Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, one of the few people with the ability to see the magical creatures who share our world. During one of her rare trips to London to visit her father, Lydia’s quiet life is suddenly transformed when she is rescued by kidnappers by a mysterious young man! Edgar Ashenbert claims to be descended from the human ruler of the fairy kingdom, and he urgently needs Lydia’s help to find and claim his birthright, the legendary sword of the Blue Knight Earl. Things will never be the same for Lydia as she is pulled into a dangerous quest against dark forces!
By Ayuko; Original concept by Mizue Tani
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
The Earl and the Fairy is a title I enjoyed the first volume of, but fell behind as subsequent volumes came out. I still collected the volumes and they have been sitting on my self until I realized the series would make a good addition to my St. Patrick’s Day themed manga. With only four volumes, it would be quick read too. It was easy to get back into the flow of the story and characters, for whom my love of only grew with each subsequent volume.
The story follows Lydia Carlton, a young woman trying to make it as a Fairy Doctor, a person knowledgeable in the ways of fairies and magical folk and tries to help humans and fairies live in harmony. I loved Lydia right from the beginning. She is determined and strong-willed. She doesn’t let what people think or say about her deter her. She accepts Edgar’s challenge to find the Treasure Sword more because of her pride than any desire to help him. She is soft-hearted, sometimes to a fault, but will always help other in need, both fairy and human. I liked that she isn’t drawn as some bishojo. She wears plain clothes and her hair is usually an unruly mess. She complains that it looks like the color of rust.
Edgar Ashenbert seems to be the opposite of Lydia. He has the air of a noble and is able to easily fool people. He can be manipulative and seemingly cruel, but underneath his cool facade, is the heart of one who cares about his friends and will do anything for them, including lie or kill. He has a tragic past, but his deceptive nature makes it hard to tell if he should be believed or not. Traveling with him are his two servants, Raven and Ermine, half-brother and sister. They are completely loyal to Edgar, and have been through many of the trials he has. Their shared ordeals has created a strong bond between them. It is for them, the last of his comrades, that Edgar continues the quest for the Treasure Sword.
The Earl and the Fairy is based on a light novel series that is currently at 33 volumes, but the manga only went four. Two volumes tell a complete story, no doubt making one volume of the light novels. The story for the first two volumes involves a lot of chasing and a treasure hunt that reminds me of National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code with the clues to be unraveled and the treasure, the Sword, to be found at the end. The second story has Edgar now officially recognized as the Earl Ibrazel and Lydia employed as his Fairy Doctor. More of Edgar’s past is explored as is the possible attraction between Edgar and Lydia, in the midst of finding a kidnapper and stopping an evil fairy.
One of the best elements of this series is Edgar and Lydia’s relationship. It’s hard to tell when Edgar is being serious about his attentions toward Lydia, and his deceptive nature makes it difficult for her to believe him even when he is being sincere. Their relationship is complicated at best. Edgar tries to only use Lydia, and she knows it, but either seems unable to give up on the other. Watching them maneuver and try to figure out what the other is thinking is a lot of fun.
Also a lot of fun is all the creatures that appear in the series. Nico is Lydia’s friend, a fairy that looks like a cat. He talks, and is very particular about his clothes, food and drink. He is suspicious of Edgar right from the start, constantly warning Lydia to get away from him. Though he doesn’t object when he receives new fineries from Edgar after Lydia comes under his employ. Brownies make several appearances in the first story, and the end takes place in the fairy realm, in a merrow town. The second story has an evil fairy known as the Fogman, and his servant, a Bogey-beast, using a nouveau noble girl to release him. It takes a group of Sylphs to truly defeat them.
The Earl and the Fairy was a really fun series, and I enjoyed reading it a lot. The biggest problem I have is that there are no more volumes to come. I want to keep reading about these characters and learn more about this world. I love all the bits with the fairies, and with 33 novels available, there is a lot more to learn. I guess I will have to be happy I got these volumes and that the anime was released here as well. It goes further than the manga in its short 12 episodes. It’s too bad it never got another series, or that the light novels will ever be licensed. Still, it’s a great series, and I highly recommend it.
This week I check out new licenses from Viz Media and Crunchyroll, the top 10 from Vizmanga and New York Times Bestseller list, and I look at what was new in manga 10 years ago.
With Nanamine’s manga struggling, he proposes an interesting challenge to Moritaka and Akito. But will the duo accept and risk what they’ve worked so hard to achieve? And when the news media puts the spotlight on their series for the wrong reasons, how will it affect Akito?
One of the things I’ve come to enjoy about Bakuman is all of the behind the scenes peeks it gives about the manga publishing industry. The importance of the creator-editor relationship, the support the publisher gives their creators and the shattering of the myths behind being successful are all covered in this volume.
