Tag Archives: Yen Press

This Week’s Manga: It’s a Yen World

This Week's Manga
Manga makes its triumphant return this week, and it’s all thanks to Yen Press. While Seven Seas Entertainment does have some titles coming out, it’s Yen that getting a cut of my paycheck. After far, far too long, we finally get the next Durarara!! series. Yellow Scarves Arc is the third manga series and is based on the third light novel. So why hasn’t Yen licensed the light novel series again? It’s gonna be hard to read this first volume, because I will then have to wait for the rest!

Spice and Wolf is another series I’ve come to love, so getting a new volume is always exciting. This week’s it’s volume 9, and even though the light novels are further ahead in volumes, I’m happy to wait for the manga. I love the art, and the interactions between Holo and Lawrence. I will read the light novels someday, but for now the manga has my full attention. I’m also curious about Void’s Enigmatic Mansion volume 1. I get a comeuppance vibe from it, with a tag live about granting one’s greatest wish and it not what you expected. I do enjoy those kinds of stories and it’s getting to be that season again where the scary and creepy step out of the shadows and jump off our bookshelves!

DRRRYellowScarvesArcV1_TP.jpgSpice and Wolf 9VoidsMansion_vol1

Sword Art Online: Aincrad

In the year 2022, gamers rejoice as Sword Art Online–a VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) like no other–debuts, allowing players to take full advantage of the ultimate in gaming technology: NerveGear, a system that allows users to completely immerse themselves in a wholly realistic gaming experience. But when the games goes live, the elation of the players quickly turns to horror as they discover that, for all its amazing features, SAO is missing on of the most basic functions of any MMORPG–a log-out button. Now trapped in the virtual world Aincrad, their bodies held captive by NerveGear in the real world, users are issued a chilling ultimatum: conquer all one hundred floors of Aincrad to regain your freedom. But in the warped world of SAO, “Game Over” means certain death–both virtual and real…

Sword Art Online: Aincrad
SwordArt_Aincrad1_mangaArt by Tamako Nakamura; Original story: Reki Kawahara
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Drama/Game
Price: $20.00 USD
Rating: ★★★★☆

Sword Art Online: Aincrad manga is based on the first two light novels from a series of the same name, and belongs to a genre that become popular lately; players of an MMORPG become trapped in the game world and must fight the game to get out. I’ve never been interested in this genre, but I was still curious enough about it to at least read the manga, an omnibus of the two-volume series. I did enjoy the story as a whole, but there are still a few spots that felt lacking.

The story centers around Kirito, a teenager who was a beta tester for Sword Art Online and became trapped along with the 10,000 other players on the game’s first day. It is two years later, and there are only 26 levels to beat before reaching the final boss, the creator of the world Akihiko Kayaba. The players have settled into their new life in Aincrad, fighting, getting stronger and clearing levels. There are towns with tradesmen and farmers, and guilds to organize everyone. The strongest of these guilds is Knights of the Blood. Returning to a town to trade and heal, Kirito runs into Asuna, a commander in the Knights of the Blood. She wants to recruit Kirito for the next level they are about to take on, but Kirito and Asuna make a deeper connection, and the story becomes just as much about their romance as their battles.

As the two main characters, I did like Kirito and Asuna. Kirito was a loner, also known as a Beater. Beta testers were also considered cheaters to new players because of their greater knowledge of the game. He isn’t unfriendly, just reluctant to make connections. Asuna is his opposite in many ways. She is cheerful and outgoing, also known as a celebrity in the game. They work well together, a feeling that translate on and off the battlefield. Their feelings for each other becomes a focal point of the story, but I didn’t see the chemistry between them. Their romance felt rushed, as if getting them together was just a formality for the rest of the story. I just didn’t feel any emotions between them. We were told rather than shown how they felt about each other and that lessened the effect.

The supporting cast was a pretty interesting bunch. Klein, a fighter, and Agil, a shopkeeper were friends of Kirito and Asuna. They help out the couple both off the field and on. They also brought some of the lighter moments to the story. Klein getting flustered around Asuna made for some fun moments. Agil’s honesty about joining the 75th floor battle was refreshing.

