Anime Online - Reviews, Community, Series, Wallpapers en-us Sun, 19 Apr 2015 15:15:03 +0000 PhotoPost ReviewPost 5.2 60 D Gray Man Fri, 18 May 2012 06:32:25 +0000 <a href=""><img title="dgray-man-939065.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="dgray-man-939065.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: vkitty<br /><br />Description: D.Gray-man follows the adventures of 15-year-old Allen Walker, whose left arm can transform into a monstrous claw and destroy akuma, evolving machines created by the Millennium Earl to help him destroy humanity. As ordered by his master General Cross Marian, Allen becomes an Exorcist, people who can destroy akuma, for the Black Order, an organization attempting to stop the Earl. He becomes a powerful asset for the Order because he can detect disguised akuma with his left eye. Allen is sent to recover pieces of Innocence, a substance that gives certain people, called Exorcists, the ability to destroy akuma. The Earl decides to call together the Noah Family, superhuman descendants of Noah who can destroy Innocence. Both sides start the search for the Great Heart, the most powerful piece of Innocence that will assure victory to the side that finds it. 2nd Chance - James Patterson Sat, 08 Aug 2009 23:04:54 +0000 <a href=""><img border="0" src="" alt="" /></a><br /><br />by: jazzy2103<br /><br />Description: The plot: A children's choir exited a church, innocently enough they streamed onto the street,&quot;then came the gunfire.Lots of it.Not just a single shot.A strafing.An Attack.&quot;The first in a series of racially determined attacks,everyone in the choir survived but for one ten year old Tasha who was shot from an impossible angle with incredible accuracy. Having recently solved the biggest case San Francisco may have ever seen,Lindsay arrives on the scene.Can she solved this case like she did before?One thing's for sure,she will have to face her past,protect her loved ones and see through the killer's clues to survive this one. A shocking twist to be expected. Cromartie High School Tue, 10 Mar 2009 20:32:55 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Cromartie_High_School_1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Cromartie_High_School_1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: majorMotoko<br /><br />Description: Takashi Kamiyama finds himself in Cromartie high school trying to prove the point that with the will to study and learn it is possible to do it anywhere. Little did he know that Cromartie wasn't just a high school full of thugs and punks trying to prove who's the baddest of them all but of gorillas with above normal intelligence, robots that believe they are humans and a Freddie Mercury look alike that rides a horse to school. If that wasn't enough Takashi finds himself in the middle of all kinds of strange scenarios that always end more confusing than they began. Eiji randomly adds extras about the characters through out the manga which is nice because you get why they are the way they are.He also adds little things about himself at the end of each volume which I've never seen any manga author do. Loveless Sun, 19 Oct 2008 23:26:17 +0000 <a href=""><img title="LOVELESS_2B_2Bimg024.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="LOVELESS_2B_2Bimg024.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Akura13<br /><br />Description: When 12-year-old Ritsuka discovers a posthumous message from his brother Seimei indicating he was murdered, he becomes involved in a shadowy world of of spell battles and secret names. Together with the mysterious Soubi, the search to find Seimei's killer and uncover the truth begins! But in a world where mere words have unbelievable power, how can you find true friendship and hapiness when your very name is Loveless? Pheonix: Endsong Sun, 23 Mar 2008 10:25:07 +0000 <a href=""><img title="xmes-01-00.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="xmes-01-00.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Greg Pak and Greg Land Summary: Jean Grey is dead and so is the troublesome Pheonix Force that shared her consciousness. The X-Men have all moved on including her long-time flame Scott Summers (Cyclops). Now madly in love with Emma Frost, he has all but buried Jean's memory. But one still summer night, the Pheonix rises again and Jean Grey finds herself once more among the living... very much against her will. With the Dark Pheonix in control, Jean makes her way straight for Scott: needing his memories (and the power of his eyebeam) to make her new persona whole. [b]Review:[/b] The inconsistant X-Men are in peak form here in a mini-series that focuses on the long-running Jean/Emma/Scott love triangle. The confrontation, building for years, is very much worth the wait. The artwork is nothing short of amazing, the characterization is flawless and the action is kinetic. X-Men has never been quite this pretty before... or consistantly dramatic. Emma, Jean and Scott aren't always the warmest or most sympathetic characters, but for once, they really shine. If you weren't a Scott/Emma believer before, this series will probably make you one. Highlights: -Jean Grey's ressurection -Emma Frost hosts the Pheonix Force A must for any X-Men fan, no matter how casual. NYX (issues 1-7) Fri, 21 Mar 2008 23:10:02 +0000 <a href=""><img title="NYX_1_-_Cover_HG_.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="NYX_1_-_Cover_HG_.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Joe Quesada and Joshua Middleton [b]Summary:[/b] Kigen hasn't got the best cards to work with. Her family is fragmented, her brothers are out of control, and she lives in a neighborhood where drug dealers and gang warfare are part of every day life. When she was small, Kigen saw her police-officer father murdered in front of her and her life has been one disaster after another ever since. A wild-child of epic proportions, Kigen (now 16) spends most of her time high on something and starting fights with thugs who could easily end her. It's only a matter of time until Kigen finds herself on the wrong side of a gun. When she does, she discovers the power to stop time in its tracks. Most would be horrified, but Kigen is delighted. It's all fun and games now, but what's going to happen to Kigen and those around her when her attitude and her powers both backfire? [b]Review:[/b] NYX has two things going for it: amazing artwork and a story completely unfettered by the X-Men timeline. NYX never really feels like an X-Men offshoot. Unfortunately the same can't be said in reverse. With X-Men already drowning in it's own overstuffed cast, another story designed only to introduce more mutants is just about the last thing it needs. At least Kigen is a breath of fresh air. Her character is so incredibly flawed that it's really a challenge to like her. She's a selfish little brat who's lost her way in the world... a chain smoking, disrespectful little punk you'd pobably hate in person. Even so, the kid's got spunk and the longer you read the more you come to admire the street-smarts that have gotten Kigen this far more or less unscathed. There's an innocence and playfulness about her that is immediately appealing. Ironically, the only character here that immediately moves on to mainstream X-titles is X-23, a sexed-up lolita version of Wolverine. NYX is an interesting setup with a very interesting main character and beautiful artwork. Unfortunately, it's all dressed up with nowhere to go. The final few issues are rather pointless and the ultimate conclusion is a wimpy little &quot;so what?&quot; NYX fails in the same sense that most new MARVEL books do: it wasn't given the time to find an audience before it was yanked and recycled into a more popular title. It's still worth a look... if only to wonder what might have been if MARVEL had the balls to continue it awhile at their expense. [b]WARNING:[/b] NYX contains staggering amounts of drug-use, oddly censored profanity, and violence. There are multiple dramatic shootings, two suicides, and a few instances of vomitting/urinating on oneself. X-23 spends some time as a hooker. For a &quot;teen&quot;-centric X-Men book, it certainly isn't appropriate for most of the audience that would probably want to read it O_o; Maybe this contributed to it's failure? [b]Highlights:[/b] -introduction of X-23 (Kigen, Tatiana). Read it for the artwork and the unconventional approach to X-Men in general. It isn't required reading for an X-Men enthusiast, nor does it require familiarity with X-Men to enjoy. New X-Men - Academy X (1-15) Thu, 13 Mar 2008 08:48:44 +0000 <a href=""><img title="NewXMen13-01.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="NewXMen13-01.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Nunzio DeFillipis, Christina Weir, and various artists [b]Summary:[/b] The New Mutants have another go at their own title and this time they're forming honest-to-goodness teams. Dani Moonstar's &quot;New Mutants&quot;, Emma Frost's &quot;Hellions&quot;, Northstar's &quot;Alpha Squadron&quot;, and Cyclops' &quot;Corsairs&quot; all participate in a no-holds-barred field competition... all while navigating personal problems, death, relationships, and the prom! [b]Review:[/b] The New Mutants still haven't got it quite right... but this is a step in the right general direction. There's quite a bit of action, a few more interesting character developments and much more page-time for the Hellions (far and away the more interesting team). The New Mutants themselves remain chronically uninteresting, but this particular incarnation of the title is more of an &quot;ensemble cast&quot; deal than a showcase for the titular group. The relationships introduced round out a few characters. Sophia and Julian, in particular, are a good match: her character softens his and his brings out a bit of spunk in hers. Sophia can't carry a scene alone, but for some reason, she holds her own with Julian (scene-stealer extraordinaire). Interesting power-combinations make the Wither/Wallflower/Mercury mess worthwhile while Josh finally gets his act together and stops playing hide-the-sausage with his teacher on the side. Meanwhile Teen-heartthrob Jay seems to have a flame for Sooraya, a burka-wearing Sunni muslim who refuses to be alone with men. Only Prodigy/Surge rings hollow. But maybe that's just because I hate them both? Strangely enough, underdog Anole also grabs a good chunk of the best issue in the arc (13). The story, involving the unexpected death of a teacher and mentor, is surprisingly touching... I imagine even moreso if you're a fan of the character who kicks it. It's really too bad that it takes the death of an X-man to get some time for one of the other squads! The weakest arc involves a poorly concieved alternate-future-jump where Prodigy becomes the president of the United States... errr... Luckily it's only 2 issues... and it's the exception rather than the rule. The rest of the stories are a cut above the ones in &quot;New Mutants&quot;. The artwork also tends to be better in quality than the initial &quot;New Mutants&quot; run, though with a different artist on board virtually every week, the constant changes can get distracting here and there. Highlights: -introduction of Quill, Dust, Pixie, Loa, DJ, etc. -formation of squadrons -Icarus is traded to the New Mutants, Wither is traded to the Hellions -Hellion -&gt; Sophia -Elixir X Wallflower -Prodigy X Surge -Mercury -&gt; Wither -Julian sticks up for Kevin rather publically -death of Alpha Squadron's leader -Anole cries a lot There's hope for this series yet. As ever, there's a definate feeling of bloat (there are too many characters and not enough time to develop most of them) and the cast could use a trim. Even so, Academy X leaves you wanting to see quite a few of these kids again in the future. X-Men - New Mutants vol. 2 (vol 1-13) Wed, 12 Mar 2008 12:02:30 +0000 <a href=""><img title="New_Mutants_v2_012_Page_01_Image_0001.