Eagle: The 2008 Election Edition Volume 5

Eagle v5Eagle: The Making Of An American President Volume 5
By Kaiji Kawaguchi
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Political Drama
Age Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Price: $22.95
Rating: ★★★★★

The final volume of this series starts out with Yamaoka and his team trying to find a way to turn the leaders of the World Machinists and Aerospace Union into his supporters. The President of the Union, Michael Kozlov, has a chip on his shoulder about Yamaoka, and any other immigrant who had it “easy”, and is determined to back the Republican Grant. By playing Kozlov against the Union Secretary Zamal, both men break the other with secrets they had been keeping, and in the end, Yamaoka is able to win another supporter in Kozlov and in turn, the Union. Then, the series finally turns to the great white elephant in the room. Racism. With Yamaoka winning so much support, the question starts to turn if a non-white can really become president. All the kooks come out, such as neo-nazis, rallying against Yamaoka, and violence breaks out in the south, which culminates in not one, but two assassination attempts on Yamaoka, neither of which succeed, and ends with Yamaoka winning more widespread support.

Continue reading Eagle: The 2008 Election Edition Volume 5

Manga Drive By: Shonen Jump January 2010

85_largeThis month’s Shonen Jump, January 2010 marks a lot of changes for the manga magazine.  Yu Yu Hakusho, one of the few remaining titles from the magazine’s launch (One Piece is the only other one left), finishes it’s 7 year run.  It was quite a ride, and I will miss Yusuke and friends, but not all that much.  Yu Yu Hakusho has become a typical fighting manga with characters I lost interest in.  I was glad to see none of the big demons won in the last tournament, but in the end I was just “meh” about it.   The series ends with a whimper instead of a bang.  The last few chapters were actually kind of a let down and really pointless (IMHO).  It seemed like they were just thrown together to tie up loose ends.

Continue reading Manga Drive By: Shonen Jump January 2010

This Week In Manga 11/28-12/4/09

Yu* Must Go

The January 2010 issue of Shonen Jump USA marks another change in the magazine.  Yu Yu Hakusho, one of the first 5 titles to debut with the magazine ends in this issue.  This makes it the only other title from the debut line up to complete it’s full run.  Sandland, a single volume title by Akira Toriyama was the other.  Yu-Gi-Oh GX “graduates” from SJ this month as well, going graphic novel only now.  So much for “there’ll always be a Yu-Gi-Oh title in Shonen Jump.”  And of course, the long awaited One Piece jump starts in this issue. I haven’t cared for some of the changes to SJ in the past, but a natural end like Yu Yu Hakusho is the way it should be.

Continue reading This Week In Manga 11/28-12/4/09

Ask Manga Mom: The Library Edition

Gareth writes:

Hi, I am a library assistant from the UK (Liverpool), and I would be very happy if you could answer a quick question for me.

I had a couple of ten-year olds playing in the library yesterday, and one of them, a young girl, said she only reads comics. My question is, is all ages Manga suitable for a 10-year-old, or if not could you perhaps recommend some graphic novels and comics for 10 year olds.

Having read the recent Carol L. Tilley study finding that comics have no disadvantage compared to traditional prose, I am really keen to develop Manga and graphic novel resources especially for younger children.

Continue reading Ask Manga Mom: The Library Edition

20th Century Boys Volumes 1-5

In the last years of the 20th century, a cult has been growing in power and popularity, led by a mysterious man known only as “Friend”  This has little bearing on convenience store owner Kenji, until a childhood friend of his seemingly commits suicide.  A closer look into it reveals that there may have been more to it, and it could have something to do with the cult.  As Kenji looks further in, he finds that the cult and it’s leader is following a story he and his friends wrote when they were just kids, about an evil power trying to take over the world and the heroes who stop them.  Kenji decides to try and stop The Friends with only the help of his childhood friends.

By Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

[May contain spoilers]

20th Century Boys is a mystery/thriller story, something of a specialty for it’s creator, Naoki Urasawa.  The story spans 45 years, from 1969 to 2014.  These first five volumes cover mostly the 1969-1997-1999, and only touch on 2014 at the end of the fifth.  The story isn’t told linearly.  It jumps from 1969 to 1997 and all around 1997 to 1999.  The scenes in 1969 sow the seeds of the story, telling the beginning.  In 1997, the Friend’s plot is uncovered and this is where the investigation starts.  1999 becomes the race to stop The Friends, but is far from the end of the story, as the sudden jump 15 years to 2014 shows.

The story starts out strong.  It introduces the characters as they were kids, in 1969.  We see what they were like, what they did, and how their friendships were made.  In the 1997 present, we see how their lives turned out.  Most, like Kenji, didn’t get to live out their dreams.  They married, took salary-man jobs or took over family businesses.  While the characters are being established, clues about the mystery are starting to be dropped.  Everything we see in the 1969 scenes have some bearing on the clues dropped in 1997.  Kenji and his friends built a clubhouse in an overgrown grassy field where they could listen to the radio and read manga.  While hanging out there, they created the story, The Book of Prophecy, that starts to come true in 1997.

The first three volumes is spent building up the mystery of the Friends and their connection to Kenji and their childhood.  An elementary school reunion gets the ball rolling, and one person’s memory sparks another and another as they begin to piece everything together.  They become a rag-tag group of heroes fighting against a huge, evil organization bent on world domination.  Just like in their story.  It’s easy to get behind Kenji and his group, the underdogs fighting for right.