The story moved at a quick pace, slowing down only for some character development for Kirito, or some development for Kirito’s and Asuna’s relationship. References to the world being a game were fairly constant, and players had to keep it in mind even as they came to accept it as the real world. I did like that the manga dealt with PK, or Player Killers. Kuradeen, an evil man who joins the Knight of the Blood to be near Asuna, turns out to be one these players. Kuradeen makes some references to Kirito that killing him make Kirito a murderer, even though he just did the same thing for the sake of returning to the guild as the “lone survivor” of a trial. These references just get left hanging.

This was the biggest problem I had with the volume. It felt more like bullet points being hit on the page than a cohesive story. The scenes didn’t flow well and changed abruptly. The characters seem to know things without there being any or very little groundwork laid for it. With the manga having only two volumes to cover two novels, it felt like a lot was left out. The story had to be compressed so much that only major points could be hit, leaving out a lot of development.

Overall Sword Art Online: Aincrad is an entertaining read. While the art is rather generic, some characters such as Klein and Kuradeen did stand out. If you’re interested in the plot and don’t want to take the time to watch the anime or read the original light novels then this adaptation will serve well. A lot is being missed with just this manga adaptation, and I am considering reading the light novels to see what was dropped. A third volume would have made a big difference in the character development. If nothing else, this manga is a good gateway to the light novels.

Review copy provided by publisher.




Yen Press Adds Another Two Titles

Yen Press has really been piling on the licences lately, both in manga and light novels. One of each was just announced and confirmed in the last couple of weeks.

KarnevalThe one manga was announced on Twitter. Karneval follows the mysterious young boy Nai, who knows nothing but his name and Karoku. With only Karoku’s bracelet from “Circus,” he goes in search of Karoku. He is helped by an older boy Gareki and after an incident, they are recruited by the National Defense Agency Circus. As they travel, searching for Karoku, they meet new people and find new opportunities along the way. A lot of people were excited for this license when it was announced. There was an anime that aired last year, which was streamed and licensed by Funimation. I’m not really seeing anything from the description that excites me, but that’s nothing new. This is a title I will have to wait and see. It is currently 13 volumes and is scheduled for release in March 2015.

So I can't HAdding to their YenOn imprint is So, I Can’t Play H!, a romantic comedy light novel series. This one follows Ryuosuke Kaga, a high school student who is both a hopeless romantic and hopelessly perverted. One day he meets a beautiful girl in the rain and invites her back to his house. He offers her anything she needs; dry clothes, help changing out them…but the girl, Lisara Restole has other plans. She stabs him in the chest. Lisara is a shinigami, and Ryuosuke has thoughtlessly offered his essence to allow her stay int he world, and the part of his she seems interested in taking is his lecherous side. Yeah, can’t say I’m surprised Yen Press got this series. It fits in perfectly with their other heavy male-gaze titles. Which makes it another title I will let pass by. There are currently 11 volumes of this series out, and Yen Press will release the first one in English in April 2015

More Madoka Spin offs from Yen Press

Yen Press has confirmed, thanks to some Amazon listings, that they have two more Puella Magi Madoka Magica spin-off titles: Puella Maki Oriko Magica: Extra Story and Puella Magi Tart Magica: The Legend of Jeanne d’Arc. This news makes me very happy since I’ve really come to enjoy the Magica spin offs.

orika-spinoffI didn’t like Puella Magi Oriko Magica initially, but the second volume redeemed any doubt I had at the beginning. Oriko’s story gets to continue now with a  “what if” side story. This new story asks, what if Oriko had met Yuma Chitose before she gained her vision of the end of the world? Would she still have used and manipulated the girl in order to reach her own ends of trying to stop the end of the world? I didn’t find Yuma interesting in the main series, but I am curious to see what Mura Kuroe, the artist of the main Oriko series, comes up with this time. The series is one volume and is scheduled to be released in March of 2015

jeanne-darcPuella Magi Tart Magica is a spin-off from the main series, and takes tidbit that was thrown out, that Joan of Arc was a magical girl, and turns it into a full-blown series. Kyubey is trolling for magical girls even in the Fifteenth Century and finds Jeanne d’Arc, a girl with extraordinary leadership and strength of character. With the help of her three friends, Liz, Eliza, and Melissa, she fights to push back the English occupiers of France. But she might soon have an even greater enemy to fight. I’m a sucker for historical fantasy/drama. While I think Joan of Arc gets overused in Japanese media, I think this use it actually a good one. The series is still ongoing with only one volume out so far. I look forward to getting my hands on this one in April 2015.

