Tag Archives: Reviews

14th Dalai Lama and Che Guevara

In Japan, manga covers all sorts of subjects. It isn’t all boys fighting to protect the planet or girls looking for love. There are manga for just about every subject. Penguin Books has tapped into one of those other subjects: Biography. They debut their manga line with the lives of two very influential people of the 20th century with mixed results.

Continue reading 14th Dalai Lama and Che Guevara

Dr. Slump vol 12 and O-Parts Hunter vol 5

Dr. Slump Volume 12

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By Akira Toriyama  ♦ Viz Media ♦ Teen ♦ Action/Comedy ♦ $7.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

In an especially tearful episode, Senbei fixes the anti-gravity device on the Tsun family’s rocket, and they leave Penguin Village forever…or at least, for a few pages.  And in a slightly less tearful episode, Senbei fixes the anti-gravity device (again!), this time so that King Nikochan can return home—with some unwanted stowaways:  Arale and the Gatchans!

The only tears that usually come from a Dr. Slump volume are from laughter.  This series is all about the slapstick, and this volume doesn’t disappoint.  From Arale having a greeting battle with a space monster that threatens Nikochan’s home planet, to a thief that uses books to distract her victims as she robs them, there’s always a good reason to laugh.  Even in the less comical chapter where the Gatchans finding an egg that they and Arale decide to hatch, which leads the Norimaki household on a journey to take the baby Penseal home to his parents, they still find time to do laundry (in the Nile), get ice from the refrigerator (that Midori packs), and stop for sightseeing in France.  It might seem at first glance to be gags that have all been done before, but Toriyama’s cast of characters definitely give them new life.  And the “Day in the Life” photos of Toriyama were fun too.

Not all of the chapters were laugh-out-louds, but as a whole, this volume does a good job of entertaining.  It definitely merits returning to Penguin Village for more silliness from its inhabitants.

O-Parts Hunter Volume 5

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By Seishi Kishimoto ♦ Viz Media ♦ Action ♦ Teen + ♦ $9.99
Rating: ★★★★½

Jio’s friend Ball always dreamed of being strong—strong enough to help the resistance movement stop the maniacal governor Jaga who has a stranglehold on his hometown, and strong enough to defend his friends and his sister.  Now that he too is an O.P.T., it looks like Ball might stand a chance!  Can he, a novice when it comes to O-Parts, defeat a powerful member of the Zenom syndicate single-handed?

As we move toward the climax of the Entotsu storyline, this volume spotlights how much Ball and Jio have grown.  Ball, after all his bragging, finally figures out what it means to be an O.P.T., and shows all of his big talk wasn’t for nothing.  Jio has a greater obstacle to face, as he finally comes face to face with his inner demon, Satan, and makes a deal with the devil, so to speak.  And, though we are still faced with more questions than answers, we do learn a little more about Satan’s motives.  And, as you might suspect, they aren’t very nice.  Despite it’s slow start, this series is finally starting to get into its stride and it’s really starting to shine.

At its heart, O-Parts Hunter is a straight out action series.  It has an energy that’s really appealing without being big and flashy.  When I first started reading this series, it reminded me of another title, and it took me a while to figure out which; Dragon Ball.  Toriyama storytelling had the same straight forward action as this one.  The original Dragon Ball was a quest with a lot of fun and action.  O-Parts Hunter has that same energy, and it makes this title a lot of fun to read.  It was another one that I just couldn’t put down until the end.  And it looks like the action is really going to be taking off from here.

This Week in Manga: 7/9-7/16/10

Manga Factory Direct

Anime News Network was able to talk to company representative Mika Ogata and get some more details about Manga Factory and their prior relationship with Aurora. Despite having been former employees and having volumes of the defunct publishers books for sale, there is no connection between Manga Factory and Aurora. They are completely new company. The books are just a way to get some funds in. They won’t be making any announcements for licenses for the summer, but considering they’ve just started, that’s understandable. And I think it makes total sense for former employees to band together like this and create their own company. They no doubt have the contacts and the knowledge of the US manga market, that executives back in Japan that were calling the shots didn’t. This is like a manga fan’s dream come true, and I hope they succeed, just to prove that dreams like this can still come true.

