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Fruits Basket Volume 1-4: MMF

Tohru Honda recently lost her mother, and through certain circumstances, is living alone in a tent in the woods. The same woods, as it happens, as her classmate and school “prince” Yuki Sohma. Through a strange twist of fate (and her own clumsiness) she discovers that Yuki, and other members of the family, have been cursed, and through weakness or a hug from a member of the opposite sex, change into one of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Tohru ends up living with Yuki, Shigure, and Kyo Sohma, and is soon meeting more members of the zodiac.

By: Natsuki Takaya
Publisher: Tokyopop
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $9.99/OOP
Rating: ★★★★½

I wasn’t interested in shojo at the time that Fruits Basket started to come out, and didn’t develop one until the series was already well into the teens. But, like so many other titles, the Manga Movable Feast has given me an opportunity (and excuse) to finally check it out. I wasn’t really impressed after reading the first volume. I took the ending of volume 4 to really get me to give the series a chance and continue on with it.

I didn’t really care for the characters at the beginning. Tohru, the female protagonist of the series, and really the focus, came off as really ditzy, and even a little naive at first. But it soon becomes apparent, that she is just very kind, often to a fault. She always tries to keep a positive attitude, even though she is still trying to deal with the sudden loss of her mother in a car accident. She doesn’t want to impose on others, which is why she decides to live in the woods instead of “inconveniencing” her friends. She is very accepting of people for who they are, and after the initial shock, isn’t surprised by all the transformations that keep happening around her.

I was mostly fine with Tohru. It was Yuki and Kyo that I really didn’t like at first. Yuki is the quiet, and very handsome boy who is often mistaken for a girl. He is aloof and comes off cold at the beginning. He is the rat of the zodiac, who is responsible for the cat not being at the banquet. He doesn’t want to be a part of the zodiac, and just wants to live with “normal” people. He takes ill easily, but is physically very strong. I really disliked his contemptible nature towards others, especially Kyo at first. He gets better over these first four volumes. Kyo is Yuki’s cousin and the cat of the legend. He’s not part of the zodiac, but he still transforms. He hates Yuki as the rat, and the feeling is completely mutual. He is constantly attacking Yuki to try to beat him. He is filled with anger at the beginning, and lashes out at everyone around him, including Tohru, even when she’s trying to be nice to him. She seems to have a calming effect on him, and though he is still competitive with Yuki, their fights tone down to bickering instead of destroying the house. I didn’t really care for Kyo at first either, but as he toned down the anger, he became easier to like.

Two characters I liked immediately though were Tohru’s two best friends, Arisa Uotani, a former gang member/yanki and Saki Hanajima, who seems to possess some sort of psychic powers. They are like family to Tohru and are very protective of her. They have a lot of lighter moments in these volumes, with Uotani acting menacing, and Hanajima’s “poisonous electrical waves.” They also get along rather well with the Sohmas, to whom them give their approval for Tohru to stay with. Uotani and Kyo seem to get along especially well, with their competitive natures.

Through these first four volumes, about 2/3 of the zodiac is presented; the dog, boar, rabbit, dragon, cow and snake are introduced in fairly quick succession, usually through an accidental (though sometimes intentional) hug with Tohru. With several of these introductions, glimpses into their past are given, and they are almost all tragic, from being verbally abused by relatives and parents, to losing a lover, to Momiji’s past, that nearly brought me to tears after reading it.

While these first few volumes seem to have a light, rom-com feel to them, there is a sense of something darker lurking beneath, which increases with every volume. Shigure, the dog of the zodiac, and whose house Yuki, Kyo and Tohru share, seems friendly and easy-going, but also seems to have an agenda that involves using Tohru somehow. Something that he said makes him a horrible person. And then there’s Akito, the mysterious head who is not formally introduced until volume 4. He has a menacing feeling about him, disturbing Yuki when he sees him, and gets a glare from Kyo. It’s this darkness, and the mystery of the curse that really helped to encourage me to continue. The hints about this mystery is sprinkled throughout these first four volumes, and with every new one, it only made me want to know more. There also seems to be a mystery around Kyo and his “other form” that begs to be found out about.

Fruits Basket is slow to build up, but once you get past them whole “OMG! They turn into animals!” and the “Which zodiac animal will Tohru meet this time?” parts of the story, it really start to have something to say.  The themes of being alone and finding a place to fit in and call home are ones that strike a chord with teens, which is probably one of the reasons it sold so well. This is another series that the MMF has convinced me I want to read, but since it’s OOP, that going to be kind of hard. Wouldn’t it be nice if another company could rescue it and make it available in Omnibuses (3 not 2 volumes) or better yet, digitally?

