It’s been a slow week for news, part of which can be blamed on the Twitter DDOS attack Thursday and Friday. My reading list is way down too. I spent the week writing my Black Jack thesis and reading graphic novels for Good Comics for Kids Summer Reading Challenge. I should be back to reading more manga this week. Maybe.
July 20, 1969: The day mankind first walked on the moon. Just as with the assassination of JFK, and 9-11, you can ask someone (old enough to remember) what they were doing when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, and they could tell you. With the 40th Anniversary of this event coming up, I thought I would look at some manga that takes a more realistic approach to mankind’s reach into space.
With the manga market getting tighter, we as readers will start to see some of our favorite titles get longer times between volume releases, if at all. Slow seller are always the first to go. Despite the cries of protest from it’s small but loyal fan base, companies need to stay in the black, or else we’ll have no manga to buy at all.
But, we’re not helpless in this situation. Fans can show companies what titles they want to keep coming out. The easiest way is of course through pre-orders. Whether it’s through Amazon, Rightstuf or Diamond Distributor’s Previews, ordering a title ahead of time gives publishers a good idea on the demand they can expect for a title. The lives of titles can be saved or extended through pre-orders better than all the ranting and raving on blogs and forums. We as fans have to put our money where our mouths are.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the new paper Tokyopop is using for their manga. Most of it has been bad. I had a few recent printings of some of their manga and decided to check it out for myself. I pulled out Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo volume 4, NG Life volume 1 and Animal Academy volume 1. I then pulled out Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo volume 3, which was printed on the old paper for comparison. After getting sucked into both Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo volumes, I actually got down to the comparison.
This title has not been solicited in Previews! I’ve been watching! Waiting!! It’s the last volume!!! Aw, come on Tokyopop! You got my hopes up by putting up this late last year, and now…what? Will it come out, or won’t it? Why do you enjoy torturing me like this?! I don’t care what kind of paper it’s printed on. I don’t care if it’s only available to read online. Just tell me the truth! Can you or can’t you? Will you or won’t you? Why do you continue with these teasings? Why are you so cruel?!?!??! WWWWHHHHHHYYYYYYY?????!!!!!!!
Manga based on video games has practically become a genre, with both import and OEL titles, and Tokyopop has been at the head of the pack with releasing and creating new titles. All of the manga included in this post are titles that were video games initially, and were then adapted into manga.
Let’s start out with the .hack series. These had been publishing fairly regularly, matching pace with the anime releases. These titles were crafted to enhance both the video games and anime. The stories enrich each other, a novel concept at the time it was introduce, but really makes sense when you think about it. It’s also a great marketing strategy. There are currently 5 separate .hack titles available. Legend of the Twilight, XXXX, G.U.+, AI Buster, and Another Birth.
I know it’s a little late for Mother’s Day, but as long as it’s still May, I figure I can sneak this in. Last year, I wrote a post about the roles moms can play in manga. I picked out manga I had read and broke them down into categories; Mom affecting the characters, Mom as support, Mom’s absence affecting the character, Mom’s absence affecting the story. I’ve read and/or more titles have come out that can be added to the list.
Phantom Volume 5
By Ki-Hoon Lee/Seung-Yup Cho
Age Rating: 13+
K and his team, after their all-out battle against Iron, are left battered and bloody. Dison calls in the Solbalow, Athena’s flying aircraft carrier to evacuate the crew when they’re suddenly under attack by Iron forces. They barely manage to escape to their base in Guam. Once he awakens, K is told where his power came from, apparently the Meteor Shower wasn’t actually a meteor shower, it was a shower of alien nano-symbiotes that invade the human body and grow in the brain. Those who cannot handle their symbiote die, the others can develop special powers, like K’s ability to imitate or react to anyone else’s battle tactics. Dison and Eaimi, on the other hand, are products of Iron’s Ice Project, altered human beings just like the female cyborg found by Eric.
We jump ahead one year and the tide has turned against Iron. Repeated attacks by Athena and Rynus Corporation have cost them not only land but public opinion but Iron has a few tricks up it’s sleeve. First, the return of Colonel Kas Stein, now a cyborg in his own right and leader of a trio of psychic girl pilots who can perfectly interact with his new and most powerful TC, the Diablo. Second, it’s ruthlessness as it nukes Rynus, reducing it’s forces to near zero.
But Athena hasn’t been sitting on their laurels for the past year either, they have a new secret weapon, the Phantom, commanded by a much more powerful and confident K, that heads out to save the day from certain doom.
In the end, I suppose I am relatively satisfied with their explanations for the psychic powers. I don’t really like them, but it’s a lot better than saying “there are just magical pixies running around giving people power” or something ridiculous like that. The aliens in the brain, while a bit hackneyed, is at least remotely plausible, I suppose. Still, I think the story would have been better off without it, it lowers my overall score a bit.
Back in the review for Volume 2, I mentioned the harem manga angle and to be honest, I don’t know why they brought it up at all, it’s never referenced again. None of K’s admirers ever mention being attracted to him at all, even Sara, who came off as very jealous, simply goes back to being a mechanic and in the end, TC pilot. The whole subplot with Yura seems tacked on as well, she wakes up at the end of Volume 5, suddenly healed and goes off to look for K. The end. It’s just not convincing at all. Lily and her mother? Well Lily shows up once more in the story as a tagalong character but her mother is nowhere to be seen. The whole romance angle is completely dropped and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I detest harem stories, but on the other, since they brought it up in the first place, they should have gone somewhere with it.
