Review: Olympians: Zeus: King of the Gods

Zeus CoverHere’s where it all starts: the beginning of the everything–the world, the gods, and even humanity.  Mighty Kronos, the most terrifying of all the Titans, reigns as the unchallenged tyrant of the cosmos… until his son, the god Zeus, stands up and takes on his own father in a battle intense enough to shatter the universe! Who will emerge triumphant?

By George O’Connor
Publisher: First Second
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Action/Mythology
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy This Book

A recent re-watching of the classic Clash of the Titans has inspired me to write this review.  I’ve been in love with mythology since I was first introduced to the Greek myths in the 5th Grade.  They were my gateway to other mythologies, such as Norse and Egyptian.  Now, the Greek myths are getting a face lift of sorts.  They are being retold in the way they were meant to be told; as tales of action and adventure, with monsters to be fought and maidens to be rescued.  Zeus: King of the Gods tells the tale of not just Zeus’ beginnings, but also of the world and the Olympian gods themselves.

The Greek gods are like the original superheroes.  They possess super powers such as invulnerability and the ability to transform, and yet were just as fallible as the humans they ruled.  They suffer from all the same emotions and faults that humans do.  When he is first introduced, Zeus is shown to be just as active and full of energy as any youth in his prime would be.  He is impatient, reckless and a bit of a rake, as he chases the nymphs that watch over him and flirts with Metias.  These are not the traits one would usually associate with their supreme being, but Zeus was all this and more.  He was also brave and shows himself to be a born leader as he faced his father and freed his siblings.

There’s plenty of action in this volume, with Titans battling the Olympians, Zeus going on a quest to gain his birthright, and the final battle with Kronos, though most of it’s toward the end.  The beginning is just that; the beginnings of the universe and the world.  Gaea and Ouranos, and their children, the Titans Kronos and Rhea, and Kronos’ reign all have to be set up so that Zeus and his siblings have some to fight, and something to fight for.  It also sets up a cycle of father against son, and warns you don’t anger Mother Earth.

Zeus: King of the Gods is great retelling of the original myth.  It emphasizes the action and adventure that makes the myths thrilling, while still imparting it’s lessons. The other gods are introduced, with just the brothers Hades and Poseidon helping Zeus in the battle against Kronos and his brothers.  It’s good to see the women show some sense and let the men bash their brains out.  I liked how each sibling, when spit out, landed in an area that would become their domain; Poseidon in the sea, Hades under ground, Demeter in a field of grain.  I also really enjoyed the small seeds that were planted through out the story, hinting to connections to other myths.

The art was very well done.  O’Connor does a great job bringing the creatures of myth to life, especially the Cyclops and the Hekatonchieres, creatures with 50 heads and 100 hands.  The Titans are just otherworldly enough to make the transition from Earth and Sky to the human sized Olympians.

If you love Greek mythology or are just a fan a tales of adventure, then this book is definitely for you.  It’s definitely safe for a middle school library.  Kids will love not just the story, but the extras at the end that give the stats for key characters, like a trading card, and parents and teachers will like the study guide and bibliography.  There’s even included reading for younger readers.  I highly recommend this title.  It’s a great resource, and just plain great reading.

Check out the Good Comics for Kids Book Club for more on this title.

Review copy provided by publisher. Images © First Second

It’s NOT About The ‘Shipping!

BonesRecently the TV show Bones showed it’s 100th episode.  Usually these episodes are about fun, looking back and celebrating making it for 5 years, an accomplishment that a lot of shows don’t get.  The episode “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole” got only one of these right.  This episode retconned a whole case from before the first episode, where Booth and Brennan met and worked together.  It was nice to see Zac Addy again (yeah Zac!  How I’ve missed you!), and Brennan was her old “straight-forward, resort to violence” self, but the whole dynamic of the lab was off.  Zac and Hodges were at each others throat.  Angela was dragged in to do the reconstructions, and Booth and Brennan were trying to jump into each other pants.  So over the course of one year, Angela creates and becomes a compute graphics whiz, Zac and Hodges are the best of buddies (most likely, but still doesn’t feel right), and Booth and Brennan then take on 4+ years of cases without a hint of what happened in the first case?  I don’t think so.  It stretches my suspension of disbelief just a little too far.

What was the real deal breaker for me was the whole Booth confessing to Brennan thing at the end.  That whole scene just felt wrong.  Neither Booth nor Brennan seemed to be acting like themselves.  Not even the words felt right, and the episode ended with a down feeling instead of a feeling for hope for many more seasons to come.  I think want irked me the most was an article written on  The writer wasn’t happy with the episode either, but for the wrong reasons.