Manga at the Harveys

The Harveys are awards nominated by and chosen for people in the comics industry. Since this is for the US comics industry, manga doesn’t make a big splash except in the “American Edition of Foreign Material” category. Two manga got nominations this year, and they are the two most likely to be read by comics fans; 20th Century Boys and Pluto, both by Naoki Urasawa. No one can deny the strength of these stories. Urasawa knows how to tell a tale and tell it well. On the surface it might seem hard to choose between the two, but not for me. I’m going for Pluto all the way. Winners will be announced at the San Diego Comic Con next weekend.

Is the Pressure working?

Found via Twitter. Another site that hosted scanlations has bowed to legal pressures and taken down all of the manga from members in the coalition. Manga Toshokan announced last night on their forums that:

we have been advised to remove all series serialized by the publishers in the coalition.

That doesn’t mean they have taken down everything. There is still manga from publishers not in the coalition, as well as manhwa and manhua. Needless to saw (but I’ll say it anyway), this has led to a lengthy thread that was at 77 pages as of this writing. Manga Toshokan realizes that they will lose a lot of their members because of this, and have a created a survey that they intend to send to publishers in the coalition. The questions seem worded mostly to say that sites like theirs are wanted and needed. While I don’t doubt that a digital solution is needed, I don’t think their survey will do much to sway anyone. It’s a different tactic though. Better than screaming obscenities at the publishers or crying for a boycott.

Planning for SDCC

If you’re going to the San Diego Comic Con this year, you’d better have a plan. With so many people and so many panels, there’s no way to just “wing it”. You’ll never get to see anything but the backs of the people in line ahead of you who DID have a plan. Kate Dacey at the Manga Critic helps you get started with information on some of the smaller publishers with panel times and special signing they’ll be hosting. Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf has some of the activities for Viz and Tokyopop as well, which covers most of the publishers that will be there. I’d say it’s sad to have a year without CMX, except they never got a far shake at the DC booth. They have one of the larger booths just for the comics (not counting the Warner Bros booth which is usually next door) and they couldn’t even be bothered to give CMX their own table or put out samplers to promote them. It’s been said before, but I have to say it again. Screw you, DC.

NYT Best Seller List

It’s a new week, so that means a new best seller list. Starting from the top, we have Twilight in its usual spot of #1 of the Hardback list. It seems to be getting comfortable there, doesn’t it? Kicking off the manga list, we have not only a debut title, but it comes right in at #1. Ouran High School Host Club vol 14 kicks Naruto vol 48 back to #2. The newest One Piece vol 54 also debuts at #3, officially ending the massive manga wave, which leaves last week’s #1, The Last Airbender to fall to #4. Vampire Knight vol 10 takes a dive as well, from #2 to #5, and drops Soul Eater for Black Butler vol 2. I think they’re better suited for each other anyway. The third debut is Shaman King vol 29 coming in at #7 while Black Butler vol 1 moves back up to #8. Gotta keep an eye on those vampires.  Fourth and Fifth debuts are both shojo. Nana vol 21 takes the #9 spot while Stepping on Roses vol 1 takes #10. This is quite a week as the girls rock the list and show the guys who’s really in charge. Viz comes off the winner too, with 7/10 and 4 of the top 5 spots. I wonder what they’ll have to announce at SDCC that will be appearing here soon (no doubt).

News From Japan

New Crayon Shin-chan Manga

Japanese publisher Futabasha has announced that a new series of Crayon Shin-chan will launch in the Sept. issue of Monthly Manga Town, where the original ran until the untimely death of its mangaka Yoshito Usui in a climbing accident last year. This new series will be done by Usui’s assistants, and the series will be officially credited at “Yoshito Usui and UY Studio”. It will be called Shin Crayon Shin-chan (New Crayon Shin-chan) and will continue to follow the madcap adventures of kindergartener Shin and his family and friends. I think this is a nice way to give tribute to the mangaka. Though I’m starting to think the series itself is cursed in the US. It was first licensed by Comics One, and then picked up by CMX, neither company even got close to completing its run. Maybe this is a series best left unlicensed.