Amnesia Labyrinth Volume 1

Souji Kushiki, a high school student from a well-to-do family returns home from boarding to school to find things have changed. His three sisters are strangely clingy, and their behavior borders on inappropriate and bizarre. At school, he learns that over the summer, three of his fellow students were murdered, and the links to the murders seem to lead back to his sisters. With the help of his new friend, the cheery and spunky Yukako Sasai, Souji goes in search of the truth behind the murders, the answers to which may just end everything he believes to be true.

Story by Nagaru Tanigawa; Art by Natsumi Kohane
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Mystery
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Amnesia Labyrinth is a thriller-mystery that gave off Higurashi-When They Cry vibes when I started reading it. Many of the characters have creepy and unsettling sides to their personalities, that it seems only Souji sees. While the story moves into some areas of taboo that I don’t really care for, the mystery is intriguing.

Amnesia Labyrinth centers around Souji Kushiki, the second son of the Kushiki family and now head of house when his older brother Kazushi takes off. Souji is smart and athletic, and is very stoic to his home situation. He rarely smiles and seems very detached from the people around him. But his family dynamics are key to the story. We do meet his stepmother, but his father, a powerful politician, is never introduced. So the focus revolves around Souji and his three sisters.

Youko is the oldest sister, but is younger than Souji. She is both disturbing and disturbed. She likes to hold Souji from behind with her arm around his neck, almost threatening to choke him. She always has a faint smile on her lips, so it’s impossible to tell what she’s thinking. She looks as if she could go psycho at any moment. She’s tried to sleep with Souji but was soundly rejected. Saki is Souji’s half, illegitimate sister, and works as a maid in the house. She not as creepy as Youko, but she has her moments. She IS sleeping with Souji. Harumi is Souji’s step sister, the daughter of his father’s current wife, and the youngest. She is shy and meek; nothing like the other two sisters. She looks up to Souji, but is too self-conscious to say anything to him. Souji is the most brotherly with Harumi.

Outside this odd family is Yokako. She is Souji’s first friend at school, and is the sole member of the Intelligence Committee. She is very outgoing and upbeat, and latches onto Souji, despite his dour attitude. She is investigating the murders that have occurred at school, and has a personal interest in the last one. She drags Souji into helping her, and after learning some of the facts, he finds himself pulled in further.

The mystery of the murdered students is just one part of the story. They do appear to be connected to Souji. Each murdered person could have been a competitor to Souji; a track star, a smart student, the class president. This makes Youko and Saki look good as suspects, especially with their behavior near the end, but they also appear too obvious. It’s difficult to pick up what’s a red herring at this point.

The other mystery of this title seems to be about Souji and the Kushiki family. Souji doesn’t trust his full sister Youko. He doesn’t believe she is the real Youko. And even though he believes he has seen his older brother Kazushi walking around town, Youko takes him to a building on the family land where Kazushi is imprisoned. The question of dopplegangers seems to be brought, as does the fact that Souji is missing some of his memories, a fact that both Youko and Kazushi bring up along with dropping a potential bombshell on the last page. Yokako posits an interesting thought as well. The world they are living in now is really a dream world/land of dead, but no one knows it. It’s a bit of a Matrix reference, but it’s also something I can almost see, in relation to the visuals.

Amnesia Labyrinth is a strange but intriguing title. It has several disturbing moments which to me makes it deserving of its older teen rating. Youko comes off as borderline psycho, and all the incest that treated almost matter-of-factly would make me think twice about giving this title to anyone under 16. But the mystery of the murders and the truth behind the Kushiki family has me intrigued enough that I will check out the second volume to see where things go.

The Manga Guide to Relativity

Everything’s gone screwy at Takai Academy. When the crazy Headmaster forces Minagi’s entire class to study Einstein’s theory of relativity over summer school, Minagi volunteers to go in their place. There’s just one problems: he’s never even heard of relativity before! Luckily, Minagi has the plucky Miss Uraga to teach him.

