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Until Death Do Us Part Volume 2

Protecting Haruka from Ex Solid has gotten Mamoru involved in an even more sinister plot, organized by the terrorist group known as the Plunderers. The swordsman’s reckless tactics generate results, but they have also attracted the attention of the terrorists’ leader, Edge Turus. Mamoru’s allies in the Wall and the very people who hired him begin to fear that Mamoru’s methods are too extreme and could endanger those around him, including Haruka herself. Meanwhile, the police are connecting the dots between Haruka’s abduction and the recent string of attacks. As they and Edge close in, it may only be a matter of time before Mamoru has nowhere to run!

16 UntilDeathDoUsPartV2_TPWritten by Hiroshi Takashige; Illustrated by Double-S
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $18.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

The African country of Galboa is revealed to be the force behind the terrorist acts, and through some intel from Ex-Solid and discover Haruka’s ability. The leader, Edge Turus decides he wants her as well. Mamoru does his stuff, stopping Ex-Solid and their cloning operation as well as Turus, cutting off his arm in the process, which makes him none too happy. He puts a contract out on Mamoru. In the meantime, Mamoru officially becomes Haruka’s bodyguard and Sierra, the female agent that’s been helping them, decides to stay with him and Igawa, so Haruka will have a female influence. Haruka gets a fake id and to go to school, but a new enemy shows up, an invisible one that Mamoru must try to figure out how to defeat.

I wasn’t impressed with the first volume, though I did like the “Global Frequency” vibe that it initially had. This volume had none of that. It was a lot of Mamoru being awesome with his sword and Haruka fretting over him. I’m okay with the Mamoru being awesome part, but really for the most part, I don’t care about any of these characters or what happens to them. I’m not too thrilled with “The Wall” suddenly deciding to turn on Mamoru for doing just what they pay him to do; get past the bad guys and get them results. That’s all he and Igawa have done. They keep dwelling on what could be instead of keeping what they have now.

An explanation is given for Haruka’s powers, and I’m actually okay with it. It’s still mixed up with some techo-babble, but as long as it sounds plausible, I’m good. I actually liked the “invisible” enemy that Mamoru has to take on. It actually becomes timely with some of the news that’s been going up lately, and puts Mamoru’s skills to the test.

I’ll still read the third volume, but more for “Can this get better?” than “I like it!” There is still a lot I don’t care for such as Haruka as the female protagonist and all the upskirt shots that get thrown in, mostly with Sierra. It’s run for 19 volumes in Japan so far, and is still ongoing, so it’s got to have something going for it. Maybe if I keep reading, someday I’ll find it.

Review copy provided by publisher.

 

Oresama Teacher Volume 13

So far ever Student Council member who has gone up against Mafuyu has fallen to the team’s superior friendship skills. But Kanon Nonoguchi has a plan to turn their strengths against them! She’s spreading rumors that Midorigaoka girls are in danger and counting on Super Bun to run to the rescue…and right into her trap!

Oresama Teacher 13By Izumi Tsubaki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

Oresama Teacher has fallen into a bit of a rut as this volumes continues the Public Morals Club’s battle with the Student Council, just as the previous 3 volumes have. This time they are up against man-hating Kanon Nonoguchi, who leads the special all girls class at the school. But the possible monotony this could get into is kept at bay by less Mafuyu and Takaoka, and more Natsuo and Bancho Okegawa, making this fun read after all.

The story starts out typically with Kanon trying to figure out who Natsuo and Super Bun, the “secret” members of the Public Morals Club, really are. Her plans are foiled by Mafuyu’s clumsy and clueless nature, and Akki’s willingness to cross dress. But it quickly turns from this into Kanon’s story as her background is revealed, both her men-hating and her admiration of the Student Council President. I liked this switch up in the story. It kept the volume from becoming a “Student Council Member of the Week” volume into a more interesting story. I don’t blame Kanon for her dislike of boys considering what happened to her. Boys teasing girls they like is one thing, but things really got out of hand with Kanon.

