No Sparkling Here

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[Contains Spoilers]

“The Vampires of Venice”, while an overall decent episodes, still has some issues.  In the aftermath of last week’s attempted “mating”, the Doctor drags Amy’s fiancée, Rory out of his stag party and into the TARDIS, to give the couple a romantic date, just to keep their fires burning. He takes them to Venice, Italy, to 1580. Venice is closed off though, do to fears of the return of the Black Plague. Of course, it’s just an alien race there, plotting to take over the city and run off with the women, and the Doctor must stop them.

On the plus side, this episode showcases the one of the Doctor’s strengths. His ability to verbally spar with his adversaries. It was particularly d11s01e06_wallpaper_14agood in this episode, as the Doctor breaks in to Signora Rosanna Calvierri’s palazzo and confronts her. The following “question-for-a-question” scene as the Doctor and Rosanna, bat questions and answers at each other. The Doctor is really in his element here, as the verbal barrage of questions goes back and forth. It’s in scenes like this that the Doctor really shines.

Then there are the not so shiny scenes. It mostly has to do with the writing that’s been going on with the Doctor. It started back at the end of Series 4, with Russell T. Davies, and the whole idea that the Doctor is dangerous because he makes people want to impress him and do dangerous things. I really hate this idea, that Davies even forwarded it, and even more that other writers are continuing with it. The Doctor has always been about bringing out the best in people, helping them to do the right thing, not make them into dare-devils or weapons. Rory goes off on the Doctor about this, but by the end, he’s no better. He’s just as enthusiastic to continue traveling in the TARDIS as Amy, but it has nothing to do with impressing the Doctor.

The other thing that really annoyed me was the Rosanna, the Saturnynian leader. She wanted to save her people. That’s fine and all, but she was doing it at the expense of humans. Not something the Doctor is going to take kindly to. Instead of trying to get the Doctor’s help, she tries to enlist him in her plan to “save both their races”, and when he refuses, sends all the females to kill him. Instead the females are killed, and she then gives up, dooming her race and blaming the Doctor for it. Huh? What did the Doctor have to do with her race’s extinction. She’s the one who chose to send all the precious females to try to kill the Doctor. It’s her fault for using poor judgement, underestimating the Doctor and humans in general, and overestimating the females. I really hate this guilt trip the writers keep trying to take the Doctor on. Enough already! The Time Lords got what they deserved, and it’s not the Doctor’s responsibility to save ever single species in the universe that is going extinct, and it’s certainly not his fault if he doesn’t! This was evolution in action for the Saturnynians. Get over it, move on!

Next week’s episode has Rory staying on in the TARDIS for another adventure. I hope this is for more than just an episode or two. It’s been far too long since we have a multi-companion TARDIS, and anything that will keep Amy from trying to jump the Doctor again is a good thing.

National Pet Month Manga

What's MichaelMay, among other things, is National Pet Month. It’s goal is to promote the benefits of pet ownership and support pet adoption. I know these benefits very well, and support them, as every dog and cat in our house was either from a shelter or a stray we took in. Manga is no stranger to pets either. Here are just a few titles that feature either the benefits of pet ownership, or shows strays finding a home, with humans or otherwise.

Inubaka 1In manga, there are two ways to typically find a pet. The first is the obvious one; a pet shop. Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs is a Teen+ title from Viz Media. It’s about a girl, Suguri Miyauchi, who has an amazing affinity for dogs and gets a part-time job at the pet store “Woofles”. The stories often feature different dog breeds available at the pet store, and matching the right people to the right dog. Petshop of Horrors, another Teen+ title from Tokyopop also matches people to the most appropriate pet, but in a “comeuppance theater” sort of way. Count D has the perfect pet for every customer, and sees that everyone gets the pet they deserve, which doesn’t always end well for the for the people.

One Fine Day 1But can you really blame the animals for wanting some payback? More often than not, pets such as dogs and cats are shown being dumped in deserted areas or left in boxes with signs saying “Please take me home.” Many pets in manga start out as strays and find a home this way. In Kimi ni Todoke a Teen title from Viz Media, Kazehaya and Sawako find a puppy in the rain. Kazehaya takes the dog in, and he and Sawako share in its care. Rin, from the Teen title Dragon Voice from Tokyopop, gets adopted by a stray cat that he feeds once and then keeps coming back for more. My mother has acquired more than a few cats this way. In One Fine Day, the All Ages title from Yen Press, the cat Guru is lonely until he is befriended by Nanai the dog and Rang the mouse, and finds a home with them and No-ah.