Continue reading The Manga Guide to Relativity

Yen Plus June 2011

Would you know, just as I decide to start reading Maximum Ride again, it doesn’t show up in the magazine this month! But it’s absence is made up for with 2 chapters of Witch and Wizard. And then I didn’t even notice that Jack Frost wasn’t in the magazine last month, but it’s back this month with a new chapter not collected into a volume yet in Korea. So, Yen finally caught up to its releases in Korea. I guess it will become more sporatic. That’s okay though, since next month starts the serialization of a new adaptation, and it isn’t a James Patterson title! Gail Carriger’s Soulless, drawn by another former Tokyopop RSoM winner, Ren.

Daniel X – Daniel finally defeats No. 5, but quickly learns there was more to him that just an electric alien catfish. Gathering all of the electronics in Hollingswood and destroying them in a decidedly non-environmental way makes his end final. Then No. 3 shows up to warn Daniel off, but that just makes him think he will definitely be his next target. The end of No. 5 was kind of anti-climatic, and I don’t know that I buy this one. No. 6 had a much better end.

Milkyway Hitchhiking – Milkyway’s adventures continue at the school from last chapter. She is passing through a forest that is near the dormatory where he runs into Shasha, a human with a cat in him. To everyone around him, Shasha is more cat than human, and this bugs the heck out of Lime, Shasha’s classmate. Lime seems to have a bird inside him, and he is constantly pecking at Shasha. Despite this, they share watching a sunrise together and Lime finds he can be friends with Shasha, even though their spirit animals usually can’t be. I’m getting the feeling that this title has strayed very far from its stated plot, and now is just a vehile for the artist to tell whatever short stories she wants. Milkyway is just an excuse to use to justify whatever story she’s telling.

Witch and Wizard – Whit and Wisty are taken on a tour of the City of Progress, the blueprint of the N.O.’s perfect city. There Wisty is accused by an older woman of being a witch, but Wisty turns the tails on the old woman who DOES turn out to be a witch. She makes eye contact with Wisty before disappearing. Then, the kids learn their parents have been captured and taken to the same place as the children the resistance was planning to break out, so Whit and Wisty join the team. The chapter ends on a cliffhanger for both Whit and Wisty, who split up. The first chapter with the visit to the city seemed pointless since it was so short, but perhaps the meeting of the witch will have some meaning later.

Aron’s Absurd Armada – Luthor, who was only following orders to kill Aron finds his own motivation, and reduces Aron’s ship to a floating hull. The crew relocates to the island, where it seems like paradise, until the volcano explodes. Running back to the remains of the ship, the crew learns from Aron there was one other crewmember no one knew about. The ghost of the builder of the ship still haunts the ship. I can’t help but feel sorry for Ronnie. She tries so hard to tell Robin the truth about herself, and still no one believes she’s really a girl. I hope her hair grows back soon. Though with this creator, something worse than burning will happen to it.

Jack Frost – Jack finally catches up to Hansen, who isn’t happy with Jack not staying with No-Ah. Jack doesn’t seem to have any kind of response when he hears No-Ah has got to the East District except to turn and walk away…to the east. No-Ah and her father are locked up in a room, but Milita at least offers to make them comfortable, which earns her some gratitude from No-Ah. We’ll see how that affects her. After all the hype Yen made about this chapter being in the mag, it was actually kind of anti-climatic. It will be back again in the next issue, so we’ll see if there was anything to get excited about.

High School of the Dead – Takashi and Rei take a motorcycle to try to get back home. They see the extent of the damage the zombies have done. They find a police car, with its occupants dead, and relieve them of their guns. A stop at a gas station give Takashi an opportunity to bash in the register, and Rei gets some breast sqeezing as a survivor tries to take her and the motorcycle. Takashi uses the gun for the first time, and they leave him to the zombies attracted by the noise. I liked Takashi’s reaction to holding a gun for the first time. And Takashi and Rei’s argument was a nice break from the zombie tension and showed some actual character development.

The Innocent – While continuing his search for Mira Jones, Johnny learns that the laywer that represented him (and subsequencely lost the case) is now representing Jonas. He decides to help Jonas and promises Angel that he will try not to kill anyone or break the rules while doing it. He then proceeds to break Jonas out of jail. There have been lot of little clues dropped here and there through these first three chapters, but nothing seemst to fit together yet. Hopefully things will start to connect in the next chapter.

