20th Century Boys Volume 9

The year is 2014, and Neo Tokyo is completely under the control of the Friend. Kanna has decided to stand up and avenge Kenji-will she be able to muster up enough support for her cause? Kanna makes her way to a mafia-operated casino and quickly finds herself at a high stakes table. Is she lucky (and smart) enough to turn the odds in her favor at the bizarre and fast-paced game of Rabit Nabaokov?

While Kanna marshals her forces, Koizumi Kyoko experiences true horror at the reeducation camp known as Friend Land. Going back in time in their “Virtual World”, she meets Kenji and his pals as boys in 1971 and sees something that is strictly taboo: the Friend’s childhood face! Will she live to report back on the Friend’s identity?

By Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz Media – Signature
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Thriller
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★☆
Buy This Book

The more Urasawa reveals in 20th Century Boys, the less we know about what’s really going on. What seemed obvious a couple of volumes ago now gets turned on its head, making you doubt everything you’ve seen up to now.

In this volume, Kanna, who Kenji and Shogun believed to be “the last hope”, decides it’s time for her to take matters into her own hands and steps out into the spotlight. Back at the beginning of the series, it was set up that Kanna had an uncanny ability, possibly a psychic power to guess what people were thinking. We finally get to see this come into play as she goes to a mafia-run casino to try to enlist more people to the cause. Showing some amazing leadership skills, she is able to bring together warring factions of Chinese, Thai, and Japanese gangs and get them to agree to work together for her cause. When she’s speaking to the gang members, she seems to be more charismatic than usual. This other side to Kanna makes her a more interesting character than just the rebellious, hot-headed teen looking for revenge for her uncle that she appeared to be in previous volumes.

But, in usual Urasawa fashion, he shakes things up and they many not be what they seemed at the beginning. A New Book of Prophecy is introduced in this volume. One of the prophecies from it tells of a public meeting in a church in 2014 where the “savior” will be killed. Every sign points to Kanna and her gathering of the gangs. But, by the end, you’re left feeling not so sure about Kanna and her role. Everything we’ve been led to believe up to now may be completely wrong. It’s an eerie feeling have the rug seemingly pulled out from under you after 9 volumes.

This is one of the things that makes Urasawa’s titles so compelling. The ease with which he turns the whole story on its head and leaves you wondering “What now?”, just increases that need for the next volume to find out what’s gonna happen next. It’s his ability to keep the mystery going even when he’s giving up more information, such as with the Friend’s identity. More information was given about who or what he might be, but there are many reasons to doubt the source of the information. But then again, there are just as many reasons not to. Koizumi did see the Friend’s face, but also suffered brain damage when she was pulled from the virtual world. Can we believe what Koizumi saw? I’m inclined to think so, but there’s just enough uncertainty that I can’t say for sure. This uncertainty is what makes the story so infuriating, but at the same time, addicting.

Overall, this volume of 20th Century Boys was a great read. Seeing Kanna in action at the casino made for some very compelling scenes, and there was a lot of anticipation built over Kanna’s biggest gamble, whether anyone would show up the next day. This is the kind of drama I enjoy. The end of the volume created some real shock and awe as characters and readers alike are informed of the return of a surprise character that up until now has only been seen in memories or flashbacks. Oh, and Shogun is still cool. I’m really looking forward to the next volume now.

Straight Up Great Titles

I was sorely tempted by the last Rightstuf sale of Viz titles, but RL is kicking my checkbook with back-to-school stuff for the kids. Their newest sale is on Vertical titles, and even though I can’t really dive into this sale either, that doesn’t mean I can’t try to convince the rest of you to spend YOUR hard-earned money!

Veritcal has really been doing a good job of building a quality and diverse selection of titles. Sci-fi, action, horror, drama and even cuteness can be found in their growing selection. Here are just a few of my favorites that I would gladly recommend.

Andromeda Stories – I really enjoyed this sci-fi story, that one the surface appears to be a story of man vs. machine, but by the end becomes something different. The first volume can seem a little slow and without direction, but once you get into volume 2, the ride really starts bringing you to a satisfactory end in volume 3.

Black Jack – You hear people say how great this series is (including me) but you really don’t get it until you read it. There’s just something about the rogue doctor that’s really appealing. Whether it’s the comeuppance that he likes to deal the legitimate medical community, the rights he wrongs or the hard-as-steel surgeon with a heart of gold, Black Jack is a great character and the stories Tezuka puts him in makes any volume of this series a great read.

Dororo – Staying with the Tezuka theme, Dororo is an action series that is criminally short at 3 volumes. It easily could have gone 10.  Hyakkimaru’s and Dororo’s adventures in feudal Japan are filled with action as Hyakkimaru battles demons to regain his stolen body parts and some of the usual Tezuka examination of the human condition.

Chi’s Sweet Home – One of Vertical’s newest titles, Chi is one of the funnest titles you will read, all the more if you’re a cat lover. Flipped and in color, watch as Chi first wins the hearts of the Yohei and the Yamada family and then as she wins yours! The stories are short, but can be laugh out loud funny. Kanata’s art is cute without being cutesy. One of the best new titles of the year.

Cute Dogs/Cute Pups – These are part of Vertical’s craft line. Both books feature cute dogs and puppies, and even accessories for them that you can make on your own. The designs are fairly simple and everything is hand-sewn. Kids 10 and up can enjoy making these as well as the crafty dog lover.

Guin Saga/The Seven Magi – If you miss fantasy stories with big burly men with leopard heads than the Guin Saga is for you! The original novels tell a sweeping story of Guin and the two twins he is protecting from the evil Mongauli empire. The manga, a side story set sometime after the first five novels has some great art, and a fast-moving story that can feel a little daunting without knowing much about the world, but still enjoyable none the less.

Twin Spica – This coming of age space story has some strong characters and great drama. It looks at the realities of becoming an astronaut with Asumi, and upbeat and earnest girl who has dreamt of going to the stars ever since she was little. The first volume really draws you in and a great story and some flashback short stories that have tragic elements without become melodramatic. I can’t NOT recommend this title highly.

These are just a few of the titles from Vertical that I’ve read and have enjoyed. What are some of your favorites, or are you looking forward to buying?

Cross My Heart

I had intended to talk about this in my Comic-con post, but as I don’t read many comics, it slipped my mind as I was ranting on other things. This was one of the few good announcements I heard come from Comic-con. Marvel is going to be bringing back the CrossGen Universe.

