the traditional Japanese monsters, yokai, and now include western monsters such as vampires, mermaids, and werewolves. The lead is a good-looking monster, and the main female is timid by loyal to the lead. Maybe it was too similar to Nura, and that’s why it didn’t succeed. I liked Nura, especially as it got into the later volumes. It’s too bad this series didn’t get the same chance. With Nura‘s final volume coming out in February, maybe Viz will pick up this series as well. I hope so. I’d really like to read it, even only digitally.



PR: Spring Ahead with New Digital Manga From Viz Media

Viz announces lots of new debuts in digital including digital editions of print titles as well as new additions to the Viz Select line, all former Tokyopop titles. They are offering more bundles, mostly starter sets this time featuring classic manga, Signature titles, and mature manga. All have good titles and at $20, they’re a good deal if you looking to sample.

Continue reading PR: Spring Ahead with New Digital Manga From Viz Media

Weekly Top Ten – March 14, 2015

Weekly Top Ten Manga

Every week, the New York Times and Amazon posts the top ten bestselling books. The New York Times gets their numbers from print sales from retailers, while Amazon and Vizmanga.com calculates their own numbers. Once a month the Nielsen Bookscan posts their top twenty graphic novels of which manga is included. Offered here is a listing of these books with their status this week compared with the previous week, and some way-off analysis of the activity.



New York Time Bestseller List for the week ending March 7, 2015

  1. Naruto 69 Naruto Vol 69     ∗
  2. Monster Musume Vol 6      ∗
  3. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 1 Phantom Blood Vol 1     ↓ 2
  4. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Vol 7     ∗
  5. Akame ga Kill!Vol 1     ↓ 2
  6. Attack on Titan Vol 1     ↓ 2
  7. Kamisama Kiss Vol 17     ∗
  8. Nisekoi: False Love Vol 8     ∗
  9. All You Need Is Kill     ↵ 3
  10. Unofficial Hatsune Mix     ↓ 1

A new Naruto volume means a new top title on the NYT list this week. Vol 69 debuts at #1, followed closely behind by the monster girls of Monster Musume. Vol 6 would be #1 if it weren’t for Naruto. Last week’s top title, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures Part 1 Phantom Blood Vol 1 hangs close, only making room for the two big debuts. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Vol 7 also makes a strong debut at #4. It’s amazing 5Ds is still going so strong. Kamisama Kiss Vol 17, the lone shojo on the list, debuts at #7. It’s nice see a shojo pop in now that all the strong sellers are gone.



Amazon.com for the week ending March 14, 2015

  1. Attack on Titan 15Attack on Titan Vol 15     ↑ 3
  2. Monster Musume Vol 6     ↓ 1
  3. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past     ↓ 1
  4. Naruto Vol 69     ↓ 1
  5. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 1: Phantom Blood Vol 1     ↔
  6. Attack on Titan Vol 1     ↔
  7. Sword Art Online: Aincrad Vol 2 Novel     ↑ 3
  8. Tokyo Ghoul Vol 1     ∗
  9. Monster Musume Vol 1     ↵
  10. Akame ga Kill! Vol 1     ↵

Attack on Titan Vol 15 makes its move one week before its actual release as it jumps to the top spot, and pushing its rivals back one spot each. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures Part 1: Phantom Blood Part 1 and Attack on Titan Vol 1 settle in to their respective spots, and coincidentally right nest to each other. I think they may be keeping an eye on each other. The print release of the new Viz Media title Tokyo Ghoul Vol 1 makes its debut with its pre-order appearing on the list, the joining Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past pre-order.

∗ = New Release
↑ = Title moved up specified # of spots
↓ = Title moved down specified # of spots
↔ = Title didn’t moved from previous week
↵ = Title returned after dropping off list with total # of weeks (when available)

Fool Me Twice

RentaWhen looking for legal manga to read, the selections in English is pretty slim. Readers are limited to eBooks of titles already available in English, the apps Manga Box and Comic Walker which are online only and/or available for a limited time, or Crunchyroll’s all-you-can-read manga which does have several titles not available legally anywhere else, but skews heavily toward the more shonen/senien crowd. If you want more titles directed at women, you need to look elsewhere. Right now, that best elsewhere is Renta!, a Japanese eBook seller that is pushing its English website.

Renta! isn’t a new site. It’s been around since the early 2000s, and has been making manga available in English since 2011. They have recently redesigned the site to attract more female readers by pushing romance, shojo, and ladies titles. At first glance, this looks like a really good site. Just a cursory glance over the site shows lots of titles that aren’t available in English, or would ever be on any publisher’s radar. The translations look well done and the lettering is clean. They even have a section on the site that shows the full translation process to reassure people who there is quality control.

I don’t have a problem with all that. It’s all great, and there are a few tempting titles I wouldn’t mind trying, but I just can’t get over the feeling of deja vu I get when I look at the site. It’s like Jmanga all over. The site doesn’t sell their manga, they rent viewing rights, either for 48 hours or unlimited. This is essentially what Jmanga did. You “bought” the manga, but could only read it online, or later, you could “download” it with their app for offline reading, but you never truly own the manga. This is all well and good until something like what happened with Jmanga, shutdown, takes away everything you’ve invested in.