Bones has never really been about the forensics (and neither was Brennan’s book in last week’s episode, “The Bones on the Blue Line”). In fact, this show could be a sitcom and it would still be watchable. As much as I hate Hart Hanson for keeping this ridiculously indulgent fantasy alive…

Brennan-ZacBones has ALWAYS been about the forensics.  It got through it ‘s first season no doubt because of David Boreanaz’s fangirl base.  The SDCC panel for it after it’s first year was filled with fangirls who just wanted to profess their love for David and kept other fans from asking any real questions.  One girl was nearly in tears asking David to accept a letter from her.  It was really pathetic.  And this writer just reflects that same attitude.  The show is not about the actors or the characters love lives.  It’s a police procedural show.  It’s the cases that come up and how Brennan and the team work together to find the clues and answers to the solve them.  Relationships are just part of the character building, but if they ever become the focus, than this show will have lost it’s magic and be done.  The episode before this, “Bones on the Blue Line” showed just how the producers felt about people’s emphasis on the relationships.  Brennan spends the whole episode protesting that her books are about the science and no one listens to her.  Mr. Hanson must feel the same way with so many fans demanding that Booth and Brennan get together, and the 100th episode was ruined by telling those fans it’s not going to happen.

I for one don’t want it to happen.  Booth and Brennan have a great relationship without being romantically involved.  It reminds me a lot of the 10th Doctor and Donna Noble’s relationship.  Donna was a better companion because she wasn’t always making googly-eyes at the Doctor and was an equal of sorts with him.  Booth and Brennan are the same way.  They are equals in their own fields.  Brennan is the scientist and find the answers while Booth is the intuition and sees the interpersonal relationships that fills in the blanks that science alone can’t.  That’s what makes this show great.  They can bicker and disagree all they want, but at the end of the day, they are equals in their own fields and sometimes even learn something from each other.  Quite frankly, Booth has been a disappointment to watch, with his mooning over Brennan.  I want them to get back to their old buddy, bickering selves and leave all this romance behind.  It’s all about the forensic and cases, and not about the ‘shipping.

Memories of a Comicbook Store Guy

Carl MacekOn Saturday, March 17, 2010, Carl Macek died of a heart attack.  Most people know and remember him as the man that brought the US anime through the creation of Robotech. But to me, he will always be the co-owner of a small comic shop in Orange, California called 21st Century Comics.  I think I may have met him once, but I almost never spoke to him.  I was far too shy.

It was in the early 80’s, about my freshman year in high school.  My older brother came home with this video tape that he’d bought.  It was in one of those black cases like video rental stores used for their VHS tapes, with what I think was a golden rod-colored xerox for a cover.  It was Macross, Carl Macek and Harmony Gold’s first attempt at bringing Macross over to the US.  That opening that is ridiculed in Bad English dubs that starts “Soldiers of Future from deep space…”?  Yeah, that where it came from.  My brother had bought it at Macek’s comic shop.

It was a small shop at that time, on the north end of Orange Circle, I believe.  The Orange Circle is a two way street going in and out of the circle, so there was no parking on the street.  It was in the back, and that where we always entered the shop from.  I went there a few times with my brother.  I was a casual comic collector, but loved to look at all the other merchandise the store would have.  My brother would go to talk with his friends and Macek.  Anime was almost always the topic.  C/FO was active at that time, and Southern California had at least 3 chapters, one of which was in Orange.  It was from these fans that Macek learned around anime and learned to love it.  My husband Brian was among the fans that helped turn him on to anime.

For all the hate that people pile on Macek, I think he was a real fan of the medium.  I’m sure the Southern California contingent was among his harshest critics, but that probably more because they new him before the Robotech phenomenon started.  I recall one story I was told about Macek speaking at a Creation Convention, with several of the fans who knew him in the back making shoveling motions as he spoke.  But there was never any animosity between anyone.  It was more like good-natured ribbing.

By the time I was getting involved with the anime fandom, Robotech was already a big success, and Macek was moving on to bigger and better things.  21 Century Comics reaped a bit of the benefits, as they moved from their small store front to a much larger one, still on the Circle, with 2 stories.  There was still plenty of anime merchandise.  It was in that store that I first saw a copy of Fred Schodt’s Manga! Manga! book.  It sat on the shelf for such a long time…  But Macek wasn’t around as much.  One could still get news about what he was doing through the store’s co-owner Barry Short.  Macek eventually sold his half of the store to Barry, and moved on to Streamline Pictures.  But I don’t think he ever forgot his fan roots.  SDCC, 1990 I think it was, the first year I went with my future husband, I remember running to the small movie theater near the Hotel San Diego, where the new dub of the Lensman Movie was being shown.  The reason I was rushing was because Brian had been asked to be at the premiere by Macek, and I was going to meet them.  I think that really says something that Macek wanted some of the people that got him into the fandom to be at one of his premieres.