I loved that Natsuo, Mafuyu’s boy disguise, got to feature so prominently in this volume. I like him better, both personality and appearance wise. I know Natsuo and Mafuyu are the same person, but I just really prefer Natsuo, so seeing him instead of Mafuyu made this a much better volume. The confusion Natsuo caused Kanon was more entertaining because the reader knows he’s really a she. I also enjoyed the return of Okegawa, the cute-animal-loving former bancho of Midorigaoka. He’s been a favorite of mine since his appearance in the second volume, so not only getting more of him, but also possibly getting him into the Public Morals Club just makes me more happy. The surprise appearance by Ayabe at the end was cool too.

I still can’t say Oresama Teacher is a title I really like, but I’d be lying if I said there I didn’t enjoy it. Parts of it anyway. I wouldn’t mind continuing to check out the random volume. It’s good for borrowing but It’s still not making it onto my permanent print or digital bookshelf.

 

Jack Frost Volume 7-9

Seeing her father killed before her eyes, Noh-A flies into a rage, with most of it directed at Jack. As the two square off, the story of the previous Mirror Image unfolds, explaining who Noh-A’s parents are, how they met, and why Noh-A had to be the next Mirror Image. It ends with the plans laid by Solomon and Camille in that past finally coming to fruition.

JackFrost_Vol7_TP By JinHo Ko
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $13.00
Rating: ★★★½☆

Jack Frost has been a series I don’t go out my way to read, but if it’s available I’ll give a perusal. I read it when I had a Yen Plus subscription, but it was a story that never seemed to have a specific direction. It was all a lot of fighting with Jack taking on opponents from the different factions within Amityville. Finally, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, as events from the past are shown and connected with current events, and the story seems to have a direction.

JackFrost_Vol8Jack and Noh-A face off against each other as Noh-A confronts Jack about the death of her father. This begins a long
flashback that shows how Noh-A’s father, revealed to be Jack the Ripper and her mother, the previous mirror image, met and became a couple. I shouldn’t be surprised that I found this interesting. I love getting the back-story of characters, a place or time. This is mostly Jack R’s story. He drives the action, protecting Noh-A’s mother and in the process falls for her. Noh-A’s mother, who is unnamed for most of the story, is mostly dead weight. She is practically emotionless, letting Jack R take her wherever and just being the damsel in distress. I didn’t care for her, and found Jack R’s growth much more interesting.

What really made these volumes for me was all the back-story about the North District and the connection between Helmina, the Tailor and Solomon. What happened in the faculty lounge was shown, and it’s revealed that Helmina’s title of “Witch of the North” is more than just a nickname. She has a connection to Solomon, and more of who he was and why he was sealed away is revealed. But, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of him in the next volume. The Tailor’s motives continue to be vague in the past as it is in the future. He is key to Noh-A’s birth and her inevitable return to Amityville. I find his possible agenda intriguing.

JackFrost_Vol9As the main character, Jack Frost himself doesn’t get as much development as the other characters. He is still the one to beat around Amityville, and he still takes great pleasure in the killing. He and Jack R are sort of rivals, as Jack R was the previous wearer of the Devil’s Thread, and even though he loses, Jack R gladly gives Jack F his showdown when they are face to face in the real world. This last scene for Jack R also explains the seeming contradiction of Jack F killing him, and yet telling Noh-A to look to Jack F for protection.

I still haven’t been won over with these volumes of Jack Frost. But they do introduce enough new elements that I wouldn’t mind reading the next volume. With Yen Plus is no longer being printed and the title no longer serialized, there shouldn’t be as long a delay between volumes. But with Yen Press being one volume away from being caught up, it’s gonna be a while until the next one anyway. At least with not a lot going on, there won’t be much to forget.

