While the question of good and evil was at the heart of the first volume, these next two look at fate and the roles people play in the world. Is there a master plan and everyone has their role to play in it? Or is it all coincidence and free will that is shaping the world?
Vertical is a publisher that never fails to surprise, or deliver. Whenever licensing time comes up, Marketing Director Ed Chavez would get on Twitter and ask for license requests. In variably, there would be several people who would pipe up with Princess Knight, Osamu Tezuka’s first shojo, and invaribly, Ed would shoot the request down. Now we know why. On Anime News Network’s AnnCast, Ed was a guest where he announced not one, but two licenses, one of which was the oft-requested Princess Knight. The other was Drops of God, a wine manga that has been getting some press in the media for the affect it can have on a wine’s price that is featured in the title. It was hinted at last April by the creators that the manga had been licensed in the US, but no publisher had stepped up. Now we know why.
I have to give Ed a lot of credit. He has quite the poker face/text. From his tweets in the last wrong, I got the distinct impression that Princess Knight was off the table as a request. He had said they were working on a Tezuka license, but with his catalog, that could mean just about anything! From the reaction to the news when it broke on twitter, I don’t think anyone suspected Vertical would get either of these titles! That is being a good marketing manager. Vertical really scored when they got Ed for that position.
I myself am looking forward to Princess Knight. I read the preview that was run in Shojo Beat for it’s 5(?) anniversary, and I really liked it. It definitely has a lot of merit beyond its historical significance. Drops of God….I’m not so sure about. I don’t drink wine. I have no interest in wine, so a manga devoted to going out and finding the 13 best wines doesn’t sound all that interesting. But, I’ve been wrong before. Most of the praise that it has gotten is for its detail about the wines, but according to one twitter-er, the title is written by the same time as writes Bloody Monday, another title that I’m really looking forward to, so this is a wait and see.
It’s a new year, and that means another new series in Yen Plus! Yeah! And it’s about a cat! Double yeah!! More on that later. But first, we’re six months in with Yen Plus being on-line. For the most part, things have been running smoothly. This issue was the first time I ran into any problems, and they were minor. First, it took a week after payment for the issue to go up, so it wasn’t available until the middle of January, but the holidays could be blamed for the delay. And I did have some trouble reading the issue, but those technical issues were taken care of quickly, and I could read the issue just fine the next day. Kudos to Yen Press for their quick response!
MilkyWay Hitchhiking is not only on the cover, but also starts the magazine this month. It’s in full color, with a nice water-colored look to it. It starts by introducing Milky Way, a special cat with a coat pattern on her back that looks like the Milky Way galaxy. She is able to make wishes come true. Her first wisher is a male cat named Sarah. He wants to be human for one day, or at least a few hours. Milky Way grants his wish, to which Sarah the proceeds to paint her black, and leaves her with his owners, a rich boy who doesn’t even recognize that Milky Way isn’t Sarah. Over the rest of the chapter, we learn how Sarah came to the boy’s home and why he wanted to be human for the day. Sarah’s past is kind of sad, but the whole story ends happily, for Sarah anyway. Milky Way still needs to get that black paint off.
Witch and Wizard continues Wisty’s and Whit’s ordeal as they are interrogated by a self-righteous classmate, a weasely type of boy who gladly joins the new regime for the power it gives him. They have the typical trial for a totalitarian society, with verdict already decided, but being a “humane” totalitarian regime, they will be held in prison until they are 18 before they are executed. The chapter ends with the revelation that Wisty and Whit’s parents escaped, so there might still be hope for them to get out. My jury is still out on this one. I’m probably going to need at least a volume to decide on this one. I know giving the villains so much power just gives the heroes more incentive to overcome them, but when they get too much it seems unrealistic, and I just don’t care for that.
In Aron’s Absurd Armada, the ship needs supplies, so Aron and Robin are sent out to get them, since Robin isn’t on the poster, and without his wisp of a mustache (forcibly taken) Aron is unrecognizable. Of course, it turns out to be a disaster. Then we get to meet Aron’s parents, who each have very different impressions of their son, with Victor’s being the more realistic. One of the things I love about this title is MiSun Kim’s ability to set up a serious looking scene and then turn it on its ear into something ridiculous and funny. What makes a lot of those scenes funny is because they are true to the characters.
Jack Frost finishes the fight between Hansen and Kay as well as Jack and the regenerator. Kay threatens to kill all of Hansen’s new friends, and Hansen responses with a new power that turns his gun into something closer to a canon. He gets Kay, and in his final moments, Kay tells Hansen he just wanted him to get over his grief, and now that he has, Kay can rest in peace. With the drama over, Jack makes short work of the regenerator. During it though, another part of No-Ah’s mirror image power awakens which seems to sync with the Pillar of Solomon. And it seems we will finally be seeing someone from the East District. It was nice to see Hansen finally get some closure, though the whole thing with Jack pretending to be dead was just too obvious. I’m still waiting for this title to make sense other a showcase for violence and fan service. I guess I’ll be waiting a little longer.