I know none of these are really first hand stories, and I didn’t really know the man, but through all the stories I heard and just watching, I think Macek really loved anime, and was trying to bring it to the US not just for the fans, but for everyone to enjoy.  He truly was a pioneer, clearing the way for many of the companies to come after.  Just look at the movies he licensed through Streamline; Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, Lupin: Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Dirty Pair: Project Eden, Akira, even Lensmen.  These weren’t just good movies, they were films shown at the C/FO and loved by the fans.  Loved by him.

He may have been a controversial figure, but that was never what he was trying to do.  He just wanted to bring over good shows for the fans.  Fans should try to remember more of the man than what he did or didn’t do.

Daleks, Now in Fruit Flavors!

d11s01e03_wallpaper_11It’s the third episode of the new season of Doctor Who.  In the first two episodes (reviews to follow), Matt Smith has proven himself to be the Doctor, and no one can dispute this taking the role.  Karen Gillian, his new companion of Amy Pond, proved herself a worthy companion in the second episode.  This episode hits it’s marks and follows the pattern first set up by Russell T. Davies with the revival of the series.  And I guess I’m alright with it.  Some consistency is good, but at the same time I’d hate for the series to get into a rut.

Just like every season before it, this season is following the patter of first taking the new companion to the future, and then they taking them to the past to meet some historical figure.  In this episode, it’s to meet Winston Churchill, during the blitz of London.  Now, I wasn’t bother with the Doctor already knowing Churchill.  It was a nice change to see him know a historical figure instead of always seeing him meeting them for the first time.  He’s traveled throughout Earth’s history for a good amount of 900 years.  You’d think he’d know some of the people of important.

Like most Doctor Who episode with the past, there is a bit of the fantastical.  This time it’s in the form of an old enemy that just won’t stay down. The Daleks.  While I knew it was inevitable that the Daleks would be back, they are in the promo wallpaper the BBC released for the new season, I have to say I wasn’t really looking forward to it. The Daleks have gotten rather tedious, as they have been the big bads for 3 of the last five seasons.  You can see them be destroyed only to come back again only so many times before you start rolling your eyes.  This episode was a lot like that for me.  The whole point of the episode was just bring the daleks back.

New DaleksAnd not only do they come back, they are back bigger, badder, and in fashion colors!  As I watched them roll out, I thought, “It’s a rainbow of fruity flavors!  The iDalek!”  I can’t say I blame Steven Moffatt for wanting to bring the Daleks back.  They are popular in Britain, and it is a British show.  And with all the other reboots, the Daleks were sure to get theirs.  What I do hope is that this is all we see of the Daleks for the rest of the season.  Let them go wherever in time, and start to rebuild their fleets.  There seems to already be an overarching story arc going, as the end of the episode showed.  Just please, don’t let it involve the Daleks.  Moffatt comes up with such great baddies on this own.  Every episode he wrote in the 9th-10th Doctor seasons were the best and always had original monsters.  The Weeping Angels, the Vashta Nerada, the Clockwork Men, all Moffatt’s creations and all fantastic.  Even this season with the Smilers.  Keep adding more great monsters to the Doctor Who pantheon, and let sleeping Daleks lie.

Stolen Hearts Volume 1

Everyone’s afraid of Koguma– the biggest, most intimidating guy at school.  So when Shinobu accidentally spills milk on his bag, you can bet she’s pretty scared about what’s going to happen next.  Turns out the bag contains an antique kimono, of all things.  It belongs to Koguma’s grandmother, who runs a kimono shop. To make up for ruining the outfit, Shinobu’s going to have to start modeling kimonos as part of grandma’s big plan to market her products to younger customers. Big, scary Koguma’s into kimonos? Turns out there’s a lot no one knew about this tall, quiet boy, and now Shinobu’s out ot change that. But in doin so, will she also end up with a new boyfriend?

Stolen Hearts v1By Miku Sakamoto
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy This Book

I’ve never been interested in fashion much, not as a teenage, and certainly not now, so I was wary about Stolen Hearts.  The novelty of being set in a kimono shop did spark my curiosity, but I really wasn’t expecting much.  I was pleasantly surprised then by the very sweet romance and great characters that I found in it’s pages.

The title starts out like an average shojo manga with a gimmick.  A boy and girl work at a kimono shop, modeling the wares.  The boy is big, and intimidating looking.  He is the strong, silent type.  The girl is small and average.  There’s nothing really special about her.  Like everyone in her school, she is scared of him.  Turns out though, the boy is a gentle giant, and not really all that scary.  They develop feelings for each other.  Sounds likes like every other shojo ever written, right?  Don’t be so quick to judge!  It turns out this title isn’t so average.