What’s the big deal you ask? Well, CrossGen was a big deal for me. It’s what led me back to comics and subsequently into manga. Back in 2001 (I think), my husband and I wanted to get back into collecting comics. My husband had read several superhero titles in the past, so it was easy for him to find titles he wanted to get back into. My comic reading had been mostly Elfquest, X-men, Blue Devil, Amethyst and various tv/movie tie-ins such as Dark Shadows. But in 2001, these titles either weren’t available, or didn’t really interest me.  So every trip to the comic shop was a wistful look at what was available, and my eventual walking out with nothing. Until, that is, my husband put an issue of Mystic, one of the first titles from CrossGen in front of me. I’d always been interested in fantasy, so I gave it a try. I figured it couldn’t hurt. And I loved it. Finally, I had found something in the comic store that I wanted to read!

From Mystic I moved on to The First, Crux, and Sojourn. My husband was familiar with writer Mark Waid, so we started picking up Ruse as well. Back in the day, the first issues of Ruse were hard to find and expensive! I think we eventually found those issues. Harder to find proved to be the first issue of Sojourn. I never did get that one. I liked the shared universe concept they used for the series, and it was fun sometimes trying to find the sigil or figure out how the series fit into the universe. I stuck with CrossGen until the very end and was disappointed when it finally folded. I wasn’t involved in the internet comic community at the time, so I was surprised by all the news that came out about what was happening behind the scenes. It was a real shame to see what I thought was a well crafted universe go down in flames like that.

Fortunately for me though, at about that time, manga was starting on the rise, and I started looking at it more seriously. I mean, I had nothing else to read now. Most of my titles were gone. I was still finding comics to read, but most were either mini-series’ or got cancelled soon after I got interested in them. So, manga became more and more my staple in the comics world, and has led to where I am today.

CrossGen showed that there was an audience out there for genre stories out there. I liked so many of their titles because they delved into genres I enjoy; fantasy, pseudoscience, and mythology. No other comic company has been able to do that since. Manga has been the only reliable genre comics that continue to appeal to me series after series.

Now, news has come out that Marvel, owned by Disney, who had purchased the rights to the CrossGen universe is resurrecting parts of the universe. My first worry was that they would try to force them into the Marvel Universe, which is already convoluted enough as it is. But in its latest Cup ‘O Joe post, CBR spoke with Marvel’s Vice President Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and he spoke a little more about the CrossGen project. This is the part that I found the most encouraging and just might be able to draw me back into the comics market:

Pretty much all of the CrossGen properties are not the kinds of things that we typically do. That is to say, they didn’t publish anything that was a traditional super hero until the very, very end where they dabbled a little bit. Everything they did was “genre publishing” whether it was fantasy or science fiction or super-spy or western or barbarian or whatever. They did a wide range of material, not the kind of thing that Marvel has never done – but it’s not what we typically do. So this also gives us the potential to try some different genres and to scratch an itch that people in our editorial group and amongst our creators may have had.

Wow. Marvel is realizing that there are readers out there that are interested in more than superheroes! And more than that, they are actually going to try to do something about it!! I’m ready to give Marvel a lot of kudos for this move. A lot more than DC, who is culling titles and lines left and right. It’s taken a long time, and might just be a tiny step, but it’s a step I’m happy to see Marvel finally take. With Pet Avengers and now CrossGen returning, Marvel has a good shot at taking back some of my manga bucks.

This Week In Manga: 7/24-7/30/10

San Diego Comic Con Con’t

San Diego Comic Con wrap-up dominated the news this week. But this shouldn’t be too surprising considering the size and breath of the con. Friday night ended with the Eisners, where manga may have had great representation in nominations, but in the end, it was only Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life that was able to take away anything, and saw Naoki Urasawa shut out once again.  A Drifting Life won for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia as well as Best Reality-Based Work. While I’m happy for Tatsumi and Drawn And Quarterly for their win, I think Pluto deserved more recognition than it got, and the Eisners need to look beyond tradition comic publishers for good titles.

Saturday brought the Tokyopop and Viz Media: Shonen Jump panels, the only other two publishers to have panels at SDCC. Tokyopop’s panel was filled with lots of announcements, including a new title from Min-Woo Hyung, the creator of the Priest manhwa, called Ghostface. They will be making more of their titles available digitally, including through Zinio and Overdrive. They announced three new licenses, Sakura no Ichiban, Pavane for a Dead Girl and Mr. Clean: Fully Equipped as well as providing more information on other titles previously announced/discovered. It’s good to see Tokyopop getting back into the swing of things, and I have to say I’m interested in all the new Yuna Kagesaki material. I really enjoyed Chibi Vampire.

The Viz Media: Shonen Jump panel didn’t have any new licenses to announce, which quick frankly surprised me. I was sure there would be an announcement for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. Maybe they’re saving it for NYCC. Most of the panel seemed to be about SJ branding and tie-in products which is disappointing to me. I want SJ to be more than just a marketing tool for things OTHER than manga. There are supposedly changes coming to the magazine, but none of them sound all that great. I don’t need more information on anime tie-ins. New, better manga would be nice. The panel also covered already announced titles, and announced a new omnibus edition of Death Note. Hiroyuki Takei, creator of Shaman King and Ultimo, made a surprise appearance. No Stan Lee at the panel. I’m disappointed in the SJ panel, but that isn’t really any surprise. I have been excited by an SJ panel since the first one. The mag just isn’t exciting to read anymore. It’s probably because I’m not their core audience.

Another license announcement to come out of the con, though they had no panel was from Drawn & Quarterly. They announced two titles from Shigeru Mizuki, the creator of GeGeGe no Kitaro. Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths is a semi-autobiographical story of the final days of World War II, and NonNonBa is about a young boy being introduced to the world of Japanese folklore by an old neighbor woman. Considering one of their license choices took an Eisner as well as getting a lot of acclaim, these are probably titles to watch out for.

The only other panel of interest in manga fans was the Comics and Digital Piracy on Sunday. The panel included prominent manga bloggers Deb Aoki and Jake Forbes. They discussed the problems of piracy and how it affects both comics and manga as well as digital manga in general. The Q & A brought up many of the same arguments we’ve been hearing from scanlators. The panel is interesting if you haven’t been following all the piracy posts lately, which considering the SDCC audience, probably don’t, so it’s good to see these things being talked about in another open forum.

