Tokyopop and the Sony e-Reader

I don’t hang out at anymore, but I still get all their newsletters, just to keep abreast with what’s going on.  In the newest newsletter, there is a poll about e-books.  Which would you prefer?  Apple iphone, Sony e-Reader, Amazon Kindle, or none, reading paper books.  Accompanying this in the newsletter is a video of a comparison review of the e-Reader and the Kindle.  Viewing the video shows Tokyopop’s bias for the e-Reader (as that is where they have OEL manga available).  The influence of this video seems to be reflected in poll, as the e-Reader has the second most votes, and most for a digital device.

I have to hand it to Tokyopop for continuing to show some support for ebooks and the e-Reader.  With it’s recent problems, publishing books electronically can be a good call to keep the fanbase happy while Tokyopop struggles through these tough times.  It could also help to grow ebooks, in the same way that they did with OEL. If they would keep their books updated and make them easy to get, they might just make ebooks successful.

Continue reading Tokyopop and the Sony e-Reader

Cautionary Tale of Trust

A week or so ago, I wrote about trading manga and the website Mangatude.  While, as some have mentioned, this doesn’t actually reduce the number of manga you have.  It just switched them.  But, if they were books you wanted and would have spent money on, well, it’s a good deal.  But only if both players are playing by the same rules.

For trading to work, there has to be some trust.  When a deal is struck, you have to trust that the other person will send the book, just as they trust that you will do the same.  Of course, when you make that trade, you don’t know if the person will or not.  Mangatude has a rating system, so before you accept a trade, you can see what experience others have had, and this can help measure whether you’re will to make the deal.  But, there is a way to beat this system, though it takes time.  It’s appeared on eBay, and now it seems on Mangatude.

Continue reading Cautionary Tale of Trust

Review: Hunter x Hunter Vol 16-18

Hunter x Hunter Volume 16, 17, 18
By Yoshihiro Togashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Genre: Action
Price: $7.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆

These three volumes finish up the Greed Island arc (thankfully), though in retrospect it wasn’t as bad as it could be.  Volume 16 continues “The Bomber” arc within Greed Island that was started in Volume 15.  Genthru and his team has 96 and only need 4 more to win the game.  Several teams of hunters, including Gon’s gather to come up with a way to stop Genthru.  They decide to get a card no one else has and keep it from them.  By creating a team of 15 they can activate the quest.  After gathering the requisite number (including Hisoka), they reach the challenge of a killer dodgeball game.  Volume 17 finishes the game, and starts the war between Genthru’s team and the winners of Plot of the Beach card.  There’s more training for Gon and Killua while Tsezguerra’s team buys them time to come up with a strategy to beat Genthru.  Volume 18 is the final three-on-three battle between Genthru’s team and Gon’s, and the end of the Green Island arc.

Continue reading Review: Hunter x Hunter Vol 16-18

Manga Doctor Who

Found via AiCN.

Gia of Anime Vice has put together a collection of fanart pictures of the Doctor, manga style.  Most of the pictures are cute, and I really like the strip art on the far right with the companions.  Very funny.  The art features the current 10th Doctor played by David Tennant.  He’s young, cute and very action oriented.  He’d be the perfect subject for a manga adaptation.  Especially as a bishonen, as this rendering shows (credit needed).

Now would be the perfect time for the BBC to captialize on this and allow an OEL manga of the Doctor to be made.  The announcement of the eleventh doctor, Matt Smith, has led to a lot of speculation, with the one that makes the most sense to me is that he will be going goth.  Yes, we’ve had Victorian with the 1st and 8th Doctors, but speculation I’ve heard and seeing what he’s done in the past makes him perfect for the goth style.  And it’s what’s popular with the teenage girls, a demographic Doctor Who hasn’t quite captured yet.  Russell T. Davies has already given the Doctor lots of angst in his 4 year run.  This just seems to be the next natural step.

Doctor Knight anyone?

January 2009 Previews

Just a few comments about this month’s Previews catalog:

Marvel/Del Rey collaboration: I have two words for the Wolverine manga; Emo Logan.  Does the world REALLY NEED more emo Logan?  I mean, honestly…  The art looks great, I’m not gonna knock that.  The Marvel catalog had some pictures of pages, and they did look nice.  But this isn’t going to win anyone over from one side of the manga vs. comics camp, and really hope it was never meant to.  If anything, this will probably fan the flames, but that seems to be the way Marvel likes it.  Not that they want to come up with anything original…

Continue reading January 2009 Previews

Dororo Volume 1-3

A Samurai during Japan’s Warring States period (1467-1573), Daigo Kagemitsu wants complete control over Japan.  He promises his unborn son’s 48 body parts to demons in exchange for that control.  When the baby is born deformed, Daigo throws the newborn into the river to die, but it is miraculously found by a doctor, Jukai, who makes prosthetics for the child and adopts him as his own.  When the boy Hyakkimaru is grown, he leaves home and begins a journey to recover his body parts.  Along the way he runs into a brash young thief, Dororo, whom he teams up with; together they battle demon and monster on their adventure to reclaim Hyakkimaru’s wholeness.