K-On! – Instead of going to the beach, the girls go to a music festival in the mountains with tickets provided for by their advisor, for their club trip. Azumi tans immediately, adn the girls see other bands, but get distracted by things like how the band members get their hair to stand up, and left handed players. Afterward, Azumi goes to the pool with Ui and Jun and has to deal with tan lines, while making Jun regret not joining the Pop Music Club with her. At least it wasn’t another trip to the beach. And Jun and Ui aren’t anywhere as annoying as Yui and Ritsu.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba gets to take Fuuka’s excersize ball home, and while bouncing it down the hallway, accidentally breaks some dishes. When confronted by her father, she tries to lie about what happened. So her father takes her somewhere that makes her think twice about lying. Putting fear into a child about lying might seem like a good idea, and might even work for a while, but in the long run, I don’t believe this is the best way to displine a child.

It’s going to be a full plate next issue! Maximum Ride will be back, as will more Jack Frost, and then there’s the debut of Soulless. That’s going to put the magazine up to 12 titles! It’s good to see Yen Press expanding its titles. That’s a good sign, right? That things are going well for the digital magazine? I really hope so.

Shonen Jump June/July 2011

The big but strangly never mentioned news for this issue of Shonen Jump is that it is not long a purely monthly magazine. Subscriptions cards in the mag advertise a yearly subscription as being 10 issues. And you’ll notice this issue covers June and July. Of course, nothing is mentioned in the magazine about this change or why. The obvious reason is cost. Cut out 2 issues (this isn’t any bigger a normal issue) and save printing costs. If there was any other reasons, Viz isn’t saying, since they’ve said nothing about the change. Maybe they were hoping no one would notice?

The issue starts out with a video game feature, looks at the Nura anime and vol 3 of the manga, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds trading card and strategy and the Reborn anime which has started streaming on Vizanime.com. The manga starts up with Psyren.

Oboro, the famous actor goes on a TV show about Psyren, and nearly feels the wrath of Nemesis Q. He is saved by Elmore Tenjuin, the woman who put up the 500 million to solve the mystery of Psyren. Another player isn’t so lucky. Ageha’s training contiues to surprising results that Sakurako can’t explain, but the call to return to Psyren interrupts them. It’s a new batch of new recruits that includes Oboro. Sakurako tries to explain what’s going on again, and of course, no one believes her. Oboro decides to see for himself and leads most everyone out except for a kid who decides to stick with Sakurano because she’s cute. Outside the group learns that Sakurano wasn’t kidding with the appearance of a monsterous sand worm. I really hope we get past the introduction of newbies and explaining things again and again. Let’s just get the team that’s going to be fighting in Psyren and get this title going!

One Piece finishes the flashback with Luffy, Ace and Sabo. Luffy and Ace learn a hard lesson with Sabo’s loss, and both resolve to become pirates and go out to see at 17 and live the lives they want. They continue training to become stronger. Ace learns to care for Luffy and they become real brothers. We see Ace’s send off as well as another view of Luffy’s. Luffy continues to struggle with his grief until Jimbei gets him thinking about what he still has instead of what he’s lost. We see the graves Shanks creates for White Beard and Ace, and Garp comes home to Windmill Village and ends up facing Dadan’s wrath. These were more great chapters, as we saw how far Ace’s apple DIDN’T fall from the family tree. And I still think Ace is cute, especially with his freckles. The moment that it dawns on Luffy that he still has something to live for is another emotional moment, and just shows again why One Piece continues to be superior to the likes of Bleach and Naruto.

Speaking of Bleach, the battle is set as the Soul Reaper Captains and Seconds stand ready to face Aizen and his Espada army. Back in the Hueco Mundo Ulquiorra waits for Ichigo to come and save Orihime. A fade to black (so to speak) and story goes back in time to 100 years in the past, to see where the seeds of Aizen’s plans were planted. There are lots of familiar faces, but not in familiar roles, and the story begins with the promotion of one Kisuke Urahara to the Captain of the 12th Company. While it’s nice to get away from the long and drawn out Hueco Mundo arc, I do question the need to put this in now, and how abruptly the story jumps from just about to start the big battle to this more plot heavy arc. I wonder if reader surveys had anything to do with the change.

Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds continues the duel between Yusei and Jack Atlas. Yusei’s having trouble with the duel as he tries to hold on to Sect and his duel runner is coming apart. Jack mocks Yusei’s devotion to helping his friend, and because Yusei puts his friend’s like first, he loses the match, and we are left wondering if he even survived. But since we already know Yusei has script immunity, we know this isn’t the end. And that Jack, and the first antagonist of the series, will have to see the light by the end of the arc, that friends are the best thing to have in a duel.