After the con is over and everyone has recovered, that’s when the individual reports start going up. Deb Aoki of Manga.About has reports from Preview Night, Thursday, specifics of the Viz Kids panel and a roundup of manga at SDCC (so far). Also at the con looking at kid’s books was Eva Volin for the Good Comics For Kids blog. Anime Diet had a man on the floor that live blogged the Best/Worst Manga, Yen Press and Tokyopop panels. Daniella of All About Manga writes up about her first two days, and Heidi MacDonald of The Beat has her own coverage of the Piracy panel. Keep watching for more about people find time to write and upload their thoughts and reactions.

Sharp-Dressed Fan

While not strickly manga, but manga-related, is the Scott Pilgrim series. The Monday before SDCC, the final volume in the series was released, and at SDCC, there was heavy promotion for the movie. Now you can go to the movie, which will be released August13 with this contest being sponsored by Daniella of the All About Manga blog. Just tell her your favorite scene from the comic for a chance to win one of three t-shirts from the Mighty Fine t-shirt company. Run, don’t walk to the nearest computer and enter now! (Ad sponsored by Doctor Who SDCC 2010 con exclusive toy and Viz bag. Thank you Daniella! Again!)

Manga Movable Feast: Kissing Up to Paradise

Just as SDCC ended the Manga Movable Feast for July started up. Held this week at the Soliloqy in Blue blog run by Michelle Smith, this month’s title was Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss. You’ll find the introduction to the series here, and an archive of all the links here. This seems to have been a slower Feast than some of the past ones, though it’s hard to tell if it’s because of the material (Paradise Kiss is out of print and not as easy to get a hold of) or because it’s coming on the heels of such a big event as SDCC. But there are still two days left, so keep watching for more entries and for the announcement of the next Feast.

NYT Best Seller List

The list for this week starts out as a truly dark day. Twilight: The Graphic Novel has been pushed not just from its top spot, but from the top 5 all the way down to #9 by mostly Green Lantern: Blackest Night tie-ins. What will Team Jacob and Team Edward do? Happier news awaits on the manga list as Fullmetal Alchemist, one of the best reads out there, debuts and takes the #1 spot with vol 23, pushing Naruto vol 48 back to #2. Ouran High School Host Club vol 14 subsequently falls back to #3 with pal Vampire Knight vol 10 at #4. Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 returns to the chart at #5 with the only survivor of CMX (which really doesn’t count as far as I’m concerned, since they were forced into the imprint and not really made for it) Megatokyo vol 6 at #6. The 8th volume of the VizBig edition of Vagabond debuts at #7 while Naruto vol 47 returns again to #8. The VizBig edition of Dragonball Z vol 8 debuts at #9 and Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 5 ends the list at #10 and the series as well. This is an odd list indeed. The appearance of the VizBig editions are unusual in and of themselves, but to have two at the same time? That’s really weird! Some of the returning titles are odd too, though nothing is more odd that then complete disappearance of Black Butler, a staple to the list for so long. Can this be a sign of the apocalypse?

NTY Best Sellers: Second Opinion

Matt Blind over at Rocket Bomber has something different to say about this week’s top 10 list:

1. Naruto 48
2. Ouran High School Host Club 14
3. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
4. Vampire Knight 10
5. Hellsing 10
6. Maximum Ride 1
7. Naruto 47
8. Maximum Ride 2
9. Bleach 31
10. Alice in the Country of Hearts 1

Notable differences: Matt has no VizBigs on his list. Hellsing, Bleach and Maximum Ride continue to persist on his list while they are no where to be seen on the NYT list. There’s no Yu-Gi-Oh! R and Fullmetal Alchemist didn’t make it to #1 on Matt’s list. This week’s list is a little more consistent with titles, if not with places, with 6 in common. It really makes me wonder what is going on with the NYT numbers that Maximum Ride doesn’t show up, but a lot of Viz new releases do.

Manga For Your Ears

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

What I’ve Been Reading

  • Swallowing the Earth
  • Yokai Doctor vol 1
  • Jack Frost vol 3

A Year With Out a Comic-Con

This is probably the first time in 12 years straight that we didn’t attend Comic Con. It had been a tradition with us. Every year we would find a way, even if it was just for a day, even just Sunday, to get down to the Con and see things. But not this year. It was a decision we made early, and we didn’t even register for the con. The costs in time and money vs the benefits turned out to be far too much. Last year over the 3 days we saw 6 panels, which is only about 1/2 of what we wanted to see and sat through at least 3 we didn’t just to make sure we got to see the ones we DID want to see. When a con becomes all work and almost no play is when it’s time to call it quits. This is my vacation time I’m taking to do things I enjoy. I already get enough stress at work. I don’t need it following me on my vacation. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it.

As Comic Con approached, I did find I felt a small twang of regret of not being able to wander the exhibit hall and catch sight of some new item, or find some toy or book I’ve been looking for at a great discount. Yes, I know you can surf the internet and find some cool things at low prices, but it the joy of discovery and being able to get right there and then that makes a con so much fun. And the panels. There is such synergy that happens at them, that hearing about them or even seeing them later online just doesn’t compare to see the things live. But, what’s done is done, and I was stuck at work Thursday and Friday, and home on the weekend.  Thank goodness for Twitter and live blogging.

Thursday, when I should have been writing or doing my Japanese course at smart.fm, I was instead watching the Twitter updates on Google (my work has Twitter blocked). I got to hear about the Tron: Legacy panel and ADR at the end the paintball challenge from the Burn Notice writers to the White Collar writers, and Bruce Campbell handing out money again this year. Friday was back to work, but as I started checking things out online, I wasn’t seeing anything to really get excited about.