While the setting of a kimono shop seems like a new gimmick, it really isn’t.  Koguma and Shinobu don’t actually work in the shop.  They actually model them.  Dressing in them and walking about in the streets outside the shop, they hand out flyers for the store.  I like this idea, as it gives more opportunities for interactions with different people other than just customers.  With customers you have to assume a certain kind of  person will come into the shop.  Walking around on the street gives a greater variety of people for the main characters to interact with.  It also gives them time alone (sort of) to get to know each other better. And trouble is easier to find out in the open, either from rivals or schoolmates, who can bring a whole other class of trouble.  It’s also a great excuse to show off all sorts of different outfits.  They are fashionable, and some of the themed designs are cute.  It’s also very cool to get to see styles of men’s kimonos as well.  Women always get featured in kimonos.  Men don’t get that as often, so it nice to see some equal treatment.

But it’s the characters that really make this title, and their interactions with each other.  Shinobu is the female protagonist.  She actually rather average as shojo protagonists go.  She doesn’t have some burning passion, or a crush on some boy in her class.  She’s just an average high school girl doing things with her friends and just being normal.  It’s kind of a nice change of pace.  Once she gets to know Koguma, and finds he’s not the scary monster every thinks he is, she gets this enthusiasm for everyone to know the nice side of him too.  This was a nice touch, and a realistic reaction, one I enjoyed a lot.

Koguma is big and looks scary.  He towers over everyone at school, being over 6ft. and rarely smiles, but he’s actually rather shy.  Most of the rumors that float around him are exaggerations of actually very tame stories.  But because everyone avoids him, he’s not every good in social situations.  He doesn’t really know how to act, even with Shinobu’s help.  In many ways, he reminds me of Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke.  Everyone’s afraid of him, until one person learns the truth and shows them they are really very nice.  I really started to enjoy the volume more when I came to this realization.

The last character is truly a character.  Granny Koguma, Koguma’s grandmother, is the 76-year-old owner of the kimono shop.  She is a very feisty woman who likes to get her way and usually does.  She’s very modern in her thinking, and wants to get more younger kids into wearing kimonos, and does so with more fashionable styles.  She’s happy to help out Koguma and Shinobu when they need it, as long as she can get some sort of a profit as well.  She often beats on Koguma, who submits to her smaller grandmother with barely a word.  It seems she may have some yakuza ties as well, as just the mention of her name gets Koguma and Shinobu special treatment at a festival.  She steals every scene she’s in.

Stolen Hearts starts out slow, but picks up the pace very quickly.  The art took a little while for me to get used to.  I thought it looked kind of funky looking at first, but really got to like it by the end of the volume.  This title is a great read, and it’s going into my must buy pile.  Make sure it’s in yours.

Review copy provided by publisher. Images © CMX Manga

This Week in Manga 4/10-4/16/10


More Simon and Schuster Sightings

The sharp eyes of Michelle Smith of Soliloquy in Blue has spotted some more manga listings on Simon and Schuster from Viz.  Two of them we already knew about; Grand Guigol Orchestra and Cross Game.  But then four new titles showed up scheduled to come out at the end of the year.  Kurozakuro is scheduled for November, and the rest, Kamisama Kiss, Psyren, Itsuwaribito are scheduled for December. I can’t say any of them really inspire me, but I’ve been surprised before.  I am saddened by the news of no sign of Story of Saiunkoku.  I loved the anime, and am so dying to read the manga!  Hopefully the new Kaori Yuki title, Grand Guigol Orchestra, will help to pass the time.

Del Rey Ousts X-Men: Misfits & Wolverine: Prodigal Son

The weekend ended with a bit of downer as news and confirmation of the cancellation of first X-Men: Misfits and then Wolverine: Prodigal Son came out on Twitter. This seemed to be surprising news as X-men: Misfits seemed to have sold fairly well, hitting the New York Times best seller list for a few weeks.  But the creators of both series say Del Rey cited poor sales as the reason for pulling the plug.  While I wasn’t all that impressed with the first volume of Wolverine, it was more from Wolverine overkill than poor writing or art.  Others have speculated that the Marvel/Disney buyout may have affected the licensing fees for the titles and made them unfeasible for Del Rey to continue with.  But, wouldn’t the contract remain in effect for the whole series?  Could the fees really be changed because of a change in owners?  Who knows if we’ll ever know the truth.  It’s not like Del Rey cares about the fans or anything.

Speed Up Done Right

Found via Twitter.  It seems Yen Press is joining the Speed Up Releases Race.  Volumes of Goong, a popular manhwa title will start coming out as two-volumes-in-one as of volume 9 (the next scheduled release).  This is a boon for fans of the series.  Volume 8 just came out while in Korea they are up to volume 18.  By doing the 2-in-1 omnibus speed up, Yen Press can catch up the series faster (presumably to reduce the need for scanlations), and fans can keep up with it with out the major payout of money and shelf space.  The 2-volume omnibuses will be less than buying two volumes regularly.  This is a responsible way to speed up a series without leaving so many readers being and in the dust.