Dororo 1-3
Dororo 1-3

By Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action/Adventure
Price: $13.95
Rating: ★★★★½

Dororo, first serialized in 1967, can be seen as a proto-shonen story.  It has many of the elements we now see in shonen titles today, though these were new at the time. Tezuka spins a memorable supernatural action/adventure tale and characters that really draw you in, and only disappoints at the very end, though not in story, but lack of it.

The first volume of this title is the introduction. Tezuka jumps from past to present, first telling of Daigo’s deal, then introducing Hyakkimaru and Dororo. Hyakkimaru tells Dororo his story, trying to convince the young thief not to follow him, but Dororo doesn’t give up so easily. After a few chapters fighting a demon that returns Hyakkimaru’s arm, it’s Dororo’s tragic past that is revealed.  It ends with another demon defeated and Hyakkimaru gaining another body part.

This volume is the strongest of the three, with the great action sequences interspersed with the story telling. One of the themes introduced this is volume that continues through all three seems to be that of “No good deed goes unpunished”. After Hyakkimaru and Dororo go through so much trouble to help rid villages of the demons that plague them, always their reward is to chased off with nary a thank you. Tezuka’s fascination with human nature is seen here as the excuses the villagers often give is refusing to help a thief (Dororo) or Hyakkimaru’s different appearance. Of course, it doesn’t bother them when Hyakkimaru reveals his sword hidden in his arm when he’s fighting a demon; Only after the demon’s defeated and he might need something like food or shelter to rest.

Volume two gets into more character development for Hyakkimaru. He meets his father, the ruthless Daigo and his second son Tahomaru. Things don’t go well, and Hyakkimaru ends up killing Tahomaru in a duel and his father demanding his head. He sends Dororo away deciding he was better off dead when the old man from the first volume that gave Hyakkimaru the hope of becoming a great swordsman despite his handicap, appears. He helps Hyakkimaru see that he needs more in life than just killing demons, and a map to that mysteriously appears on Dororo’s back proves to be it. Hyakkimaru decides to help Dororo find his father’s treasure. This volume ends in must the same way as the first with Hyakkimaru defeating a demon, gaining a limb, and getting chased out of the village.

I’ve seen this volume described as making the series darker, and with all the needless killing of innocents in the first half, one could agree. But, the first volume already established that life was hard, and that Daigo was evil. Maybe “serious” would be a better description. We see just how hard life is and how evil Daigo can be.  We gain more insight into Hyakkimaru as well. He has no real purpose beyond finding his missing body parts. He isn’t killing demons to help people. He has to kill a demon before he will know if it was one of the 48. The old man tried to get Hyakkimaru to realize this, but it’s really Dororo that makes him see. Through their journey, Hyakkimaru and Dororo have formed a bond that neither can see, but certainly feel. It’s this bond that makes Hyakkimaru more human than just his regained body parts.

Volume three picks up with the search for Dororo’s father’s treasure. Then there are a few demon hunting stories and the final story involves Hyakkimaru facing his father again and helping a village of farmers overcome him. Hyakkimaru parts ways with Dororo again after a revelation, and then leaves.  And…that’s the end.

This volume starts out full steam and stays that way to the very end. Tezuka never shows any indication that these would be the last stories. Nothing is resolved, and if anything, things are set up to imply more to come, so that when you come to the end, it’s like hitting a brick wall. The last page is nothing but a few lines that are woefully inadequate for what was up ’til now an exciting ride!

This brings me to the things I didn’t like about this series, and there aren’t a lot. The biggest problem I had with it was Tezuka continually breaking the fourth wall. Now, I don’t mind a manga being referential, but I really don’t like it when characters speak to the reader, break through panels and refer to things completely inappropriate to the title. Tezuka did this in every volume, though sparingly. But it was enough to distract from an already riveting story. He already had good comedic moments the Dororo. He didn’t need to add these others.

The other problem was the abrupt ending. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the pace had slowed some, or if there had been some indication that the story would be ending, but there wasn’t. You get to the end of the last story, turn to the last page and are left stunned, wondering where the rest of the story went. It is a real disappointing end of an otherwise great story.