The relationship between creator and editor is a big deal in the manga world. When it doesn’t work out, the situation can get out of control such as what happens with Nanamine and his editor Kosugi. Both Nanamine and the manga suffers for it. But when it’s a strong relationship, such as with Moritaka, Akito and Hattori, the support Hattori gives them helps them, most especially Akito through a tough spot when a copycat criminal uses their manga to justify their crimes. I really enjoyed the scene with the Editor-in-Chief and Hattori talking about it. The Chief seemed concerned for Muto Ashirogi and reminded Hattori about the importance of supporting the artists.
The Chief showed his support as well by standing behind Muto Ashirogi’s Perfect Crime Party, when it is used to commit some crimes and is reported on the news. I loved seeing how supportive not only he was that PCP not change, but that the other editors felt the same way. The manga shouldn’t be censored because it was being used by other to do illegal things. That was never the point of PCP, and even through Akito hits some bumps, he and Moritaka find a way to show that and put the whole thing behind them.
The biggest bit of reality that is dropped in this volume is when Morishita and Akito plan to go to their 2nd grade reunion. Akito ends up missing it, but Moritaka meets his old classmates and the difference in their lifestyles becomes painfully obvious. They all think Moritaka has it easy because he’s successful, while Moritaka sees how easy it is for them to make plans to go off on vacation while he can only think about work. His ink-stained hands are a testament to his dedication to the work. While this could have been a moment of crisis for Moritaka, it instead becomes a reaffirming moment. He doesn’t regret the last ten years or the young adult moments he’s missed. It’s a simple scene with Akito, but still a moving one.
Bakuman continues to surprise me, since it was a title I expected to hate at the beginning. But every volume has managed to show me something that has entertained or moved me. Moritaka’s concern for his fellow manga artists and rivals always warms me, and I really like how Fukuda, who seems so tough and unsympathetic is always right there with him. I just can’t stop recommending Bakuman. It never stops being a great title.
Review copy provided by publisher.
This episode I have regular departments the Weekly Wish List, Crunchyroll Corner and the Top Ten Department. Then I check out some manga for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday featuring Fairies.
This week I check out the Weekly Wish List, New manga app news, new titles on Crunchyroll and the Top 10 Department. Then I throw Viz some beads for their new license announcements.
What wonderful news to come home to! Viz Media has licensed Master Keaton the one manga from Naoki Urasawa that I’ve wanted ever since I first heard about it. It combines two of my most favorite things in the world into one title; mysteries and archaeology! I mean, how awesome is it to have a detective who can solve cases and is an archaeologist, always struggling to uncover the truth.
I didn’t think we’d ever get this title licensed in English. It had a few hurdles to get over for licenses today; it’s from the 1990s and is over 10 volumes. Then there was a disagreement over credits for the story, which actually sounded pretty petty of Urasawa to demand his name appear bigger than the original writer. But it looks like that problem has been solved, and Urasawa’s name is now known in the US. His work will sell no matter how old it is.
Another thing that will make this a big seller is that it hasn’t been scanlated by anyone beyond the first few chapters. Trust me, I’ve looked. The only way to enjoy this series previously was the anime licensed by Geneon back in 2003-04. I was lucky enough to be able to pick them up at Rightstuf. With this being the first time the manga is available in English in any format, that will guarantee sales.
It looks like Viz’s edition will be an omnibus of some sort as the original run was 18 volumes and Viz is soliciting this as 12. As part of the Viz Signature line, it is getting the deluxe treatment with 18 color pages , and will retail for $19.99 US. I don’t care. This is a series I have to own, and will pre-order. If only we didn’t have to wait until December! I want my Master Keaton noooowwwwwww!
This week I have out regular Departments Weekly Wish List and the Top 10, check out news stories after new titles from Yen Press, Viz Media and Kodansha Comics, and look at four new titles from 2013 that I was surprised I liked.
- Weekly Wish List
- In The News
- Top Ten Department
- Four Surprises of 2013
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Shojo Beat, Viz Media’s romance and drama imprint has a fun surprise for fans of Arina Tanemura. They have available quick flash games based on the manga Mistress Fortune and The Legend of Princess Sakura.
The Mistress Fortune game is a Whack-a-mole style game where you have to hit the EBE’s popping out of holes, but you don’t want to hit the bunnies! There is also a special attack when you fill up a status bar which can be used to hit all the EBEs on the screen. You get a rank at the end. I made Standard Angel on my first try.
The Princess Sakura game is a basic platformer. You control Princess Sakura with the left and right arrows, up to jump and space bar to strike the enemy monsters that inhabit the level. There is a spell, Thunder Strike that will freeze the monsters for a few minutes and a piece to pick up. I generally suck at platformers so after a few tries I could only get to level two. But it’s simple enough for any one to play and if you have more skill or patience, you can see how high the levels go.
I don’t know if these are temporary or if they’re going to be around for a while, so check them out while you can!
This week I check out some new stories, regular departments Weekly Wish List and top 10 at Vizmanga.com and the New York Times, and for Valentines Day I features some titles with couples that aren’t so lovey-dovey.
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!!
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.
Usually 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.
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!
By Nobuhiro Watsuki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Historical Fantasy
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.