DMP on your PSP

Digital Manga Publishing has teamed up with IDW to put their manga on the PSP, starting with their Vampire Hunter D manga.  I think this is terrific news.  The more platforms publishers reach out to the better.  And while the PSP hasn’t been the stellar gaming platform that Sony hoped it would be, fans of the platform has been putting comics on their devices for a while now.  And while DMP is the first to put manga in the official Sony Playstation store, Seven Seas has several preview chapters of their original titles formatted for the PSP.  You can direct download them from Seven Seas.

Sometimes It’s Nice to Just Be Asked

Last month there was a lot of talk/debate about scanlations and their effects on the manga industry.  Well, the Japanese have finally spoken out on the subject.  In the latest issue of Weekly Shonen Jump, there was a message to the fans, asking them to stop scanning its manga. A full translation of the message is available at the link.  One site has responded.  It’s a US site that provided raws.  Now whether they closed down because of a sudden change of heart or because they feared legal repercussions we’ll never know.  But, it is nice to see a company appeal to the fans better nature instead of heading straight to the lawyers to deal with a problem.

NYT Best Seller List

Here is a first for the NYT list.  And it’s not just about dominance.  Viz holds 9 of the 10 slots on this weeks list, and 5 of those belong to one series: One Piece.  That is quite an accomplishment for a series that usually only makes it to the list occasionally.   It’s also exceptional that all but two of the titles on the list are debuts.  But first, Twilight once again holds the #1 spot of the Hardback list.  Over in manga, Rosario Vampire: Season II vol 1 debuts at #1.  Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4, featuring the original cast, debuts in at #2. Naruto vol 47 stays in the top five by falling to #3, while another newcomer, Gentleman’s Alliance vol 11, the final, comes in at #4.  Spots 5-9 all belong to One Piece, in the order of Vol 40, Vol 39, Vol 41, Vol 43, and Vol 42.  Rounding off the list is that black suited gentleman of Yen Press, Black Butler vol 1 holding on to #10.  This is quite a nice surprise.  Naruto waves may have appeared on the list, but they were only three at a time.  One Piece is pushing five.  But it is also supposed to be an amazing arc, these volumes, all about Nico Robin.  Perhaps people are finally realizing how great One Piece really is.  It’s about time!

Manga For Your Ears

Manga Out Loud

  • Episode 6 Part 1 and Part 2 – Pluto Series Discussion with spoilers and special guest


Spiraken Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Bunny Drop
  • Legend of the Five Rings: Unicorn: The Second Scroll

And Friday was my Dad’s 74th Birthday.  Happy Birthday Dad!

What’s Up with Del Rey Manga?

X-Men Misfits 1This is something that’s been wondering around in the back of my mind for a while now, but found a voice on Twitter this week.  With the news of Del Rey’s cancellation of their X-Men manga reboots, the question came up asking if Del Rey was having problems.  That seems a very valid question.  A look at Del Rey’s sporadic release schedule and the fact that they’ve gone to releasing omnibuses to complete some series’ does suggest problems.  But that wasn’t my take.  Del Rey is a division of Random House, one of the power house publishers, so I don’t think it’s a financial problem.  I think it’s more of an attention span issue.

Continue reading What’s Up with Del Rey Manga?

Review: Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody Volume 1-7

Lucia is the new girl at school. She and her sister run a public bath that’s all the rage. When Lucia meets a terrific-looking surfer boy, there’s just one little problem: Lucia is a mermaid–not just any mermaid, but a princess on an important mission to save the seven seas from an evil force bent on taking control of the marine world. Such a responsibility doesn’t leave much time for romance. But Lucia vows to protect her world and win the heart of handsome Kaito.

Mermaid Melody 1By Pink Hanamori
Publisher: Del Rey
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★½☆
Buy This Book

This series is a a magical girl-fantasy-romance.  Mermaids exist and live in the seven seas.  Each sea has a princess with a pearl that gives them special powers.  For not only can mermaids appear as human and walk on land, the princesses can transform into Idols, microphones and all.  This series centers around three of the princesses.  Lucia is the pink Princess of the North Pacific.  She has come to land to find her pearl before her coming of age ceremony.  She gave it to a boy she saved from a ship wreck when she was young.  Hanon is the blue Princess of the South Atlantic and Rina is the green Princess of the North Atlantic.  They join Lucia after escaping the destruction of their kingdoms and protecting their pearls from the mysterious Gakuto, who is determined to get all the mermaid princesses’ pearls and rule the seven seas.