Free Collars Kingdom 1Not all animals want to be adopted by humans though. Free Collars Kingdom, a Teen+ title from Del Rey Manga, portrays the world of stray cats, showing how they have to find food, shelter, and fight and defend their territory. While this title is more light-hearted in the way it shows this world, making all the cats otaku of some sort, there is a more serious theme at its core. Many of the Free Collar cats don’t want to ge back to being a pet to a human. They were abandoned by their humans, even the protagonist Cyan, though he is the only one that holds onto his faith in humans. The rest are jaded and disillusioned, a feeling you can’t help getting sometimes when looking at some of the animals at the shelter.

Peach Fuzz 1If you’re willing to take the time and care, the benefits of pet ownership can be very rewarding. Don’t think it’s going to be a walk in the park though. The All Ages OEL title Peach Fuzz from Tokyopop that shows some of the trials and triumphs of owning a pet. Amanda and Peach the ferret both have to learn to how to get along with each other, but once they do, they are like the best of friends.  The same goes for Ryusei and Mr. Ken, the human-cat pair of Viz Media‘s Teen+ title Backstage Prince. Ryusei doesn’t like people, so it’s up to Mr. Ken to find him a friend. Akari, a girl from his school, becomes first a friend and then becomes his girlfriend. Cats can be really smart when they want.

For an as-close-to-real-as-it-gets look at pet ownership in manga, look no further than What’s Michael?, an All Ages title from Dark Horse Comics. Michael, the title character, is a large, orange-striped cat, who is portrayed as doing all the cats are want to do; eating, sleeping, playing, and generally causing trouble for his owners. What’s Michael? is truly a comedy, for most of the things Michael is seen doing are the EXACT SAME THINGS cat owners see everyday. It’s funny because it’s true. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find volumes of this series. Here’s hoping Dark Horse releases an omnibus very soon.

Chis Sweet Home 1While cats are cute, kittens are cuter, and that exactly what you get in Chi’s Sweet Home, Vertical, Inc.’s first All Ages title, which will be released in June. It’s about a kitten that gets separated from her mother and siblings, and is adopted by a young family. Chi is really cute, but not in a saccharine sense, and the family has a lot to learn about taking care of a kitten, and most importantly, how much a part of the family a pet can become. Just like its title, it’s sweet and funny and heartwarming.

Like all good things, owning a pet isn’t always easy, but it’s always satisfying. If you are considering getting a pet, please consider adopting one from a local shelter rather than a pet store or breeder. Some of the best cats I have ever had never came with papers, and finding a purebred at a shelter is unfortunately just as likely as a mutt. You can also check out Adopt-a-pet.com for a shelter or rescue near you.

Shonen Jump June 2010

90_largeIt’s a new month and that means a new issue of Shonen Jump, the soon to be last bastion of manga magazine’s in print. This month continues the preview of Bakuman, spotlights Claymore, and gives a lot more of the same battle manga that has dominated the magazine for the year. Yeah, I can’t say I was all the enthusiastic to pick it up. But let’s start at the beginning. Once you get past all the ads and more ads disguised as “news” you get to some actual manga.

First up is the second chapter of Bakuman. At the beginning there is a short blurb on how kanji can be pronounced in different ways and have different meanings. This will be interesting if you enjoy word games or plays on words. The actual chapter has Akito and Moritaka still debating about becoming manga artists. While the first chapter did pique my interest, this second chapter manages to squash it. Akito gives a lengthy lecture about how the love of Moritaka’s life, Miho, is smart because she doesn’t act too smart, and is just passing time until she gets a husband. Yeah. The whole thing nearly bordered on offensive as far as I’m concerned, and does not impress me in any way.

Naruto was on the less-than-impressive side this month as well. The fight between Killer Bee and the Akatsuki Kisame begins, while Sakura goes to Naruto to confess her love for him, because she thinks that will stop Naruto from chasing after Sasuke. Apparently she thinks Naruto will just give up because she tells him too. And her confession is light on any real feeling. I wasn’t buying what she was saying, and I’m glad Naruto didn’t either. I’ve never cared for Sakura, and this just reinforces my feelings.

The one bright moment in the magazine continues to be One Piece. Luffy’s and Buggy’s groups back out of Impel Down, only to have the ships sailing away. It’s up to Jimbei, Crocodile and Daz to secure a ship while Luffy keeps Magellan at bay. He figures out a way to fight Magellan with Mr. 3’s help. Jimbei shows some of his power as he hits the sea to help everyone. More good action here. And I like that Luffy uses his brain instead of just brawn to keep Magellan back. But it’s Bon’s sacrifice at the end that proves his friendship with Luffy and makes for a great ending.

