Archive for Manga

Manga Review: Chi’s Sweet Home (vol. 1)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Konami Kanata’s Chi’s Sweet Home is a story about as simple as a story can be. When a gray-striped kitten is separated from his mother, he is discovered by a family with a young son, Yohei. The problem is that Yohei’s family lives in an apartment complex that doesn’t allow pets, so they secretly keep the kitty around as they search for a permanent home for her. But after a while, Yohei, mama, and papa eventually grow attached to the kitten, and they even name her Chi. It becomes obvious that they are never going to give away the kitty as she has quickly become a part of their happy household.

It is no secret that I love Chi, and it certainly ranks up there as one of my all time favorite series. I already own most of the comics in Japanese, and the anime earned the #2 position on my Top Anime of 2009 list last year. So I am expecting a lot out of this title when Vertical releases it later this month. In fact, I have never anticipated a comic’s English release more than I have with Chi’s Sweet Home.

And so I am thrilled to report that Vertical’s release is very, very well done.


Manga Review: My Darling, Miss Bancho! (vol. 1)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

In order to relieve her recently divorced mother of tuition cost, the young Souka decides to transfer from a private high school to the local vocational school. However, when she shows up to her first day of classes, she is shocked to find out that she is the only girl enrolled there!

There’s a reason why all the girls had dropped out of this tech school. The boys are very tough and fights often break out between the different classes. But amid all this chaos, there is one unwritten law that all the boys abide by, and that is the role of the bancho, or gang leader. Simply put, there is one bancho who rules over the entire student body, and in order to dethrone the leader and take his place at the top of this pecking order, you must knock the crap out of him in a fight.

Needless to say, the poor innocent Souka wants nothing to do with the feuding between the classes or power struggle of the bancho. However, because she is the only girl in school, all of the boys go out of their way to make her feel warm and welcomed. So she decides to stick around the school and eventually becomes friends with the cool Katou-kun. But one day, she accidentally knocks out the school’s current bancho, which means that she takes over as the new gang leader. Can the sweet girl actually rule over this student body of thugs and riffraffs?

My Darling, Miss Bancho is the first (and so far only) comic by shojo artist Mayu Fujikata. While her inexperience is evident on every page of this volume, it ultimately ends up being her greatest strength as CMX Manga releases another winner in this shojo title.


Manga Review: Stolen Hearts (vol. 1)

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Measuring in at well over six feet tall, 17-year-old Miharu is one intimidating dude. In fact, his entire high school class is absolutely afraid of him. So when the shy Shinobu accidentally spills milk on his bag of expensive Japanese clothing, she figured that her life was all but done for.

But rather than beating the life out of the girl, Miharu demands that Shinobu works off her debt to him by taking up a part time job at his grandmother’s kimono shop. And as the two work together passing out flyers for the shop, Shinobu begins to realize that Miharu isn’t actually as mean and intimidating as he looks. In fact, he’s actually quite a sweetheart.

Stolen Hearts is the American debut of shojo artist Miku Sakamoto, whose Nadeshiko Club will also be coming out later this year from CMX. While the art might seem like a bit of a turn off, Sakamoto fully redeems herself with one of the sweetest and most heartwarming romantic comedies I’ve ever read in manga form.


Manga Review: The World I Create

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

In order to be a “Projectionist,” you must be able to create worlds and objects using only your imagination and a magical lantern. It is a unique talent that very few possess, but those that can do it well can become famous and make a fortune out of “projecting” in front of a paying audience.

But you gotta learn how to do it first, so students hone their craft in the Projectionist Department at their regular high schools. The World I Create is a series of short stories about these type of magical high school students. They find love and friendship with each other while still trying their best to make the grade and pass their classes.

The World I Create is a one-volume shonen title out of the CMX / Flex Comic partnership, and it is the first work of artist Ayami Kazayama to be released here in America. And while one might be expecting a whimsical tale about the magic of these projections, all we get is a sappy and overly-generic romantic snoozer instead.


Manga Review: King of RPGs (vol. 1)

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I might call my blog “The Anime Almanac”, but it is not really an almanac, an extensive reference book of general anime information. Such a thing does not really exists in written form, at least not in English. But there actually exists a manga almanac that came out late in 2007. Jason Thompson and a group of manga enthusiasts put together Manga: The Complete Guide, a book containing reviews and information about every single manga series ever released in America at that time. It is one of the most impressive books to have ever hit the American manga industry.

So now the man who (literally) wrote the book on manga in America is entering the genre himself with King of RPGs, the brand new OEL series that Del Rey will be releasing this month.

Shesh loves his MMORPGs. I mean, he really loves his MMORPGs, like dangerously loves them. And after a seven day marathon of “World of Warfare” left him hospitalized with months of therapy, he was forced to give up on his obsession cold turkey.

But on his first day after moving into his college dorm, he and his pal Mike are coaxed into giving tabletop role playing a shot in the school’s gaming club. But after a few rolls of the die, all of those old feelings begin coming back to Shesh. Before you know it, he has turned back into the King of RPGs, an unstoppable (and potentially dangerous) force in all of gaming.

Although I have been around a ton of geeks who play RPGs, I have never gotten into role playing culture myself. I’ve never roll the die in Dungeons & Dragons, played my deck in Magic the Gathering, or do… whatever the hell you do in those Munchkin games.

But that didn’t stop me from absolutely loving this comic.