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="New_Mutants_v2_012_Page_01_Image_0001.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Nunzio Defilippis, Christina Weir, Keron Grant, Mark A. Robinson, Juan Vlasco [b]Summary:[/b] The Original New Mutants team has grown up and returned to Xavier's Instutute to mentor the next generation of up-and-coming mutants. But the newbies have a lot to learn about life, love and not-killing-each-other. Are the New Mutants, now in their early 20s, really up to the challenge? [b]Review:[/b] This isn't Marvel's &quot;A List&quot; writing team, that's for sure. Everything about this title seems a little half-assed, including the new set of mutants themselves. In spite of a few extremely interesting new power sets and personalities, most of it we've seen before and in better characters. Particularly disappointing are the two highest-profile female characters: Sophia Mantega, &quot;Wind Dancer&quot;, is a stripped-down version of Storm who can manipulate the wind and has all the leadership qualities of a wet paper-bag. Worse, she is a flat stereotype of a Latina who manages to learn perfect (albeit, oddly drawn-out) English from scratch in less than a month. Noriko Ashida, &quot;Surge&quot;, is an abraisive Japanophile fantasy and yet another &quot;hot asian chick&quot; included in a prime spot simply by virtue of being the stereotype du jour of the decade. She is incredibly unlikeable and, again, seems like a stripped-down version of Storm. Sometimes diversity doesn't do us any favors. Especially when it feels forced and exploits stereotypes. Can we get off the &quot;hot female&quot; minorities kick, MARVEL? That's not all the sucking to go around! Prodigy is a Bishop clone through and through, Icarus is a watered-down Angel knock-off, Tag has the single lamest power ever concieved (he can make people run away from whoever he touches), and Wallflower is a close second (pheremones). Thankfully, some more interesting newbies round things out a bit. Hellion, Wither, Dust, Mercury and Elixir all have cool power sets paired with potentially interesting personalities. But what New Mutants really has going for it is that it's never about fighting. It's about a bunch of teenagers at a boarding school coming to terms with who they are and powers they don't particularly want. Characters interactions, while not [i]fascinating[/i], are always the focus of the series. By the end of it, for better or worse, we have a good idea of the future X-men rosters we'd like to see (not to mention the ones we want to disappear into obscurity forever!) Highlights: -Moondancer and Karma become instructors at Xavier's, Northstar and Emma Frost become student advisors/squad leaders -introduction of The 2nd generation of New Mutants: Prodigy, Wind Dancer, Wallflower, Elixir, Icarus, Surge -introduction of The 2nd generation Hellions: Hellion, Rockslide, Dust, Mercury, Tag, Wither -introduction of Anole -Elixir/Wallflower/Rahne(teacher) love triangle -Wither is traded to the Hellions, Icarus is traded to the New Mutants The art changes often and is never particularly inspiring to look at. The writing is mediocre. There isn't much in the way of action, the main team lacks chemistry and quite a few of the characters we're supposed to like come off as gigantic idiots that it's hard to care about. New Mutants didn't last long. Cancelled after 12 issues, Marvel continues the students' stories in the &quot;Academy X&quot; series (which lasted only slightly longer before being completely reshuffled into &quot;The New X-Men&quot; ) Still, it's absolutely worth reading. For better or worse, this is the future of X-Men. And while half of these characters are already obselete: the cooler ones are clawing their way up in the ranks to become mutants worthy of inclusion in far cooler titles. You should know their backstories! The Uncanny X-Men: She Lies With Angels Tue, 04 Mar 2008 10:19:54 +0000 <a href=""><img title="01.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="01.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Chuck Austen, Savador Larroca [b]Summary[/b] When little-brother Jeb's mutant powers awaken, Paige (Husk) returns to her hometown in Kentucky (X-men in tow) to sort out trouble between her own family and a hardcore anti-mutant clan who has has hated them for years. Unfortunately, Paige's other brother, Josh has fallen in love with that family's eldest daughter, Julia. As tension between the two families grow: Josh and Julia find themselves torn between their warring families. Meanwhile, Paige and Warren (Arcangel) finally get their shit together. It all ends rather badly in true Shakespearean style. [b]Review[/b] As poorly written as it is gorgeously-drawn, this arc is prettier than just about anything that's come before. The settings are lush, the light effects are gorgeous, and the characters are all improbably good-looking. Unfortunately it's weighed down by ludicrous archaic speech straight out of crappy romance novels. Whoever thought Romeo and Juliet needed ANOTHER update needs to be shot on principal... but whoever thought entire speeches needed to be reproduced in a super-hero comic needs to be tarred, feathered, waterboarded, mildly electrocuted and then hung. If you like Paige and/or Warren: it's worth the read just to progress their relationship (and see the incredibly cute scene where they consumate it). Otherwise, it's pretty negligable. Julia is a throwaway to introduce Icarus, we've all already read &quot;Romeo and Juliet&quot;, and unfortunately, thanks to the cancellation of the New Mutants lineup... Icarus doesn't last too long anyway. Highlights: -introduction of Josh/Jay &quot;Icarus&quot; (later a 2nd gen Hellion/New Mutant) -background on Paige's family -Logan gets an apology from Warren -Paige and Warren finally hook up In short, this is X-men at it's girliest. If buff, shirtless angels sweeping you off your feet and making love to you in moonlit Botanical gardens while reciting treacly poetry makes you quiver with excitement: this is a must-read. If the thought makes you a bit ill ~ you might want to skip it. Wolverine: Snikt! Fri, 29 Feb 2008 08:43:54 +0000 <a href=""><img title="wolv_snikt_v1_001_00_rougher.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="wolv_snikt_v1_001_00_rougher.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: You either hate Nihei or you love him. I happen to love him. Unfortunately, even the most rabid Nihei-fan needs to acknowledge that the man is a one-trick pony. And while no one does post-apocalyptic cyberpunk dungeoncrawls quite like Nihei, Nihei's never done anything else. Even his most fans have gotten a little tired of waiting for him to &quot;break out&quot; from the Blame! game. It should come as no surprise that Nihei writing Wolverine is simultaneously brilliant and insane... or that Nihei's Wolverine is little more than Killy with sideburns and claws. As a Wolverine spin-off, it's as perplexingly unnecesary and out-of-character as it is amazing to look at. Nihei A4 size and in full-color is pure bliss. The action is kinetic, the cyborgs are scary, and the backstory is appropriately sprawling. Oddly enough, Wolverine, as iconic as he is, gets lost in the shuffle. Wolverine floats in and out of Nihei's world like a ghost, displaying very little of his unique established personality in the process. Nihei isn't writing Wolverine: he's slapping a vaguely-Wolverine-styled generic hero into his own established universe. Not only is there no explanation for how the two world's connect, there's never a convincing reason for Wolverine himself to be needed in the other world at all. There are vague threads of justification (Nihei's vision is presented as our own Earth 100 years in the future and Wolverine's made of the only metal the baddies can't disolve instantly), but the whole thing never really meshes. ...It doesn't really matter. It's mind-bendingly gorgeous. And sometimes, that's enough. Those who are unfamiliar with seinen cyberpunk manga or with Nihei himself are likely to find the whole experience an exhilarating, otherworldly visual mind****. The rest of us are going to know that Nihei's played in this sandbox many times before and that this is one of the least inspiring corners. Whatever you think: it's undeniably cool that someone over at Marvel liked Nihei's sandbox enough to demand Wolverine be thrown into it ~ however odd the outcome. Seeing Nihei's work issue-sized and in color is reason enough to justify the price. Just don't expect it to make a lot of sense. A few more minor gripes: I'm just a wee bit bit put-off by the conspicious lack of a translation credit. The translator is included under &quot;special thanks&quot; while Nihei comes off as fluent in English (which he most certainly is not). On that note: I'm fairly certain that Nihei, like most Japanese people, hasn't read an issue of X-men in his entire life, leading me to believe that nearly all of Wolverine's lines are ghostwritten by a MARVEL editor. Wolverine: Xisle Fri, 29 Feb 2008 04:59:30 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Cover_001.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Cover_001.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: (by Bruce Jones and Jorge Lucas) Logan (Wolverine) takes his foster daughter, Amiko to the carnival for some down-time. When his mutant temper gets the best of him, he finds himself in hot water with his kid and stranded on a strange, surreal island. Alone, wounded and unable to regenerate, Logan must contend with a host of strange characters and occurances: including a stand-off with the beast within. Xisles is beautifully-drawn and the introduction is well-presented. Unfortunately the cliche, force-fed &quot;artsy-fartsy&quot;-ness of the whole affair doesn't make for anything particularly accessable or memorable. It's completely obvious what's going on to everyone but the hero, which pretty much destroys the whole point of the excersize. Worse: absolutely nothing of consequence happens here. It has no affect on any of the other X-men or Wolverine storylines. It is completely disposable. If you're going to check it out: do it for the art. It really is lovely. The writing... notsomuch. Next time leave the psychoanalysis to characters with more mental depth than Wolverine O-o; His Dark Materials Fri, 29 Feb 2008 04:11:16 +0000 <a href=""><img title="junior_nl.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="junior_nl.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [b]Summary:[/b] At the crossroads between a multitude of connected worlds: a boy and a girl meet. Sometimes, one meeting is all it takes to change everything. (armored polar bears, witches, gypsies, ghosts, angels, shapeshifting animal familiars, tiny spies on the back of dragonflies, clockwork insects, magical artifacts, harpies, shamans, strange creatures and airships may help move things along a bit...) The Trilogy contains three books: &quot;Northern Lights&quot; (The Golden Compass), &quot;The Subtle Knife&quot; and &quot;The Amber Spyglass&quot; [b]Review:[/b] There are a few books in this world that I genuinely think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. Not because they are true or should be emulated without question, but because they are relevant, uplifting and inspirational. They keep us up at night thinking about what we've read. They make us ask questions. And most importantly, they make sense of a seemingly meaningless universe. One is, oddly enough, The Bible. Even for those who aren't in the least bit religious, the Bible is a must. It is, quite simply, &quot;The Greatest Story Ever Told.