 

Missions of Love Volume 5-6

Yukina is running into some trouble with rivals. Mami is a childhood friend of Shigure’s who has feeling for him, but hasn’t been able to tell him. She instead tries to trick or chase away any girls who might get close to him. Then there’s Akira, her cousin, who is now trying to be in serious competition with Shigure to win Yukina’s feelings. In the middle of these battles, Yukina and Shigure are trying to figure out their own feelings for each other. How much of it is real, and how much is still a game?

Missions of Love 5
Buy Volume 5

By Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★½

I read the first chapter of Missions of Love in Kodansha’s sampler Real and really enjoyed it. I initially had doubts about it from just the series description, but the first chapter was enough to convince me otherwise. Despite being 4 volumes behind, I had little trouble getting into these two volumes and continuing Yukina and Shigure’s competition to see who would fall for who first.

What initially attracted me to Missions of Love was the friction between the two protagonists, Yukina and Shigure. Neither really liked the other much; Yukina for Shigure’s shallowness and Shigure for Yukina’s cold reputation. By these volumes those feeling are still there, but there is a lot more sexual tension now between them. Yukina is starting to think about how Shigure feels about her, but she doesn’t seem to understand why. She doesn’t recognize that the reason she’s bothered by Shigure spending time with Mami is because she’s starting to have feeling for him. Shigure is just as bothered by the attention Yukina gets from Akira, but he isn’t as oblivious as to the reason why. He’s just in denial. They are both trying to keep their relationship to be game, but the feelings are growing, and it isn’t just for fun anymore.

Missions of Love 6
Buy Volume 6

Akira and Mami stepping up their game to get their respective crushes to notice them doesn’t help matters much. Mami’s tricks only gets Yukina thinking more about what her relationship with Shigure is rather than pushing her away. Akira’s attempts to make Shigure jealous by spending time with Mami only helps him to let her go. Akira thinks he’s gotten a step on Shigure when he notices Yukina is sick and stays the night to take care of her, but what’s going through Yukina’s mind isn’t what he thinks it is.

These complications affect the missions. There aren’t as many in these volumes as more attention is put on the growing relationships. Yukina throws a few out at Shigure and Akira, but they are minor, and all come out of Yukina’s attempts to figure out her own feelings. She pushes for more compromising situations such as her mission to seduce Shigure, and for Akira to forcefully kiss her.

Overall, I enjoyed these two volumes of Missions of Love. While I don’t generally like clueless characters, Yukina is different. She’s not dumb, just inexperienced, and she’s trying to change that with the missions. She is very logical in her thought processes about love, which is probably why she is slow in understanding. I like that. So many shojo protagonists are overly emotional and think they know all about love. Yukina is trying to work it out herself. While she claims it’s for her writing, it is affecting her own emotional growth, in a good way. Missions of Love is a fun romance that I can’t wait to read more!

Midnight Secretary Volume 1-2

Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being an excellent secretary and a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s re-assigned to the office of her company’s difficult director, Kyohei Tohma. He’s as prickly-and hot-as rumors paint him, but Kaya is unfazed…until she discovers that he’s a vampire!!

Midnight Secretary 1lBy Tomu Ohmi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Mature
Genre: Romance, Josei
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I’m picky about the vampire romances I read. Most I’ve read have been hit or miss. I hated Vampire Knight, but loved Millennium Snow. What sparked my interest most about Midnight Secretary was that it was a josei, a manga written for older women. It features not a high school girl, but a career woman and all the problems that come with working in an office. This part appealed to more than the romance.

Well, maybe. I’m not really sure how I feel about Kaya and Kyohei as a couple. As separate people, I can see why they think and act as they do. Kaya is very smart and capable, and doesn’t want to be judged based on her appearance. This is exactly what Kyohei does at first, but she proves to him that looks aren’t everything. Even after she learns his secret, she doesn’t flinch or back down from her work, which is what gets her into the compromising situation of starting to have feelings for him.