Along side the fighting Gakuto’s evil minions and protecting their pearls, the three princesses’ lives are complicated by the human males they meet.  Lucia is in love with Kaito, the boy she gave her pearl to.  Kaito is in love with her too, but only her mermaid side.  Of course, Lucia can’t tell Kaito who she really is, or else she’ll turn to sea foam.  Hanon is likewise smitten with the music teacher at school, but he only has eyes for another mermaid he saw several years previously.  Rina, the tomboy, doesn’t claim to like anyone human boy, but one persistent, older boy seems to capture her attention.  The chapters mostly alternate between the romance and the fight against Gakuto.

The series is divided into two arcs.  The first four volumes are devoted to the Aqua Regina arc.  The mermaid princess’ are charged by the mermaid deity, Aqua Regina, to stop Gakuto, save the other princess’ and protect the humans from the devastation Gakuto and a mysterious woman with him plans to wreck on the world.  This first arc has some good twists which lead up to an exciting and climatic battle.  If I were to rate just this first arc, I would give it 5 stars.  It was well written and everything led up to the ending, tying all the loose ends together for a happy ending.  And it should have ended there.

Instead, the series goes into a second arc.  Much like the unplanned sequel to a successful movie, Kaito and Lucia are separated.  Kaito gets amnesia and disappears, causing them to start their relationship all over.  I really hate stories that resort to this kind of plot.  This second arc, the Resurrection of Michel, is only two volumes.  Michel is an ancient being known as a Winged One.  He wants to destroy the human world and and bring back his race.  Lucia and the other mermaid princesses declare they will fight Michel instead of joining him, and it’s a race now to find all the pieces of the Orange Princess pearl to help the new princess be born before Michel can and be resurrected.

This second arc didn’t hold a lot of interest for me.  The story seemed sloppy and thrown together instead of carefully plotted out.  It takes the power of everyone we’ve encountered over the entire series, enemies and all, working together to defeat Michel. It tries to make it feel like it was planned all along, but that isn’t how it comes off.  This arc is filled with a lot of melodrama, between Kaito’s guilt for wanting to leave the young girl Michal that has latched on to him, and Lucia constant attempts to win him back.  Once again, the story arc is tied up neatly, so I will give credit where it’s due.  Hanamori does a good job of bringing her story to an end, and does so satisfactorily. The final volume is filled with one shots more than having a specific story arc.  It ties up some left over romance and gives a glimpse into Kaito and Lucia’s future.

Overall, Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody is a decent series.  It stresses themes of friendship and true love that kids like to read, and that teens should see more often than the “mean girl” stories that seem to get more play.  The romance is cute with lots of blushing and light kisses traded between couples.  It’s filled with fashion and while the music can’t be heard, their pop idol personas are still full of energy and fun.  This is a great title for tween-to-teens and would make a great edition to any teen library collection.  For older readers, it’s a fun read that really rocks at the beginning, but starts to drag at the end.  Only pick this up if you like mermaids/magical girl manga.

This Week in Manga 4/3-4/9/10


Anime Boston/Wondercon Roundups

Two comics/manga related cons occurred this last weekend.  On the West Coast was Wondercon, the smaller, younger brother of SDCC, located in San Francisco.  While more comics based, it seems Hollywood is taking every opportunity to jump on the popculture bandwagon.  Manga related, Viz Media had a booth, as did CMX, Last Gasp, and EigoManga.  Deb Aoki of has an overview of the con as well as links to other coverage.  Over on the East Coast, Anime Boston took place.  While mostly an anime con, many manga bloggers attended and even held panels.  Vertical, Inc. had a panel, and Ed Chavez, marketing director for Vertical as well as creator of Mangacast hosted a panel of manga bloggers.  The big news from the Vertical panel was the license of a title from a mangaka once published by Viz Media.  Calling it “Manga Series R” the clue is that the “R” refers to either the mangaka’s name or manga’s title.  I voting (hoping) its Leiji/Reiji Matsumoto.  Brigid Alverson has a full rundown of the Vertical panel at Robot 6, and you can hear the audio from the Manga Mania panel by scrolling down to the Ninja Consultant’s like in the Manga For Your Ears section of this post.

iPad Thoughts

Let’s get the elephant in the room out-of-the-way.  The iPad was released this weekend.  Yes, it sold 300,000 units.  But I believe that Apple’s entry into the tablet/e-reader market isn’t the be all/end all that people are making it out to be.  The iPhone was a surprise hit (even to Apple), and hardware developers have been working hard to catch up, and you can say the Google Nexus One is a good if not better competitor.  And as Matt Blind so wonderfully points out (don’t let all the numbers weigh you down), the iphone is only a small percentage of the cellphone market, and the iPad will be as well, especially with more hardware and software makers throwing their hats into the e-reader/tablet ring.  He also links to an article by Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing that makes a very good point (whether you agree with the rest of his argument or not), that publishers shouldn’t put all of their e-books in one Apple basket.  Then Rob McMonigal of Book Stew lays it all out on why he’s not getting any e-book readers right now.  My personal opinion, after listening and reading about iPad first impressions is to wait.  There are so many e-readers/tablets in the wings, that committing right now just doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do.  As much as I love the “pretty-shinnies” this just isn’t the time for what could be tossing money to the wind.