&quot; The nastiness comes about from the percieved need to prove whether that story is true or not. I could really care less. It is a story so universal in it's adventure, appeal and insight that it can speak to each and every one of us on some level. This is another of those stories. And like the Bible: even if you are 100% against what the books have to say about the meaning of life, the purpose of humanity and the role of theology ~ it will still thrill your heart and move you to tears. Life is about being challenged. Morality is about making informed decisions about right and wrong, good and evil. It is about pain, suffering, loss, deciet, betrayal, rebellion, confusion, guilt, and all sorts of other little nasties we like to ignore in our modern fairy-tales. These books are dark, they are challenging and in spite of being &quot;Children's literature&quot; they contain ideas that we've learned to shelter our children (and ourselves) against. They are beautiful, seductive and subversive. Very much like the Bible. The controversy is deserved. The books are vehemently anti-Church, anti-establishment, and pro-earthly knowledge. They argue that sin is the very nature of the world, goodness, light and love. In repressing it: we are repressing life itself. Eve is innocent. God is absent and dying. The Authority that runs our universe now was once a man. Oddly enough, the books do not deny the existance of God or religion. In fact, they rely on the Bible having been, to a point, true. God exists. He was a good overseer once. There are angels, all of them are beautiful and a few of them are heroes. It is not religion itself that is evil -- it is the use of religious dogma to repress, harm, intimidate, wound, supress, opress and imbalance. If you are religious, you may even find yourself enraged by what you read. But rage is just as worthy an emotional experience as any other. Read them because you are brave, because you think that you know exactly who you are and what it is that you believe. Read them because you want to know more about what else might be out there. Read them to enforce what you already think you know. Read them to &quot;know your enemy&quot;. Read them to inspire debate. Read for escapist fantasy fun. Read them to cry your eyes out. I don't care why you read them -- but you really should. Pullman is offering you the fruit... I'm happy to play the serpent ~ Civil War: Young Avengers &amp; Runaways (issue 1-4) Wed, 20 Feb 2008 11:11:45 +0000 <a href=""><img title="scan0001.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="scan0001.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: Let me start off by saying I don't really give a crap about the Marvel Universe. All of my knowledge of what goes on outside of Runaways comes from my crazy male friends. One of them complained for weeks that the press spoiled the death of Captain America, another owns every volume of &quot;Thor&quot; every printed, the others sit around Starbucks and play comic book trivia games. One of the more popular games goes something like this: create a team of four of the ~lamest~ super heroes in the Marvel Universe and come up with a way they could work together to actually take over the world. Well after reading this and become aquainted with The Young Avengers I'm inclined to think that I stand a chance next time the game pops up... As far as I can tell, The Young Avengers are a big group of kids with incredibly lame names derived from better super heroes whose abilities they mimic: like &quot;Hulkling&quot; (mini-Hulk), The Patriot (mini-Captain America), and Iron Lad (mini-Iron Man). They're rounded out by a giantess, a generic hot-chick with a bow and arrow and assorted boys in spandex who mean nothing to me because I'm clearly not enough of a comic geek. Oh! And there's also a sorcerer-boy who had to change his name from &quot;The Asguardian&quot; to &quot;The Wiccan&quot; after he hooked up with Hulkling ( The Asguardian... The Ass Guardian... get it? ). Anyhow... my comic friends tell me that the &quot;Civil War&quot; is going on in every Marvel title. Essentially the super heroes are splitting into two groups: pro-super-hero registry and anti-super-hero registry. And they're... fighting... because... that's cool. Well, from the title, you'd think that the Runaways get to fight the Young Avengers. That might be cool, right? Well... the title's a bit decieving. In reality, the Young Avengers want to team up with the Runaways. A brief misunderstanding gives us one volume of surprisingly cool match-ups but it's soon resolved and becomes a cute excersize in &quot;wow, we're really similar&quot;! &quot;You have a witch? WE have a witch!&quot; &quot;You have a Skrull? WE have a Skrull too!&quot; &quot;You have super strength?! DUUUUDE!&quot; &quot;You're gay?! US TOOO!&quot; There are minor easter eggs and plot bunnies hidden for fans of each individual series: Chase and Molly reconnect, Nico gets a chance to show off as leader, and Hulkling and Wiccan share a heart-rending torture scene in which Runaways fans wonder what the hell the point is casting spells you need to repeat several dozen times before they do anything... Essentially, it's fan-wank. But it is entertaining, decently drawn and true to The Runaways' own universe. It's really not an essential sidetrip, but it is a fun one... and at only four volumes: it's probably one worth taking. You probably won't come out of it a Young Avengers fan. But it can't hurt to add to your arsenal of lame heroes for coffee-shop competitions :) Buy it here:;s=books&amp;qid=1203506993&amp;sr=8-1 RUNAWAYS vol 2 (issues 13-24) Wed, 20 Feb 2008 10:09:17 +0000 <a href=""><img title="img0011.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="img0011.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: The 3rd collected volume of RUNAWAYS covers issues 13-24 of volume 2. The Runaways are back and better than ever. Just when we thought the series might be losing steam, the strongest story arcs in series history hit back-to-back. Both are included in this installment. Back in Los Angeles, the Runaways are left to their own unique brand of haphazard vigilante justice without all of the gratituous Marvel crossovers and super-villains. The artwork is as good as it's ever been and the storytelling is more weighty than ever. We are warned, from the start, that someone will die... and when it happens: it hurts. In the first storyline, Alex's online friends band together and scheme ressurect him. Instead, they accidentally call back a much younger version of his father. Determined to extract revenge for The Pride, he sets up an ambush for the Runaways. Using the online gamers as pawns, Geoffrey Wilder manages to off one of the Runaways--setting the whole unit into a dangerous downward spiral and sending one member in particular over the edge. The second arc ( &quot;Live Fast&quot;/&quot;Dead Means Dead&quot; ) is impossible to discuss in-depth without spoiling anything... but it's painful, surprising, and brings new depth to characters desperately in need of some. Problematic issues are tackled: Nico's slutty behavior is addressed as is Xavin's gender-indentity. Oh, and if you weren't a Chase fan before: you will be after reading this. A short one-shot about Molly is also included to lighten the otherwise heavy mood and while it does very little to develop her character, it is quite a lot of fun. The only kill-joy in an otherwise solid chunk of euphoria is the final, terrifying announcement that Adrian Alphona, the artist responsible for the best and most frequent artwork in the series and writer Brian K. Vaughan are leaving RUNAWAYS in someone else's hands. We can only hope the new staff is just as enthusiastic and talented as this one. Buy it here:;s=books&amp;qid=1203501945&amp;sr=8-3 RUNAWAYS vol 2 (issues 1-12) Wed, 20 Feb 2008 09:43:21 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Runaways_V2_06_page_001.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Runaways_V2_06_page_001.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: The second hardcover collection of RUNAWAYS covers the first twelve issues in the title's 2nd run + the Free Comic Book Day giveaway &quot;X-men Runaways&quot;. There are two main story-arcs included here, unfortunately both are much weaker than the original comic. In the first arc, the Runaways find themselves up against &quot;Excelsior&quot;, a group of reformed teenage super-heroes who never amounted to much. This motley crew of has-beens wants to save the Runaways from lives of underage vigilante justice and inevitable super-hero mediocrity... sort of like super-hero-social-workers. While Excelsior tries to reform the kids, Gert appears from the future to warn of the rise of the super villain &quot;Victorious&quot;. In the future, Victorious destroys just about every super hero in the Marvel Universe on his way to world domination. The only way to stop him, is to turn him from the path of villany while he's still young. Future-Gert plants some drama-seeds by suggesting that Karolina will leave the group, implying that she and Victorious were at one point lovers, and dying in Chase's arms with the last words &quot;I never told you how much I loved...&quot; The kids set out to stop Victorious, now just a teenager with a super-hero fetish named &quot;Victor&quot;, and change destiny. The arc, while not entirely engaging and completely predictable, has it's high points and introduces us to some new relationship dynamics. Gert and Chase are squishy together, Nico learns to respect Chase, Karolina continues to question her sexuality, and Victor finds a place in the group as the 6th Runaway In the second arc, Cloak returns to ask the children to help clear his name in an attack on his partner Dagger. Implicated by security camera footage of a Cloaked figure using his powers to subdue and rape Dagger, Cloak is targetted by the police and The Avengers as the most obvious suspect. The Runaways have to travel to New York City, a city of first-rate superheroes, to figure out how to clear his name. In the process Nico runs into She-Hulk, Gert and Victor have sushi with Spiderman, Molly pwns Wolverine, and Chase finds out that he can use the Staff of One. The whole arc seems an excuse to create &quot;cute&quot; interactions between the Runaways and as many other Marvel characters as possible. That said, it IS pretty fabulous (and funny) to see an 11 year-old girl hand The Avengers their asses. Chase, Molly and Gert pretty much own this collection. Nearly all of the interesting moments belong to them... and Chase, in particular, seems poised to become a much more multifaceted (and powerful) character than we all first expected. On the downside, Nico is starting to come off as a bit of a skank :/ She's now had her lips on three of the five other original Runaways AND a random vampire-kid... Sorry Karolina fans: I'm afraid she's out of commission for a majority of this volume. Victor, for all of the focus on him in the first arc, is still more of a Gary Stu than an interesting character. He is too perfect and generic to be remotely interesting at this point. In spite of the lack of focus, lack of strong central villains, and inclusion of WAY too many Marvel crossovers for the casual reader's comfort: this installment does have it's moments of brilliance, drama and humor. While not nearly as strong as their origin story, the two arcs included here do move the story along and carve a welcome place for The Runaways in the larger Marvel Universe. The more we see of them with other costumed super-heroes, the more we come to appreciate them as exceptions to silly super-hero conventions. These kids never wear stupid costumes, they don't have corny catch-phrases, they don't call themselves &quot;The Runaways&quot;, and they've dropped their code-names altogether. They're just a group of kids with special powers who want adults to leave them, and other kids like them, alone. The artwork is still incredibly strong, the covers are gorgeous, and while a few &quot;anime style&quot; chapters stand out as mediocre in comparison: none of the artwork is bad. The free comic included (X-Men Runaways) is entirely disposable. Its writing and artwork don't even attempt to live up to the original series. While it's interesting to see a different take on the Runaways (Saturday Morning style), it's something you can read once and the forget about having ever existed. Buy it here:;s=books&amp;qid=1203502835&amp;sr=8-2 RUNAWAYS vol 1 Tue, 19 Feb 2008 10:32:44 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Runaways05p00.