Manga For Your Ears

Manga Out Loud

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

What I’ve been Reading

  • Paradise Kiss vol 1
  • Chi’s Sweet Home vol 1-2
  • Neko Raman vol 1
  • Bakuman vol 1

After the Party is Over

Stolen Hearts v1It’s been a few weeks since DC announced the end of CMX Manga, and the mangasphere has had something to say about it, including me. And then there’s been the inevitable analysis of why CMX failed. Some have said it was because they didn’t have a recognizable brand or specific line. Others have said it was because one person was choosing the licenses. Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s easy to try to come up with different reason but were they really the cause?

It’s been suggested that one of the reasons CMX failed was because they couldn’t find an audience. Their licenses were all over the place, from 70’s shojo to senien to horror. There was no focus to titles chosen, and therefore no audience to focus on. Is this really a bad thing though? I thought CMX has a great catalog because of all the variety. You could find something for everyone in it. Something for kids and tween, comedy romance, drama, horror, even historical. Variety is the spice of life! And putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. Having a diverse catalog is just what a good manga publisher should have. And CMX diversified well. If manga were stocks, any financial advisor would be proud!

It’s also been suggested that because one person, Asako Suzuki, was chosing the licenses for the company, and that she was only choosing titles she liked  but didn’t necessarily sell well. I really can’t agree with this. One person chosing the licenses is probably more the norm than the except with manga publishers. And after one person making decisions, well, look at Kurt Hassler when he was at Borders. He is credited with creating the manga selection at Borders and was at one point called one of the most important/influential people in manga/comics. He chose the titles he liked and thought would sell well. Asako no doubt did the same, and I think she did a good job. I certainly found a lot of her choices good!

King of Card Volume 2So what was it that made CMX fail? It’s been said over and over before, but I’ll say it again. It’s parent company, DC didn’t do anything to market that line. Putting a solicitation in Previews is not marketing. DC claimed they would bridge the manga and comic store gap, yet did nothing to help retailers or promote the books to bloggers, bookstores or librarians, their three strongest avocates. You can’t buy or recommend books you don’t know about. While there were other factors that contributed to its ultimate end, the mishandling of the imprint in its first year, and then being completely ignored for the rest was the main factor in its lack of sales.

And it’s such a shame too, as they were on the verge of releases some really promising titles. Word was getting out to reviewers. They were one of the few active publishers on Twitter interacting with reviewers and fans. If no one can or will rescue these, here are the titles that will never see an official english translation:

  • Nyankoi
  • Shisso Holiday
  • The Phantom Guesthouse
  • Tableau Gate
  • 51 Ways to Save Her
  • Polyphonica: Cardinal Crimson
  • Nadeshiko Club

Even though we mourn the lost, there is still plenty alive to celebrate about. While I’m disappointed some titles may never get finished, I am glad for the ones I have been able to read and review, even for just the first volume. These are the titles I’ve been able to review for far, and will continue to review. As long as there are volumes available somewhere, I will continue to recommend the work, not for DC, but for the staff that really cared and put all their time and effort into getting these titles out for us.

Besides all these titles, some of which I still have volumes left to review, there are still more I haven’t gotten to yet. Key to the Kingdom, Fire Investigator Nanase, Two Flowers for the Dragon, Canon, Kiichi and the Magic Books, Recipe for Gertrude, VS, and Venus Capriccio are all yet to be reviewed. And there’s still more I want to pick up volumes of and read still:

  • Apothecarius Argentum
  • Astral Project – Tsuki no Hikari
  • Ballad of a Shinigami
  • Moon Child
  • Name of the Flower

Are there any other titles I should check out? I know there are. People on Twitter listed off their favorite titles and there were several I’d love to check out, but can’t remember! So, leave me a comment and tell me what other CMX titles I’m missing out on.