Naruto shows off his new ability to control the Nine-Tails chakra, and senses Kisame hiding in Killer Bee’s sword. Kisame tries to escape and instead has to face Guy, in a rematch. Kisame thinks he’s going to win thanks to his ability to absorb chakra, but he’s in for a surprise from Guy’s fighting style, and is captured instead. While he thought he would gathering intelligence on Naruto and the alliance, he instead is probed and we get a flashback to his life before becoming Akatsuki, but he bites his own touge off rather than betray Madara and the Akatsuki. Naruto’s new abilities with the control of the Nine-Tails Chakra is interesting, as it seems he also inherited his father’s teleportation ability. More cool and confident Naruto would be a huge welcome to this series. With memories of his parents now, may be we can keep getting more of that and less of the angst.

Online in Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Rikuo has to save Kana from a yokai who promised to come get her on her 13th birthday. He then takes her to a yokai party where she seems to start to fall for Night Rikuo. Then, a new arc is introduced. Now that Rikuo has accepted his position as successor to the Nura Clan, the internal squabbling is mostly over, but a new threat from outside now threatens the Clan. The 88 Demons of Shikoku start to move in on Nura territory, even killing an executive, Hihi. Thinking the Nura clan is an easy target, they go straight for Nurarihyon. I like the sort-of romance starting between Rikuo and Kana, his childhood friend. Kana seems rather jealous of Yuki-Onna when she’s with Rikuo, and how she becomes smitten with Night Rikuo isn’t too surprising. I’ve already said I prefer him to day Rikuo anyway. I wonder how much this part of the story will be advanced, or if it will stay in the shadows.

The preview for May/June is for Toriko volume 5. Toriko, Rin, Terry, Sunny and Komatsu get separated as they race to reach Regal Plateau before the GT robots do to get the Regal Mammoth and its jewel meet. Toriko and Rin end up goign north, through the Devil Athletic, while Sunny and Komatsu go south through the Prehistoric March. Terry, the battle wolf that impressed on Toriko is following after Toriko to warn him of more GT Robots who are roaming and killing anything that gets in their way. Sunny guesses what the GT Robots are really up it, and explains to Komatsu (and the reader) the idea of Gourmet Cells, which also explains why Toriko, Rin and Sunny are so powerful. These chapters are mostly either battling or appreciating the strange foods found on the island. Neither activity interests me, so neither do these chapters.

With the reduction of the print issues, I wonder how, or if, it will affect the release of the graphic novels. The issue of costs have me worried. Viz could probably take their whole magazine online, like Nura, but the fact that they have been heavily i*, I’m afraid if they go all digital that that is the format they would go with and not through the browser. I would have to completely drop my Shonen Jump subscription. And I really do like having the magazine to read. It is nice to have some non-screen time.

Saiyuki Volumes 1-3: Manga Movable Feast

Saiyuki is among the first few manga I started to read. Having been a fan of the original Dragon Ball manga and knowing how it was based on the Chinese story Journey to the West, I was interested in seeing other takes on the story. While I came to Saiyuki for the story, I definitely stayed for hot guys. This title is a perfect blend of action, bishonen and angst, that it’s no wonder is was such a big hit with the ladies when it was released.

By Kazuya Minekura
Publisher: Tokyopop
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action/Fantasy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★

The basic premise of Saiyuki is simple. In the land of Shangri-la, humans and demons known as youkai live together in peace. But the peace is threatened when someone attempts to resurrect Gyumaoh, a youkai known as the Ox King using a combination of demon magic and human science. The forbidden practice causes a Minus Wave of negative energy to spread across Shangri-la, and causing the youkai to lose their minds and attack humans. The gods summon a monk, Genjyo Sanzo, to travel to India in the west to find out who is attempting the revival and stop them. Accompaning him are former traveling companions Son Goku, Sha Gojyo and Cho Hakkai, three youkai that seem to be immune to the minus wave.

But getting to India isn’t the point of this series. It’s just an excuse to get these four traveling together because it’s the characters and their interactions that really make this a fun title to read. Sanzo, the defacto leader, is not what you would expect a Buddhist monk to be like. He doesn’t shave his head. He drinks, smokes, and gambles. He carries a gun to use against enemy youkai, and a paper fan for Gojyo and Goku. Gojyo is the bad boy of the group with a cigarette in one hand and an eye on the hottest girl in sight. He likes the act like he’s grown up, but always ends up in childish arguments with Goku. The youngest looking of the group, he’s really over 500 years old. He’s also the most powerful, but is kept in check with the power limiter headband he can never take off. He thinks more with his stomach, and looks up to Sanzo. Hakkai is the quiet one, always ready with a gentle smile and a helping hand. The smile can also be quite menacing, especially when he has a ball of his chi ready to fire at an enemy or make into a force field to protect friends and innocents alike.