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Runaways05p00.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: Most of us go through the &quot;angsty teenager&quot; phase. We might act out, cut ourselves, question our sexuality, or feel awkward about our bodies... but pretty much everyone goes through a time where they think their parents are evil. What if they really were? Alex, Karolina, Chase, Molly, Gertrude and Nico are all living the lives of &quot;normal&quot; teenagers when they just happen to stumble upon their parents' sacrificing a young girl to legendary Biblical giants. Rebellion seems entirely out of the question until a bit of snooping turns up a cache of super-weapons, a psychic dinosaur, and instructions for unleashing Karolina's ability to fly. As the teens continue to discover special powers of their own, their parents start to suspect they might not be sitting at home doing their homework after all. After an explosive confrontation with their supervillain parents: the kids head to an old caved-in hotel and make camp. At Gertrude's insistance, they adopt &quot;code names&quot; to match their abilities: -Alex, a 16 year-old African-American MMORPG nerd, becomes &quot;Wilder&quot;, a born-leader with ambiguous powers determined to redeem his super-villain family name. -Nico, a 16 year-old gothic lolita-styled Asian-American, becomes &quot;Sister Grimm&quot;, a sorceress with a staff inside her that can only be summoned by drawing blood. -Gertrude, an overweight 15 year-old intellectual elitist, becomes &quot;Arsenic&quot;, psychic controller of a rather intimidating dinosaur partner called &quot;Old Lace&quot;. -Karolina, a conflicted 16 year-old lesbian, becomes &quot;Lucy in the Sky&quot;, a flying alien being somehow connected to the powers of the sun. -Chase, an incredibly likeable 17-year old intellectual wasteland becomes &quot;Talkback&quot;, a mechanical genius with access to his family's legacy of futuristic superweapons. -Molly, an 11 year-old Harry Potter fan becomes &quot;Bruiser&quot;, a little girl mutant with superhuman strength. Vague super-hero personas in place, the kids find themselves pitted against their parents (and each other) in a battle that will decide all of their futures. As silly as this all sounds, it all somehow comes together to form a credible teenage fantasy... not to mention one of the best super hero comics to come along in the last 25 years. &quot;Runaways&quot; is laced with snappy pop-culture references, in-jokes and stereotype reversals (the fat girl gets a good-looking guy, the &quot;stupid&quot; character is actually quite smart, and the final hero-heirarchy may surprise you). The fights are epic, the relationships are interesting, the plot-twists are believable and the characters are refreshingly loveable. With covers as lovely as anything you'll ever see on the manga shelf and vibrantly-colored interior artwork that remains incredibly solid even through ocaisional artist changes, there's virtually nothing about &quot;Runaways&quot; likely to turn off even a persnickity manga fan. The stories pop visually and the characters' expressions really breathe life into their adventures. I'm not a huge fan of super-hero comics, but &quot;Runaways&quot; makes me a believer. Not only is it just the thing to bring a teenager you love into the cult of comics, it's likely to remind you why you still bother with comics at all in the age of 600+ X-men. Can we get a &quot;Runaways&quot; film now please?! More Images from the First Volume (minor spoilers): Buy it here:;s=books&amp;qid=1203503198&amp;sr=8-1 A Traveller's History of Japan Fri, 15 Feb 2008 12:44:32 +0000 <a href=""><img title="hist.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="hist.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: ---------------------------- Publisher: Interlink Books ISBN1-56656-260-0 ----------------------------- &quot;A Traveller's History of Japan&quot; isn't a book I would ever purchase for myself. I was warned on my very first day in the East Asian Studies department to be wary of any books including the words &quot;Japan: A History&quot; or &quot;A History of Japan.&quot; I consider it to be good advice, generally speaking. Then I somehow inherited this one. When I arrived in Shikoku two years ago, my apartment was fully furnished and full of things left by my predecessor, her predecessor, and likely countless others. &quot;A History&quot; was on the shelf next to &quot;Lonely Planet: Japan&quot; and &quot;Making Out in Japanese&quot;. Both of those went straight into the trash can, but this one seemed just promising enough to get shoved into the back corner of the closet. Having ignored the book completely for nearly two years, I'm a bit shocked to find that it's really quite good. Everything the book is gleaned from other, more in-depth works, but on the whole, it's a remarkably straightforward and readable summary of the major events that have shaped Japanese history. The pace is brisk, the topics are fairly complete and the editing is great. The author approaches Japan and the Japanese from a refreshingly informed and realistic viewpoint. Unlike many other books in it's genre: it hasn't been written by an unabashed Orientalist who thinks Japan can do no wrong. The spare, quoted and implied criticisms included are not only honest: but often hilarious. Cramming as much as 1,000 years into a single page leaves a bit to be desired in the details department, but for armchair historians or those just looking for a quick review of their old EAS curriculum: you could do far worse. Also included is a fabulous annotated bibliography, a glossary of romanized Japanese terms, a timeline of Prime Ministers, a timeline of Emperors, a Chronology of major events, a rundown of Japanese holidays, appendices for cultural notes, etc. For those who have already studied Japanese history in depth and are looking for a small, portable refresher or reference for dates: this is a great choice. For those looking to get their feet wet without committing to a much larger, more scholarly tome: it's also a good choice. So I suppose, in the end, I'm recommending a book with the words &quot;A History of Japan&quot; in the title. I only hope my old professors will find it in their hearts to forgive me. S.A. (volume 1) Sun, 03 Feb 2008 09:22:54 +0000 <a href=""><img title="sacov.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="sacov.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: {Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and} ---------------------------- Publisher: Hana to Yume Comics ISBN4-592-18131-X ----------------------------- Hikari is a fiercely competitive tomboy whose desire to be number one has driven her in a life-long competition with her childhood friend and rival, Kei. Effortlessly perfect in everything, Kei is always one-upping her. The two of them drive each other to such lengths of perfection that both have been accepted to the elite &quot;S.A.&quot; class in their high school. The S.A. is an elite group of rich, pampered students who spend their days in a special class that never studies. They throw tea parties, give music recitals and exploit the lesser students like hired help between random fabulous vacations. But even as the 2nd-ranking member of this elite class of students, Hikari's too busy breaking her back to one-up Kei to notice that he's been in love with her since they were children. If the setup isn't already enough like other shoujo series' to make you suspicious, check out the cast: [list] [*] con artist [*] androgynous female friend [*] a set of inseparable twins [*] a shotacon fanservice character [*] a big-brother type [*] a homicidally overenthusiastic self-proclaimed fiancee [*] obligatory childhood friend/love-hate couple who can't quite get their acts together [/list] In spite of having a heroine who is supposed to be tough, smart and sporty, she gets into trouble every 20 pages or so. It's up to our hero, blandly perfect in every possible way, to come to her rescue on cue. In essense, S.A. is the bastard offspring of Ouran Host Club, Kodomo no Omocha and Fruits Basket. Every locale, character, and joke is so painfully derivative that anyone who's so much glanced at any other popular shoujo comedy will find themselves suffering chronic deja vu. It's likeable enough on a surface level and will keep the pages turning at a brisk enough pace. But in the end, it is entirely disposable - not nearly original enough to justify buying it over any of the better, more original series' from which it's drawn most of it's incredibly obvious inspiration. Perhaps the most glaring error in it's execution is expecting normal readers to feel enduring sympathy for people who are rich, spoiled and need to expend very little effort to be better than the rest of us... It very difficult to relate to characters who value such ridiculously shallow displays of elitism. Admit it: if there were an S.A. at your school, you'd hate them. Berserk (vol 1-32) Fri, 01 Feb 2008 12:22:57 +0000 <a href=""><img title="bers2.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="bers2.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i](This review is based entirely on the Japanese volumes... The series is licensed in English by Dark Horse)[/i] [b]Storyline[/b] Raped, neglected and baptized in fire: the young swordsman Gatts finds the friendship, love and acceptance he's always lacked in a motley crew of mercenary misfits called &quot;The Band of Hawks&quot;. Their leader, the compassionate and charismatic Griffith quickly becomes both Gatts' best friend and a brother-in-arms. But as they grow closer to one another, Gatts learns that Griffith is a man possessed, quite literally, by his own ambition. Griffith will rest at nothing in his pursuit of power. He uses everything from assassination to seduction to advance his own interests and attain his dream. Unfortunately the ultimate realization of Griffith's dream requires a sacrifice too horrible to imagine. Robbed again of everything he's ever trusted, believed in or loved: Gatts goes it solo again. This time, he is branded... marked forever as Griffith's prey: the one that got away. Consumed with desire for revenge and redemption, he travels a dark fantasy world teeming with demons, ogres, corrupt kings, fanatical religions, fairies and witches in hopes of finding and killing a God... [b]My Thoughts[/b] Berserk works on so many levels that it's hard to find someone who wouldn't enjoy the hell out of it. It is a sprawling fantasy adventure. It's more horrible than most horror. It's intelligent. It's beautifully drawn. It constructs a living, breathing world with it's own rules, myths, creatures and landscapes. There are incredibly tender romances, painful deaths, and hilarious asides. The characters are multi-faceted. Our heroes are all flawed. And for all of his stoic silence: Gatts' persistent loneliness is palpable. As the story progresses into the 30s, it has lost very little of it's appeal or momentum. The story flows along through a tightly plotted adventure to what most sense is a long-before set conclusion. Few series attract such rabid and devoted fans as Berserk - and for good reason. It's one of the most compelling fantasies in any format. Perhaps the only real reason NOT to recommend it it's incomplete state. With an average of only volume every 8 or 9 months: Berserk is a long-term investment... one where the ultimate payoff is unlikely to come any time soon. If you can handle the pins and needles: pick it up. 51 Ways to Protect the Girl/Kanojo wo Mamoru 51 no Houhou (vol. 1-5) Fri, 01 Feb 2008 10:39:37 +0000 <a href=""><img title="511.