Manga Movable Feast: Mushishi Volume 1

Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. Shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze, these deadly creatures, mushi, came into terrifying being. And they still exist and wreak havoc in the world today. Ginko, a young man with a sardonic smile, has the knowledge and skill to save those plagued by mushi…perhaps.

Mushishi v1By Yuki Urushibara
Publsiher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Drama
Price: $12.95
Rating: ★★★★★
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The back cover text make this book sound more sinister than it actually is. This first volume introduces the concept of the mushi, and the man we will follow who has the arcane knowledge to deal with them, Ginko, the Mushishi. Through a series of episodic stories, we see how mushi and men can interact, and how Mushishi bridge the gap and try to foster understanding between them.

Ginko is a wandering Mushishi. He studies and tries to understand mushi. He is often called to a village that needs his expertise, but can also stumble upon people in need of help, even if they don’t realize it themselves. Strange and ancient, mushi are not actually malicious, but like so many other creatures, they can be parasitic. But because they are so strange and mysterious, their work is often mistaken as the supernatural. Mushishi know the signs and diagnose the problem, almost like a doctor. Ginko, like the mushi he studies, is also a bit of a mystery. Little is given away about him, except for the clues that wherever he goes, mushi react to his presence, and the cigarettes he smokes aren’t filled with nicotine, but a special mushi that can trap other mushi or drive them away. He’s also missing an eye, and perhaps has just a little too much knowledge about the source of life, something mushi are closer to than humans.

What makes Mushishi an interesting series is that the focus isn’t solely on Ginko. The mushi get quite a bit as well.  As Ginko identifies the mushi that is the cause of each problem, he also explains about them, though it never feels like a lecture. Mushi are so strange and different, it’s interesting to find out about them, both to the characters and to the reader.  While they are often portrayed as being parasytes that can take a person’s sight, hearing, or even their life, not all are like that.  In a few instances, mushi are shown to have a sentience, that can lure humans in to turn them into mushi, or can show emotion, as in the story of “The Traveling Bog.” A mushi that is making it’s last journey home to die, saves a girl who was sacrificed to a Water God to save the village.

Mushishi is a very well written series.  It’s easy to get drawn into the stories and it’s open world. We only see Ginko as he travels in the wild, going from village to village.  There are no big cities, and while everyone is dressed in traditional kimonos, Ginko has a more western style.  By keeping the setting of the series open, Urushibara gives herself a lot of leeway with her stories. The mushi are very diverse and interesting, though at times, their expulsion can be a little disturbing.  The enigma of Ginko is another draw. We know little of him beyond him being a Mushishi. An interesting story seems to be waiting behind that.

The art is drawn realistically, with none of the manga trappings.  No one makes goofy faces or goes chibi.  It’s an understated style without a lot of detail.  Like the stories, it is simple and straightforward, and at times rather dark.  Mushishi is a slow paced series.  There are no fights against the mushi, and no melodramatic relationships.  It’s more about thinking things through and solving the puzzle of the mushi.  Brains are more important than brawn, and at times it can be rather contemplative.  It’s a great change of pace.

Review: Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody Volume 1-7

Lucia is the new girl at school. She and her sister run a public bath that’s all the rage. When Lucia meets a terrific-looking surfer boy, there’s just one little problem: Lucia is a mermaid–not just any mermaid, but a princess on an important mission to save the seven seas from an evil force bent on taking control of the marine world. Such a responsibility doesn’t leave much time for romance. But Lucia vows to protect her world and win the heart of handsome Kaito.

Mermaid Melody 1By Pink Hanamori
Publisher: Del Rey
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★½☆
Buy This Book

This series is a a magical girl-fantasy-romance.  Mermaids exist and live in the seven seas.  Each sea has a princess with a pearl that gives them special powers.  For not only can mermaids appear as human and walk on land, the princesses can transform into Idols, microphones and all.  This series centers around three of the princesses.  Lucia is the pink Princess of the North Pacific.  She has come to land to find her pearl before her coming of age ceremony.  She gave it to a boy she saved from a ship wreck when she was young.  Hanon is the blue Princess of the South Atlantic and Rina is the green Princess of the North Atlantic.  They join Lucia after escaping the destruction of their kingdoms and protecting their pearls from the mysterious Gakuto, who is determined to get all the mermaid princesses’ pearls and rule the seven seas.