Bleach starts the actual fight between Ichigo and Grimmjow. It’s 57 pages of one-upping. Ichigo only fights as much as he has to, and Grimmjow just keeps upping the ante, that is until he threatens Orihime and Nel, and of course that’s when the hollow mask comes out. Grimmjow takes on a panther like shape, and battle goes on.

Ultimo continues into territory I don’t care for, with all the evil karakuri doji killing all the good karakuri doji, forcing Yamato to play exactly into their hands. I HATE that good always has to be shown as weak and lose against evil. It’s become a plot device that I’ve really grown to hate, just as I have this series.

The showcase manga this week is Claymore. The chapter shown in this issue is from the upcoming volume 16. If it’s meant to draw me into the manga and check it out, this chapter doesn’t do a very good job of it. I spent more time scratching my head, wondering what was going on that being drawn in. There’s a seven-year jump in the manga, which is where volume 16 starts. This chapter starts with Clare (the protagonist) and a few other Claymores taking to a bald guy, and then it switches to two more Claymores, watching three fight off a huge Yoma. The two spend all their time commenting on he abilities of the other three. There’s nothing to really latch onto in this showcase. It shows the action, but I get more than enough action as it is, and often done better.

No news in this volume about any up coming changes to the magazine, and there no Showcase manga next week.  There will be Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s card though. Look forward to that. As it stand now, I read Shonen Jump just to have post to write, not because I look forward to the titles anymore (other than One Piece). With the end of the Bakuman preview next month, I’m hoping once again, for some kind of good announcement about some new title being added to the magazine. I would seriously consider canceling and switching to Yen Plus, but not with it stopping its print edition (my prefered method of reading). It’s starting to look like manga magazines are going to the way of the dinosaur, which is a shame.

This Week in Manga 5/1-5/7/10

TWiM

Shopping Alert!

Deep Discount.com is having a sale on some manga titles in their book section. As well as discounting the books, they are doing a “buy 3, get 1″ free promotion on certain titles. This is a comparable deal as Amazon, and better than Borders “buy 4, get 1 free”. Their shipping is free, and the books are discounted as well. The best discounted deals are on D. Gray-man from Viz, Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi from Yen Press, and later volumes of Black Jack from Vertical. Also included in the sale are several of the VizKids titles such as Pokemon; Adventures and Diamond and Pearl, Leave It to PET, and Legend of Zelda, as well as Udon’s Big Adventures of Majoko. Vampire fans can pick up most of Vampire Knight, you can catch up on the latest volumes of Skip Beat!, or pick up most of Record of a Fallen Vampire which just finished this month. BL fans can get Junjo Romantica and Loveless. If you’ve got some spare cash, definitely check out this sale.

How Bad Is It?

Via Twitter. Builder, a ZDNet Japan blog, has posted the second part of an interview with Misaaki Hagino, President and CEO of Voyager, a e-book developer.  Hagino talkes abou the problems with DRM and getting manga on Apple devices, because of the strict restrictions Jobs and Apple has put on content, and the arbitrary way in which it’s enforced. The interview talked mainly with Hataraki Man (Working Man), a senien manga about a woman working in the publishing industry, which was rejected because of some nudity, but it also mentions that up to 30% of the titles submitted to Apple is rejected. ANN discusses the article, and added more info about iTunes from Twitter comments. This is precisely why I have a problem with Apple and Steve Jobs. I don’t believe they, or anyone else has the right to decide what anyone else can read or watch on their own personal hardware. I don’t care how pretty the hardware or software is. There are some lines that just can not and should not be crossed for any reason. Censorship is one of them.

The End is Near!

While there hasn’t been any official word from Arakawa or Square Enix, the director of the Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime has stated on his twitter account that Arakawa has an ending for FMA ready to go and that he and his staff are in the process of animating it. This is both good and bad news. It’s good that the anime ending will match the manga ending, as FMA:B has (for the most part) been following the manga really well up until now. But it’s sad that FMA will be ending. It’s been quite a 5 year ride with this manga, and I’m going to miss Ed and Al dearly. Since Irie has spilled the beans, I wonder how long it will be until there’s a confirmation/announcement from the publisher? I’m sure they don’t want to the series to end either. UPDATE: Sighting on Twitter of confirmation.

