Twelve Manga of Christmas: Ninth Day

“On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Nine Tails Fox Demon,”


Naruto Uzumaki is a boy that lives in the Hidden Leaf Village.  He is a trouble maker and class clown at the Ninja academy he attends.  Even though he isn’t very good at ninjitsu, he is determined to become the best Ninja in the village and become it’s leader, Hokage.  But Naturo is shunned by the people of the village.  When he was a baby, a demon fox with nine tails attacked the village.  The demon was stopped and sealed inside of Naturo, but not before many people, including the then current 4th Hokage, were killed.  Naturo continues not only towards his goal of becoming the greatest ninja in Hidden Leaf Village, but to also overcome people’s prejudices toward him.

Naruto is a wildly popular manga and anime.  I started reading it in Shonen Jump, though I’d seen it talked about over the internet for a while before that.  After reading a few chapters, I saw why it had garnered such a following.  It is a really well-written story.  There’s good character development, and even though this is a shonen fighting manga, the plot melds it in seamlessly.  There doesn’t need to be convoluted reasons like some villain wants to take over the world.  Animosities from the past seem to drive most of the action, and give them more credence, than the “next strongest villain of the week” that most Shonen titles suffer from.  As Naruto has gone on, it has become more interesting, where even a chase through the forest can be riviting.  And I don’t think it’s bad that it’s central theme is about friends and friendship.  There’s nothing corney about that.  Ignore all the nay-saying about this title.  It deserves the praise it’s received.  Every manga fan should read this.

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.”

Desperate Times

Want to know why the Japanese model of selling anthologies without back issues won’t work in the US?  This ebay auction is a pretty good indication.  With 2 hours to go, the winning bid is $91.00 for Yen Plus Volume 1 issue 2, which started out at $8.99.  Such outrageous extremes wouldn’t be happening if Yen Press had thought things through and had a plan for back issues.  I think this is a good indication of how uneven the distribution of Yen Plus is in brick and mortar stores.  I don’t think anyone in this economy would pay such a price if they were so readily available.  And Collectors want their collection complete, graphic novels coming out later or not.

The auction ended, by the way, at $102.50.  That seller is going to have a happy Christmas.  I hope it was really worth it to the buyer.

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Eighth Day

“On the Eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,”


Akane Motomiya is walking to school, when she hears a voice calling to her from an old well.  When she goes to investigate, she is sucked into the well by Akuram, the oni leader who wants to control Akane and take over Kyou, a land that greatly resembles Kyoto of the Heian period.  Akane, it seems, is meant to be the Priestess of the Dragon God, and is given powers and eight Guardians to protect her.  Along with two her friends Shimon and Tenma, who were sucked in as well, she must protect Kyou from Akuma and his oni before they can return to their time.

Yes, Haruka, Beyond the Stream of Time, another Shojo Beat title.  I really like this title, mostly because it happens in the Heian period.  I love the history and the costumes.  It also has dragons and other legendary creatures, which is another thing I love.  This title has gotten a lot of flack for being so derivative of Fushigi Yuugi, the title that originated the “girl goes back in time and is surrounded by a ton of bishonen”, but that didn’t affect me when I first read it, since I haven’t read Fushigi Yuugi.  The characters are a little one dimensional, and Akane seems rather useless other than to constantly need saving, but I’ve still enjoyed the stories as a guity pleasure.  It’s one of many I read.

Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Sibling Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

New Viz Chapter Books

I guess Viz has faith in their chapter books line. In the Naruto line, they already have 4 books out with more scheduled for release. And honestly, as reading material for young ages 5-8, the books haven’t been bad. They have stayed true to the manga, adding embellishments that are appropriate for young ages and uses panels from the manga for illustrations. I know this probably irks older readers who don’t like to see their favorite stories “dumbed down”, but with Naruto, and now this new series I’ve found, I don’t think it’s bad, especially as a parent.


As I was searching Amazon for links for my previous post, I found this listingDragon Ball (the first, actually good, half of the series) is getting made into Chapter books.  It’s not scheduled until August 2009, and there were at least 3 more set to follow this one.  Those didn’t have any cover pictures though.

While Dragon Ball Z got all the hype, Dragon Ball, the part of the series that made it popular in the first place hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves.  The manga started here in the US when Viz was publishing floppy comics, before the graphic novels became popular.  This last year Dragon Ball has returned through the VizBIG compilations, but it’s got a Teen rating.  A little overly conservative in my opinion.  So I think it’s good to see it coming out for the audience that should read it most; young kids.  Dragon Ball follows Goku’s adventures when he’s young, and I think will appeal to the young audiences much more.  And there’s an actual story to follow in Dragon Ball, so the pages wouldn’t be filled with POW! BAM! SPLURT! as Dragon Ball Z would, no doubt.

Dragon Ball is a classic in every since of the word, and I applaud Viz for making this one available to the proper audience, even if it has to be in an altered form.