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="511.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: {Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and} ---------------------------- Publisher: BUNCH comics ISBNs: 978-4-10-771289-9 978-4-10-771305-6 978-4-10-771321-6 978-4-10-771338-4 978-4-10-771354-4 ----------------------------- Jin, 21 years-old, is fresh out of college and on his way to a job interview at a tv station in Odaiba. Caught up in the crowd, he runs into a Gothic Lolita trying to buy some tickets for a Sarin Helnwein concert. It's hard to tell through the makeup, bleach-blonde hair and froofy angel wings... but Jin thinks she looks familiar. Looking closer, Jin recognizes her as an old Junior High classmate, Okano. Embarrassed to be recognized as &quot;a normal&quot;, Okano brushes him off, insisting her name is &quot;Loliko&quot; and that she's never seen him before in her life. Soon after, Okano finds herself on the bad side of her own fandom when the Sarin Helnwein groupies turn against her and try to dump her off a bridge. Against his better judgment, Jin comes to her rescue. The two of them reconnect riding the ferris wheel, but seeing each other again brings back memories for both. Okano was bullied to the breaking point... and Jin, in spite of having had a crush on her, failed to protect her. Well he's about to get another chance... Five minutes later, at 7:45 that same evening, Tokyo is hit with an M8 earthquake. The two 20-somethings soon find themselves in a landscape filled with shattered windows, twisted metal, injured people, and a street flowing with raw sewage. They have to join forces with each other (and everyone else in Odaiba) to cross Rainbow Bridge: the only link between the island city of Odaiba and the rest of Tokyo. Little do they know that Odaiba wasn't the epicenter... and that they're heading into hell on earth. From here on, 51 Ways is a predictable but remarkably believable survival adventure. The catastrophic earthquake scenario is plausible (if not inevitable). Based on a well-researched novel by Minoru Watanabe, the series paints a picture not quite as explicit and horrifying as ones in other apocalyptic fiction, but one that is frightening in it's detail. For once, we're given a disaster scenario in which hundreds of thousands of people live to populate the world along with our heroes. Tokyo proves a big and busy place, even in ruins. Like many of Furuya's other works, we're also shown just how fragmented and superficial Japanese youth has become: gals, rock stars, Gothic Lolita's, otaku, salarymen, ganguro, and schoolgirls are all here in their self-imposed stereotypical, shallow glory. But while the ugliness of the fragmentation of Tokyo youth is striking - these people all come together in the face of disaster in a way that's ultimately hopeful. When you strip off the posing and expensive clothing: we're all the same. In the end, 51 Ways is one of Furuya's most optimistic and mainstream works. It would make a lovely gateway drug for more timid independant comic readers or shoujo fans looking for something with a bit more bite. Burned Wed, 05 Dec 2007 17:24:02 +0000 <a href=""><img title="burned_ellen_hopkins.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="burned_ellen_hopkins.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Darkened_Star<br /><br />Description: [b]Plot[/b] The novel &quot;Burned&quot; is about a teenage girl named Pattyn - a Mormon girl living with a very religious family, in which her father is not as religious as he seems. When Pattyn finds herself thinking and doing things that she has been taught is &quot;wrong&quot;, it gets her into a lot of trouble and she gets sent off to an aunts house for the summer. [b]An Interesting Read[/b] The plot of the story is very suspenseful and quite different from other stories I have read. Especially the unexpected ending which took me by surprise. Burned kept my interest, and at times I found it hard to put the book down. At the beginning, Pattyn was a good girl that helped out around the house without question, doing what she was told to do. As you read on, she starts to get into trouble for things she does and cares less about doing what she is told. It was liking watching a somewhat good girl turn into a somewhat bad girl. That is actually what I liked most about the book - good girl to bad girl progression. [b]Page Layout[/b] The way the book is printed makes it annoying to read. If you are a person looking at someone else reading the book, you would think they were reading a poetry book. It is printed differently on every page. Sometimes in square stanzas, diagonal stanzas, crosses, a number, and at one point the writing was even in a circle. [b]Characters[/b] I particularly enjoyed the character of the girls aunt who reminds me of one of my favorite people (my sister). She does things when other people would not approve or just in spite. For example teaching Pattyn something her father didn't think she needed to know how to do. [b]Overall Thoughts[/b] I would recommend the book to anyone that would be interested, though I don't think guys will like it as much. It is based on a girls life and growing interest in the opposite sex. It does not really say much about the Mormon doctrine or anything like that either, just incase that may be a reason you'd be interesed in it. Marginal vol 1-3 Sat, 17 Nov 2007 04:22:48 +0000 <a href=""><img title="marginal1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="marginal1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: &quot;Long ago, the world wasn't a desert... there were trees, forests, grasslands and lakes. Rivers flowed to the sea which was once as blue as the sky and teeming with life. And for every &quot;man&quot; there was a &quot;woman&quot;. We bred like animals and the world was filled with the laughter of children. But that world is lost to us... forgotten...&quot; &quot;Why are you telling me this?&quot; &quot;Because it is the truth&quot; [b]Story[/b] On the desert world of Marginal there are no women. Children are called forth by &quot;The Mother&quot;, an ambiguously female icon who is both worshipped and kept virtual prisoner in a glass dome at the center of the capital. When the current &quot;Mother&quot; is assassinated by radicals the entire system is thrown into turmoil. The puppet government scrambles to create and enstate a new &quot;Mother&quot; as quickly as possible while the assassin, Gringer, escapes into the dessert in the confusion. In the desert he meets Kira, a lost child with no memory of his home or past. Gringer brings the child to the city where he trades him to the handsome nomad, Ashijin, for an ox. But in the middle of their transaction, Kira is kidnapped by bandits. Gringer and Ashijin join forces to rescue Kira and later, to save his life... Brought together through often comic circumstances, the three form a makeshift family and pass a few uneventful weeks in Ashijin's stone hideout. But a trip to Ashijin's village turns disasterous when Gringer is identified as Mother's assassin and is caught in bed with Kira, Ashijin's rightful possession. Enraged by the betrayal, Ashijin allows Gringer to be blinded and driven into the desert to die before fitting Kira with an anklet to mark him as a slave... Though it seems hopeless, Kira believes that Gringer will meet him again in the city and escapes from Ashijin, determined to reach the capital whatever the cost... Ashijin follows. Meanwhile a group of scientists with mysterious technology at their disposal select the city librarian, Emerada, as the next &quot;Mother&quot; and kidnap him. His lover, a young prince, a prostitute, a rogue scientist and a group of other unlikely companions band together to rescue him from a fate potentially worse than death. In the city, everyone will meet again and realize that there's more at stake than personal rivalries, romances and politics. For in Kira, there is potential to create balance in the world again: the revival of a world with no &quot;mothers&quot;, but one woman for every man. [b]Review[/b] Marginal is an old-school epic science-fiction fantasy series by Hagio Moto, one of the most influential shoujo writers of our time. Though I've been a fan of Hagio Moto's work with modern settings, this was my first of her science fiction stories. I actually picked it up thanks to a recommendation from the author of Fullmetal Alchemist! Luckily, I wasn't disappointed. The most interesting action takes place in an Arabian Knights style fantasy landscape. The characters are colorful and are very much a product of their world. A world that is vividly realized with a culture that is both otherworldly and vaguely familiar. In most fantasy series', the setting is a backdrop but in Marginal, characters don't merely pass through the pretty scenery: they interact with it. While a majority of the early action takes place on the desert planet surface, there is some parallel action involving a group of technologically advanced outsiders who know nearly everything about what is happenening and why. Their presence serves to enlighten us as readers, though it is, unfortunately dreadfully boring in places. Things do, thankfully, pick up when the two character sets begin to interact and the worlds come together to form a more cohesive vision. There is a central romance, a love triangle and some hanky panky here and there but the focus is, refreshingly, not on pretty men whispering sweet nothings into each others' ears. There is a great deal of humor, danger and conflict around every corner. And while the society is, at it's core, pedarastic: some older &quot;femenine&quot; characters steal the show both comedically and inspirationally. The most moving scenes belong to Emerada, the single strongest catalyst for both truth and action. And though the &quot;heroine&quot; figure, Kira, is a waifish underage slaveboy, he is also a formidable enemy with a personality of his own. He insults, demands, bites, scratches, and even stabs a few people in the face along the way. If Kira is to represent the comeback of womankind: we could probably have done much worse. Reguardless of whether you choose to read it as a &quot;Boy's Love&quot; romance, a Science Fiction/Fantasy epic or a shoujo adventure story: Marginal is enjoyable and thought provoking. And while some may intitially be turned off by the all-male romances: if the notion of a single-sex society isn't totally beyond your realm of tolerance, there is a great deal to be said about the value of women in the end. Fortes Fortuna Juvat Mon, 20 Aug 2007 10:29:37 +0000 <a href=""><img title="for1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="for1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i]{Please note ~ this is a small-press import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. The author's work can be purchased through the author's website at, Comics Tora no Ana, or at Comitia comic conventions in Japan.