We Need More Of This…

And not necessarily for the reason you’re thinking. US comic publishers got together, and with the FBI’s co-operation, got a pirate comics site shut down. What’s probably the most amazing thing about this is that comic publishers got together and made something happen. On twitter there was some buzz about it and how manga publishers should get together and do the same thing to manga aggregator sites that feature licensed titles. Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing (NSFW) has some suggestions for scanlators who want to avoid this fate. While I do believe sites that host licensed titles should be forced to take them down, what I would really like to see, and I’m sure many others would too, is comics and manga publishers coming together to create aggregator sites where people can legally go to get their fix. But that’s probably not going to happen any time soon, is it? It’s easier to destroy than create.

The End is Here!

The dog manga, Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs, has ended it run in the May issue of Young Jump this last week. It will complete at 22 volumes, and was one of the few dedicated dog manga available in the US. Inubaka isn’t a bad title, and might have taken off better if it wasn’t for the fan service that pushed its rating up to a Teen+. Dog lovers will need to go somewhere else not for their fix of cute dogs and girls taking care of them. Viz will have published 16 of the volumes in July, and will hopefully complete it’s run for US fans.

NYT Best Seller List

It’s a serious shift on the list this week! First, Twilight continues to hold on at #2 on the Hardback Comics list. Then over in manga, Yen Press dominates the list while Del Rey takes back the top spot. At #1 is Tsubasa vol 26. One of the few Viz titles (wow, I don’t think I’ve EVER said that!) is Naruto vol 47 at #2. Yotsuba&! vol 8 falls back one to #3 while last week’s #1 Rosario Vampire Season II vol 1 falls back three to #4 . Black Butler vol 1 stays in the top 5 at #5 while Tokyopop returns with Fruits Basket: Banquet, a primer for the series at #6. Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4 stays at #7 while Spice and Wolf vol 1 falls 4 to #8. Nightschool vol 3 falls back one to #9 and Soul Eater vol 2 hold on to #10. All the big players make it this week.  Yen Press and Viz continue to show they have the strongest catalog while Tokyopop and Del Rey stick to one-hit-title-wonders. Just like in investing, it’s diversify or die, guys.

Manga For Your Ears

Manga Out Loud

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Shonen Jump June 2010
  • Pig Bride vol 1-3

Tech Friday: An eReader For Mom?

With Mother’s Day this Sunday, all the ads lately have been about what to get Mom. One common element I’ve seen (beyond the usual of appliances, jewelry, and gardening) is e-readers. Amazon.com has the Kindle on their front page again, touting how it’s the perfect gift for Mom. It’s $259 for the 6″ screen, and includes a wireless connection to Amazon for instant downloading (and gratification).

Sony, maker of the e-Reader, has been pushing it’s low end reader, the Pocket Edition, which has the least number of features. You can find this device at Office Depot, Staples and Best Buy going for $149 through Mother’s Day. You have to connect it to a computer to get the e-books on it, but it also now comes in a “special” pink edition. Ooooo…. Yeah, I’m not impressed by that either. I’ve looked over the Pocket Edition, and wasn’t really impressed with it compared to it’s price. But it’s the least expensive e-ink device out right now.

Aluratech ebookThen, I found out about a new device. The Aluratek Libre e-Reader. It’s a low tech e-reader, that’s also low priced. Online it can be found for around $150, but K-Mart will have it for only $120 through this weekend. It has all the basic function of an e-reader, but the big difference on this device is that it doesn’t use e-ink. It’s actually a black & white LCD screen they call e-paper. The plus about this is that there isn’t the flash that e-ink devices have on page turns, and it’s still fairly quick. It also can view images and play mp3s, even while you’re reading, something the other don’t do. It comes with a 2Gig SD card with 100 public domain books on it to start. It’s rather stripped down like the Sony Pocket Edition. What makes this a better device (to me) is the SD card slot, and lower price. With the Libre, you can have different SD cards for different reading material. One for e-books, one for images (or comics), and one for audio books (or mp3 if you perfer. That makes this a more versatile device, even if it can’t go online.

For someone that just wants to read ebooks and doesn’t need a backlit screen, dictionary, make annotations, or go online, you know like the experience a paper book gives you, this actually looks like a pretty good deal. It’s not difficult to use, so non-tech savvy moms that want to get in on the e-book revolution can with little work. Aluratek also has a step-by-step guide to getting books from ebooks.com, and comments on product reviews of this device suggest that it will read ebooks borrowed through libraries. Here’s a fairly thorough review of the device:

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Think carefully about what your Mother would want and/or could handle. Don’t buy what you think she would want. An e-Reader is a personal device, much like a book. It needs to be tailored to the reader’s needs. Don’t go for all the bells and whistles just because that’s what YOU would want. You want what you give Mom to be used and appreciated, and not left in the box, stuffed in a corner of the closet because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings by returning it or giving it away. It’s Mother’s Day for a reason. Make sure it’s something she wants.