Along side the fighting Gakuto’s evil minions and protecting their pearls, the three princesses’ lives are complicated by the human males they meet.  Lucia is in love with Kaito, the boy she gave her pearl to.  Kaito is in love with her too, but only her mermaid side.  Of course, Lucia can’t tell Kaito who she really is, or else she’ll turn to sea foam.  Hanon is likewise smitten with the music teacher at school, but he only has eyes for another mermaid he saw several years previously.  Rina, the tomboy, doesn’t claim to like anyone human boy, but one persistent, older boy seems to capture her attention.  The chapters mostly alternate between the romance and the fight against Gakuto.


The series is divided into two arcs.  The first four volumes are devoted to the Aqua Regina arc.  The mermaid princess’ are charged by the mermaid deity, Aqua Regina, to stop Gakuto, save the other princess’ and protect the humans from the devastation Gakuto and a mysterious woman with him plans to wreck on the world.  This first arc has some good twists which lead up to an exciting and climatic battle.  If I were to rate just this first arc, I would give it 5 stars.  It was well written and everything led up to the ending, tying all the loose ends together for a happy ending.  And it should have ended there.


Instead, the series goes into a second arc.  Much like the unplanned sequel to a successful movie, Kaito and Lucia are separated.  Kaito gets amnesia and disappears, causing them to start their relationship all over.  I really hate stories that resort to this kind of plot.  This second arc, the Resurrection of Michel, is only two volumes.  Michel is an ancient being known as a Winged One.  He wants to destroy the human world and and bring back his race.  Lucia and the other mermaid princesses declare they will fight Michel instead of joining him, and it’s a race now to find all the pieces of the Orange Princess pearl to help the new princess be born before Michel can and be resurrected.


This second arc didn’t hold a lot of interest for me.  The story seemed sloppy and thrown together instead of carefully plotted out.  It takes the power of everyone we’ve encountered over the entire series, enemies and all, working together to defeat Michel. It tries to make it feel like it was planned all along, but that isn’t how it comes off.  This arc is filled with a lot of melodrama, between Kaito’s guilt for wanting to leave the young girl Michal that has latched on to him, and Lucia constant attempts to win him back.  Once again, the story arc is tied up neatly, so I will give credit where it’s due.  Hanamori does a good job of bringing her story to an end, and does so satisfactorily. The final volume is filled with one shots more than having a specific story arc.  It ties up some left over romance and gives a glimpse into Kaito and Lucia’s future.


Overall, Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody is a decent series.  It stresses themes of friendship and true love that kids like to read, and that teens should see more often than the “mean girl” stories that seem to get more play.  The romance is cute with lots of blushing and light kisses traded between couples.  It’s filled with fashion and while the music can’t be heard, their pop idol personas are still full of energy and fun.  This is a great title for tween-to-teens and would make a great edition to any teen library collection.  For older readers, it’s a fun read that really rocks at the beginning, but starts to drag at the end.  Only pick this up if you like mermaids/magical girl manga.

Manga Drive By: Harlequin Manga @ eManga.com

eMangaI’ve never been much of a romance fan, and have never read a Harlequin romance novel in my life.  So, when I was given the opportunity to read some of the Harlequin manga released by DMP on their online manga site eManga, I decided to check some of the titles out.  I read 7 titles in total, that seemed to run the gambit from historical to modern settings, and from chaste fade-to-black love scenes to those slightly more explicit, but not enough to rate a M rating.