}[/i] ---------------------------------- It's a terrible shame that the Japanese doujinshi community doesn't like Western fans very much, though I suppose it's easy to understand why. In feeding others' images without credit to image-boards and galleries without regard for the artists, we're ignoring (and in fact, erasing the trail back to) the pool of talent that generates them. Who knows what treasures we'd be able to discover and friends we could make if didn't all just nab everything we can get our mitts on. That said: steal the images off the website linked in this review and I'll rearrange your face. ;) Buy the book and I might give you a cookie. Fortes Fortuna Juvat is a 16-page full-color doujinshi artbook with a 16-page black and white sketchbook companion. The circle &quot;ashen*ash*factory&quot; is actually made up of only one artist by the name of &quot;Ashi&quot;. His work spans nearly 5 years. The images included in this volume are vibrantly colored with professional-quality CG work all-around. Every subject in the main volume is a lovely lady with wings of some sort: there are valkyries, lolitas and cyborgs aplenty, all with feathers either organic or man-made. The companion volume has sketches of over a dozen other characters (catgirls, angels, shrine maidens, schoolgirls, maids and some males). [b]Artwork[/b] While most of the illustrations have a generic &quot;love simulation game&quot; character-design vibe to them some of the action poses and 2-page spreads are fascinating to look at. The sketchbook is equally interesting, with lots of notes and small-sized illustrations also packed into the slim volume. [b]Story Overview[/b] There's no story at all included here, except for the ones implied by the images within... As a fan-produced softcover, it's shelf-life is likely to be limited: but you'll certainly enjoy it while it lasts. Certainly a welcome addition to any &quot;angel&quot; fan's collection and well worth the price (a steal at 500 yen). Ashi's far-more-competant-than-average English disclaimer on his homepage leads me to think he may just speak a word or two of it... it's certainly worth a fanmail attempt if you like what you see :) HEN (volumes 1-7) Fri, 10 Aug 2007 08:59:46 +0000 <a href=""><img title="hen1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="hen1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i]{Please note ~ these are import comics and are not available in English at the time of this review. They can be purchased with the ISBN numbers below through Japanese bookstores and}[/i] --------------------------------------- ISBNS: vol 1 - 4-08-618470-2 vol 2 - 4-08-618471-0 vol 3 - 4-08-618472-9 vol 4 - 4-08-618473-7 vol 5 - 4-08-618474-5 vol 6 - 4-08-618475-3 vol 7 - 4-08-618476-1 --------------------------------------- [b]Background[/b] Oku Hiroya is a man's man. He draws one of the goriest, hyper-sexed men's titles on the market (Gantz) and frequently jokes about his adoration for young women's breasts. He is the pioneer of a bouncy-boob drawing technique now famous in pornography throughout Japan. And once upon a time, he wrote himself into a comic about a tough-guy in love with another boy. This is that comic. [b]Summary[/b] Suzuki is a man's man too. He has the bad ass haircut, the bike, the attitude, the women and the height. Unfortunately he's also a wee bit slow, cries watching &quot;Dog of Flanders&quot;, and would rather be friends with the school nerds than beat them up with the other punks. His polar opposite is Yuuki, a tiny, delicate boy with no talent for sports and a tendency to be mistaken for a girl. Yuuki would give anything to be like Suzuki... maybe then he could land the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, a series of capricious events lead the two to each other and one MAJOR misunderstanding: Suzuki is determined that Yuuki is a girl and that he is in love with him. Yuuki spends the next several volumes proving Suzuki wrong, but alas, it's too late: Suzuki is smitten. Girl or not: he's not taking &quot;no&quot; for an answer. Meanwhile, rivals of both genders appear and sides begin to form in a ridiculously confusing scramble of alternate sexualities. There are girls who look like boys, boys who look like girls, there are boys who like boys, girls who like girls, girls who like girls who like boys, etc... Oh, and there are boobs. Lots of them. Of every shape and size. It's STILL Oku Hiroya after all. [b]My Thoughts[/b] This is one of my favorite comics. Not only is it laugh-out-loud funny, it's not self-conscious about it's subject matter. Homosexuals are portrayed as sympathetic and in spite of being a bit &quot;Strange&quot; (Hen), the lifestyles themselves are never maligned. Never does the comic stoop to &quot;gay jokes&quot; or cheap shots. Oku didn't seem to be worried that writing a story about gay kids was going to get him called names or rejected by manly-men worldwide. In fact, he was so confident in this series' potential appeal to men that he had the balls to submit it to Young Jump. Granted, the all-lesbian follow-up (also titled HEN) was a great deal more popular than the initial romp, but that doesn't change the fact that a clearly heterosexual man has written a clearly homosexual comic and then turned around and sold it to other heterosexual men. That is awesome. Perhaps the entire world can learn something about tolerance from Oku: men don't HAVE to be scared of men kissing men, they just need to know there are some boobs waiting a few pages later. Less stick: more carrot. Not terribly suitable for minors: homosexuality, breasts, breasts, breasts, breasts... Inugami Fri, 10 Aug 2007 07:58:13 +0000 <a href=""><img title="inu1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="inu1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i]{Please note ~ these are import comics and are not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and}[/i] --------------------------------------- ISBNS: vol 1 - 4-06-360439-X (C0179) vol 2 - 4-06-360440-3 (C0179) vol 3 - 4-06-360441-1 (C0179) vol 4 - 4-06-360442-X (C0179) vol 5 - 4-06-360443-8 (C0179) vol 6 - 4-06-360444-6 (C0179) vol 7 - 4-06-360445-4 (C0179) --------------------------------------- [b]Background[/b] I love survival horror games, and each and every one seems to have some breed of K-9 ankle biter running around. Zombie dogs are clearly well-loved staples of the genre: so why aren't there any zombie-dog origin stories?! Well now there is. Sort of... [b]Summary[/b] The end of the world as we know it is at hand, and the inugami (dog gods) guard the gate. Will the world be destroyed and the humans punished? Or will it be renewed and all rewarded? Shimazaki Fumiki has lost his will to live. Stuck in a school full of &quot;in-the-box&quot; thinkers, he has no interest in academics or getting into the best college he can. Fumiki has the soul of a poet. He often hides himself away in an abandoned building and reads book after book, letting the words transport him. One day he finds his hideaway invaded by a huge, menacing german shepherd: a german shepherd who apparently likes the sound of Fumiki's voice. Picking up a book in his jaws and handing it Fumiki, he waits intently for the poetry to begin. After a few book-reading sessions, the dog develops a talent for basic speech and when backed into a corner, sprouts giant razor-sharp spikes from it's forehead. Named &quot;nijyuusan&quot;, after the number (23) tattooed inside of his ear, he claims to be in Tokyo to &quot;watch humans&quot;. 23 and Fumiki develop an incredible friendship based on their mutual love of poetry, frisbee and tummy-scratching. But all is not well... for there are other &quot;watchers&quot; in Tokyo: dogs who have not had the good fortune to meet kind humans like Fumiki. [b]My Thoughts[/b] A well-paced action thriller with a ludicrous premise and lovely artwork. It has it's clever moments, a few great jokes and spine-tingling match-ups between the titular &quot;inugami&quot;, but what saves it from mediocrity is the chemistry between Fumiki and 23. Their relationship is realistic, convincing and often heartbreaking. The plot, however hard it tries to establish itself, is merely decoration for the series' heart: a simple ode to the love shared between a boy and his dog. The series begins more strongly than it ends and there's a certain sense that it was &quot;rushed to the finish line&quot;. We are introduced to ZERO, 23's arch nemesis straight off the bat, and soon to two other &quot;zombie dogs&quot; who are likely bretheren of the inukami. But after four volumes, the one-on-one match-up format changes quickly to introduce an arc about cloning, tentacles and the end of the world. The end of the world comes a bit too soon. In spite of the disappointing ending and a few very silly, totally unnecesary plot elements: Inugami is an enjoyable homage to zombie dogs in all their forms. It's also a surprisingly moving friendship story bound to warm the heart of any dog-lover. Not terribly suitable for minors: gore, death, talk of incest and rape. Chronicles of the Clueless Age Fri, 10 Aug 2007 06:04:34 +0000 <a href=""><img title="clue1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="clue1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i]{Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and}[/i] ---------------------------- Publisher: Shueisha ISBN: 978-4-08-774854-3 C0979 ----------------------------- [b]Background[/b] Two of the most inspired storytellers in the medium collaborate to take on quite a few of the problems facing the youth of Japan today. Novelist Otsu-ichi (Goth, ZOO) is brilliant in his own right, but paired with Usamaru Furuya, they form an independent manga dream-team of sorts. Chronicles of the Clueless Age is a series of loosely interconnected short stories involving students from different junior and high schools in Japan who are all dealing with their own unique growing pains. [b]Summary[/b] [i](issue: hikkomori, social withdrawal)[/i] - Sayaka wishes for the rest of the world to disappear and finds herself on a boat far above the clouds surrounded by all of her favorite things. But in noticing the others sharing her world, she realizes that withdrawing from life altogether may not be the best answer. [i](issue: conformity)[/i] - a boy with a passion for bugs is teased and dismissed as weird. Longing to be more normal, he observes the giant ant-farm in his room only to discover himself and his classmates living in the tunnels inside. [i](issue: cliques)[/i] - two best friends are tested by one's insistence on pretending to be a magical girl in spite of being a Junior High Schooler. [i](issue: the testing system)[/i] - Taro is separated from his childhood best friend by 92 meters, 244 tiles and what seems like a thousand miles. In the &quot;gifted class&quot;, his friend does nothing but study for college entrance exams. In an attempt to bridge the gap between their classrooms, Taro comes face to face with the exam system itself. [i](issue: weight)[/i] - Mayumi is a compulsive dieter who has worked hard to lose weight and become one of the &quot;popular&quot; girls... but one spoonful of cake sets her back on the road to overeating. Will she be able to get the guy of her dreams packing all those extra pounds? [i](issue: bullying)[/i] - When his senior idol dies in a bike accident, small freshman Shou says goodbye the only way he knows how: Shou imagines a night riding through the sky beside him. Even though they weren't really friends, they shared a special connection. [i](issue: escapism)[/i] - a girl with an overactive imagination longs to escape from the mundane world and imagines that an approaching typhoon is a Chinese storm god. [i](issue: anger)[/i] - a timid, overweight boy who takes his student representative responsibilities very seriously is ousted from his post by a popular, good-looking boy who doesn't care about the position at all. He takes solace in a new friend: a small tornado named Fuuta. But whenever he gets angry. Fuuta grows... [b]My Thoughts[/b] While some of the issues outlined in the comic are uniquely Japanese, others are more or less universal. All are drawn with utmost care for detail and sparklingly scripted. Ultimately the stories flow together to form one uplifting conclusion that, while a bit &quot;easy&quot; to come by, is probably the closest to the truth either author could have come. The kids WILL be alright... Most of them anyway. Something tells me reading this book might help a few on their way. Highly recommended for it's beautiful art and sensitive storytelling. Happiness Fri, 10 Aug 2007 05:07:15 +0000 <a href=""><img title="happy11.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="happy11.