Kyohei starts off as an obnoxious jerk, and really doesn’t veer from that course. He is a vampire forced to live in the human world because of his mother’s decision to stay with his father. He is bitter about this and takes it out on everyone around him. It’s not right, but it is an understandable thing to do. He refused to admit he cares for any humans, and gives his brother, the Senior Director Masaki a hard time, but does show he cares. He chastised his brother for being soft, and tells him to learn to use people since he will lead the company someday. Kyohei does the “dirty work” so Masaki can keep his hands clean. He’s rude and cold, but cares in his own way.

Midnight Secretary 2Usually I like romances where one or both of the partners have a bit of a “bite” to their personality. I like more banter and snarky remarks flying back and forth, but that’s not really what happens here. Kyohei is more abusive of Kaya, dismissing her coldly and leaving her to think of her own reasons for his actions. I did like that both had to discover their feelings for the other, especially Kyohei. He couldn’t believe he would have feelings for a human, but a frank conversation between he and Kaya did finally get him to admit his desire for her blood had more to do with his feelings than he thought. I’ll admit, I’m still waffling on them as a couple. I’ll have to see what happens in the next volume.

One thing I really appreciated was how Kaya’s job as a secretary wasn’t dismissed as simple or fluff. She is seen not only keeping Kyohei’s appointments, but also organizing the materials he needs for meetings and even accompanying him to outside functions such as dinners. Kyohei appreciates her work and skill, respecting her professionally before things start to get personal. I also liked how she showed the President of Erde Company, a member of the Tohma Group, how useful a secretary could be to help the whole company work more efficiently. So much attention is put on things such as sales, that it the support they get from the back office is often overlooked. I liked that it got some acknowledgement.

I’m on the fence about Midnight Secretary. There are a lot of elements I like in it, but I’m having a hard time seeing Kaya and Kyohei as a couple, and as a romance, it’s a major component of the story. But there is enough here that I am willing to give it a few more volumes. If Kyohei could be less of an arrogant jerk, at least to Kaya, I would probably like it more.

Review copies provided by publisher.

Rurouni Kenshin Restoration vol 1

A condensed retelling of the beloved samurai tale–one of the best-selling manga series of all time—released in conjunction with a new live-action movie.

During the violent upheaval of the Bakumatsu era, Hitokiri Battosai was a feared and ruthless assassin. But now that the Meiji Restoration has begun to heal the wounds of civil war, Battosai has taken up a new name…and a new calling! He is now Himura Kenshin , a rurouni wanderer who has vowed to only draw his sword to protect those in need. But not everyone is pleased with Kenshin’s new direction, and enemies from his dark past have vowed to bring him down!

Rurouni Kenshin Restoration 1

By Nobuhiro Watsuki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy the Volume

It took a while, but I finally read all of Rurouni Kenshin last year. With a live action movie having been released last year in Japan, a re-imagining of the manga was created by original creator Nobuhiro Watsuki. This can sometimes lead to new and interesting directions for the title and characters to go. Too bad that’s not what happened here.

It uses the same characters, but the story has been turned around a bit. Himura Kenshin is still a rurouni who stumbles upon a man masquerading as the Hitokiri Battosai, but this time it is during a tournament run by a merchant Takeda Kanryu. He is buying out the rights to dojos and using the leaders of them in the tournaments with the promise that they can buy their land rights back. Kaoru Kamiya is of course one of the participants. Yasuhiro works for Takeda, and is used as a reverse hostage to keep Kaoru in line. Kenshin gets involved of course, and defeats Takeda, who then hires eighteen assassins to kill Kenshin. In this volume Sanosuke and Saito are introduced with their stories greatly compressed. It also includes a chapter zero, which tells a tale of Kenshin before he arrives in Tokyo.