Some general observations first.  DMP’s eManga site is very well done.  The navigation is clean and concise, and easy to get around.  The reading list displays all of your titles, including how long your rental will last.  The manga reader is also easy to navigate.  It allows for either one or two page viewing, as well as zoom in and out.  The two page view fit my monitor just fine though, and I could read the text easily without zooming.  My only complaint here was about the bookmark feature.  It didn’t really work.  I tried to use it, but it didn’t remember my page when I came back the next day.  Luckily had written down my last page as well, so I wasn’t too inconvenienced.  It would have been nice though, if it had worked properly.

For the most part, I enjoyed the Harlequin titles.  They all went fairly quickly and make for good light summer reading, such as a relaxing day at the beach. They are very much wish fulfillment, with strong, independent women (in their own way) meeting men that seem jerky at first, but then turn out to be kind and great lovers. They were fun, but they’re not anything I’d be interested in re-reading.  They can get rather formulaic and cliche, which gets boring fast.  The only real problem I had with all of these titles was the text.  It doesn’t appear that much time or effort was put into it.  The text looks like it was typed in, and no effort was made to make the text fit in the word balloons.  You do get used to it after a while, but really, even scanlators do a better job.  For something you’re paying for, you expect a better presentation.

Honor’s PromiseRating: ★★½☆☆ – I liked most of the characters in this story,  especially the protagonist.  She was feisty and fun.  The plot wasn’t too over used, though the Greedy Family Lawyer as the villain was kind of obvious and cliche.  It’s a decent read, and was a pleasant introduction.  Would Trade For.

Keeping Luke’s SecretRating: ★★★½☆ – I really liked this one.  I enjoyed out the protagonist, who is a historian that was asked to write a long awaited biography, stays true to herself, and her work.  She’s not looking for money or fame.  The story ends with a bit of a twist and a fairy tale ending.  Must Buy.

Marriage Under An Italian SunRating: ★★★☆☆ – This one I also enjoyed.  It was a well written story and the setting in an Italian villa was nice.  The story had a nice mature feel to it, as it dealt with different kinds of loss and trying to make the right choices in order to be happy.  It had some nice twists that kept it from becoming predictable.  Must Buy.

Millionaire Husband: Justin’s StoryRating: ★★★½☆ – This was my second favorite story of the seven I read.  I liked the switch up of making a guy the protagonist instead of it being a woman.  I found his portrayal to be realistic considering his past and his slow by steady change to be well done.  Must Buy.

Prisoner of the TowerRating: ★★★★☆ – This was the best of the seven I read.  I love historical dramas, and this fit right into that.  The characters were well developed and very likable.  I found myself rooting Emma on and wanting to slap Baron Greystone.  The art is also a treat.  I highly recommend this title and a full review will be forthcoming.  Must Buy.

Sale of Return BrideRating: ★★☆☆☆ – This was the most cliche of all the stories I read, both in story and in characters.  I was predicting every story element before they happened, and the ending was no surprise.  It wasn’t badly written or anything like that.  It was just predicatable, and that lowered the enjoyment for me.  Good Way to Kill an Hour.

The Sheikh’s Reluctant BrideRating: ★★½☆☆ – This was another average title.  The Middle Eastern setting and situation with the female protagonist was different from the other titles I read, and I did find it refreshing.  Again, the characters are well written and the story isn’t as predictable, but neither is it very interesting.  The old school feel of the art was a nice touch too.  It just wasn’t all that appealing to me.  Good Way to Kill an Hour.

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Read It If You Want It

Viz’s SigIkki website isn’t just an experiment in manga for mature readers.  Going to the site does more than let you read some great manga.  You, the reader, can make a difference in which manga will get published.  Your clicks and reviews can make all the difference in the world for a title seeing print.

In Japan, the fate of a manga is decided not just by circulation, but also by what the readers say.  Survey cards are checked and titles can live or die by what readers say in these.  Viz has taken this idea and applied it to the web.  The titles at SigIkki are not guaranteed to see a print edition unless enough people show interest through page views and reviews that readers can leave.  While this is a good idea for a small market as these Ikki titles will attract, that also means that your favorite title manga get a print edition unless YOU do something.