More Stone Than Flesh

[Contains Spoilers]

dw_forest_7_with_pp024_v3“Flesh and Stone”, the second part of the two-part story by Steven Moffat featuring his Weeping Angels wasn’t all I was hoping it would be. I do believe this is the first time that I wasn’t excited about a Steven Moffat two-parter. Some setups from the first part just didn’t pan out, and while we did finally get some Weeping Angel action, it wasn’t enough to save the episode. And the ending, that was just wrong. But I am really starting to like Matt Smith’s interpretation of the Doctor with this incarnation.

First, let’s get the not-so-good stuff out of the way. I was really hoping for more from the whole “eyes are not a window, but a door” set-up from the first part, but it just turned out to be a way to torture Amy and get the Doctor really mad, because Amy is being tortured. Another I really didn’t like was the retconning of the Angels to make this “eyes are a door” thing work. Amy wasn’t supposed to look in the eyes of an Angel, or else it gets stuck in there visual cortex, giving the angel the power to take her over and kill her. So, what about Sally Sparrow and all the times she stared at an Angel? Are they just going to say it was never in the eyes? Right…cause that’s not the first place you’re drawn too, espcially with pupil-less eyes. I know torturing the companion is right for writers on Doctor Who, it just didn’t pan out this time for me.

d11s01e05_wallpaper_30The Angels started on the move, and started to look more like their old selves, but it wasn’t until at least the middle, maybe more into the third act before they really started acting like the angels from Blink. Their best moment was when Amy had to walk past them and make them think she could see. The moments of the camera hitting the Angel, then away, then back to the angel, then away, and then the angel’s head moved, that was what I wanted to see more of. That’s what makes the Weeping Angels scary, the fact that you never know when they are going to move. There were some flashing lights with them moving in the darkness as well, but forest scenes were the best.

Even though we’ve seen glimpses of the Doctor’s temper in “The Beast Below”,  this episode shows just how angry he can get. It’s not the “I’m superior to you, so why are you all so stupid?!” kind of anger as the 6th Doctor portrayed. It’s more of a rage that runs underneath and then bubbles to the surface. It’s his most human quality in this regeneration. He gets angry, not when people are doing stupid things (he expects that I think from humans), but when he is stuck in a situation that he can’t immediately find an answer to. In this episode, it’s trying to save Amy from the Weeping Angels. The more impossible it seems, the more angry he gets. I think this is a very interesting aspect to the Doctor we haven’t seen. We’ve seen him as crotchety, as in the 1st and 5th Doctors, the 3rd and 6th were more superiority complexes, but for the 11th, there are some real anger management issues that may need to be addressed.

And the end of this episode, was just so unnecessary. I had more respect for Amy before she tried to jump the Doctor’s bones. While she’s not as bad as Rose or Martha, and I can see where Moffat is coming from in writing the scene, I just really didn’t care for it. I’d really like for the Doctor and Amy to stay as platonic friends, and not become a one-night stand just because Amy had a bad day or is on a time-traveling bachelorette party. Good reaction from the Doctor though.

Next episode is a location shot on Venice, with a new monster to face. While vampires aren’t new, hopefully this version will be.

Rin-Ne Volume 4

This volume starts off with a new arc about Rinne’s family, specifically his father. The truth behind Rinne’s constant debt is revealed, as is more about the criminal shinigami organization, the Damashigami, and Rinne’s connection to it. And there’s some tidbits thrown out about Rinne’s and Sakura’s relationship, and for once, it’s not what you’d expect from Takahashi.

By Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Comedy
Price: $9.99/Free Online (Chapters 29-38)
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ve been disappointed by the previous volumes of Rin-Ne so far. It’s been so much “been there, done that,” but this volume is different. The quality went up for the chapters covered in this volume, to what I expect from a Takahashi series.  The weak start made getting this far difficult, but I’m glad I waited it out.

This volume introduces Rinne’s father, Sabato Rokudo. He is key to a lot of the problems in Rinne’s life, specifically his debt and the Damashigami.  Sabato is a dead beat dad in every since of the word. He left Rinne with his parents after his wife (Rinne’s mom) disappeared. He is constantly withdrawing money from Rinne’s bank account using a forged stamp. He’s unlike any dad seen so far in a Takahashi series. None of them have ever been this bad. Genma and Ranma always fought, but there was still a feeling that Genma cared about Ranma. Inuyasha’s father left a legacy to his half-demon son so he could survive as well. Sabato doesn’t seem to care about Rinne except how he can use him to his own benefit. Conflict between fathers and sons are nothing new, but the level of animosity introduced between Rinne and Sabato is. One thing that is still cliche for a Takahashi series is Rinne’s mother “disappearing”. She did it Ranma 1/2, and I’m just waiting for something similar to happen again here.