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i]{Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and}[/i] ---------------------------- Publisher: IKKI Comix ISBN: 4-09-188310-9 C9979 ----------------------------- [b]Background[/b] Usamaru Furuya is an amazing artist and an incredibly twisted man. It takes a certain sort of courage just to pick up a title with his name on it: one never really can know exactly what to expect. Chances are it will be offensive, eye-opening and heartrending. This book, like the bulk of his work, is a collection of short stories. What sets this one apart is an uncharacteristic gentleness and sadness that permeates the volume. [b]Short Stories Included[/b] [i]Flower that Blooms[/i] - a high school girl falls in love with her teacher and he with her, but because of the taboo inherent in their relationship, the still have to stand an entire car apart when riding on the train. With their relationship limited to love hotels, is true intimacy even possible...? (drama, romance) [i]Lolita Number 7[/i] - Kyoko is a bright, fashionable and popular schoolgirl who has been madly in love with Atsushi since she was a little girl. Now, years later, Atsushi is hikkomori and refuses to leave his room, drawing nothing but manga-style pictures of his beloved &quot;Lolita Number 7&quot;... (drama, psychological) [i]Demon's Song[/i] - two inseparable best friends find their relationship imperiled by one's new fiancee: Satan... (comedy, drama, horror elements) [i]If[/i] - two schoolgirls play a neverending game of &quot;what if&quot; on the train... (drama, comedy, horror elements) [i]Happiness[/i] - a bullied schoolboy meets a kindred spirit in a casual gothic lolita who is henpecked by her peers. She tells him that they both come from another world and that a recently deceased Visual Kei star's music points the way home... (romance, drama) [i]The Cloud Room[/i] - with interest in nothing but watching clouds, a schoolgirl drops out of school and moves into her own apartment in Tokyo and paints a cloudy sky on the ceiling. Scammed by the apartment owner into paying far more for the room than she can afford, she's forced to prostitute herself to him in order to get by... (drama) [i]Indigo Elegy[/i] - a schoolboy paints his way into the heart of his idol only to find that he may not necesarily want to be there... Her idea of love doesn't match his at all (drama) [i]Angura Doll[/i] - a girl working as an idol in the soft sex industry finds her life off the rails and a comrade in the most unlikely of places... (drama) [b]Overall[/b] While sex and death are still looming on the horizon of most of these stories, Usamaru opts for a softer approach. Well developed characters with problems very much relevant to Japanese youth today make sympathizing with them more or less inevitable. The stories are memorable without being visceral and surprisingly uplifting endings are the norm. Even &quot;Happiness&quot;, which ends on the lowest note, has a strange sort of optimism about it. The only story that's a total downer is &quot;Lolita Number 7&quot;. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] The world is an ugly place and Usamaru never tries to deny that. But there are moments of beauty, fantasy and hope in all the ugliness which are made all the more radiant by the contrast. &quot;Happiness&quot; is a gently written love letter for realists, something to warm the hearts of those who know better than to hope for happy endings. Highly recommended to all who are old enough to read it. NOT suitable for minors (nudity, prostitution, suicide, sexual situations, demon-summoning) Donki Kourin Fri, 10 Aug 2007 02:23:28 +0000 <a href=""><img title="bible1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="bible1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i]{Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and}[/i] ---------------------------- Publisher: Media Factory ISBN: 978-4-8401-1038-9 C0979 ----------------------------- [b]Background[/b] Usamaru Furuya is an amazing artist and an incredibly twisted man. It takes a certain sort of courage just to pick up a title with his name on it: one never really can know exactly what to expect. This particular volume is a set of 4-koma (four-panel comics) with accompanying essays. The emphasis this time around is on wry humor though some stories touch on other genres. [b]Overview[/b] The topics here range from the mundane (there are several comics on self-esteem, weight issues, compensated dating, and school life) to the downright bizarre (a boy who is attracted to his male best friend because he has a face exactly like a woman's torso, a factory village in which every family makes only one thing, a girl living alone in post-apocalyptic Tokyo...) The comics are frequently funny, occasionally thought-provoking and almost always have enough &quot;truth&quot; to them to ground them in reality. So many topics are covered that at least a few are bound to resonate with any reader. It's the comics that tie in to real-life experience that are likely to be the most enjoyable. [b]Not The Ususal Furuya Work[/b] This is by far the &quot;lightest&quot; Usamaru fare available. While that doesn't necessarily hurt the book on it's own, those looking for the usual Furuya mind-trip are likely to be disappointed. That said, these are wonderful bite-sized reads perfect to digest just before bed. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] Very enjoyable but ultimately disposable, the volume as a whole hasn't got a great deal of staying power. That said, it's a good deal more artistic and well-thought out than most 4-koma collections. A few of the better comics may linger... A must for Furuya collectors. Otherwise, it can be enjoyed just as much borrowed as owned. While not as potentially controversial as Usamaru's other works, the volume still contains nudity, sexuality and some possibly offensive images. Buyer beware. Garden Fri, 10 Aug 2007 01:16:29 +0000 <a href=""><img title="gar1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="gar1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i]{Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and}[/i] ---------------------------- Publisher: Cue Comics ISBN: 4-87257-204-1 C0979 ----------------------------- [b]Background[/b] Usamaru Furuya is an amazing artist and an incredibly twisted man. It takes a certain sort of courage just to pick up a title with his name on it: one never really can know exactly what to expect. Chances are it will be offensive, eye-opening and heartrending. This book, like the bulk of his work, is a collection of short stories, and quite possibly his most harrowing to date. [b]Short Stories Included[/b] [i]The Illusionary Garden[/i] - A girl is born from a drop of water into Bosch's Garden of Earthly delights. All of the inhabitants of this garden are naked and encourage her to take off his clothes as well, that she might be &quot;free&quot;. Soon after she's snatched away by a giant sparrow who takes her to a garden of a different sort and points out that she is still wearing her flesh and therefore can not truly be naked, or free... (surreal) [i]Fellatio from an Angel[/i] - a hopeless dork is about to score in a church with the hottest girl at school... unfortunately God has different plans for him... (comedy) [i]Maybe a Dream (Yume Kana)[/i] - Yume and Kana are best of friends, or so it appears. In reality, Kana is desperately jealous of Yume and does cruel things to her which Yume accepts out of naevite. When these cruel tricks escalate into the realm of the truly dangeous, Kana realizes that Yume may mean more to her than a rival after all... (psychological, horror) [i]The Creature from the Sea[/i] - a schoolgirl finds a strange shellfish on the shore and brings it home. But there's quite a bit more to the shell than first appears... (surreal, pychological) [i]Tome of the Moon[/i] - a child apprentice lures young girls to his master for human experiments in hopes of attaining the key to eternal youth. When one girl is discovered to be in possession of the key, the master needs to kill her in order to retrieve it. Unfortunately, the boy and girl have bonded... (fantasy, romance, horror) [i]Emi-chan[/i] - a mentally stunted young girl is sent by her parents into the woods only to run across a serial child rapist and murderer. He soon adds Emi to his &quot;collection&quot;... but Emi has been sent with a purpose... [b]Overall[/b] This particular book centers around sexuality: particularly it's destructive and manipulative power. The theme seems particularly relevant in Japan, where sexual crimes are quite common and often go unreported. Female readers may find the level of violence against women impossible to tolerate, but there is a real palpable fear and connection to the situations that I suspect only a female reader can truly experience. In spite of women playing the role of victim and Usamaru being, himself, a man, the stories never seem terribly misogynistic. The perpetrators are drawn as miserable human beings and their actions themselves are ugly. In the end, often the predators themselves become the prey. There are no happy endings for anyone down this rabbit-hole. The final story, &quot;Emi-chan&quot;, is the most difficult to read. Making up nearly half of the volume, it details the rape, torture and murder of a girl in the rain. Drawn in nightmarish scribbles, it gets only worse as reality begins to unravel. To read it is to be there in Emi's shoes. It's scary as hell and realistic enough to make you forget that you're reading a book. As the story spirals to it's unexpected and oddly beautiful end, you'll be hard-pressed not to wipe tears from your eyes. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] In 2005 a train I was riding hit and killed a jumper on the Yamanote line in Tokyo. I watched as the body was taken away. At the end of the day I went back to the stop where it had happened and watched the trains run over the drying pool of blood as though nothing had ever happened at all. Reading this book was a lot like that day... It's genuinely hard to recommend an experience so terrible... but it is powerful, nonetheless. That someone can commit something so soul-shaking to paper is proof of incredible talent. There are very few human beings on this planet who I think would ~enjoy~ this book, but I never want to meet them in a dark alley. I do, however, think that there's a story here that needs to be told. What exactly that story is, that's for you to decide. The incredibly brave, morbidly curious or those who enjoy being challenged should probably read this... everyone else will want to stay far far away. NOT recommended to minors, weak-stomachs, people prone to nightmares, unstable serial-killer types, and anyone who lives with their parents or anyone else who might be freaked out by finding a book like this lying around... Wsamarus 2001 Thu, 09 Aug 2007 23:57:46 +0000 <a href=""><img title="was1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="was1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i]{Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and}[/i] ---------------------------- Publisher: Cue Comics ISBN: 4-87257-222-X C0979 ----------------------------- [b]Background[/b] Usamaru Furuya is an amazing artist and an incredibly twisted man. It takes a certain sort of courage just to pick up a title with his name on it: one never really can know exactly what to expect. Chances are it will be offensive, eye-opening and heartrending. This book, like the bulk of his work, is a collection of short stories, artwork and 4-koma collected around no particular theme at all. [b]Short Stories Included[/b] [i]The Sea I Went to with Sachi[/i] - an irrepressible tomboy with feelings for her gentle, girlish best friend virtually kidnaps a driver and orders him to take them to the sea. The driver complies, and on the way develops feelings for one of the girls... When they finally arrive at the beach, what began as a lightly comic road trip story takes a pretty strange twist. (romance, comedy, science fiction) [i]Taeko[/i] - a high