In Daniel X, Daniel gets an intergalactic email with one heck of an attachment; a whole bunch of gadgets to help make Daniel’s alien hunting easier. Now with a van full of electronics that can analyze an object’s component parts and where those parts come from to cloaking the van so they aren’t seen, Daniel goes after Number 6 and Number 21, who is working as a director for Number 6. Daniel tracks Number 21 to a small TV station transmission tower. Daniel X is still a lot more fun than Witch and Wizard. I can’t say anything about Maximum Ride, since I haven’t read it for ages, but I don’t miss it either. I wonder what the demographics for each series is, and if that is what makes the difference? At any rate, it’s nice to have a sci-fi series amid all the fantasy and cute girls.
Yotsuba&! has some playtime in this month’s chapter. She pretends to make dinner and breakfast, and then she and her father go to the park where they swing on the swings, kick off a shoe to see who’s can go the farthest, and then have a race to see who can get their shoe back first. Yeah. Can someone please explain the appeal of this title? I am really not seeing it. Is it a kid thing? Do you have to like kids to appreciate it? Or is it a living vicarious thing? I’ve only been reading for the last 6 months, and I still don’t see anything appealing. There’s no way I could do 9+ volumes of this.
K-on continues on its merry-go-round as it’s summer break again, and the girls do the exact same thing as they did last time. Tsumugi has a summer-house near the beach which is bigger than the last one, but not really the “big one”. The new responsible girl, Asuza, gets sucked into playing around more than practicing, so nothing gets done. There’s more struggling to get through mid terms for Ritsu and Yui, and study sessions end up with manga reading instead of studying and Mio giving Ritsu a study guide so she really doesn’t have to do anything. If you’ve read one volume of this title, you’ve pretty read the whole thing. Unless you like to look at pictures of cute moe girls, there’s nothing here.
Milky Way Hitchhiking is a great title for the magazine, and Yen got a real win in getting it. It’s got the potential to be an all ages title and being a cat title only makes the win more epic! Let’s hope for the win for the Japanese side. It needs it badly now.
Back in 2009, I wrote a post expressing my desire to see the manga series Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro licensed after its end was announced in Japan, based on the anime series from 2007. It’s been a long 4 years, hoping and waiting for that announcement that said I would finally get to read the adventures of my favorite demon detective, and now I believe we are half way to that point. Viz Media has confirmed that the anime will begin streaming on the Vizanime.com website in February.
Why does this give me hope of a manga license? Look at the last time Viz started streaming an anime; Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. They streamed nearly the whole series before they announced the license of the manga, officially. What did Viz say when asked about Neuro? It’s “not on the schedule through September”. That doesn’t mean it won’t be announced though. Con season is starting to gear up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Neuro isn’t one of the licenses announced at San Diego Comic Con, assuming a listing for it isn’t found for it before then. Anime licenses have been a good gauge of manga licenses for the last several years, especially with Yen Press. I sincerely hope it becomes the same gauge at Viz. I REALLY WANT this series!!!!
It’s a new month, so that means a new issue of Shonen Jump! Do the changes I liked last month hold up? Let’s dive in and see! The issue starts with the usual features/ads. This month adds a full-page for the Viz app on the iPad. **yawn** Call me when I don’t have to worship at the altar of Steve Jobs to read manga digitally. There is also a one page column written by Stan Lee that basically pimps the new Marvel movies coming out and Ultimo. The video games feature which used to be at the end of the issue is now at the beginning. And I notice the brain teasers that used to be at the back are gone. I guess no one really cared about them.
Psyren starts off the issue with all the newbies taking off toward the sound of a siren that they think is where the gate is. They ignore Ageha’s warnings of monsters and leave him with the still unconscious Sakurako. They are thinking of only the reward or going home. They are going to find out how wrong they are. Ageha, the delinquent with a heart of gold, after learning where the gate really is from Sakurako, runs off after them with her on his back. This title is still establishing itself, but I think it’s still on the right track. What happens next issue where we will hopefully see Ageha in a fight here, should really set the tone for what the series is about.
This issue prints the first chapter of Yura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, which was online last month. I gave my impressions of it in last month’s post. I’ll go into the next chapters of Nura after I’ve finished the print chapters.