Final Nails in the Coffin?

Some of the smaller manga publishers have been quiet, implying that they’re not weathering this tough economy very well.  Aurora has been especially quiet, with they last release being some time last year, and books sold at fire sale prices.  Another nail in their coffin, the titles they had up on are being pulled down next Wednesday, April 14, 2010.  It could be that they tried online with Netcomics and it didn’t work.  Or it could be a sign of something worse.  Then, from Icarus Publishing, comes news that a “Manga Publisher in the Southern California area” was up for sale.  This seemed to fit Aurora to a T.  Digital Manga is located in SoCal, but they don’t seem to fit.  Go Comi! is as well, and could be a possibility.  ANN has been researching the story, and say Aurora denies they are for sale, but I wouldn’t be so sure.  They’re Ladies Comics line never really took off, and their BL didn’t get much attention.  But it’s all just speculation at this point.

Shonen Sunday Cross Over

Word came in March through a Simon and Schuster listing that Viz was going to be releasing the baseball manga Cross Game.  Finally official word has come that Viz will not only release the manga, but will also preview it on  their Shonen Sunday website starting in May.  I think this is a good move on Viz’s part.  Cross Game has a visual style that may not appeal to readers at first, enough to buy the first volume.  Letting them read it online first, especially 5 months in advance of the first volumes release could really build up some hype for the title, beyond the mangasphere.

Two New Rescues from the Seven Seas

Seven Seas Entertainment has announced they have rescued two manga titles from two different publishers that were also fan favorites.  Gunslinger Girl was first published by ADV Manga, who over 5 years released 6 volumes.  Seven Seas will be re-releasing this 6 volumes with new translations and lettering in an omnibus format, and then beginning releasing new volumes starting at volume 7.  Blood Alone was released by Infinity Studios, with 4 volumes released over 2 years.  Seven Seas will release the first 3 as an omnibus edition with the 4th volume to follow soon after.  These titles will be available in 2011.  I was never too interested in Gunslinger Girl (Ed Chavez of the MangaCast is if you want more info), but I heard some good things about Blood Alone.  It’s good to see these titles return.

Manga as Eisner Nominees

The Eisners were announced this week, and manga made quite a showing, and not just in the Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia.  Best Continuing, Best Reality, Best Graphic Album, Writer/Artist, Lettering, and Comics-Related Book all had nominees from manga.  Of course, most of those are from Naoki Urasawa for Pluto and 20th Century Boys, but that because it’s most definitely deserved.  A Drifting Life and A Distant Neighborhood also got nods.  It’s good to see manga stretching out from the International category, and into more general comics related categories.  Now, if only we can get a win.  I know Pluto blows out a lot of its competition.

NYT Best Seller List

Once again Twilight: The Graphic Novel vol 1 rules the Hardcover roost.  But why isn’t it considered manga? Robin Brenner of Early Word and Librarian Extraordinaire looks at just that question.  Warriors: Clan in Need vanishes from the list completely after only 1 week, allowing Naruto vol 47 and Bleach vol 30 to return to their #1 and #2 spots. xxxHolic vol 15 is pushed back one to #3, and Black Butler vol 1 moves back into the top five to #4.  Soul Eater vol 2 falls into step at #5 and Vampire Knight vol 9 falls back another spot to #6.  Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi vol 5 moves up one to #7 while Fairy Tail vol 10 falls back two to #8.  Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 switches with vol 2 to come back in at #9, and the only debut title of the week is Trinity Blood vol 12 at #10.  It’s good to see Del Rey hold some traction and stick around for this week.  I do think it’s odd that last week’s #1 would vanish so quickly, but this isn’t the first time, and surely won’t be the last.  The ratio remains at a good level with no one company dominating.  This is the way I like to see the list.

Manga For Your Ears

Manga Out Loud

Ninja Consultants

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

Spiraken Manga Review

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Honey Hunt vol 4
  • My Darling! Miss Bancho vol 1
  • Calamity Jack
  • Cirque du Freak vol 4

Manga Drive-By: Shonen Jump April-May 2010

So, I fell behind on Shonen Jump.  It’s been an eventful month or so.  But, I’m caught up now, and ready to share by insights on the last two issues.  The magazine has some new features, but no new permanent series to replace Yu Yu Hakusho.  I really hope they don’t keep this trend going.  One Piece, Naruto, Bleach and Ultimo are not enough to hold my attention for an extended length of time.  I’d rather go to waiting for GNs for the few titles I want than to continue to sludge through some of these chapters month after month.  One thing of interest I noticed as I was tossing the insert subscription cards.  Shonen Jump is now offering 6 month subscriptions, just like Yen PlusSJ‘s are less expensive, obviously, but with the current SJ line up, the Yen Plus subscription definitely feels like the better deal right now.