It was in volume 4 that I started to have a problem with this series.  The time jumping narrows greatly to between 1997 and 1999.  It becomes very difficult to keep these time jumps apart, and left me scratching my head, and having to go back and re-read sections to figure out what was going on.  A mystery is about pitting your wits against the author, not fighting to just read the story in the first place.  This really pulled me out of the trance their first three volumes had cast on me.  I became less engaged with the characters that I had really started to like.  It was a big let down.

Volume 5 didn’t do anything to improve this.  It’s 1999 now, and Kenji and his group, now branded terrorists, go to fight against the terror they have seen coming for the last 3 years, but are still unprepared for.  As they race away into the night, the story suddenly cuts to 2014.  We never hear any details of what happened, but enough clues are dropped that it probably didn’t go well.  Even as I read the last half, I still spent a lot time wondering “What happened?”  While this and other questions should have kept me enthralled and dying to read more, it didn’t really.  It actually left me more frustrated, and not in a good way.  I’m curious, but not that I’m counting down the days to the next volume.

Urasawa has quite an ability to start a story, and build up the mystery.  He drops hints judiciously, leaving clues for the readers to connect in the next chapter, volume or even several volumes later.  A few chapters in volume 2 that seemed to have little relevance suddenly take on a whole new light in volume 5.  He is also very good at misleading the reader.  One scene that is seen several time throughout  these five volumes takes on a completely different meaning at the end of volume 5 than you would think from seeing it in volume 1.  I was impressed with that.  It was a great turnaround.  But volumes 4 and 5 lost the momentum that volumes 1-3 built up for me.  I’m not quite as excited as I was to read this title.  I’m still intrigued by the mystery, and I do want to know what happened and what’s to come.  There are still 17 more volumes in this series, so I expect a lot more twists and turns.  But I don’t know if it can regain the momentum it had at the beginning.

This Week in Manga 11/21-11/27/09

Pop Japan Tours – The Artists Editon

Deb Aoki of About.com:Manga blog went to Japan through Pop Japan Tours with several other artists to participate in Comitia and do the tourist thing.  They put together an anthology called Journeys to sell there.  Deb has chronicled two of the days so far with photo galleries and more days to come.  Check out her extensive posts for that “living vicariously” feeling!

Continue reading This Week in Manga 11/21-11/27/09

Another Year Has Come and Gone

PresentsIt’s hard to believe, but this week marks Manga Xanadu’s second anniversary.  I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my posts from the last year.  I set myself a schedule of 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday & Friday, and with the addition of the This Week In Manga, one on the weekends, and have actually kept with it!  I’m rather proud of that.  It can be hard to be consistent, especially with RL and other commitments.  But, I’ve done my best and I hope you’ve been able to take away something from all my random ranting.

Over the past year, I think I’ve fallen behind on reviews for this site, concentrating on more commentary.  E-books and related technology have gotten a lot of coverage and remain among my most popular hits from search engines.  I will continue to cover this ever-evolving topic.  There is a definite future in e-books, one we shouldn’t ignore.  Searches for All Ages books have also remained high on the list.  Hopefully more teachers, librarians and parents are looking at manga as another avenue to get kids reading.  Manga is still misunderstood, and people still need to be educated about it.  Libraries have been under fire, especially in the last few months.  They need our support, and I am more than happy to give them any and all I can.

There have been some changes to the site, though no major overhauls.  I’ve started to add more personal things to the site, with my personal twitter feed and my other hobby, cross-stitch.  I may be adding some non-manga reviews int he future as my reading of audio books expands, as does my desire to share the good ones.

I’ve been keeping up with my other projects, Manga Village and Good Comics for Kids, surprisingly.  But it helps to work with a great group of people, which I do at both.  Having gotten into a good groove, I hope to continue with it, and that you’ll continue with me.

2009 Manga Gift Guide

After the NYT posted a graphic novel gift list now with manga on it, David Welsh sent out a call to action on Twitter, for manga gift guides.  This is my response to that call.   I’ve decided to put together a manga gift guide for 10 different possible types of people in your life.  I really could have kept going with this list.  There are so many good titles to recommend, but I’ll leave those to my fellow bloggers who also answered the call.

Continue reading 2009 Manga Gift Guide

Review: 07-Ghost Volume 2

07-Ghost Volume 2
By Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara
Publisher: Go! Comi
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

Teito Klein, inheritor of the Eye of Mikhail, has found refuge from the military in the Sanctuary of the Barsburg Church.  But dark forces are conspiring to return Teito to the ruthless hands of Chief Ayanami, the manga who killed his father, when Teito’s best and only friend arrives at the church under suspicious circumstances, Teito warmly embraces him, only to discover to his horror that Mikage has been turned into a tool of the military, and is bent on capturing Teito – even if it means his own destruction.

The story continues to move along as a steady trot in this second volume of 07-Ghost.  Teito must deal with tragedy again, one that could easily break him, but with Frau and Castor’s help, he is able to find the strength to go on.  This volume introduces some new characters, while increasing the danger to Teito in his supposed sanctuary.

Continue reading Review: 07-Ghost Volume 2

This Week in Manga 11/14-11/20/09

No Manga Love from the New York Times…Again

This week the New York Times released their holiday gift guide for graphic novels, and it should come as no surprise to anything that follows the NYT’s blog that manga doesn’t get any love from the writers in charge.  This list was no different.  David Welsh of the Precious Curmudgeon blog decided to take matters into his own hands.  He announced on Twitter that he would be doing his own holiday gift guide for manga, and invited other manga bloggers to join him.  Watch for David’s list on Thanksgiving, and other lists from Kuriostiy, Okazu and Manga Bookshelf blogs next week just to name a few.

Continue reading This Week in Manga 11/14-11/20/09

Manga News, Reviews and Commentary