One Piece sees the end of White Beard, as he continues to stand up against the navy, to give his men more time to escape. A hint is dropped as well about what the “One Piece” that Gol D. Roger left behind might be. Black Beard and his pirates appear and show off a new ability. Inazuma continues to try to kill Luffy. He and Jimbei are saved at the last-minute by Crocodile and Buggy (who is just trying to escape as well), and taken in by Trafalgar Law, one of the 11 meteor rookie pirates. It’s another great ending for a character with the way White Beard goes out, and the momentary flashback he gets. The scene with Gol D. Roger has really sparked my curiosity about what the One Piece really is. Whitebeard seems to have known. I have my suspicions, and can’t wait to find out more.
Naruto surprised me this month. Naruto faces his dark side, and fails against him. He talks to Motoi to find out more about Killer Bee, and after some thought, he makes a decision. He is able to face his dark side and defeats him this time. Killer Bee then agrees to help Naruto get control of Nine-Tails. What surprised me about this month’s chapters is the decision Naruto came to, and where I really hope it leads him. If he can stop the sulking and go back to the way he was (in some ways) before the time jump, then I think Naruto might become a series I enjoy reading again. Only time will tell at this point.
Yamato finally makes it to Sayama’s party in Ultimo, but things don’t go quite as smoothly as he hoped. Rune makes his move as he now remembers who he was in the past and seems to have designs on Yamato, and it’s really creepy. Jealousy seems to be having second thoughts about being able to defeat Dunstan, and Vice continues his rampage with Eco getting it, again. I’m starting to get a really bad feeling about where this series is heading. I could be completely wrong, and it’s nothing to make me want to keep reading to find out if I’m right, but it’s in the mag, so I’ll keep reading it.
Mayuri seems to be at the mercy of Szayelaporro in Bleach, but Mayuri was just faking it. He’s too meticulous to ever be caught so easily by an enemy. The battle then becomes a series of one-ups as each tries to outdo the other in power. Mayuri seems to have the upper hand as the chapter ends, but I’m not believing it until I see his end with my own eyes. The healers get to work as Rukia and Chad are brought back, and Ichigo sends Orihime to heal Nel instead of him. There is still one fight left, with Kenpachi against Nnoitra, and of course the big battle that Byukyua hints at. I really hope this all means that the Hueco Mundo is almost over. It’s gone on far too long, and hasn’t seem to do much but show how powerful espada are and how much more powerful Soul Society captains are, things we already knew.
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5DS starts up Yusei’s battle with the Skeleton Knight, where the ante isn’t Sect, but Yusei’s soul. It becomes a typical battle, with the Skeleton Knight getting the first points and Yusei making a comeback. The chapter ends with the Skeleton Knight preparing his next big attack. I’m still liking this series, at least more than Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. If you don’t like hearing card abilities and stats shouted out as part of the story, this title might not be for you, but as a gamer-inclined reader, I actually find those parts interesting. So far.
For online exclusives, there were three chapters of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and an extended preview of volume 3 of Toriko. Nura has Rikuo reunited with an old friend from his childhood, Zen, the head of the Zen Group. He has come to try to convince Rikuo to accept his role as the Third. Rikuo still refuses, but when Zen is betrayed by his own men, “Other Rikuo” appears and defeats them, once again proclaiming his intention to be the Third, which he promptly forgets when he returns to human form. Then a new character is introduced. Yura Keikain is a new student, who also happens to be a Omyoji, an exorcist of yokai. She has come to Ukiyoe on a training mission to banish yokai. Kiyotsusu then proclaims the start of the Kiyojuji Paranormal Club, and Nura gets to be a charter member. This is seriously starting to look like the original Yu-Gi-Oh! with yokai instead of cards, and it’s really not impressing me. Rikuo is really more annoying than anything else. If there was more of his yokai form, then I might be okay with it. There were some classic funny moments with Rikuo seeing the yokai emerge from the doll when no one else did, but it’s not really enough to save this series.
The extended preview of Toriko had Toriko with another Gourmet Hunter Coco catching and trying to prepare a puffer whale, a difficult task. Komatsu gets directions from Coco and after a successful preparation, they are all treated to a heavenly meal. A creature then appears that puts Coco and Toriko on high alert, but it ignores them and moves on. It is apparently a robot sent by a rival corporation against IGO, so the “Four Kings” including Toriko and Coco are called to a Biotope to try to stop the next attack. I’m still not impressed with Toriko, though Komatsu has definitely moved up in my estimations with the skill he shows cutting the puffer whale.
It’s more of the same to look forward to next month, with just a preview of the upcoming Death Note omnibus edition. And it looks like I’ll be fighting my youngest for the magazine again as it has another Yu-Gi-Oh card in it. But things seem to continue to be looking up with the changes. Sadly, as I suspected, online chapters from the previous month are not available to read, which really sucks. I was hoping they would at least keep the online chapters up until the print volume came out, like they do on Ikki and Shonen Sunday. I mean, the viewership is restricted as it is! Why not leave the chapters up longer? At least Yen Press lets you read the previous issue along with the current.