The truth about the Damashigami is revealed in this volume as well. Rinne finds out he’s connected to them in a way he never would have expected, and it just makes him all the more determined to stop the organization. I’m looking forward to more confrontations with the Damashigami. The battles that were seen in this volume reminded me why I enjoy her titles so much. It’s the action and fighting that she does so well. They are imaginative and fun, and it’s what this series has been lacking. So I hope there’s more to come.

There’s also an interesting twist in the relationship between Rinne and Sakura that is shown in this volume. For once, it’s not the girl chasing after the uninterested guy. Rinne is shown to be the one developing feelings for Sakura, while she just thinks of them as friends. She’s not falling for him at all. I think this is a great change from all the girls-chasing-guys that always shows up in shonen titles, and might make the series more interesting to follow.

This volume of Rin-Ne turned out to be surprisingly strong. It had a lot of good action and fighting sequences, as can be expected from a Takahashi series. Sabato is incredibly annoying. I really disliked him, but that’s what makes him a good antagonist. I want to see Rinne beat him now. If Rin-Ne can keep this moment going, then it will turn out to be a really good series. The potential from the beginning is finally starting to pay off. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long to get here.

He IS the Doctor

11 DoctorAfter a year of specials that were more forgettable than not, it was nice to get a regular season of Doctor Who back.  Like the producers that came before him, Steven Moffat has started the 11th Doctor off with a fairly clean slate. New Doctor, new TARDIS, new companion and new adventure, “Eleventh Hour”.

This first episode played out much like a typical regeneration story, with the Doctor off kilter for most of it, as he gets his bearings on himself and then the situation. I have to say I had some mixed feelings about this episode. I miss the old orchestrated opening. The new one isn’t bad, it’s just that 3rd-4th series opening was better. I do like the new TARDIS interior, and new companion Amy Pond does get my approval. I particularly enjoyed the beginning with Amy as a child. Her interactions with the Doctor were great! I’m not to sure about the “Doctor’s Perspective” they presented with all the near stop-motion cam. It was interesting for the reboot, but I’m glad they haven’t used it since.

11_and_Amy_eatThe scene that not only made this episode, but cemented Matt Smith’s position as the Doctor was a the end, as he was choosing his new costume. It wasn’t from the TARDIS’ wardrobe this time, which is a departure from tradition. But it does suit him quite nicely. A lot of people had doubts about Matt Smith, since he’s the youngest actor to play him yet. But a lot of people had doubts about Peter Davison, and he turned out to be my favorite, so I wasn’t worried. Steven Moffat chose him, and he hadn’t steered me wrong yet, so “In Moffat I Trusted”.  And my trust was proven well placed. In the scene on top the hospital’s roof near the end, as the Doctor explains why the Atraxi should leave earth, there is a projection of the last 10 Doctors with Matt Smith walking through the 10th Doctor’s face to reveal this new look complete. It was his declaration that HE is the Doctor now. It was a fantastic moment! And after a year of doom and gloom with the 10th Doctor, it was great to have a triumphant moment like that again.

Honey Hunt Volume 4

As Yura continues her foray into the glamorous world of acting, she’s starting to learn that success is often marred with setbacks and compromises. Although she fails to land the lead role in a new drama penned by famous screenwriter Maki Todo, she does succeed in getting offered the part of the heroine’s friend. However, her boss Keiichi cautions Yura that her increasing popularity will result in greater scrutiny of her private life by the paparazzi. Can Yura continue growing as an actress while keeping her budding relationships with Q-ta and Haruka in check?

Honey Hunt v4By Miki Aihara
Publisher: Viz Media/Shojo Beat
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Romance/Drama
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆
Buy This Book

The short answer? No. When I started reading Honey Hunt in Shojo Beat magazine, I thought it had a lot of potential. I really enjoyed the first 2 1/2 volumes. They concentrated on the building of Yura’s career and her confidence as an actress, with just bits of budding relationships thrown in here and there. Volume 4 reverses that trend, and not in a good way.

Yura seemed to be on track to start her career. She showed she had guts by telling her parents off on TV, and then decided to be an actress herself despite her shy personality and the sheltered life she lived until then. She had shown she had talent and got the gig to start in a series of ramen noodle commercials. She was finally starting to go somewhere. At the start of this volume, the commercials were successful, and her face was starting to be seen everywhere. She auditioned for a part on a prime time TV drama, and even though she didn’t get the lead, she did get a part, and it’s soon to premiere.