In manga, there were some license announcement. Tokyopop and Yen Press had the most with 3 and 5 respectively. Viz had some announcements for their Vizkids line, but no one really covered it, and they sure aren’t excited about it. I was really expecting to hear that Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan would be licensed, since Viz announced the streaming of the anime, and that a prerequisite to be a licensed Shonen Jump title, right? I thought for sure all the signs pointed to it, but instead, all Viz announced was a new edition of Death Note, in black.  Whoo. The Yen Press announcement about Yen Plus going online did sound cool, but then the thought of dueling online services who will all want me to subscribe to read chapters of their manga damped the excitement. I’m not as thrilled as a lot of people about The Bride’s Story, but then, I have not read Emma, so I’m not already a fan of Kaoru Mori. Tokyopop’s announcement of Sakura no Ichiban by Chibi Vampire/Karin mangaka Yuna Kagesaki was good news though. I enjoyed Chibi Vampire, and the cover of Sakura no Ichiban looks interesting. I’m not a big fan of alternative/gekiga manga, so the small press announcements didn’t excite me either. And Del Rey didn’t even bother with a panel, and laying off Ali Kokmen to boot doesn’t fill me with a lot of hope for them as a manga publisher. It was pretty much a low-key con this year.

On the TV side, there wasn’t much either. One of the reasons we had for going to SDCC is now gone; Stargate. The SG-1 and Atlantis teams always had great rapport and it was fun to watch them. From reports of the Universe panel, it was no fun at all. And it doesn’t sound like SGU will be improving anytime soon. Just more of its Battlestar Galactica cloning. Burn Notice it sounds like is only worth going to to see Bruce Campbell. Now granted that is reason enough, but when no one else from the show’s cast shows up? I guess either they don’t like each other or the fans. Or both. The panels that sounded like the most fun were Psych, Bones and Castle. We just started watching Psych, and now I really regret not staying around for their panel last year. That’s a cast to see live! They have a lot of fun on the set, and that usually translates to the panel. Bones and Castle have two veteran fandom stars, David Boreanaz and Nathan Fillion, both of whom know how to please the crowd. I was happy to hear on Bones, Booth would be returning to season 6 with a love interest, and not happy that Bones and Booth will eventually end up together; unless it was the last scene of the series finale. Then I would be fine with it. Though nothing of great interest came out about season 3 of Castle, I would have liked to have seen the panel. It sounds like it was just as much fun as Psych.

This year was the first time that all 5 Mythbusters appeared on stage at the same time at SDCC.  While the clips reel is tantalizing, the reason to go these guys is for the Q & A session. They are just a blast to listen and talk to. Rifftrax did another live reading at their panel, but no new riffs were announced. It was fun nominating movies to be riffed by the team. This year it seems like you can try to get a line in a new riffing of Reefer Madness. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find anyone who really covered those panels. Youtube has a video of their live riffing, and the twitter feed for Mythbusters had pictures of their panel, but no one really reporting on them, which is sad. These guys really deserve more attention.

I might have reconsidered braving the crowds if I had none Danny Elfman was going to be there as a guest and have his own panel. I’ve been a fan of Elfman’s since his Oingo Boingo days, and it would have been cool to see him when he’s not performing. Shocktillyoudrop.com had a live blogging of that panel at least.

I read somewhere though all my clicking for SDCC that they could just change the name of Comic Con to Movie Con and no one would notice. And that is sadly true. Genre TV has always been a part of the con. Before Stargate, the panel to go to was the Babylon 5 panel for the blooper reel and the stories on set from JMS. Now, TV and movie trailer/hype have taken over the show. It’s all Dog and Pony and very little con. More companies are going to SDCC to try to get optioned for a Hollywood blockbuster than talk with fans or show off their latest wares. And while it’s cool that some of the businesses are finally getting into the spirit of the con, Syfy themed restaurants and Hooter girls dressing up as super heroes, the businesses that really matter, the hotels, still don’t see con-goers as an asset, but as someone they can drain for money. The city has been fighting with hotels to get more rooms at better rates, and it’s only with the threat of the city loosing millions of dollars that they started to give in. But when I hear one con-goers say that the hotel she is staying at is still charging her $30 at day to park her car, that tells me that the SD hotels don’t really want comic con anymore.

I know there’s no really good option for leaving San Diego. Anaheim provides some additional space, and has Disney pushing for that move, while the rest of Hollywood wants to see the con in Los Angeles while Las Vegas is probably the only place on the West Coast that could really handle the crowds, but no one wants to got there, and Vegas doesn’t need Comic Con. So what does this mean? That we probably won’t be going to SDCC anymore or until things improve. I hear Wondercon has promise…

Manga Movable Feast: Paradise Kiss Volume 1

Yukari wants nothing more than to make her parents happy by studying hard and getting into a good college. One afternoon, however, she is kidnapped by a group of self-proclaimed fashion mavens calling themselves “Paradise Kiss.” Yukari suddenly finds herself in the roller coaster life of the fashion world, guided by George, art-snob extraordinaire. In a glamorous makeover of body, mind and soul, she is turned from a hapless bookworm into her friends’ own exclusive clothing model.

By Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Tokyopop
Age Rating:
Genre: Romance
Price: $9.99 (OOP)
Rating: ★★★★½
Buy This Book

When Paradise Kiss first came out, I passed on it, thinking it wouldn’t be a series I would be interested in, and quite frankly, I was turned off by the cover art. This was before I knew how awesome Ai Yazawa and her work was. Paradise Kiss is about a group of fashion design students trying to make their own line with normal exam student Yukari as their model, but this first volume is more about the relationships of this group of new friends than fashion, and as is typical of a Yazawa manga, the relationships are anything but simple.

Yukari Hayasaka is a high school student preparing for exams for college. She walks around with her nose in a book, goes to prep-school, and just generally worries about doing well and getting into a good school, just like everyone else around her. In Yukari’s world, your rank in school equals your rank in life. She doesn’t have any dreams or ambitions beyond getting into college. Her whole world revolves around this single goal. Until she meets the members of Paradise Kiss.

As one would expect for a group of art-school students, Paradise Kiss is filled with some eccentric characters. Arashi looks and speaks like a British punker, complete with safety-pin piercings and slang. Miwako looks and acts like a little girl, often referring to herself in the third person. Isabelle is a tall, male transvestite who also likes to cook, and takes any opportunity to make rice balls. And then there’s George, the leader of Parakiss.

George is a mysterious character. He always has a straight face, making it difficult to tell what he’s thinking, or when he’s being serious. He’s impossible to read or predict. The members of Parakiss are used to him and can just go with it, but Yukari becomes intrigued with George. He starts out playing with her, to get her to come back to the studio and convince her to be their model, but she gets completely caught up in him and his games. Yukari’s thoughts become dominated by thoughts of George, but she also wonders if he’s just playing with her. In the end, she can’t stop herself from falling for him.