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Seventh Day

“On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Seven Dragon Balls,”


Goku is a strange boy with a tail and super strength living by himself in the mountains.  One day, a girl named Bulma finds him while she is searching for a legendary object: a dragon ball.  If you collect all seven and call forth the dragon, he will grant you one wish.  Goku has one of the balls, left to him by his Grandfather.  He agrees to let Bulma borrow it, but wants to go along with her on her journey to make sure the dragon ball remains safe.  The pair then embark on a strange and exciting journey to collect the rest of the dragon balls, but they seem to have some competition.

Dragon Ball (the original series, not Z) has the distinction of being the first manga I ever bought, in English or Japanese.  I was into Dragon Ball well before it became the phenomenon it did here.  And I never like Z.  I stopped picking up the manga when they started heading off into space.  The first 16 volumes are all I need.  Goku was cute and fun, with his clueless innocence.  I’ll always like him best small and with his tail.  I liked Dragon Ball when it was an action comedy.  It still had the typical shonen issues of Goku having to fight bigger and stronger foes, but Toriyama did it in a way that it didn’t get boring or repetitive.  The fights didn’t drag on in the beginning, and there was more going on than just fights.  Dragon Ball is another classic that everyone should check out, but feel free to stop after volume 16.

Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Sibling Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Sixth Day

“On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Six Girl Volleyball Team,”


Tomboy Nobara Sumiyoshi has one passion in life; Volleyball.  Her mother, however, wants her to be the girlish hostess of the family’s ryotei (Old fashion Japanese restaurant).  Nobara runs away from home to try and fulfill her dream, but her mother tries to stop her, going so far as to try and force Nobara’s younger sister to take Nobara’s place.  The three make a deal; Nobara will play Volleyball until she graduates, when she will take over the ryotei, until then her younger siste will help out.  In the meantime, Nobara has to bring back the Girl’s Volleyball team at her chosen High School, Crimson High, and get the minimum required 6 girls to form a competitive team, all while playing dorm mother to the Boy’s Volleyball team.

This is another series I found through Shojo Beat.  I wouldn’t be reading shojo manga if it wasn’t for Shojo Beat. I didn’t really like this title at first.  I’m not much for sports, and all the romantic drama that was thrown out at first didn’t really interest me.  It wasn’t until the title got into some serious drama around Nobara trying to improve her playing that I started showing some interest.  While I’m not a Volleyball fan, the development of the Girl’s team and the characters that make it up make for some good dynamics.  They have lofty goals, but show to have the determination to reach them.  It’s a title to definitely look at for good sports drama and melodramatic romance.

Five Bronze Knights!
Four Friends in Winter
Three Sibling Cards
Two Girls named Nana
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

Saint Transformers!

As you can tell from my last post, I really like Saint Seiya, and not just the manga.  Saint Seiya also has an anime, and it’s where I was first introduced to the story.  One of the things that really pulled me into the series was the opening animation and music.  Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px2zX-M2alQ

Being a child of the eighties, I also really loved watching Transformers (G1 of course).  Apparently, other people share my loves, and one person, with a lot of talent (and time on their hands) has taken these two great things and made them great together!  I give you Saint Transformers!

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Fifth Day

“On the Fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Five Bronze Saints!”


Long ago, the ancient Greek goddess Athena, had an army of warriors known as Saints.  They were young boys who trained to control their Cosmo, a power within, that allowed them to perform supernatural feats.  Thousands of years later, Athena has been reborn, and a new group of knights are training to earn cloths, or armor, and gain the honor to be one of her saints.  Seiya is one of these saints, who has one the Pegasus cloth and returns to Japan to compete for the prestigious gold cloth of Sagittarius.  But to win it, he must defeat the other returning bronze saints.  Shun, Shiryu, Hyoga and Ikki start out as rivals and enemies, but they soon become friends, and Athena’s staunchest protectors.

Saint Seiya is an old passion from my first getting into manga and anime in the eighties.  There were no translations of either at the time, so when Viz announced the release of it in English, I had to have it!  I just had know what was going on in these stories!  Saint Seiya is a basic shonen fighting manga, with our 5 protagonists getting ridiculously strong with each story arc.  They are only bronze knights, the lowest of Athena’s saints, but by the end of the first arc, Seiya is already handling gold cloths, that only the most powerful of saints can handle.  But I love mythology and the constellations, and this manga has plenty of both, as all the enemies are from Greek mythology, gods who are reborn just like Athena.

There’s only one thing I don’t like about this title, and half isn’t the title’s fault, is Saori, the reincarnation of Athena.  She’s supposed to be a powerful goddess, but she’s always getting herself kidnapped, or arrows stuck in her chest, so that the bronze saints have to get their butts kicked, and faces dragged through stone to save her.  It gets tedious after a while.  And then, for some mystifying reason, Viz changed Saori’s name to Sienna, but no one elses’.  Why?  What was the point of doing that?  Dumb.

Anyway, Saint Seiya is a great action manga.  So many other mangaka that are big today credit it as an influence on them.  Study your manga history properly and pick up this title!  There are only 4 volumes left until the end…

Four Friends in Winter
Three Sibling Cards
Two Girls named Nana
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.