For the most part, this odd quartet gets along like old friends, or almost a family. Gyojo and Goku are the siblings, constantly bickering and teasing each other. Sanzo is the father constantly getting angry at their bickering and issuing threats of “I’ll kill you”, while Hakkai tries to keep the peace. But for all the light-hearted moments, the boys have some tragic pasts that not only influence who they are now, but also come back to haunt them on the journey. Sanzo’s almost takes his life, and Gyojo’s comes back in a most unexpected way. Their tragic back stories are wrought with emotion, but never quite tip into melodramatic territory. Hakkai’s back story is just starting as volume 3 ends, but portents in the final chapter doesn’t bode well for him.

Their enemy, Kougaiji, the son of Gyumaoh, and his trio of subordinates are almost a mirror image of the group. Youkai with tragic pasts of their own, they drum up an almost friendly rivalry with Sanzo’s group. They even end up working together at the end of volume 3, and actually make a good team. But Kougaiji’s own past keeps the groups enemies, though he isn’t happy about who he has to work with, or even really trusts she’ll keep her promise to him.

The is a lot of action in these first three volumes, as Sanzo’s group has to fight off youkai attacks and assassins sent by Kougaiji. They give the boys lots of opportunities to be glib and toss off one liners. In one chapter, they even rate a youkai assassin on his laugh and even how he falls down. Minekura is also not afraid to be graphic in these scenes. Heads get cut off, or sliced in two, and intestines are seen as torsos are sliced and youkai eat.

Whether they are in the middle of a fight, or relaxing in an inn after a long ride, they always look good. And I happily admit this is one of the reason I enjoy this series. All of the guys, good or bad are hot. There is lots of long, flowing hair, and bangs that fall over and/or cover eyes. They are all tall, thin, and lithe (mostly), and Minekura dresses them in a modern-ish fantasy style, combining jeans with tunics and sashes. Even Sanzo with his traditional garb looks good when he lets his robes down.

Tokyopop did a really job with this release. The dialog is very readable and catches the personalities of the characters perfectly. The cover is a nice heavy paper stock, and they presevered the original Japanese wraparound cover, and put the back text on the inside of the front. Volume one also features color plates of the four main characters. A lot of time and effort went into these volumes and it really shows.

Saiyuki isn’t just one of the first manga I read, it’s one of my top favorite titles of all time. The action, comedy, drama and hot guys makes this a title I read and gladly re-read again and again. It’s really just a lot of fun, which is exactly how I want my manga to be.

Yen Plus May 2011

One of the good things about Yen Plus is that it isn’t filled with a lot of articles about things I don’t care about. There aren’t color spreads of anime I don’t want to watch, video games I don’t play, or ads for devices I don’t and will never own. It’s just all about the manga. The ads in the magazine are all in-house for YP titles. I don’t have to skip a lot of articles to get to the good stuff. And there is a lot of good stuff in this month’s manga.

Maximum Ride – I may have to re-evaluate my stand on this series. Things seemed to have taken an interesting turn, and I may start reading it again. If the major angst is over. This chapter has Max faced off against Max 2.0. It was a battle set up by Jed to see who was stronger. Original Max won, but defied her “programming” by refusing to kill Max 2.0. An explosion gives the flock the cover they need to escape. Jed is given an ultimatum from his higher-ups; the flock must be eliminated before their “New world Order” plan can go into effect. The whole NWO plan has the most interested, so I think I’ll read a few more chapters to see where this all goes.

Milkyway Hitchhiking – This chapter has Milkyway at a school. There is a timid boy who tries to speak to his fellow classmates, but he just can’t get the words out. Milkyway leads him to an old house where there is an old cello. With Milkyway’s help (though actions, not words), the boy learns to play the cello, where his first “concert” has more than a cat for an audience. This is the nice start to a story, but I wonder if it will be continued in the next issue. This title hasn’t had any two-part stories yet, and while this chapter does have an ending, it’s not really a satisfactory one. I’d really like to see more of the boy and the school.