Yukari also becomes friends with Miwako, who is a childhood friend with a boy in Yukari’s class that she’s had a crush with from afar, Tokumori. Without getting into the whole tangled mess of that relationship, it’s Yukari and Miwako’s friendship that plays a big role in Yukari finally deciding to help them. Through Miwako she has come to understand what Parakiss is trying to do. They have dreams and goals, and aren’t just the slackers she thought of them at first. She is able to see past the surface, and is even a little envious of the group. They have a dream they are working to achieve, while Yukari is just going through the motions. By choosing to become their model, she has taken the first step toward her own freedom, and making her own decisions for her life.

The art of Paradise Kiss doesn’t seem very different from Nana, Yazawa’s current manga series. I can see a lot of Nana O. in Yukari. The fashions Yazawa comes up with are sometimes outrageous, but always fitting of the character. Her realistic style works well with the fashions, but I do still enjoy the comedic faces she comes up with. Though I hope to never see one of them on George. It just wouldn’t feel right.

Just like with Nana, I was pulled into this series from the first chapter and hooked by the characters. Their complex relationships really draw you in, as does the enigmatic George. It’s easy to get just as caught up in his games as Yukari does. Like Yukari, I made the mistake of judging this title by its outward appearance. I’m glad the MMF gave me a push to check out this series. I’m now looking forward to reading more and seeing the fashion come into play, as well as where George and Yukari’s relationship will go, or if it will last.

PR: Yen Plus Goes Online


NEW YORK, JULY 27, 2010 – It was announced Friday at San Diego Comic-Con that Yen Plus, the monthly manga anthology from Yen Press, is now available online at yenplus.com. And for a limited time, Yen Press will offer free access to the August issue from now through September 10th.

Yen Publisher Kurt Hassler said: “It’s no secret that there is a huge demand for the digital delivery of manga content.  Our responsibility as publishers is to grow and change both with the industry and the readers to meet that demand.  Relaunching YEN PLUS in a digital format is our first major step in that direction, and as we look at expanding the selection that the magazine has to offer in the coming months, we look forward to not only hearing from our existing readers but reaching out to new audiences as well.”

Each issue of Yen Plus includes the latest installments of popular manga such as Maximum Ride, Daniel X, Nightschool, Time And Again, and more. A new online edition will appear on the first Tuesday of each month.

Subscriptions will cost $2.99 per month (sales tax may apply), and members will have access to the two most recent issues of the magazine. Each month the oldest issue is removed and a new issue is added, so readers always have access to fresh new manga.

Yen Press, founded in 2006, is the manga and graphic novel imprint of Hachette Book Group. For additional info, visit www.yenplus.com

This Week in Manga: 7/17-7/23/10

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The week started out with a bang, and just kept on going! Seven Seas started it off with license announcements on Twitter in anagram form with one clue. All three were guessed correctly by ANN and confirmed by Tuesday, the day of the last announcement. The three titles are ToraDora, Amnesia Labyrinth, and A Certain Scientific Railgun. Two of these titles have anime tie-ins, with ToraDora having already released its first disc earlier this month, and Funimation just announcing the license of A Certain Scientific Railgun at this past Anime Expo. Amnesia Labyrinth also has ties to a previously published work. Nagaru Tanigawa, who is the author of the Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi light novels, is also the author of this series. Most of these titles came from ASCII Media Works, which Seven Seas seems to be mining. I’m definitely interested in Amnesia Labyrinth, and not just because it’s by the author of the Haruhi books, which I’ve enjoyed the manga of, but it’s also a mystery. And we can’t get enough of those!

One Manga Down, 1000 Manga To Go

Wednesday, One Manga, the top scanlation aggregator site on the web announced it would be taking down ALL manga, not just titles licensed/owned by coalition members. This was quite a surprise as visitors were greeted with a pop-up message explaining the situation before they even got to any titles. They intend to keep their forums up and running, but it remains to be seen if anyone will still come around with all the manga gone. Reactions to the shut down have been varied and quite frankly extreme in some cases, as a perusal of the comments section of the manga.about.com article shows:

I have not stopped crying since i heard about this yesterday.. what am i going to do from now on?.. my reason to live from one Friday to the next is now gone.. i am deeply saddened.

What am i gonna do with the 36 series’ that I’m curetly reading right now? Im addicted. At 13 I fail to see anything more important than manga right now.. I seriously feel like someone close to me has a fatal disease, and that person is slowly crawling to their death.

Yeah…okay. I love manga too, but it’s not the be all, end all of my life. I was disappointed when some of my favorite titles were cancelled thanks to Kodansha yanking them from Tokyopop, but the world didn’t end because of it. And the world won’t end now without One Manga or 1000 Manga, or any of the other aggregators that may go down. I know teens like to be melodramatic and all, but sheesh! It’s just manga guys!

What Goes Down Must Come Up

The same day that One Manga announces its demise, Square Enix announces a new digital manga store for NA and France.  The site will go live in the Fall, but a preview with the first chapters of Fullmetal Alchemist, Black Butler, Soul Eater and O-Parts Hunter (666 Satan) are available right now for download. They are also running demos at their booth at SDCC. This is an interesting development, since Square Enix doesn’t license to just one company here in the US. The four titles mentioned are split between Yen Press and Viz, but both manga publishers have said they are working with Square Enix in this endeavour. No price has been set yet, but it is nice to another publisher not only making titles available online, but to also be portable.

SDCC is Here!

That right, the San Diego Comic Con started this week. And it started off at a run. Wednesday is dubbed Preview Night, where the exhibit hall is open in the evening, and Vertical wasted no time in announcing a license and the first official one of the con. They will be releasing Lychee Light Club, by Usamaru Furuya, who is also the author of the highly anticipated 51 Ways to Save Her, which was announced at last SDCC by CMX, and cancelled before the first volume could be released. It’s a single volume and is about some students at an all boys school who create a robot to find beautiful women but run into a problem when the robot become sentient.

The first official day of the con brought more licenses. At the Bandai Entertainment panel, Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens was announced. Not too surprising, since it was a cult hit on the internet and the anime has already been released. Top Shelf, a comics publisher announced it would be releasing Cigarette Girl, a collection of short stories from an early artist of the gekiga movement, Masahiko Matsumoto. There were several manga related panels that ANN covered; Manga For Grown Ups, Best and Worst Manga 2010, and Manga: Lost in Translation.