Overall, Dororo is a great story. The characters are fun and well-developed. The demons that Hyakkimaru and Dororo face are varied and interesting. The art is classic Tezuka, but it really grows on you. Do not pass this title up just because the art doesn’t look modern and polished.  If you are interested in action and/or folklore/supernatural than this is a must read. Tezuka’s shonen classic shows why so many creators used him as a template. This great story is only marred by a jarring end.

Early Spring Cleaning

Well, it’s January in California, and to all you people in the Midwest and East Coast, that usually means lots of cursing or dreaming of our weather.  For the Rose Parade it is usually clear but cold, and that can last throughout the month.  But not always, like this week.  We went from high 50’s the last two weeks during the day to high 70’s to mid 80’s all this week.  Since we only have two seasons (fire and rain), spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year.

Over the holidays, I finally did some clearing.  I’ve gone through my manga collection and have started to pull out titles I want to get rid of.  As much as I love the idea of having just one room of wall to wall manga, that just isn’t going to happen right now.  So, I’ve had to do a lot of soul-searching, and decide what titles I want keep and what titles need to go.    I couldn’t let sentimentality get in the way, (though in some cases I think I have).  But I thought things over very carefully, and based on re-readability, I have pulled 43 titles from my shelves.  It’s come out to be about 135 volumes of manga that I’m going to be getting rid of.

Continue reading Early Spring Cleaning

What's Been Going On

Some of you out there may be wondering about my lack of posts lately.  Most of you probably haven’t, but anyway…  With the holidays and work, I’ve been really bogged down and quite frankly stressed, which tends to kill my creative juices.  Distractions by things other than manga can also do it.

Continue reading What's Been Going On

Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs Volume 10

One of the regulars at Suguri’s pet shop finds out that his precious little French bulldog, Zidane, has a weight problem!  He tried everything from diet food to yoga and even an exercise machine to help the little guy lose that doggy fat!  Could someone else be feeding him, too?!

By Yukiya Sakuragi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

Dog lovers rejoice!  It’s another volume of dogs and their owners doing doggie things.  Then for the second half of the volume, there’s a new plot stirring up, that could be the end of Woofles and the gang.

The first half of this volume is all about Hiroshi Akiba, an otaku-goverment worker, and his bulldog Zidane.  Zidane was teased by Chizuru about his weight, so Akiba decided to do something about it.  He buys low-calorie dog food, he stops buying treats and even gets a doggie treadmill!  This story is mildly amusing, though it has all the typical trappings and pitfalls of a diet storyline.

The story of how Lupin, Suguri’s mutt, got his name is mildly amusing too.  The source isn’t all that surprising, nor why she chose.  This story really just seems to fulfill the title’s fanservice quotient.

The rest of the volume introduces a new storyline.  Woofles has been targeted as the best pet store in the area, and the place to top for a new pet shop that is backed by an online retailer.  Not only are they trying to be better than Woofles, but they have their eye on Woofles top employee, Suguri!

This new storyline could be interesting, if it wasn’t so obvious where it was going.  Already, the spy that is working at Woofles has shown his “good side”, and the whole “steal Suguri from Woofles” just isn’t plausible.  Anyone that’s read even one volume of this series would know that.  Of course, Lupin catches on to Mikage right from the beginning.  He barks at him, and when he invites Suguri to a cafe for lunch and to try to get her to leave Woofles, Lupin is all over him, interrupting him at every chance.  That scene was also mildly amusing.

Inubaka continues to be a title aimed squarely at the male dog lover.  The fanservice was much more under control in this volume.  It wasn’t too prevalent, except for the one story.  And for dog lovers, this continues to be a windfall.  Lots of different dog doing lots of cute doggie things.  As a cat person, I’m still not impressed, but I didn’t mind the read either.

Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning Volume 1

“I’m going to uncover the mystery of the ‘Blade Children’.”…World-class detective Kiyotaka Narumi’s last words prior to his sudden disappearance continue to haunt his younger brother, Ayumu.  The cheeky 10th-grader becomes equally embroiled in the mystery of the doomed “Blade Children” when he is mistaken for the prime suspect in a murder at his school.  Led by Ayumu’s sister-in-law, Kiyotaka’s wife and fellow detective, Madoka, the investigation into the murder gives Ayumu a chance to clear his name.  But in doing so, he not only uncovers ties to the Blade Children but also more questions than answers about who and what they are.

Story by Kyo Shirodaira; Art by Eita Mizuno
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Mystery
Rating: Teen
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★★

Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning is a title that started out as a novel and was then turned into both a manga and an anime series.  This first volume introduces us to the main characters and the overarching mystery of the “Blade Children”, with individual mysteries giving us the pieces to the larger one.