Witch & Wizard – Whit and Wisty escape the Shadowlands with Sasha’s help and make it to Freeland, where a bunch of kids that have escaped the New Order live and continue to resist the N.O. by freeing other accused “witches” and “wizards”. Whit and Wisty aren’t ready to commit to help the others, but a description of their abilities puts them immediately onto a higher level than many of the other witches and wizards, but also makes them prime candidates for being the “Liberators”. Now that there seems to be a plot in full swing, this series isn’t as boring (or melodramatic) as the first few chapters. Where it seems to be going though, does seem rather obvious. But maybe it won’t be boring-obvious. Svetlana’s art does keep it fun.

Aron’s Absurd Armada – The truth behind the attempted assassination on Aron is revealed, and I was half right. The crew is distracted by the appearance of an island where Ronny, Anton and Gilbert go in search of treasure. They find only half. The chest. Fear of facing the demon that is Robin has them worried, but the appearance of Luthor is just the distraction they need. I’d really love to see more webtoons like this show up in Yen Plus. It’s really funny.

Daniel X – After learning Number 5’s plan, Daniel and his imaginary crew goes to work. First, they take out Number 21 and then go to face Number 5. Number 5 is waiting for them of course, and tries to distract Daniel with the story that he was there when Daniel’s parents died, filming the whole thing. But Daniel doesn’t rise to the bait and tests Number 5 himself. It doesn’t seem to inconceivable that Number 5 could have been there, but at the same time it does sound like an attempt to get a rise from Daniel. But with this being from a YA novel, it’s probably going to be closer to the former. We’ll have to wait for next issue to see what Daniel’s next move will be.

Highschool of the Dead – An argument on the bus erupts that give Shidou the opportunity to take over. Rei won’t stand for it, so she gets off. Takashi follows her and makes an arrangement with Saeko to meet at the Easter Police station at a specific time. The two students fight with a zombie motorcyclist, and take his ride. It’s strange where the hostility toward Takashi comes from. It seems to just be a reason to get him and Rei off the bus and on their own again. This is just a transition chapter to get the plot moving on to Rei and Takashi killing zombies, which is what this title is better at than coming up with plot.

The Innocent – Johnny is given his next assignment. Deliver a letter for a man on death row, wrongly accused of murder. Of course, Johnny isn’t interested at first, but when he sees what the man, Norton Graves has been working on, he goes to look in on Graves’ wife. The angel goes to try to find out how Johnny/Ash became an emissary, and meets another angel how taunts him. Johnny arrives too late to get the evidence Grave was hiding, but meets Whirl, a man who can see him. They fight, and Johnny is almost killed in the process. The angel saves him while Graves’ wife and child escape. In the end Johnny fulfills assignment. Once freed from the chains that bound him, he goes after Whirl, who seems to have had a hand in harming his sister. The introduction of Whirl adds a new dimension to the series. of everyone in the room, he was the only one who could see Johnny, and even injured him. It leaves a big question about who or what he is.

K-On! – It’s summer, so Yui is of complaining about the heat. The girls try to come up with ways to practice and keep cool. Then Ritsu runs into Tsumugi and shows her how “the little people” have fun with little money. Some cute but obvious moments.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba, Koiwai, Fuuka and Jumbo continue their adventures in the electronics store. While Koiwai and Jumbo look at cameras (the reason they are there), Fuuka and Yotsuba explore the rest of the store, checking out refrigerators, exercise machines and massage chairs. Yotsuba rocks out with some headphones to some loud sample music. This was a “been there, done that” chapter, and I don’t need to live vicariously through Yotsuba.

This month’s issue was a good read over all. The Innocent is going in interesting directions, and I’m looking forward to mindless zombie killing. I may be back to reading all of the Patterson adaptations. It they weren’t soooo angsty at the beginning, I wouldn’t have such doubts about them. I would like to see at least on more Japanese title, and some more Korean manwha. The adaptations are really overrunning the English/Korean side. Something needs to balance against the Patterson/angst.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Volume 1

When a high-ranking government official is kidnapped, the Prime Minister must call in his top crime fighting force know as Section 9. Lead by the beautiful (and deadly) Major Kusanagi, the cybernetically enhanced squad must use all their skill to take down the kidnappers and rescue the hostages. But that’s only half of the mission; can Kusanagi and company find out who’s behind the kidnapping, and, more importantly, just what they’re after?

Continue reading Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Volume 1