Friday brought the Yen Press Panel, which had more new licenses to announce. Aron’s Absurd Armada, High School of the Dead, Higurashi: When They Cry: Demon Exposing Arc, and Otoyome-Gatari: The Bride’s Story. High School of the Dead is another no brainer as its anime was licensed and announced at Anime Expo. Fans were happy to hear about Otoyome-Gatari. It’s the new title from Kaoru Mori, the mangaka of Emma. It sounds like it with get the Twilight treatment with a hardback, larger size treatment.

Yen also finally revealed the fate of Yen Plus. It has its own website which has gone live with a beta. Most of the titles up right now are Yen’s original titles; Maximum Ride, Nightschool, Gossip Girl, and the first 2 chapters of Daniel X. Two Korean titles from the print magazine are there now, Time and Again and Jack Frost, and a special short story, Haunted House Call from the creator of Hollow Fields, Madeleine Rosca. There are no Japanese titles at the moment, but if you go back up one story you may see why for at least two of them. The cost will be $2.99 a month, paid by Paypal subscription, and will keep the last two recent issues available.  This is looking like a good deal and the reader on the computer isn’t bad. It’s not flash-based, so the reader may be friendly for mobile devices. Some have said that teens will be left out because of the online payment, but any parents who refuse their kids a $2.99 investment for them to read is doing them a great disservice.

Manga related panels included The Future of Manga with Jason Thompson and Dallas Middaugh was on Publishing Comics representing Del Rey. Del Rey didn’t have a panel at the show this year and with the news of Ali Kokmen, the marketing manager who did a lot of to get Del Rey Manga going being laid off, makes more real the speculation that Del Rey is winding down their manga division. Sony held a panel on their adaptation of the Tokyopop published manhwa Priest, and Moto Hagio had a focus panel where she was also presented CCI’s Inkpot award.

NYT Best Seller List

It’s that time again, so let’s look at what’s going on with this week’s list of  best sellers. And a check of the Hardback list shows…What?! No Twilight at #1? Who’s this green dude that’s taken the first three spots, leaving Twilight to come in at #4? Bahhhh.  Over on the manga list, Naruto vol 48 retakes it’s #1 spot from Ouran High School Host Club vol 14, which falls to #2. Vampire Knight vol 10 moves back up to #3 with Black Butler vol 2 right behind at #4. New comer Black Lagoon vol 9 debuts at #5 while The Last AirBender falls another 2 to #6. Black Butler vol 1 moves back up one to #7 while another debut, Inuyasha vol 50 arrivals at #8. Soul Eater vol 3 is another newbie arriving at #9 while One Piece vol 54 holds on but falls 7 to #10. Viz hold a majority of 6/10 on the list with Yen Press’ strongest titles holding 3/10. Black Lagoon is a surprise as a more adult title, but is very welcome addition. It would be nice to see more adult titles taking on the massive teen machines of Naruto and Vampire Knight.

NYT Best Sellers: Second Opinion

A lot of people question the New York Times Best Seller List for its accuracy. They never full explain where they get their numbers from, so there’s plenty of doubt about how real they are. One person to not only feel that way, but does something about it Matt Blind of Rocket Bomber. He compiles his own list and explains exactly where the numbers come from. So, here’s a comparison of the this week’s lists:

  1. Naruto vol 48                                                                                              1.  Naruto vol 48
  2. Ouran High School Host Club vol 14                                                    2. Ouran High School Host Club vol 14
  3. Vampire Knight vol 10                                                                              3. Vampire Knight vol 10
  4. Black Butler vol 2                                                                                       4.  Hellsing vol 10
  5. Black Lagoon vol 9                                                                                    5. Maximum Ride vol 1
  6. Last Air Bender                                                                                          6. Naruto vol 47
  7. Black Butler vol 1                                                                                       7. Maximum Ride vol 2
  8. Inuyasha vol 50                                                                                          8. Bleach vol 31
  9. Soul Eater vol 3                                                                                          9. One Piece vol 54
  10. One Piece vol 54                                                                                      10. Negima! vol 26

It’s an interesting comparison when seen side by side. The top three are the same, but Maximum Ride is missing from the NYT, and Black Butler is missing from RB. Interesting exchange, but from same company. Viz still holds 6 spots, while Yen is down to 2. Adult comics still get their representation on th RB with Hellsing, but there’s no Last Air Bender. It will be interesting to continue to do these comparison and see if/how things change between them.

This Week At Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Black Butler vol 2
  • Fairy Nagivator Runa vol 1
  • Dramacon vol 3

Review: Gestalt Volume 6

Ouri and Father Olivier are together again, but they’re not about to live happily ever after quite yet. Olivier’s nemesis Ender is back, and even the deadliest dark magic may not be enough to slow him down. he’s determined to bring Olivier back to his Order and force him to face up to the crimes of his past, but Olivier himself has another plan in mind. his best chance at redemption may be hidden somewhere in the forbidden realm of G.

By Yun Kouga
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen +
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆
Buy This Book

Gestalt is an average fantasy/D&D-esque story complete with a group of adventurers that include a priest, a sorcerer, a dark elf and a knight. They are on a quest to find the realm of G. They are being chased by their nemesis and have to fight monsters along the way. It’s a very generic plot that did make it easy to jump into the series at volume 6, but doesn’t do much to make for an overly interesting story.

Fortunately, the characters make up for it. I got to like most of them. Like the plot, the characters aren’t very complex but definitely entertaining. The interactions between Ouri, the hero/heroine and Suzu the dark elf were fun. Ouri was angsty for about half of the volume, but it was a tolerable angst, since he wasn’t totally bemoaning his fate and trying to do something about it. Father Olivier is the very generic kind, gentle priest with a dark side, but I found I liked both sides, though Dark Olivier does win out slightly.

It’s mainly these three characters for two-thirds of the volume. Shazan, the knight, goes on a side quest and makes the jump suddenly in the middle of a fight between Ouri, Suzu and Dark Olivier against Ender. Shazan is searching for the Book of P and goes to a dungeon to face the Wings of Death to try to get the book. For two chapters we go through the whole story of Wings and Shazan helps the ghost Mifa to save Wings and retrieves the book. While I really enjoyed these two chapters, almost more than the main story, the transition to it and then back to the battle were not done well at all. They are very abrupt, especially interrupting a fight just as Dark Olivier comes out, and they are just as abrupt coming back, not even picking up where the battle left off, and just starting in a completely different place, with new characters just wandering in from the street (literally)! I also didn’t care for the gender-bending/BL aspect of the title. I don’t care for either and to have both thrown out at the same time, made for some less than appealing moments.