Kohako is a normal student in the General Education department with absolutely no musical skill, but all that changes when she catches a glimpse of an elusive fairy who lives on campus. The fairy grants Kohako a magic violin, and before she knows it, she’s nominated to participate in the school’s music competition with five very attractive boys. Will she win love and fame, or will bitter rivalry rule the day?
As Kyousuke and Tena go about their contentious daily lives in Japan, they’re blissfully ignorant that something’s afoot at the tuner headquarters in France. And whatever it is, it’s starting to make the world a much more dangerous place for Kyousuke with his sought-after soul score! Though he’s managed to avoid detection by other tuners, like Arun, thanks to the gadget bestowed upon him by Mezzo and Sopra, it’s not long before his good luck charm runs out, landing him in a whole mess of trouble with tuners he’s never seen before! Will Tena be able to save him from a life as a tuner test subject, or will Tena need saving too!?
By Sesuna Mikabe
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Romantic Comedy
This volume is a marked improvement over the last one. There is a lot less emphasis on Tena, and more attention given to the Tuner plot and Kyousuke.
The focus of this volume is on Kyousuke. His musical abilities goes beyond technical skill. He can read people and see what kind of music they may need. When he, Tena and his students go to a hospital for some musical therapy for the patients, Kyousuke changes Tena carefully planned mellow score to a more upbeat one, cheering the patients up rather than just entertaining them. More is revealed about Kyousuke and his “viral” notes as well. As expected, he loses the ring that Mezza gave him to hide his viral notes. He soon learns though, that he has a tuner power like Tena. He is a Life Tuner. He can drastically change a life score, not just adjust it as most tuners do. Somewhere in his past, his power was suppressed. Now, Kyousuke wants to find out about his power more than ever.
The Tuners and their “grand finale” plot is on the most as well. More of the High Command of the tuners is revealed, but there was still very little information given on what is going on. Why are tuners needed all over the world WITHOUT knowing anything other than notes need to be captured? There is a very conspiratory feel to this plot. The High Command is planning something the rank and file know nothing of. The tidbits of information leaked in this volume only adds to my curiosity.
Kyousuke gains a harem of sorts, with many of the women seeming to have a relationship with the higher-ups. We already know about Arun being the sister of Lord Chord, but in this volume we learn that Mezza has a sister who is the head of covert ops for the tuners, and has been spying on Mezza. Arun’s connections come in handy though, when the group has to leave Japan, and head to France.
The biggest problem with this volume is again Tena. She is jealous of “elites” like Arun and hates them all. She has a serious chip on her shoulder against them for some reason. She throws a tantrum when Arun is impressed with Kyousuke’s ability to make good food on a budget. She came real close to giving Kyousuke up to some tuners that found him in exchange for the recognition she would get from the higher-ups. It was just another reason to NOT like her.
Overall, this was a better volume of Tena on S-String with more story and less Tena being a brat. Arun is still more interesting and makes a better lead to Tena as far as I’m concerned. I am curious to find out more about Kyousuke’s power and past, so I will give this series one more volume.
Odette is an android created by the young talented scientist Dr. Yoshizawa. Wanting to find the ultimate difference between humans and his android, Odette decides to persuade Dr. Yoshizawa to enroll her in a local high school. Follow Odette’s adventures as she ventures through high school, in search of the true meaning of being a human.
Snow Day. That’s not something we experience in Southern California, unless you live in the mountains or high desert. East Coast folks know it quite well though, especially after the last storm that just passed through. Manga knows about snowy days too. Here are a few where the world covered in white plays a role in the story.
Seventeen-year-old Chiyuki Matsuoka was born with heart problems, and her doctors say she won’t live to see the next snow. Toya is an 18-year-old vampire who hates blood and refuses to make the traditional partnership with a human, whose life-giving blood would keep them both alive for a thousand years.
In Japan, manga covers all sorts of subjects. It isn’t all boys fighting to protect the planet or girls looking for love. There are manga for just about every subject. Penguin Books has tapped into one of those other subjects: Biography. They debut their manga line with the lives of two very influential people of the 20th century with mixed results.
It’s been a long time coming for this, the final volume of Inuyasha. I remember seeing the floppy singles Viz released in the early aughts. I had no idea what it was about then, but with the release of the standard manga sized volumes, I soon discovered what a great series it was. And with the omnibuses, you can too. But if you’ve been following the series to the end, you won’t be able wait for this. More after the break.