The volume is rather lean for a shonen jump title, coming in at 142 pages. I read all of these chapters in Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha where they ran monthly. I didn’t care for this re-imagining then, and I still don’t now. I don’t have anything against re-imagining titles in general. I like to check out remakes, and can enjoy them and the originals separately. This new Rurouni Kenshin rubbed me the wrong way. Everyone seems angrier this time around. The art is also much sharper and more spartan. I didn’t enjoy reading it or looking at it. This is definitely not the “meiji swordsman romance” and is much more a harder action title. I’m sure this will please a lot of the Shonen Jump crowd, but as I’ve grown tired of all but the best of shonen, it doesn’t please me. If you think Kenshin would have been better with more of an edge and less of the character development, then this is the title for you.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Attack on Titan Volume 8-10

Facing a royal summons, Eren and his friends make one final attempt to capture the female Titan. While they are successful, a new crisis faces them as it appears Titans have breached Wall Rose and are pouring into the interior. The 104th scramble to evacuate the villages in their path and find the breach. A night at Utgard Castle is meant to be a refuge, but instead becomes a battle for their lives as the Titans attack at night.

AoT 8By Hajime Isayama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

I didn’t think Attack on Titan was going to be a series I would enjoy. It’s categorized as a horror title, a genre I’m very picking about. Reviews about the series were mixed with people either liking or hating it. I did read the first chapter in Kodansha’s Unreal sampler, and wasn’t impressed. But with the series rising steadily up the New York Times Best Seller list and Nielson Bookscan, there had to be something good that people were seeing about it. I received these volumes for review, and decided it was time for me to see for myself.

AoT 9I was a little unsure, jumping into this series so far in. A comment on Twitter said that the series got better after volume 4, so I was encouraged slightly, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to figure out what was going on or get any of the relationships. It was actually surprising how easy it was to pick up on the relationships between the characters. I really liked the relationship between Eren, Mikasa and Armin. The bond between the three of them was obvious right from the start. The scene where they were preparing to fight the female Titan really sold it without trying. They complement each other well. Armin is the brains, as his deductive reasoning figured out who the female Titan was. Mikasa is the quiet, brawn of the three. She is an awesome fighter, and looked cool as she took down the female Titan, flying up the wall and cutting off her fingers to prevent her escape. Eren is the conflicted hero that Armin and Mikasa support. His battle with the female Titan was actually pretty exciting. What really makes this trio work for me though, is the complete lack of romantic tension. These three are pretty solidly friends, and with all the action already, any romantic conflicts would detract from the already tense story.

These volumes also included a bit of character development for other members of the 104th. They are sent out to warn the outlying villages of the Titan breach. Sasha, a member of the 104th and Military Police Brigade, gets some nice exposition as she faces down a Titan alone. I enjoyed her back story. Ymir and Krista, two more members of the Military Police Brigade, have their story shown, which makes that seemingly harsh Ymir more sympathetic. This also leads to some shocking reveals by the end.

AoT 10But then, that’s what this series is good at; making shocking reveals, and then instead of explaining anything, just teases with possible answers that only lead to more questions. That’s what really hooked me in. First it was the mystery of the Wall Rose, then it was the animistic Titan, and then revelation from Reiner and Bertolt. As one mystery is pursued, these other pop up that keep me intrigued and wanting to get that next volume just to see if there will be some answers.

There were a lot good battles in these volumes. Eren and the female Titan’s battle was exciting, as was the battle at Utgard Castle. Not all of the battles were big, such as Sasha’s small fight. but when they were, like at Utgard Castle, they were devastating. Everyone had to pitch in to protect the castle, but it was Ymir who really showed her mettle, proving herself to be smart as well as self-sacrificing.

If there is any problem I have with these three volumes, it’s the art. It is very uneven, as there are times when the faces don’t look like they are on straight, to very fluid moments in battle such as Mikasa’s strike on the female Titan. But the story really overrides the art, and makes the not-so-great moments bearable. It fortunately also makes the gory moments not so gory. The Titan on Titan violence has such a surreal look to it, as eye balls pop, and Titan’s grin with childish glee as they attack each other just as much as the humans. I thought the gore would be worse, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

Attack on Titan is a weird combination of action, mystery and horror that it actually makes it a compelling read. I don’t know how the beginning of the series is, but these later volumes show why every new volume hits the NYT top 10 and stays there for weeks on end. It’s a series you don’t want to put down. At least I didn’t.