The art isn’t bad. Everyone is bishie, especially Father Olivier. Everyone, male and female has long, flowing hair, but it isn’t difficult to tell the boys from the girls, as the women are all dressed in skimpy outfits and have ample breasts. This is of course part of the fan service that this volume serves up, but it’s not as blatant as it could be, so I can take it or leave it. I did like some of the monsters. Kouga came up with some fairly cool designs for them. I especially liked Wings, with the large eyes on her head.

Overall, Gestalt is an average title. There’s nothing new in the story or characters, but they are entertaining enough to kill some time, and you won’t feel it’s been wasted. This isn’t a must have title, unless you are a fan of Kouga’s work and/or a completest.

Syfy Summer: First Look

Syfy recently premiered three of their original TV shows. Warehouse 13 and Eureka are returning series’, while Haven is new for this year. First impressions can always be important, but they can also be deceiving. Let’s look at the premieres of each of the shows and see what the season seems to have in store.

Warehouse 13 survived its freshman year to get a second season. Like most Syfy shows, last season ended with a cliffhanger of Artie being incinerated in the entrance to the warehouse. This is the first thing resolved before the actual episode starts. The resolution shouldn’t be a surprise either, as it was set up not just in the last episode of last season, but the “previously” at the beginning of this episode showed the same key scenes. This episode then proceeds to tie up a few of the loose ends from last season, including getting rid of MacPherson as the season’s arc’s villain though not without him leaving a cryptic message to Artie, and then sets up this current season’s arc and villain.

This season opener was okay. It’s nice to get some closure, and I won’t be missing MacPherson. His reasons for going rouge were never satisfactorily explained, though I think his last words are related, and hopefully we will see more about it. It also set up H.G. Wells well enough that I’m intrigued enough to keep watching to see what she has in mind. Knowing Syfy shows, this season will probably more of the same, but with some of the twists they put on history and historical figures, that might not be a bad thing. But, it will take a few more episodes to know for sure if the writers are still up to the challenge.

Eureka is the oldest of all the shows as it starts its 4th season. Eureka didn’t end on a cliffhanger this year. We had some characters leave, but no one in the main cast, the show could start off with a fresh story arc this season. The town is getting ready to celebrate Founder’s Day, but in a fluke accident that involves solar flares and a machine built by Albert Einstein, five of the characters, Carter, Allison, Jo, Henry and Fargo are transported to just before the towns founding and meet one of its founders, Dr. Trevor Grant. As usual, this little jaunt back in time changes history, but only just slightly. Mainly it seems in the lives of our five main characters. So the season will seem to concentrate on the usual strangeness of Eureka, and dealing with the new reality, as well as what to do unintended time traveler Grant.

As much as I enjoy the quirkiness of Eureka, these constant time shifts that have happened every season so far are getting tiring. The writers might think it’s cool or fun to be able to hit the Big Reset Button so they can change things and/or take characters in new and different directions, but to me it just feels like cheating. It’s the waking up and finding Patrick Ewing in the shower, Or finding Jean Grey coccooned at the bottom of the ocean. Any character development that was shown in the last season can just be wiped away in favor of a new version. You can’t have any real character development this way, since you can’t trust what you saw last season will be true for next. They should stop calling this show Eureka, and change it to “Multiverse”, because it seems the writers are more interested in seeing what could be instead of what is. I’ll still the show this season, but my hopes aren’t up so high.

Haven is the freshman series this year. It is loosely based on the Stephen King novel “The Colorado Kid”. FBI Agent Audrey Parker is sent to Haven, Maine to find a federal criminal that on the loose. Haven is his hometown. The criminal is found dead, but there are mysterious circumstances around his death that Audrey stays to investigate with Detective Nathan Wuornos and finds a supernatural reason behind it. During the investigation, Audrey is shown a picture from the towns past that may connect her to it, giving her reason to stay awhile.

On the whole, I enjoyed this first episode the most. It’s not without its problems of course. It has some plot holes that might make you shake your head, such as Audrey’s matter-of-fact reaction to a woman who can control the weather, but for a series with supernatural overtones, you do need to allow for some suspension of disbelief. Hopefully not too much though. The plot of this episode was very basic, but it’s purpose was more to establish characters and the town than solve a crime, so it gets a pass this time. Speaking of the characters, I liked are main characters right off the bat. Audrey and Nathan have a good rapport, and the supporting characters of the local paper reporters and Duke, Nathan’s arch nemesis it seems, add some humor to balance against the drama. So for the moment, the good outweighs the bad in this series, and it’s one I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of.

Review: Black Butler Volume 1

Just a stone’s throw from London lies the manor house of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom and its master, one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria’s faithful servant…and a slip of a twelve-year-old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler, Sebastian, is ever at his side, ready to carry out the young master’s wishes. And whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London’s underbelly, there apparently is nothing Sebastian cannot do. In fact, one might even say Sebastian is too good to be true…or at least, too good to be human…

By Yana Toboso
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy This Book

Black Butler had a strong fanbase on the internet before it was licensed by Yen Press, and a reading of the first chapter makes it easy to see why. Well developed characters, good humor punctuated by moments of drama, and an intriguing story draws you into Black Butler’s world, so that you are eager to stay.

The focus of this title is on Ciel Phantomhive, the 12-year-old Earl and his butler, Sebastian Michaelis.  Ciel is cool and aloof with a touch of smugness in his attitude, especially when dealing with adults. Even though he tries to act older, he is still a child, and would prefer to play games instead of studying. He is also not at all interested in girls, especially his betrothed, Elizabeth. As heir of the Phantomhive estate, he is not only Earl, but also the head of Funtom Corp, the biggest maker of toys and candy in Britain. It’s little surprise that the company has been booming since he took over. Sebastian comes off as very laid back. Not a slacker, just someone who doesn’t let anything get to him. He’s very efficient and takes his job as butler to the Phantomhive family very seriously. He sees to Ciel’s welfare, education, and when needed acts as a bodyguard. And he always wears a smile, that can seem warm, or smug, or even demonic.