But instead of continuing on the strong career story line, this volume careers off into the relationships with twin bothers Q-ta and Haruka, and then, just for good measure, and because a love triangle isn’t enough, Yura’s boss, Keiichi, is introduced as a possible love interest.  Huh? This comes out of absolutely nowhere. Every scene we’ve seen with Keiichi, is him pushing Yura to concentrate on building her career, but with a few panels, it all gets twisted around, and made to look like his interference with her relationships with the twins is personal. It makes what he’s done seem like petty jealousy. I really didn’t like this twist on Keiichi. He really didn’t deserve it. I became interested in this title to see Yura best her mother, not to her fall for every guy that comes around and visa-versa.

And Yura shows herself to be pretty dumb. This disappoints me too, since I thought she was smart. She gives up her chance to have her first “family” celebration while watching her debut on the prime time TV drama to run off and be with Q-ta, and she lies to do it. Sure, you can chalk it up to her sheltered upbringing, and being naive, but is she serious about her career or just having a boyfriend? I’m getting to like Yura less and less.

I did like the bonus chapter at the end that was the first episode of the drama. In a manga all about making TV shows with scripts and rehearsals that we only get glimpses of, it’s nice to be able to actually see the full story. Aihara’s art has a rather distinct style.  It’s clean and simple. It also appears to be more refined from her previous series Hot Gimmick. I enjoy it more.

Honey Hunt was on a good track, but if it continues in a direction that emphasizes Yura’s relationships over her career, then I’m not interested. She needs to smarten up and fly right, because I want to see her show up her mother on the stage, and not in the bedroom.

Review copy provided by publsher. Images © Viz Media

This Week in Manga 4/24-4/30/10

TWiM

April’s Movable Manga Feast

The third edition of the Movable Manga Feast began this week, with Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading taking over the hosting duties. The series this time is Mushishi published by Del Rey Manga. An introduction to the series can be found here, while the full list of participates can be found here. The Feast lasts until Sunday, so keep watching for more posts on the series.  I made my first contribution to the MMF with this series, which you can read here. If you have had any interest in this series, definitely check out some of the perspectives on it. You might be surprised.

How Much would you Pay?

Last week Yen Press announced they would be publishing Yen Plus as a digital magazine. This week Deb Aoki of Manga.About.Com has a poll asking how much would you pay for an online anthology. The results so far aren’t too surprising. I myself wouldn’t pay more than $5 for an online magazine the size of Yen Plus since I don’t enjoy reading manga online. I need it to be portable and an e-reader or tablet isn’t in my future anytime soon. What this poll does show is summed up pretty well by a comment made by David Welsh (@mangacur) on Twitter:

Just that manga purchasers seem kind of like public radio members these days. They opt to pay.

And just like public radio, it’s too bad more people don’t opt to pay as enjoy the content.

Chibi Vampire: Axis Powers

Tokyopop has been putting their Facebook page to use by announcing new licenses on it first.  Last week came word of a new Chibi Vampire (Karin) volume called Airmail, that is comprised of short stories published after the main series ended. It will include side stories about the main characters as well as stories about some that were never seen. This week finally comes the announcement every has suspected but hadn’t been able to confirm.  Tokyopop will be publishing the Hetalia: Axis Powers manga. Hints have been coming from the publisher for a while now, but it was made official on Friday.

Go Comi! Forums Down…But Are They Out?

Go Comi! is a publisher that a lot of people have worried about lately. They’ve been quiet, maybe too quiet. Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic caught on Twitter that their forums are down. This isn’t a good sign. Their blog has been silent since the fall, and their twitter account hasn’t seen an update since February. The forums was the last place we heard anything from the publisher and with it gone…maybe that ad a few weeks ago for a manga publisher for sale was Go Comi! I do hope it isn’t. They have some good titles that many would like to see finished.

NY Times Best Seller List

The balance of power shifts once more with new releases from Yen Press on this week’s list. First, let’s check on Twilight. Still #1 on the Hardback list? No?? The Hardback of Kick Ass, which debuted in theaters recently, has taken #1, relegating Twilight to #2. The Paperback list has another movie related title at #1 with Losers. Comics do benefit from movie tie-ins. We’ll see how long it lasts.  Over in manga land, #1 belongs to Rosario Vampire Season II vol 1 once again. Yotsuba& vol 8 debuts at #2, sending Naruto vol 47 back one to #3. Spice and Wolf  vol 1 also debuts at #4, and Black Butler vol 1 move up one to #5. Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross vol 11 falls three to #6 as does Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4 to #7. Nightschool vol 3 debuts at #8, Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 returns once again to #9 and Soul Eater vol 2 falls back one to #10. It’s quite a respectable showing for Yen Press, with 3 debuts, including an OEL title that not based on a novel series.  They dominate with 5/10, and three of those being in the top 5.