Overall, Phantom is an interesting, albeit very cliche mecha story. It’s got plenty of action, plenty of drama, lots of giant robots smacking each other, but none of it is very original. If you’ve read a lot of mecha manga or seen a lot of mecha anime, you won’t come away from Phantom with anything new, but for the time you’re reading it, it’s a fun ride with good characters and a lot of twists and turns along the way.
My how time flies! I can’t believe Easter is already upon us! Ah, that springtime holiday where everyone buys big, flowery hats, kids color eggs and get baskets from the Easter Bunny. So, in honor of this spring holiday that’s never on the same day every year, here are some rabbits in manga.
Alice 19th – This is a shojo series by Yuu Watase. Set in modern times, it’s about Alice, a girl forever living in her older sister’s shadow. During a fight over a boy, Alice’s sister, Mayura disappears. She is a Lotus Master, someone who can use the power of words to enter the inner heart of others. Alice has accidentally sent her sister to the darkness, and must now master her power to save her. Alice is told all this by Nyozeka, a white rabbit she saves at the risk of her own life. This is a relatively short series at 7 volumes. It’s the only modern-day setting manga by Watase that I like. I really like the idea of using the power of words to either help or hurt others. While not a great series, it’s an enjoyable one and worth the time to read.
Dragon Ball – Ah, Akira Toriyama’s masterpiece manga. And I mean the first 16 volumes only. At the beginning of the series, as Goku, Bulma, and Oolong search for the dragon balls, they come to this town that is being terrorized by a most unusual boss. Monster Carrot rules the town with his gang, The Rabbits. Anyone that gets in Monster Carrot’s way gets a taste of his special power. One touch and they are turned into a carrot! For fun action and comedy, read only the Dragon Ball saga. It really is good, and when people say they hate Dragon Ball, this isn’t what they are talking about. This is Toriyama at his best.
Fruits Basket – This is an incredibly popular shojo manga, just setting to complete here in the US. Tohru Honda is an orphan, after losing her mother in a car accident. She lives in a tent in the forest that happens to be on the land of the most popular boy in school, Yuki Sohma. The Sohma family is cursed by the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. When they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex that isn’t part of the curse, they turn into the Zodiac animal. Tohru comes to live in the Sohma house, where she shows them that not everyone will be repelled by the curse, and give them hope of breaking the curse. Among the Chinese Zodiac is the rabbit. Momiji Sohma is possessed by the spirit of the rabbit. He is a cute, cheerful boy with an androgynous appearance.
Happy Happy Clover – This is an all ages manga written for kids. Clover the Bunny lives in Crescent Forest, and is always making mischief with her friends. It’s filled with cute, furry animals and follows their adventures. The stories are cute, with Clover learning something new in every one. Getting along with her friends, dealing with disappointment and finding that there are consequences to her actions, all good lessons for kids. While this is very much a girl’s manga, younger boys (4-6) may appreciate the cute animals and their fun adventures. There’s only one volume out so far, with the second set to come out in June.
St. Lunatic High School Volume 1
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.
These are just quick impressions of manga I read during the week. I’ll come up with full reviews some day. The Rating scale for these quickies are as follows: Must buys, Would trade for, or Good way to waste an hour or so.
Fairy Tail Volume 5 – Gray’s past is revealed and Ezra, who came to retrieve Natsu, Lucy and Gray instead ends up helping them. There is some awesome battle action as Natsu tries to save the villagers, Gray and Lyon continue their grudge match, and Lucy goes against a giant rat and her goth-loli owner.
Rave Master Volume 2 – Haru arrives at Punk Street to find Musica the Blacksmith to fix his sword. Demon Card is there and in control, of course, and he has to not only battle them, but figure out who the real Muscia the Blacksmith is. This second volume seems rather bland as typical shonen fighting. But what really made if hard to get through was the translation. What is up with the constant cry of “Snap!”? This book was painful to read, even though it shouldn’t have been.
Would Trade For
Translation: Epic Fail
Jay Karlson writes:
First, a comment: THANK YOU for adding an “All Ages” section. My 8 year old daughter loves Manga, but they can get really dirty.
Would she like “Peach Fuzz”? She already has read Sugar Princess and Cardcaptor Sakura. She LOVED Suihilibe.
Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the words of encouragement Jay! I found it frustrating trying to find appropriate manga for my girls, so I decided to make the page myself! Though I do have to update it for all the new titles coming out lately. But, that’s a good thing!
Peach Fuzz, one of the first OEL manga Tokyopop published, is definitely written for a girl about your daughter’s age. Amanda, the lead character is in the 4th grade. Her new pet, Peach the ferret, thinks she is a princess, royalty among ferrets. Most of the conflicts come from Amanda and Peach learning to get along and live with each other. I think it’s definitely something an 8 year old girl would like, and a parent would have no problem with their daughter reading.
If you’re still not sure though, you and she can go here to read the first three chapters of the first volume. The Tokyopop Manga Viewer is easy to use, and it’s free. You don’t have to join the website to use it.
Thanks for the question. I hope this helps!