Archive for Reviews

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.


Anime Review: RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Rin Asogi and her partner, Mimi, run a “consulting firm” in Shinjuku. It is all just a front, of course, as the two girls are actually private investigators who specialize in the dark and paranormal. While pursuing a missing cat, Rin runs into Kouki, a mysterious man with his memory erased. But when she decides to take on Kouki’s case of missing identity, she goes down a deep dark hole of a major conspiracy, and eventually she ends up dismembered into a bloody mess.

But there’s a catch. Rin and Mimi are actually immortal, so no matter how many times Rin is gunned down or dismembered, she sprouts right back to life. So sets up RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~, an epic 6-episode OVA* thriller spanning over 65 years and multiple generations.

And it is the first “must watch” anime series of 2010.


Anime Review: Linebarrels of Iron (Part 1)

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Middle schooler Kouichi Hayase has always wanted to be a hero, an “ally of justice” as he likes to go around saying. Well, his wish comes true when a naked girl,Emi Kizaki, suddenly comes crashing down on him, killing the boy instantly. Emi has no choice but to revive the boy by infusing him to Linebarrel, a big ass battle mech.

Now with the power to call on Linebarrel and pilot the machine, Kouichi becomes of interest to JUDA, a weapons manufacturer working with the United Nations to fight off a global mysterious alien threat. But after Kouichi joins JUDA, he quickly finds out the truth behind their enemy, and how closely these aliens are connected to Linebarrel and Emi.

When I announced that I would be reviewing Linebarrels of Iron over Twitter, I could hear the collective groans of everyone following me. Clearly this was not a very popular series. So while I did not particularly find it to be the worst thing I have ever seen, it sure did not win me over in these first 13 episode.


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.


Movie review: ICHI

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Riffing off of the legendary story of the blind samurai, ICHI portrays a female (Haruka Ayase) in the title role as the ronin warrior wandering from village to village in search of her former master. Along the way, she encounters bumbling bodyguard Banki (Shido Nakamura, voice of Death Note‘s Ryuuk), who takes credit for taking out a gang of men slain by the blind female samurai. But when Banki takes a job protecting a wealthy family from a rival gang, it may just lead the wandering girl to the man she has been searching for.

I think that ICHI is facing an identity crisis as to what type of film its supposed to be and just who FUNimation thinks it is going to appeal to.

But whatever it is trying to be, it really does not do it well.


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.


Anime Review: Spice and Wolf

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Set in a fictionalized old European world, Spice and Wolf tells the story of Holo, a pagan wolf goddess who has helped a small village harvest a plentiful wheat crop year after year. But the townsfolk started to get tired of the goddess and accuse her of slacking off, so she escapes from the fields and stows away on the cart of a traveling merchant named Lawrence.

Upon discovering the fox girl sleeping buck naked in his cart, Lawrence offers her a job as his partner in trade. The two begin traveling from village to village peddling goods. Holo keeps her identity hidden from others while Lawrence teaches her his craft. All the while they must deal with rival merchants, currency conversions, dangerous animals, and that blasted Christian church!

I think it’s safe to say that the hype around Spice and Wolf has been pretty big lately, especially since Yen Press just released the light novel this series was based off of. But after seeing all 13 episodes of the first anime series, I really found it hard to see what all the hype has been about.


Anime Review: El Cazador de la Bruja

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Set in a wild west Mexican world, El Cazador de la Bruja tells the story of Nadie, a feisty, scantily-clad female bounty hunter who is a pro with a pistol. She ends up with more than she bargains for when she pursues Ellis, a timid little girl with a bounty on her head. After discovering that innocent Ellis has no memory of her past, and that she has super telekinetic powers, Nadie takes a sisterly liking to the girl. She gives up her pursuit for the bounty, and the two begin an epic adventure down south to find out the truth about Ellis and her mysterious powers.

El Cazador is the final entry into the “Girls with Guns” trilogy of anime series from studio Bee Train, right after Noir and Madlax. I have never seen Madlax, but Noir was one of my favorite series when I first got into anime many years ago.

With FUNimation releasing both halves of El Cazador (Part 1 and Part 2) on the same day this week, I got a chance to marathon the entire series last weekend. While I was initially disappointed that this wild west incarnation of Noir didn’t live up to the greatness of its predecessor, it eventually won me over as being a great series on its own merits.


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.


Anime Review: Bamboo Blade (Part 1)

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Toraji Ishida is a bad high school kendo instructor with practically no money in his bank account. One day he is shooting the breeze with an old pal / former teammate of his, and they issue a challenge to each other. Since they both went on to become high school kendo instructors, why don’t they relive their days of competitive glory with their two teams going at it? If Toraji’s team wins, he gets a lifetime supply of sushi, which would be the perfect solution to his little financial crisis.

There’s just one slight problem with the bet – Toraji’s team is so pathetic that there is only one active member still left on it!

So he sets off to recruit a team of new freshmen to revitalize the club and win that precious all-you-can-eat sushi prize. Among his finds is Tamaki Kawazoe, a soft-spoken shy girl who is a phenomenal kendo player. Now with this star fighter on his team, does Toraji finally have a competent kendo lineup?

On the outside, Bamboo Blade looks like your typical moé fluff anime series, complete with a harem of highly characterize pretty girls, a weak female lead, and silly comedic antics. But if you actually take the time to watch it, you’d see that this is actually a wonderfully written series with some fine voice acting.