Yen Press Ends Summer with New Licenses

Over the Labor Day weekend that traditionally ends Summer for most kids (though may schools start in August now), Yen Press announced several titles for both their new Yen On imprint of light novels and their regular manga line. Included in this license bonanza was both the manga and light novel series of Log Horizon and The Devil is a Part-Timer, the light novel series No Game No Life, Pandora Hearts Caucus Race, and the manga version of the Disney movie Big Hero 6.

Log Horizon LNLog Horizon started in 2010 and follows the very familiar premise of 30,000 Japanese gamers being trapped in a fantasy online game world called Elder Tale. The story follows Shiroe, Naotsugu and Akasuki, three friends, as they band together to survive their new reality. Yeah, this screams Sword Art Online to me. But it seems to be doing well enough as it now has seven volumes out and 2 manga adaptation. Yen will publish the first light novel in March 2015. And speaking of manga series, Yen did announce the manga adaptation, just not which one. Though best bet would be on the straight adaptation Log Horizon. No date were announced for the manga. Like most of the light novel adaptations from Yen lately, I will probably be more likely to read the manga over the light novel, unless the manga really impresses. So I will most likely at least check out the first volume of the manga.

Devil is a Part-Timer LNThe Devil is a Part Timer has another familiar premise, but one that I think I’d like more. A demon king named Satan is about to conquer his alternate world when he is transported to Tokyo in our world. To make ends meet, he ends up working in a fast food restaurant. but he hasn’t given up on his world-dominating. His first step in taking over Tokyo is to go from a freelancer to an actual employee! He is also pursed by heroine Emilia, who has followed him to Tokyo. There are currently 12 volumes in print, and an anime adaptation was also released here by Funimation. I expect this series to do well with an anime already available. This series sounds a lot more appealing to me, and it has a manga adaptation as well, that Yen Press has also licensed. Again, I’ll probably read the manga before the light novel. The first volume of the light novel series will be available in April 2015, but no date for the manga was announced.

No Game No Life LNNo Game No Life centers around siblings Sora and Shiro, reputed to be brilliant NEET hikikomori gamers on the net. They are so immersed in gaming that they treat life as just “another crappy game.” One day they are summoned to an alternate world by a boy named GOD. In this world, war has been outlawed and all disputes are decided by playing games. Humanity has been driven back to one city, and need Sora and Shiro to save them from losing everything. This series has just started with one volume out so far. It also has an anime that Sentai Filmworks has just licensed. The manga adaptation was licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment, with the first volume scheduled to be released in October. I’m not as interested in this series either. I do like gaming manga in general, but the premise of this series just doesn’t intrigue me. I’m just not that interested in NEET or hikikomori. The first volume of the light novel from Yen Press will be out in April 2015.

Pandora Heartscaucus_racePandora Hearts Caucus Races is a series of short story collections about the manga series Pandora Hearts that Yen Press also publishes. There are currently 3 volumes available, the last of which came out in May of 2013. The manga has only one more volume left, so this series will be a good way for fans to keep their Pandora Hearts fix going just a little longer. I’ve found Pandora Hearts strangely addictive. I didn’t really care for it at first, but the second half of the series has been filled with twists and surprised that I’ve just loved! I will give the first volume of this collection a look, though there was no release date given for it.

Finally, Yen Press announced they would be releasing the Japanese manga adaptBig Hero 6ation of the Disney movie Big Hero 6. The movie is scheduled to come out in the US in November, and Japan in December. It is about Hiro, a boy who lost his older brother Tadashi in a mysterious accident and the robot Baymax who was built by Tadashi, and takes place in San Fransokyo, a fictional city that combines Tokyo and San Francisco. This series is a prequel to the movie, and a first for a Disney movie adaptation. I wondered why Yen Press got this, since Big Hero 6 started as a Marvel comic, and is where Disney got the property from. Why wouldn’t Marvel or even Disney do an adaptation? This Bleeding Cool article gives some reasons why. As a writer for kids comics blog, I have an interest in this series, but beyond that, I’m not so sure I would pick it up.