Manga For Your Ears

Sci-Guys Podcast

  • Episode 20 – 27:43 – Twin Spica/Vampire Hunter D on the PSP

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Black Bird vol 3
  • Black Bird vol 4
  • Goong vol 2
  • Goong vol 3

Japanese Journal: Change of Plan

SmartfmSome changes in RL has forced me to re-evaluate my Japanese studies. In other words, I have too many other things to keep up the pace I started last month. It hit me that had to come up with another plan when it was almost half way through the month and I hadn’t done anything to complete my kana studies.  So, I did what any other sane person would do. I went online to find something more structured, and joined Smart.fm. I’ve head about this site for while, but my lack of progress convinced me that it might not be a bad idea to check them out.  And, they’re actually not too bad. I’ve started my first goal, which is of course, Mastering Hiragana.  This goal is a better way to learn the kana, because it not only takes you through the hiragana, it has audio, shows you the proper strokes for writing it, and has a typing of the romanji on the keyboard.  And it doesn’t go in order, like I was doing with my memorizing. This has been really helpful in teaching me to identify characters faster. It quizzes with multiple choice and by having you type the romanji. If you mess up, it takes you back to study the kana and then throws it back into the mix, quizzing you again until you get it right. I recommend checking out this site and goal.

So what have I been doing instead? Well, you might notice some changes to the blog. This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while, and I just sat down and did it finally.  I chose this theme so I could start to accommodate writing about more than just manga.  Manga will always be the focus of this blog, and will always be the featured article, but I wanted to be able to write about some of my other interested too, such as TV and books.  Manga updates and reviews will continue to be Mon-Wed-Fri-Wknd and and other interests will be on Tues-Thurs.  I just couldn’t keep up two blogs.  Right know you’ll notice a lot of Doctor Who posts.  I’m catching up and will then stay up-to-date through the end of the series. I hope if you share some of my other interests, you’ll enjoy these posts too.  But don’t worry, manga will stay my main focus. The pile of books next to my desk demand that it be so!

So, I’d love to hear what you think about the changes, the non-manga posts, and I’ll try to be more on the ball with the Japanese. Though, it might be more lucrative for me career-wise to start learning Mandarin Chinese.

This River Isn’t Flowing For Me

Doctor Who Time of Angels 2“Time of the Angels”, the 4th episode of the new series of Doctor Who brings back one of my personal favorites of the new monsters; the Weeping Angels.  In the episode “Blink” from the 3rd Series with the 10th Doctor and Martha Jones, Steven Moffat introduced these eerie beings that move in an instant, but quantum lock when they are looked at by a sentient being.  “Blink” was such an awesome episode, that we were all dying for their return.  And they do, but with some missteps.

The biggest misstep for me is the return of River Song.  In “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”, River was a great character.  She knew the Doctor and had a journal of her adventures with her even through he didn’t know her.  “Forest of the Dead” was her last.  In “Time of the Angels”, she’s back as a past incarnation of herself.  And this past River is really obnoxious.  She’s brash, and very forward with the Doctor.  Yes, I know they were married, and he’s trusted her some really important things (like his name), but seeing her in this episode really makes you wonder what he saw in her.

Doctor Who RiverI know Moffat has a plan for River and the Doctor, and we will no doubt she her again.  In SitL, River mentioned several adventures that it turns out Moffat has all planned out, and this story is the first of those mentioned.  I just hope it’s not this incarnation again.  It’s almost like she’s a Time Lord that doesn’t change appearance, only personality.  And it really bugged me that she had that journal.  Sometimes I don’t deal too well with all the “timey-wimey” stuff, and all this with River and her journal just makes my head hurt.  I could handle Blink because I could see the progression from beginning to end.  This whole thing with River having all the Doctor’s future in a journal that he can’t see while she gets to jump around his lives like nothing’s different from one to another?  I don’t like it.

I’m really looking forward to the next episode, and hope we get a lot more Weeping Angel action.  They’re who I really want to see more than River Song.  And Moffat better have something good set up with the “eyes aren’t the windows to the soul, they are the door” thing, or I’ll be really disappointed.

Manga News, Reviews and Commentary