Just like pre-ordering, this is putting your money were your mouth is, just without so much of the risk.  Going to the site and reading chapters is easy, but if you really love a title, so much so that you want to see it in print, then put in a good word.  The editors give a lot of weight to reviews and comments left for titles.

And, just because a title gets a future solicitation, as many of the SigIkki titles seem to have at Amazon, that’s not really a guarantee of publication.  Ask Tokyopop about that.

Viz Signature Ikki

 

ikki

Manga for older readers has been few and far between, as teen manga dominates bookstores and sales.  But as manga readers grow up, there needs to be something to appeal to them and keep them interested in the medium.  Viz Media has been working in that direction with their Signature line, and now with a website that provides manga to read for free.  Working with Ikki Monthy magazine, they have brought out a diverse line of titles, many of which I liked, but not all will appeal to everyone.  But the beauty of doing this online, it doesn’t have to.

Continue reading Viz Signature Ikki

Shojo Beat – The Final 2

June and July 2009 mark the end of a four year run of Shojo Beat magazine.  Not that you could tell by reading them.  These last two issues feature more great previews, features and of course, chapters of manga.  Though nothing is said explicitly, there does appear to be some indication that the magazine was ending, but you wouldn’t know it if you weren’t really paying attention.

Continue reading Shojo Beat – The Final 2

Fair and Square

As a reviewer, I get a lot of titles that are either in the middle of the series, or sometimes I get just the last volume.   This came up over on twitter, and the with a comment that a series couldn’t be judged by reading some random volumes.  This got me thinking.  It’s an issue that reviewers would frequently have to deal with.  You can choose not to read any titles that you don’t start from the beginning, or take on all comers.  I’m one that chose to take on all comers.  I’d rather be able to get a taste of a title, than never know at all what it’s like.

Continue reading Fair and Square

Weekend Rerun Review: St. Lunatic High School Volume 1

St. Lunatic High School Volume 1
By Majiko!
Publisher: Tokyopop
Rating: Teen
Genre: Horror/Comedy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆
ISBN: 1-59816-944-7

Forced to attend the prestigious St. Lunatic High School, Niko Kanzaki discovers a haunting secret in her demon-filled night-classes!  She applies higher learning to find out the differences between humans and demons, but the handsome and mysterious Ren shows her that the races also share some things in common…

When I read in Previews that the mangaka of this series also wrote the manga adaptation of Code Geass, I was excited to read this series.  Code Geass is an awesome story.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t this…

Tokyopop once again uses the genre horror for this series, very inappropriately.  There is nothing horrific about this series.  It might have helped if it had.  Niko and her brother Atchan are poor.  But Atchan gets a job teaching at the prestigious St. Lunatic High School, so they think their worries are over.  Think again.  One rundown apartment is skipped out on for a rundown shed on the school’s grounds.  And the night classes that Niko gets to attend?  Full of demons.  None of them look normal, except for one; Ren the bishonen loner, who ignores the other girls, but finds himself helping Niko out, despite himself.  You couldn’t find a better boiler plate for a shojo manga that this if you tried!  The characters, the situations, they are all as stiff as boards.

It doesn’t help things either that Niko is absolutely annoying.  She’s loud and obnoxious, and is always yelling.  There is nothing likable about her.  I know her design is supposed to be cute, but it’s not.  It’s plain at best.  You can’t have a shojo series with a completely unsympathetic heroine and have it be good.

That isn’t to say this book is all bad.  It does have its moments, and there were even a few times where I chuckled out loud.  But it’s mostly the supporting characters that are providing the humor; Niko’s classmates, and the Chairman of the school (who is also Ren’s father).  I found the demon with the Easter Island Maoi particularly entertaining.

Majiko did a good job with the adaptation of Code Geass.  I really enjoyed that title, even with the changes that were made, much more than this, which is sad, since I really wanted to like this one too.  But the bad points just outweighed the good this time.  For a supernatural high school shojo, you’re better off looking elsewhere.  Or picking up Code Geass.