Puella Magi Oriko Magica Volume 1-2

Oriko is a magical girl with foresight. She is struck with a terrible vision of the future-of the devastation to be caused by one powerful witch. She decides she must do something about it, and she is willing to use, and if necessary sacrifice, anyone to stop this threat. But what will she do when her unstoppable force hits an immovable object determined to protect the very one Oriko seeks to destroy?

Puella Magi Oriko Magica Volume 1-2
OrikoMagica_V1Story by Magica Quartet; Art by Mua Kuroe
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Magical Girl
Price: $11.99
Rating: ★★★★½

I didn’t care of Oriko Magica when I read the first volume. I didn’t like Yuma, and didn’t see where the story was going, until I read the second and concluding volume, which not only put everything into perspective, made the series a fantastic read.

Oriko Magica is set in an alternate universe to the main Madoka Magica universe. In this world, Kyouko save a young girl Yuma, and takes her in. But Oriko, with her foresight, has seen that she has the potential to be a magical girl and manipulates both Yuma and Kyubey into making her a magical girl. Meanwhile, Mami learns of another magical girl, a black magical girl, that is hunting other magical girls. These distractions allow Oriko to get close to her target; Madoka, but Homura is there to protect her, and final, climatic battle ensues to decide the fate of both Madoka and the world.

When this series began, I struggled with the differences in the characters. I had read the main Madoka series, and knew the characters. This series is a slightly different take on them, with Mami living past the first few chapters, and Kyouko being more willing to help out others. She takes in Yuma, and does her best to protect her, both from danger and Kyubey. I really enjoyed seeing Mami in action. She gets an extended battle with Kirika, the black magical girl, where her power and intelligence really shines. Homura only really shows up for the final battle and Madoka and Sayaka are more side characters despite Madoka being everyone’s target.

OrikoMagica_V2_FINALSince it is a Puella Magi * Magica series, the characters have to have tragic back-stories. In these two volumes we only get Oriko’s, Yuma’s, and Kirika’s, but they hit pretty hard on the tragic scale. There is child abuse, bullying and neglect, and even some self-hatred, but they all fuel each girl’s reason to become a magical girl, and each fulfills their wish in the end.

Oriko’s wish and motive didn’t seem obvious, even though she made it very clear from the beginning. She wanted to protect her world. As the story unfolds, and we learn more about Oriko’s past and her present target, things start to make sense. It’s really interesting that the two people who most want to stop Madoka’s transformation have a form of time manipulation as their magical power.

What really sold me on this story was the twist at the end. I have to admit it blew me away. It wasn’t until I saw that scene and made the connection to the main series that it all clicked and the title went from being “meh” to being awesome. What ever you do, don’t read this series without reading the main Madoka Magica series first! The twist at the end is all the more powerful when you know what Homura’s been trying to do.

Puella Magi Oriko Magica is a fantastic side story to the Madoka Magica story. It still holds the ray of hope against the despair the magical girls face when they learn their eventual fate. It’s also fun to watch Oriko play with Kyubey. A little “turnaround is fair play” isn’t a bad thing. It can easily slip into the main Madoka story-line and feel perfectly in place. This title is a must for Madoka Magica manga fans.

Review copies provided by publisher.

Sumomomo Momomo Volume 6-12

Having defeated Tenga Koganei of the Tiger clan and recovered from the poison, Koushi and Momoko continue to face challengers to their engagement from other clans. Koushi, seeing how much his friends go through to help, decides to start training seriously. While makes good progress, the Monkey clan makes their move and usurps the Inuzuka claim to lead the Eastern army. Koushi’s only hope to save the clans and regain his engagement to Momoko is to master the Myriad Seal and face Yuusuke in battle to the death.