Review copies provided by Publisher.

 

Pandora Hearts Volume 8-10

The truth about Xerxes Break’s past is revealed in these volumes as is more about Alice and her relation to the Intent of the Abyss. Oz continues to pursue the truth behind the tragedy of Sablier, and he, Gilbert and Alice go to the remains of the city. Vincent and Gilbert’s past is revealed along with more about Glen Baskerville and Jack Vessalius, but when Oz’s incuse moves forward, it is a reminder that his time is running out.

PANDORA_8By Jun Mochizuki
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $11.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

There are a lot of revelations made throughout these volumes, about Alice, about the Abyss, about the chains about Alice and Oz, but not a lot of questions are answered. We know the who’s and how’s but still not a lot about the why’s, which is what will keep readers coming back.

Keeping track of all the revelations got to be a bit of a task. The only real saving grace was the way they all connected that told more of the story of the tragedy of Sablier. It was really all very timey-wimey. Xerxes Break fits in as a figure from after the tragedy looking to change the past with the usual tragic results. Gilbert and Vincent turn out to be pieces to the puzzle as well with connections that were rather unexpected. The real reason for the tragedy leads back to an event that affected Glen Baskerville to the point that controlling the Intent of the Abyss was the only way he knew to change it, and Alice is the key to it all. But we still don’t know the full story behind that event, which as the root, really needs to be revealed before any real answer can be disclosed.

PANDORA_9Most of these revelations delved into the tragic. Xerxes only wanted to save his Master, but instead destroyed a whole family. Gilbert and Vincent had a tragic childhood that shaped who they are. The events are especially tragic for Vincent, as he is shunned as a child of ill omen, and tries to save his big brother, to such results that he is truly driven insane. Though, I don’t think he was really all that stable in the first place, with the way he tortures Alice, cutting up her dolls and then her cat (why is it always the cat?!). Even with all he’s been through, I really can’t muster any sympathy for him. He is a good match for Lottie Baskerville, who is just as psychotic.

I enjoyed the chapters with Oz taking Echo out on the town during the Blue Angel festival. It had a lot of sweet moments, and was one of the few moments that helped get me through all the tragedy that followed. Though I wasn’t happy with what happened to Echo afterward. Guess you can’t have the happy last too long in this series. I also felt sorry for Alice in the past. She didn’t deserve the hate that was piled on her, and her fate at Glen Baskerville’s hand probably wasn’t going to be a good one. Jack asks not to be called the Hero of Sablier because of what he was forced to do to stop it, but what Glen planned wasn’t any better. If anything Jack’s remorse only reinforces his heroism, especially considering his fate.

PANDORA_10Also included in these volumes was the pilot story for Pandora Hearts. I enjoyed it just as much as what it became. It keeps a lot of the elements, with chains and characters from Alice in Wonderland. Gil and Oz are still together, and Oz is chained to the B-Rabbit, but it takes a slightly different form. It was a good, action story, and quite enjoyable.

I don’t know that I can say I enjoyed these volumes, but they were good, compelling reads. The few moments of camaraderie between Oz, Alice and Gilbert were uplifting, and Alice’s first attempt at a kiss was cute. But it seems tragedy is meant to rule this series as a meeting between Oz and his father is anything but warm, and with the forward movement of Oz’s incuse, he takes another step toward losing himself and becoming more like the B-Rabbit. Pandora Hearts continues to keep me coming back, as it’s questions are too fascinating to let go.

Review copies provided by Publisher.

Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Volume 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 37: Sweet Rein

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

Continue reading Manga Dome Podcast Episode 37: Sweet Rein

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Volume 10-15

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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