Mangle Your Kindle

I got this through the comments on a previous post of mine about reading manga on the Kindle.  Of course, this isn’t for legally downloaded manga, becasue…..there isn’t any!  But if you read and enjoy scanalations, which manga publishers obviously don’t consider a threat or care do anything about, here’s a new solution for reading them on the Kindle.

Mangle is open source software that makes organizing and reading manga on the Kindle easier.  It was created by Alex Yatskov, a manga reader with one of those imaginary Kindles Michael Gambos keeps asking to see.  He did what I couldn’t do; play around with the Kindle and it’s “undocumented features” and got scanalations working on his.  Of course because these are not official features, there were problems.  See the link for details.  But, being an enterprising gentleman, he set to work to create software to fix them.  The site includes download links, instructions and screenshots.

It’s really sad that we have to rely open source and borderline pirates to get manga in a digital format.  But as long as publishers refuse to do anything about it, I’m glad there are people like Alex and the other sites that make online manga easy to access and read.  These people prove it’s not impossible, just that publishers are lazy.

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Fourth Day

“On the Fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Four Friends in Winter,”


Ann Uekusa and her mother move back to her mother’s home town Shimane from Tokyo.  Her parents have divorced, and they have returned to live with Ann’s grandparents.  They arrive in the winter, before Christmas.  Ann becomes close friends with 3 kids; Daigo, Fuji, and Shiika.  Not long after returning, Ann’s mother commits suicide, leaving Ann with her grandparents.  Ann makes a life for herself in Shimane, and she and Daigo become a couple.  Then her father comes back from Tokyo offering to take Ann back to Tokyo.

Sand Chronicles is another series I started reading through Shojo Beat.  I don’t think I was hooked instantly, but it certainly didn’t take long for it grow on me.  Sand Chronicles also holds the special honor for making me cry not once, not twice, but three times over the same scene!  It’s rare that a title can do that to me.  Once maybe, but hardly ever twice.  So much care is put into the characters that the dramatic scenes with them hit that much harder.  Most of the story so far has been following Ann’s teen years, when things are the most melodramatic, but it isn’t annoying, which is what I find most teen shojo manga to be.  Sand Chronicles seems to avoid it by being more rooted in reality.  The difficulty of long distance relationships, holding on the first love, balancing family with friends, these are all things anyone can relate to.  And that just makes it easier to get to you emotionally.  This is definitely a “chick” manga, but I love it!

“Three Siblings Cards
Two Girls named Nana
And a One Piece for the Pirate King”

This Week at Manga Village ** 12/12/08

It’s a new week, and a new round of reviews from the Manga Village.  Charles Tan starts things with a big dose of reality with Real Volume 1 from Viz.  Alex Hoffman balances the reality with some fantasy with Stray Little Devil Volume 1 from DR Masters.  John Thomas brings a Samurai Classic back with Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 1 from Dark Horse.  Katherine Farmar wants to Close the Last Door Volume 1from DMP/June.  I check out Record of a Fallen Vampire Volume 2 from Viz.

We’ve got our weekly picks up for last minute shopping (only a week and a half left until Christmas…) and our Manga of the Month for November.  Over at Good Comics for Kids, I have my weekly All ages comics and manga list, and Esther Keller has a review of Yen Press’ only all ages title, World of Quest.

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Twelve Manga of Christmas: Third Day

“On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Three Sibling Cards,”


Manami Minami decides to learn to play Chaos, a popular TCG.  Her cousin Tamotsu, who also plays, takes her to the hobby store to by a starter pack.  By a strange twist of fate, the pack she buys has an ultra-rare card in it, Sahgan, the Mighty Sorceror.  Manami quickly becomes the target of other Chaos players who want to challenge her for Sahgan.  With Tamotsu, her new friends from the card club, and Sahgan himself, who comes to Manami in her dreams to give her hints, she faces these challenges and grows as a player, while trying to balance her regular life.

I got King of Cards because of the art and the premise sounded intriguing.  I like a lot of game manga, such as Yu Gi Oh! Shadow Games, Legendz, and Hikaru no Go, so decided to give this one a chance.  And am I glad I did!  I have really enjoyed the shojo take on gaming manga.  Manami is more interested in enjoying the game than just winning.  Over the first couple of volumes, she gets a reason to get better, but it isn’t to save the world or prove herself better than someone.  It’s for love and her love for the cards.

I also really love the mythologies used to make up the cards.  The three ultra-rare cards that are the heart of the manga, Sahgan the Mighty Sorcerer, Faras the Holy Shrine Maiden, and Taurus the Alchemist, aren’t a part of any established mythology, but seem to have had one built up around them.  They are call the Sibling Cards, as they were all drawn by the same artist who died at an early age.  Manami’s romantic woes are the center of the shojo side of the manga, while the plot around the Siblings is the center of the card side.  This is a great manga, and even though it’s shojo, I think guys will enjoy it just as much as the girls.

“Two Girls named Nana”
“And a One Piece for the Pirate King”

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