Sumomomo 6By Shinobu Ohtaka
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action/Comedy
Price: $11.99 ea
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Sumomomo, Momomo was one of the debut titles in Yen Press’ Yen Plus magazine. It was also a title I despised. The art was bad, and the story was worse. I never dreamed I would ever read another chapter of it, but I had these review copies, and no one else seemed interested in reviewing them, so I decided to see if it had improved at all. I will admit, these later volumes weren’t as painful to read as the earlier ones, but the systemic problems of the series kept it from being memorable.

Sumomomo 7There were several things I despised about this series, the chief among was Momoko. I hated her. She was annoying with her obsession with wanting to bed Koushi. Koushi’s pathetic attitude was just as bad. It’s not a good sign when the two main leads are so unlikable. This starts to change by volume 6. Momoko seems to have settled down some what. She still wants to bed Koushi, but it’s not her focus. It’s become something that just comes up every once in a while, with Momoko trying to trick Koushi into agreeing. She is still a gungho fighter, and has no problem with coming to Koushi’s defense.

Sumomomo 8While watching Momoko fight Koganei, Koushi starts to realize he can’t let everyone else fight his own battles, and decides he needs to train seriously. This becomes his main arc to the end. Both his father and friends try to help him, but it’s only once he understands the seal his mother put on him and he trains alone in the jungle that he finally finds his strength. Even before the last volume, I was finding Koushi to be less annoying, as he stopped cowering and starting stepping up to take responsibility for himself.

Ultimately, that was the theme of the story; to make your own decisions and walk your own path. Koushi didn’t become a real fighter until he found his own way, and even in his final battle with Yuusuke, he chose when and how to use the Myriad Seal despite what others thought. He used words first to try to beat this idea into Yuusuke, but in the end his had to use the Seal to end the duel mercifully for both him and Yuusuke. It was actually a decent ending.

Sumomomo 11There were also parts in the middle that were decent. I liked Iroha’s journey to try to resurrect her clan and regain their respect. Despite the betrayals of those she considered closest, she never gave up hope. She continued to fight and help Koushi against the Endou until the very end. I felt sorry for Sanae. Her power was just humiliating, and her grandmother had no sympathy, putting her on parade even to her friends.

And here is where things start to head downhill for me. I didn’t care for the whole love polygon around Koushi that started with Iroha and Sanae, and soon added Shintarou, the daughter of the Inoue clan who was raised as a boy. The dip into harem territory didn’t work for me at all, and actually felt distracting from the growing tension from the Endou clan’s machinations. The humor didn’t do much for me either. The getting into bed, Sanae’s humiliation, the other boys’ jealousy of Koushi, none of these things ever seemed funny to me, and the humor fell flat every time.

Sumomomo 12Sumomomo, Momomo worked best when it was being a martial arts fighting series, and was “meh” at best at being a high school harem comedy. There were some good character arcs, and the final message of putting yourself and your own will ahead of conflicting obligations was a good one. The final volume was the best, with this message and showing how everyone not only went their separate ways, but took paths that they chose on their own. I can’t say I liked Sumomomo, Momomo, or that it was a good series overall. But it did have its moments and an ending worth reading. So borrow this from the library or a friend if you’re curious.

Buy Volume 6                         Buy Volume 7                          Buy Volume 8                          Buy Volume 9

                       Buy Volume 10                        Buy Volume 11                        Buy Volume 12

Review copies provided by publisher.

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 61: Yen Press Surprise Package

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This week I have a short Weekly Wish List, a couple of new stories In the News, the Top Ten Department, and the I look at the new licenses announced by Yen Press on Friday.

Continue reading Manga Dome Podcast Episode 61: Yen Press Surprise Package

Inu x Boku SS Volume 1-3

Ririchiyo Shirakiin is a girl from a family of old money who also has Ayakashi blood as a genetic throw back to a human ancestor who coupled with an Ayakashi. She moves to Maison de Ayakashi because she want to become independent, but every one who moves into the apartment building is assigned a member of it’s secret service. Soushi Miketsukaim is assigned to Ririchiyo, and he is about as devoted and protective as a dog, much to Ririchiyo’s chagrin.