Manga Review: Only One Wish (vol. 1)

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Rumor has it that when you send a text message to a certain email address, a dark angel will appear and grant you one wish. Only One Wish is a series of short stories about young girls who email the dark angel and then get their wish granted. Their wishes range from hooking up with a cute guy, to seeking revenge on someone they don’t like, to even bringing the dead back to life. But like most stories of this kind, the girls learn very quickly that the wish does not turn out quite as planned.

Only One Wish comes from Mia Ikumi, the artist behind the popular Tokyo Mew Mew magical girl series. But like Mew Mew, this series suffers from some serious issues that prevents it from being enjoyable.


Manga Review: Yokaiden (vol. 2)

Friday, December 4th, 2009

I normally have a policy with this blog to only review the first volume of any manga or anime I receive from the companies. The reason for this is mostly because I don’t want to repeat the same rhetoric for a particular series volume after volume. But I also do this so that I don’t end up reading a later volume of a series without ever reading a previous volume. That way, if I don’t like the series, no one can give me “well, that’s because you didn’t read the first part” as an excuse.

So when Del Rey sent me the second volume of Yokaiden for review, I faced a dilemma. The buzz over this title and its artist, Nina Matsumoto, had been extremely high, so I was really interested in checking it out.

Web comic artist Matsumoto practically exploded on to the scene when a manga-style drawing she did of the Simpsons made its way around the internets. She landed two key gigs from this drawing. The first was for the official Simpsons comic book where she penned a “Treehouse of Terror” special that parodied Death Note with Simpsons characters. The story, “Murder, He Wrote,” won her a coveted Einser award at the last San Diego Comic Con, which is quite impressive for a 24-year-old during her first year as a professional artist.

The other gig she got from the internet exposure was this OEL series from Del Rey, which too has received very high reviews from the manga community when the first volume came out last year. So I decided to give in to the hype and dive into the second volume from this award-winning artist. After all, I did the same thing when I reviewed Black Jack vol. 5 earlier this year without reading the earlier volumes, and I still enjoyed that series.

But unfortunately, it just didn’t work out that way for me this time. I just couldn’t get into Yokaiden no matter how much I wanted to.


Manga Review: The Lizard Prince (vol. 1)

Monday, November 16th, 2009

The Lizard Prince tells the story of Canary, a young princess who has been betrothed to Heath, the prince of a nearby kingdom. But Heath is a real jerk, and he has no desire to wed the girl. So he conjures up a plan to mess with the girl’s head. Heath has a pet talking lizard. With a little bit of magic, he switches bodies with the reptile and then forces his pet to go on a date with the girl in his place.

But it turns out that the lizard was quite the gentlemen, and Canary ends up falling head over heels for him on their first date. The prince is royally pissed that his mean plan did not work out, so he decides to take matters in his own hands and expose the princess to what was really happening. How will Canary react when she finds out her true love was really a lizard?

This is CMX’s second shojo release from Asuka Izumi after her manga adaptation of Ballad of a Shinigami last June. When I reviewed that title, I really enjoyed her storytelling and her surprising conclusions, so I am happy to report that she hits yet another home run with this fairy tale story.


Anime Review: Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Based off of the classic arcade game from Bandai-Namco, Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk is the tale of wannabe hero Jil. Sixty years after the Tower of Druaga was defeated, it has once again returned to the Uruk Kingdom. But fortunately for the people of Uruk, the Summer of Anu approaches, which subdues the monsters living in the tower enough to give the villagers a fighting chance to enter and climb its many levels.

While most of the folks who venture into the tower merely wish to take the treasure hidden within it, Jil has much bigger plans in mind. He wants to reach the top level and beat the evil Druaga himself. But his first guild fires him after he nearly gets them all killed in the lower levels. So he gathers another colorful band of warriors, mages, and other characters you’d expect from a typical fantasy story, and ventures on into battle.

If you remember a few weeks ago, I reviewed Blassreiter, one of the first anime series legally simulcasted on the internet while airing on Japanese TV 20 months ago. Well, Druaga was the other simulcast that aired that season, and just like Blassreiter, I absolutely loved watching this series on a 2-disc DVD box set from FUNimation.


Manga Review: The Ghost in the Shell

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Watch out, America, there’s a new manga company in town.

Kodansha is the largest publisher in Japan and puts out some of the country’s most popular manga magazines like Morning, Nakayoshi, and Weekly Shonen Magazine.

They shook up the American manga industry five years ago by going into an exclusive partnership with Random House to create Del Rey Manga. Thanks to Kodansha’s amazing catalog of works from artists like CLAMP and Ken Akamatsu, Del Rey entered the market with a bang, and is now considered to be the second largest manga publisher in America.

But over a year ago, rumors began circulating that Kodansha was going to be setting up their own manga division in America that would run separately from Del Rey. Personally, I’m cautious whenever something like this happens. When Toei Animation and Bandai Visual decided to bypass their American partners and enter into the domestic anime market themselves, it was disastrous. So, I was worried that a “Kodansha USA” would meet a similar fate in the manga world.

Well, the rumors turned out to be true, and the new domestic manga publisher, now officially called Kodansha Comics, released their first two manga volumes last month. They were Akira and The Ghost in the Shell, both originally released in America by Dark Horse Comics many years ago.

So considering that I have no idea who is running the new company or if they even had a PR department, you can imagine my surprise to see these two books magically arrive in my mailbox last week for review. And being that I’ve never read either of these series from Dark Horse in the past, I decided to see what this new publisher was all about with their first volume of The Ghost in the Shell manga by Masamune Shirow.