Continue reading Manga Drive-By: Shonen Jump April-May 2010

Digital Review: Prisoner of the Tower

It’s the social season, and 17 year old Emma heads to London, with her family’s hope of finding a rich husband weighing heavily on her shoulders. One night, a mysterious man approaches her. A refined handsome face, curly black hair and deep blue eyes… Emma falls in love at first sight and shares with him her first kiss. 12 years later and now a widow, Emma visits the Earl of Greyston to discuss the marriage of her stepdaughter. It is the Earl’s younger brother who is betrothed to her stepdaughter, but the Earl never shows himself. While staying there, Emma spots the man she kissed all those years ago in a portrait on the wall…!

Prisoner of the Towerby Karin Miyamoto, Gayle Wilson
Publisher: DMP/eManga/Harlequin K.K./SOFTBANK Creative Corp.
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Historical, Romance
Price: $4.99 Kindle/Digital Edition
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’m not a big romance fan, but when I was given the chance to read some of the Harlequin romances from DMP, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  For the most part, I found the stories to be entertaining but formulaic.  One story did stand out; Prisoner of the Tower.  This is a historical romance that hits all the right marks.  It captures the feel of  Victorian England without being overbearing, and has characters that are believable and likable at the same time.

Victorian England wasn’t the best time or place to be a woman.  Women were treated more as property than people, and were often married off for the benefit of the family than for love, especially among the upper classes.  This is the situation Emma is in when we first meet her.  She is going to the Court at London to find a husband of means that can save her family from ruin.  She knows this and hopes for the best that she will find a man that will be kind to her at least.  But before reaching London, her first kiss is stolen by a mysterious man who is headed off to war.  Neither expect to see each other ever again after that night.

12 years later, Emma is going with her stepdaughter and brother-in-law to meet Earl Greystone and get his permission for her and his younger brother to marry.  Emma wants Jorgina to have a good life with her true love, something she couldn’t have herself.  The only thing standing in their way is the Earl himself.  Alexander has no problem with his brother Jamie marrying Jorgina, he just doesn’t want to meet with Emma.  Honor was very important to the upper classes, and with his disfigured face, and the disgrace he feels from his time in the war, he doesn’t want to face anyone.

Even though it’s Jorgina and Jamie that are trying to get the blessings to get married, the story is really about Emma and Alexander getting together.  Both have given up on finding love.  Alexander doesn’t believe anyone could love him because of his disfigurement and disgrace, and Emma is ready to just accept the life of a widow and live alone and out of Jorgina’s life.  Emma doesn’t realize though, that Alexander is her mystery man from all those years before.  What follows is a series of miss communications and missed opportunities as these two star-crossed lovers stumble toward their happy ending.

I really liked the setting of this story.  I enjoy stories where the main characters spur the conventions of their time and/or society, and that is just what Emma is trying to do for Jorgina.  The characters are very well developed, even for a short manga.  They felt real to me, especially with their foibles.  I really wanted to see Emma and Alexander get together, and felt some frustration at their every misstep.  I really wanted to slap Alexander for his assumptions about Emma.  Emma’s determination to win over Alexander was well done.  She was strong without being overbearing which fits the time perfectly.

I also really enjoyed the art.  The 70’s shojo style with the big, sparkling eyes, flowing hair and elaborate clothing fit the story perfectly.  I was drawn in more because of it.  The only thing that marred the look was the typesetting, which looked like it was typed in with a typewriter.  The font is stiff, and the words don’t fit into the text or word bubbles.  But this was the only problem I had with the volume.  It’s only available in digital form, either for the Kindle or through eManga.  I can’t speak for the Kindle, but the eManga site is very easy and intuitive to use.  The story is also short enough that reading online isn’t a bother.  It is smart and well written.  If romances were more like this, I would gladly read them more.

Review copy provided by publisher. Images © Digital Manga Publishing

Jenny's Journal: Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1

When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret…

Twilight v1By Stephenie Meyer;
Art & Adaptation by Young Kim
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Romance
Price: $19.99
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Buy This Book

The book I’m reviewing now is called Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1. I think I regret reading this, and I may never touch it again after setting my eyes upon it. But hey, as long as I’m allowed to bash it for what it is, I’m cool. Anyways, let’s talk about what the story is about.

Continue reading Jenny's Journal: Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1

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