INUxBOKU_SSv1_TPBy Cocoa Fujiwara
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Romance
Price: $11.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I had my doubts about Inu x Boku SS as I started to read the first volume. I wasn’t sure what to make of Ririchiyo at first. Her throwback is to a demon, and in some ways it seems to show. She speaks without thinking and comes off as mean and blunt. But that’s not the real Ririchiyo. After speaking like that, she immediately regrets her words but doesn’t know how to apologize properly. She is very awkward and is sincere in wanting to change. I didn’t like her at first, but as I continued reading, I found her growing on me. I found myself sympathizing with her as bits of her past is revealed. I also found her naiveté endearing, since she isn’t so much clueless as inexperienced with someone having feelings for her.

That someone is Soushi. He is very over the top at first with his devotion to Ririchiyo. He asks her to “dispose” of him when she tells him she doesn’t need him at first. He waits outside her apartment for hours until she comes out. He even overreacts when she just leaves him alone for a few minutes while they are shopping. The devotion does get annoying at times. He uses it to manipulate Ririchiyo, something she realizes after he’s gotten what he wanted. The reason Soushi feels so strongly for Ririchiyo is revealed, and all of his mysterious hints from when they first meet now make sense. Ririchiyo’s interactions with Soushi start to change her, for the better.

Inu x boku ss 2And it’s not just Soushi that helps her change. Interacting with the other tenants of the building help her as well. Sorinozuka is Ririchiyo’s childhood friend, and isn’t fazed by her personality. He has ittan-momen blood in him, and spends as much time as a bolt of cloth as he does a human. Roromiya, a SS and Watanuki, a tenant, go to the same school as Ririchiyo, and they become friends, despite Watanuki’s continued claim that he is a delinquent. Watanuki has tanuki blood, but is a smaller type, and usually ends up as comedy relief. Zange is Watanuki’s SS, and he is rather mysterious and meddlesome. He helps Ririchiyo reach out to others and make friends. He also has a second sight that bode ominous things in the volumes to come.

Sadly, not all of the characters are likeable. After the first volume, I though Yukino, Sorinozuka’s SS was the most annoying with her yuri inclinations and shouts of “smexy” at Rirchiyo and Roromiya. And then Kagerou Shoukiin was introduced. He is a tenant of the building, and Roromiya is his SS. He is always traveling and isn’t at the building much. He is also a sadist, always wearing a masking and calling people “trollop” and “sow”. He labels everything as a “S” or a “M”. I dislike him, and can’t decide if he’s supposed to be funny or menacing. Either way, I can’t take anything he says or does seriously.

Inu x Boku SS 3Overall, I do like the direction of the story. While Ririchiyo and Soushi are the main couple, I like that the other tenants aren’t just there to support them. Watanuki gets a nice chapter that explains his obsession with being seen as a delinquent. Even the staff at the apartment building get some page time. After everyone is introduced, they continue to show up, such as cook Kawasumi and his son, and Concierge, the scary-looking nekomata throwback that is more pussycat than lion.

Zange’s premonition at the end seems to predict something dark on the horizon for Inu x Boku SS. As much as I’ve enjoyed these volume and their slice of life stories so far, these characters have ayakashi blood in them. There have only been short moments of action with them turning into their throwback forms. I’m looking forward to more of this, along with all the relationship development we’ve seen so far.  If you like supernatural romances or stories about yokai and ayakashi, definitely pick this series up.

Buy Volume 1
Buy Volume 2
Buy Volume 3

Review copies provided by publisher.

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 54: Manga at Sakura-Con

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This week I check out the Weekly Wish List, a new title at Crunchyroll, double the Top Ten Department, and the new manga licenses announced at Sakura-Con from Yen Press, Dark Horse Comics and Viz Media.

Continue reading Manga Dome Podcast Episode 54: Manga at Sakura-Con

PR: Yen Press And Square Enix Announce eBook Distribution

Well, I have to say it’s about time Yen Press and Square Enix finally got on the digital bandwagon. Yen Press announced back in October at New York Comic Con that it would be announcing a digital strategy for the company, and nearly six months later, they finally have! I glad to see them moving away from proprietary apps and awful websites. Find out more after the jump.

Continue reading PR: Yen Press And Square Enix Announce eBook Distribution