Ciel and Sebastian play off each very well. Like a child testing the boundaries of a parent, Ciel likes to play with Sebastian, such as searching the ends of the earth to find someone who can defeat him in combat, or having him drink some poorly made lemonade. By the same token, Sebastian seems to enjoy needling Ciel a little, such as reminding him of the studying he would do if he won said combat, which of course, he does. But there is so much more to their relationship than just trading barbs. Sebastian sometimes acts the parent, as he teaches Ciel to dance properly, and Ciel does crave that attention, as when he asks Sebastian to stay with him until he is asleep. There is an underlying sadness to Ciel that we only get glimpses of, that is most likely related to the lost of his parents, even though it’s never mentioned. Later we learn that there is more to their relationship, and both are just their playing parts, like in some play. At least Sebastian is. For Ciel, despite what he knows about Sebastian, there may be some real feelings there.

While there are comedic moments between Ciel and Sebastian, it’s the staff of the manor that play up the laughs. They have no other job than comedy. They certainly can’t do what they were hired to do. Finnian is the gardener with a brown thumb. Mey-Rin is the clumsy housemaid. Baldroy is the Chef that can’t cook and Tanaka is the House Stewart who does nothing but drink tea all day. They mess up everything, and Sebastian then gets to come in and magically fix everything. Of course, none of them are too bright either, so don’t really notice that a lot of the things Sebastian does isn’t humanly possible.

Black Butler is just plain fun to read. It’s setting in the steampunk-ish world of 19th century England where there are video games, cell phones and cars allows for all the trappings of the 21st century in the Victorian era and attire. Toboso drops several intriguing hints throughout this introduction volume. Sebastian himself is a mystery as is how he came into Ciel’s service. But there is so much than that. What happened to Ciel’s family/parents? What is the “Covenant” between Ciel and Sebastian, and are the two events related? And what is the role of the Phantomhive as “watchdogs for the Queen”? That brings to mind elements of Hellsing another excellent, though not as pretty, title.

The art of Black Butler brings to mind Kaori Yuki, creator of The Cain Saga and Godchild. It may be that both have Victorian settings and bishonen leads, but I mean the comparison in a good way. I really enjoy Yuki’s work, so that made enjoying Toboso’s even easier. Sebastian’s shaggy mane works perfectly with the butler uniform, and Ciel’s eye patch, which changes with his outfit adds a sense of mystery to his already cute form.

Overall, this first volume of Black Butler is an excellent start to the series. It introduces all the pertinent characters and gives glimpses of what they can do, and some of what they are dealing with. It’s spent 19 weeks (as of this writing) on the NYT best seller list, several of those weeks at number 1, and is deserving of doing so. This is a volume to be read and re-read.

Beginning of the End

The twelfth episode of the fifth series of Doctor Who, “The Pandorica Opens” is not only the penultimate episode, it also seems to portent the end of the universe as well. It all seems pretty grim as the truth behind the cracks in the universe is revealed, and our heroes are left in dire situations with no apparent way out. It’s a cliffhanger reminiscent of the classic series. But like many of the episodes in this series, it ends up being rather uneven in its consistency.

The episode starts with Van Gough in another depression after having just painted a picture that we can’t see. Jump 50 years to World War II and Professor Bracewell, who is talking to Churchill about the same painting. This prompts a call to the Doctor, but gets routed instead to River Song, who is once again in prison. She escapes and goes to the Spaceship Britain to retrieve the painting, but not before running into Liz X. Then it’s another improbably message from River to the Doctor that sends him and Amy back to Earth, England, circa 102 AD to search for the legendary Pandorica.

It doesn’t take long for the Pandorica to be found. Considering where they are, it’s not too surprising where it’s found either. Stonehenge has been everything from a map of ancient sites, or a machine of the apocalypse, so it can’t be too surprising have a giant mythic box under it. The majority of the episode is taken up with the mystery of the Pandorica. The Doctor recounts the legends of who is supposed to be inside,and it turns out to have a connection to Amy (again), as she states the myth of Pandora’s Box was a favorite of hers. Moffat pulls off another twist though, as it becomes not an issue of who is inside, but who is going inside. If you listen to the Doctor’s description of who’s supposed to be inside, it not that much of a surprise. Though I like my interpretation. In the myth, Pandora’s box was closed before hope could escape, therefore, despite all the other problems, humanity would always have hope.

The Pandorica’s opening also attracts a lot of unwanted visitors, as Earth’s skies are filled with spaceships belonging to many of the Doctor’s enemies. He gives a “you don’t want to mess with me” speech, filled again with all the arrogance that only the Doctor can espouse and get away with. And it seems he does again too, but we finally see this arrogance become his downfall. He lets his guard down and falls right into his enemies trap. I had a real problem with the scene with the enemies. Every race in the universe does not have the ability to time travel like the Doctor. The Daleks do, yes, but the Sontarans, Cybermen (from alternate universe) and Nestene do not. And what were the Silurians doing there? That clan won’t have a beef with the Doctor until 2020, so what are they doing in 101 BC? They are advanced, but not that advanced, otherwise they wouldn’t need to be in suspended animation. It was a cool concept, to have the Doctor walked past his enemies, but it just wasn’t realistic. And the Daleks working together, with anyone without their own agenda? Doesn’t happen, period.

This episode brings up a lot more questions than it answers. Why Amy? Why her wall? Why her memories? Why is the TARDIS going to explode? Absolutely nothing is done to explain, or even explore why the TARDIS might be unstable or on the verge of exploding. We see the TARDIS having problems here and there throughout the series, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the old girl. She’s always had her eccentricities, just like the Doctor. But I really think if something was really wrong with her, the Doctor could have and should have noticed. He is psychically linked with the TARDIS. It’s not just a space ship, and especially not to him. That’s what makes the scene when she takes River back to Amy’s house so troubling. A voice is heard again saying “Silence will fall”, just before the console monitor cracks. But what does that really mean? Is it the silence at the end of the universe? Or is it something else? And who or what could affect the TARDIS like that, or worse, make her explode?

As cliffhangers go, this one is a good one. A character from previous episodes returns, and there are some good shocks. Amy being menaced by the damaged Cyberman was especially good, and the final scene before the credits was visually stunning if not disheartening. You really wonder after that, how can there be an episode thirteen? Moffat will need to pull some really big rabbits from his hat to tie this up into a happy ending and/or lead in to the Christmas Special.

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