Renta 2The other thing they do, just as Jmanga did, is to use “tickets”, essentially points. One point = $1 US, and you can buy tickets in 1, 3, 10, 30, 50, and 100 packages. Oh, did I mention they are also charging 8% tax on ever dollar? So you aren’t paying $1, you are paying $1.08 for each ticket. They seem to think that buying tickets makes buying manga easier. I don’t see the advantage other than to make things more confusing for renters, but that’s just me. Most of the manga is sold by chapter, though there are some full volumes available. I dislike the “selling-per-chapter”, since that can sometimes make a volume more costly. I guess this works for the impatient types, but I’m not one of them. I can wait for the full volume.

Renta! has been around for a while, so they probably won’t just up and disappear like Jmanga did. They already have an established business in Japan, so moving into the Western market is a growth strategy. Focusing on the still underrepresented female market is a smart move. They’ve even gotten a lot of title that were previously available on Jmanga, such as Crayon Shin-chan, the Saito Production titles, and Hirohita.

But, after being burned by Jmanga’s shutdown, and losing all the time and money I invested, I am really gun-shy about doing it again. Renta! has the titles I’m interested in, but not the platform I can get behind. I want and need to have some control over the titles I buy online. Either let me download and back them up like Kindle, Nook and even eManga does, or give me the all-you-can-eat model Crunchyroll has where I’m not investing in a single title but the platform. You can rent to me, but give me the option to rent-to-own. Renta! is the right idea, but on the wrong platform.

Bloody Cross Volume 1-5

Tsukimiya is a cursed mixed blood. Half angel and half vampire, she is shunned by both angels and demons. The only way to rid herself of the curse is to drink the blood of a pure demon, but they are had to come by. Hinata is another mixed blood looking for the same cure. They finally find in it in Tsuzuki, a candidate for godhood and must collect God’s Relics during the current Crusade in order to attain it. Satsuki, a fallen angel, has the same goal. In between the two sides is the human organization Arcana, who has their own ideas about godhood. Tsukimiya finds herself tangled up in the web all these groups have woven, when all she wants is to live a long and normal life.

Bloody Cross Volume 1-5
Bloody Cross 1By Shiwo Komeyama
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Action
Price: $11.99
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I had my doubts about Bloody Cross. Considering the publisher, both here and in Japan, I feared this series might have a heavy male gaze aspect to the art. I wasn’t wrong. Sadly that isn’t this title’s worse problem. I decided to give it a try after seeing some positive comments about the banter between the two main characters, but that would only matter to me if I actually liked or cared about them.

Bloody Cross 2Tsukimiya is the protagonist of Bloody Cross. It’s her story that’s being played out as she encounters and has to deal with all the other characters she crosses paths with. She is desperate at the beginning. Her curse is nearly up. She has to find a pure demon to dispel it. She lets Hinata in, thinking he was an angel who would help her, not another mixed blood that would betray her. This seems to be her major weakness, especially with Hinata. She trusts the wrong people, or even if she doesn’t trust them, they still get the upper hand on her. This really shouldn’t be an issue. Trusting should be seen as something good in a character, but it doesn’t completely work for me with Tsukimiya. She’s a capable fighter and puts her talents to the best use, but she isn’t too smart, so her trust seems to come from just not knowing better. I found this really frustrating with her and Hinata, and her “attraction” to him just felt wrong.

Bloody Cross 3Betrayal seems to be the theme of this series, because that is what all the characters do to each other. The first time a character is introduced, it usually ends in someone getting stabbed in the back, sometimes literally. Every single character in this series has an agenda, and will use everyone else to reach it. Even the angel god candidate Tsuzuki betrays Tsukimiya and Hinata the first time he works with them. No one does anything out of some good will. There is always a hidden motive behind everything. As a reader, I found it very disturbing to not have someone I could put even an ounce of faith in. It’s hard to call anyone an antagonist, since everyone seems to be one. Arcana and its head Izumi, who plots to become god in the next crusade, is no better than Satsuki, the fallen angel, and even allies with him at first.

Bloody Cross 4Then there’s the overwhelming male gaze. Tsukimiya is only one of two females in the series, and she is of course very well endowed. And because she is usually the braun to Hinata’s magic, her clothes area always getting torn. Whether it’s to reveal her cursed mark on her breast, or just for some touching from a oogling Hinata, Tsukimiya has to have her shirt split down the middle, and it’s left that way for several chapters, until the next time.

Bloody Cross 5The art is very typical of a Square Enix title with the girls beautiful and big-breasted, while the men are hot and slim. The action isn’t so bad. Tsukimiya’s use of her vampiric powers is good as she uses it to sniff out lies (usually too late), and controls her blood like a remote blade. Hinata is at least competent with his magic, being useful even after he’s pulled another back-stabbing. If there was a character I could like, the closest would be Hanamura, the demon attendant of Tsuzuki. He’s very much the butler type, very polite, organized, and a great cook. But he only stands out because everyone else is so terrible.

I can’t find much good to say about Bloody Cross. I can’t really recommend it either. The story isn’t badly written or drawn. The characters are just so unlikable. The mangaka even said as much in one of the afterwards. I deal with enough unlikable people in real life. I don’t need them dominating my leisure as well. If you like constant betrayal and characters you can’t like or trust, then pick this one up, otherwise, just give it a pass.