Ayumu Narumi is a 10th grader at a private high school, and brother to Kiyotaka Narumi, a world-class pianist in his teens and a “Great Detective” by his twenties.  Ayumu wants to surpass his brother, and find out what happened to him.  It seems he has a knack for solving mysteries as well, and when he is accused of murder on the anniversary of his brother’s disappearance, Ayumu sets out to prove his innocence himself.  But as one crime is solved, it seems to lead to another as the culprit is killed, which reveals clues to another. That murderer is found, and all have a connection to the Blade Children mystery.

Spiral has all the earmarks of a “boy detective” story.  The “boy detective” who possess’ extraordinary reasoning powers, the detective on the police force who believes in his powers, the bumbling detective partner who doesn’t get it, and the pretty girl sidekick.  Ayumu even has a trademark saying when he has figured out the case; “So this is the melody of the truth…”.  But these things don’t make this a bad series, just a familiar one.  Ayumu is unlike any of the other boy detectives.  He’s more of a loner, obsessed with his brother’s mysterious disappearance.  His attitude is more of a devil-may-care, and just sees the mysteries as a chance to find his brother.  His sidekick, Hiyono, is actually helpful to Ayumu, getting him the information he needs to put all the pieces together.  His sister-in-law, Madoka, understands Ayumu, and really sees the sibling resemblance as he puts the pieces together before she does.

This volume is a great introduction to the characters, and all the little clues that are dropped around about the Blade Children really get one wondering about who and what they can be.  The art is well done, with no chibis, and only the occasional funny face, at appropriate times.  The designs are cute without being bishi or annoying.  The way Yen Press does the SFX is different, with a more literal translation of the mood the author wants to get across than just a sound.  It takes a little getting used to, but after while, it just seems natural.  As one of Yen Press’ debut titles, this is a great beginning.

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Twelfth Day

“On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Twelve Ecliptic Zodiac Keys,”

Fairy Tail 1Lucy Heartphilia has always dreamt of joining the  guild of mages known as Fairy Tail.  While searching for the guild, she meets up with Natsu Dragonil and Happy, a blue talking cat.  They are both members of Fairy Tail, though Lucy doesn’t know it at first.  They have a few adventures together, where Lucy shows him her magic.  She is a Stellar Spirit practitioner.  She collects keys that allow her to summon spirits from another world and make contracts with them.  The rarest of these keys are the gold Ecliptic Zodiac keys.  At the start, Lucy already has two; Aquarius and Taurus.  Natsu then invites Lucy to join the Fairy Tail guild, where the two are often paired together for assignments.

Fairy Tail is a new series this year, and one I was hooked on from the first volume.  It’s a great action adventure title with lots of comedy as well.  Natsu is very much like Luffy or Goku.  He doesn’t care about a lot of things, but the things that he does, he cares a lot.  Lucy is very outgoing and determined.  The spirits she contracts with in her keys can be pretty entertaining too, talking back, and even refusing to help without some concession from Lucy.  Of course, having a blue talking cat that can grow wings and the promise of dragons doesn’t hurt either.  I really enjoyed this title and it’s quickly become a must have.  If you like stories with fun, action and adventure, then Fairy Tail is the one title you must get!

Eleven Band Member Battle,
Ten Inukami,
Nine-tailed Fox Spirit,
Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,
Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Siblings Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”


The Twelve Manga of Christmas: Eleventh Day

“On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Eleven Band Member Battle,”

Rin Amami has a dream of becoming a singer like his mother, but it’s an impossible dream.  He has the voice of a frog.  He has all but given up on his dream until a chance meeting with a new boyband, the Beatmen and their manager rekindles his hopes.  He may possess the legendary Dragon Voice.  He begins training with the Beatmen, his abrasive personality causing problems, but some how they keep on climbing up the charts.

Dragon Voice is a series I was late coming to, but I’m really glad I did!  A “male version of Jem and the Holograms” doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.  The characters have great personalities that don’t always mesh well, which only increases the fun.  The situations are a little outrageous, but with some of the Tokusatsu shows that have been seen recently, could a Voice Rangers really be that far out?  Dragon Voice also has one of the best volumes I’ve ever read.  In volume 7, there is a big battle of the bands between three groups; The Beatmen, Privee, and Baby Naked.  They are competing for the right to play at Koshien, the big High School Baseball Tournament.  All three bands perform at once, with the audience deciding who’s the best throughout the show.  There are twists and turns as the bands struggle to keep a lead, increasing the tension with every chapter.  I was just WOW’ed by the end.

Dragon Voice has been greatly underrated by both Tokyopop and the fans.  It’s a fun music based title that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so the reader can have fun with the characters.  If you’re a fan of music or Tokusatsu then definitely pick this up.

Ten Inukami,
Nine-tailed Fox Spirit,
Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,
Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Siblings Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

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