school outcast befriends a small abused child living in the same apartment building. Both of them outsiders, she forms a bond with the beaten little girl but the girl draws terrible things in her rooftop murals and is covered in more and more scars every day... (horror) [i]The Hot Seat[/i] - a cab driver takes a tripping drug dealer into the desert on his insistence and begins to share his trip... (comedy, psychological) [i]Red Soul[/i] - a young worker joins the forensic unit at his local police force totally blase about death. That is, until he's had a few days on the job dealing with it firsthand... (horror, drama, psychological) [i]Mariko[/i] - a pedophiles small, but disconcertingly mature lover leads him to a gruesome discovery (horror, psychological) [i]The Cleanest Water[/i] - Natsumi's older sister, Ai awakens from her 8 year-long coma. But instead of being the perfect &quot;older&quot; sister Natsumi had imagined, 18 year-old Ai has the mental age of a 10 year-old... (drama, touching) [b]Extras[/b] Also included are 19 pages of color illustrations, 8 full-color short parody comics, and 15 shorter comics drawn in a variety of styles. [b]My Thoughts[/b] Unfortunately, this volume has no theme at all to tie it together and suffers if read in one sitting. Many of the stories by themselves are wonderful, but few have the disturbing bite Usamaru is so well-known for. This is, on the whole, Usamaru's weakest collection to date. The strongest stories: &quot;The Cleanest Water&quot;, &quot;Red Soul&quot; and &quot;Taeko&quot; are most definitely still worth reading: but with a $10 price tag; you may just want to borrow the book from a friend or find a nice resale shop that doesn't wrap their books... [b]Overall[/b] Recommended to Usamaru fans for the sake of completion. While this is his weakest collection, it's also one of the most accessible to new readers and lacks the high gore and violence quotient of his other works. New readers may want to start here and build their way up to more complex and disturbing things. Otherwise, this is a book best borrowed and read one story at a time. NOT recommended to minors, weak-stomachs, fluffy shoujo fans, people prone to nightmares, unstable serial-killer types, and anyone who lives with their parents or anyone else who might be freaked out by finding a book like this lying around... Litchi Hikari Club Thu, 09 Aug 2007 11:10:57 +0000 <a href=""><img title="litchi.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="litchi.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i]{Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and}[/i] ---------------------------- Publisher: fx comics ISBN: 4-7783-2017-4 C0979 ----------------------------- [b]Background[/b] Usamaru Furuya is an amazing artist and an incredibly twisted man. It takes a certain sort of courage just to pick up a title with his name on it: one never really can know exactly what to expect. Chances are it will be offensive, eye-opening and heartrending. Litchi Hikari Club is no exception. Be warned: this is NOT a title for the faint-hearted!! [b]Storyline[/b] Based on the 1985 Japanese stage play of the same name, Litchee Hikari Club is the story of nine Japanese school boys who have formed a club devoted to creating the ultimate in artificial intelligence. Overseeing this club is Zala, a calculating, charismatic leader who has brainwashed the boys into doing whatever it is he demands: including, but not limited to rape, murder, and kidnapping. Always at his side is the twisted psychopath Jonboi, who delights in suffering and manipulates Zala though sweet words and sexual favors. Under their leadership, the Hikari Club has degenerated into a facist psuedo-military organization... but it wasn't always that way. The club was originally formed by Tamiya, a bright and sympathetic boy who dislikes the direction Zala has taken the club and secretly wants to reclaim the club (or in the very least, escape from it with his two friend Kaneda and Dabuse). Meanwhile Nico, the official 2nd in command has begun to take offense to Jonboi's meddling and his closeness to Zala... On completion, the club's masterpiece: a robot with real human eyes (donated by Dabuse and Nico), steals a schoolgirl on Zala's orders. But in a rather unexpected twist, the robot falls in love with the girl and she with him... With a girl suddenly present, tension rises between the club members and loyalties are questioned. When Zala flies into a rage and orders Tamiya to execute one of the other boys... things start to get very very messy. [b]My Thoughts[/b] The volume is hefty, beautiful and incredibly compelling. I read all 327 pages in one night and then spent an hour unable to sleep because of the images still swirling in my head. Those images are not, however, pleasant ones. Furuya Usamaru doesn't pull his punches... and with a total of 11 graphic deaths presented in this volume; each one is more creative, detailed and horrible than the last. They're made all the worse by the geniune affection to come to feel for some of the characters who are offed. In some places, the gore is oddly beautiful... the final five pages, in spite of consisting of virtually nothing but corpses, are lovely. The story is, beneath all it's gore, a good one. There are definite, well-defined themes of friendship, predestination, madness, group-thought, rule-by-fear, jealousy and love. The book also works on another level as criticism of the Japanese school system and the degeneration of morals and ambition in Japanese youth as a whole. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] Highly recommended to those who enjoy Usamaru's work, violent Japanese literature (Yukio Mishima, Ryu Murakami), and films like Battle Royale. Gorehounds will find a lot to love here. Cautiously recommended to seinen, horror and BL fans (if you can stomach the level of gore, it's well worth the read). NOT recommended to minors, weak-stomachs, fluffy shoujo fans, people prone to nightmares, unstable serial-killer types, and anyone who lives with their parents or anyone else who might be freaked out by finding a book like this lying around... Land of the Blindfolded Wed, 06 Jun 2007 18:54:01 +0000 <a href=""><img title="LandoftheBlindfoldedVol5.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="LandoftheBlindfoldedVol5.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: NevesElocin<br /><br />Description: Seeing the future. Seeing the past. Anything but what we see right now. This manga has all plus an endearing plot! [b]Overview[/b] Land of the Blindfolded is a cute romantic comedy slash drama series. It follows the adventures of Kanade Outsuka, Arou Naitou, and Masahiro Namiki in their high school days. Each has a unique talent and something special happens when they touch another person. With Kanade, when she touches someone every so often she can see the future of that person. If it happens to be a bad future she will do anything to change it for the better. Next there is Arou-kun. He can see the past everytime he touches anyone or anything. At first he has a stand offish approach to helping others but soon warms up to the idea as his girlfriend Kanade continues to throw herself into trouble to help others. Last but not least is Namiki-san. When he puts forth an effort he can see the future as well. He has a smart mouth and can easily be mistaken for a bad guy but is not. He is in love with Kanade but is often thwarted by Arou-kun. The trio are often found in dangerous situations in which only their powers can they triumph. There are situations where they are misunderstood for their powers are only known by a select few. It all has to be kept secret. [b]Artwork[/b] The art is beautiful to the point that it's enthralling. Very simple but amazingly done. There are also painted images throughout although they are in black and white. [b]Language[/b] The language is simple but has deep meaning. It's very flowing and never seems to jump from conversation to conversation. It all blends very well together. With the continuous problems and the amazing back stories behind each character, it's a really good read. Lots of drama and life lessons too. And with the romance elements its a real stick to you manga. [b]Bonuses[/b] There are character profiles at the end of each volume. There are also author notes in the extras. Plus cute side comics every so often. This manga puts emphasis on the importance of family and acceptance. Give it a try. Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo (His and Her Circumstances) Fri, 11 May 2007 08:18:52 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Kare_Kano_manga.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Kare_Kano_manga.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: aceman67<br /><br />Description: [b]Initial Thoughts[/b] I initially watched the anime on recommendation from a friend, and I quite enjoyed it, and like most fans, found the ending to be confusing and quite disappointing. So, I turned to the manga. Kare Kano is one of those stories that you can easily relate to. It has characters living out their everyday lives, and the circumstances that they find themselves in, you can easily imagine them happening to yourself. The manga covers a [b][i]WHOLE[/i][/b] lot more story than the anime. The anime only covers the first 7 volumes of the manga (It ends at the beginning of the Culture Festival). There are 21 volumes in this series, so lets face it, if you've only seen the anime, you've only seen a fraction of this wonderful series. [b]Plot[/b] At the heart of this story is the romance between Yukino Miyazawa and Soichiro Arima. Yukino is an honors student, and the envy of her classmates and appears to be the perfect model student, but this is just a facade that she puts on because she loves to be praised and is a self proclaimed &quot;Queen of Vanity&quot;. When she starts high school, she is shocked that someone else beat her entrance exam score and became the class representative, that person being Arima. This spawns a rivalry (at least in Yukino's perspective) between the two, and its during this time that Arima discovers that the Yukino at school is just a front, and to keep him quiet, he makes Yukino his slave. They become friends, and eventually, Arima confesses his feelings for Yukino to her, and they begin dating. The story has a fairly large cast of characters, and throughout the story, they all get their time in the spot light, and the manga covers subjects like bullying and peer pressure, academic stress, complex family issues like child abuse and abandonment, marrying young and unexpected pregnancies. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] This is one of my favorite romance manga's, right along with Love Hina, Ai Yori Aoshi, and MARS. The story is captivating, immersive, and extremely well executed. If you're a fan of the genre, then I highly recommend this as a must read. Kagetora Sun, 08 Apr 2007 23:19:31 +0000 <a href=""><img title="kagetora-manga.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="kagetora-manga.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: NevesElocin<br /><br />Description: [b]Overview[/b] With 5 books printed in English and who knows how many in Japanese, Kagetora is a tale of a ninja that's slightly more serious than Naruto. Its more of a romantic comedy than an action but it has a good mix of both. It has a lot of historical aspects to it along with actual ninja info. [b]Art[/b] The art is beautiful but sometimes a little overcrowded into the space. It also has a lot of shading and was inked heavily. [b]Storyline[/b] Kagetora follows the story of, you guessed it, Kagetora, as he desperately tries to fulfill his duty as a ninja. But his duty isn't as simple as protecting someone or retrieving something, he has been hired to train Yuki (aka Hime) in all forms of martial arts. The only problem is that Yuki isn't exactly &quot;good&quot; at them, although it runs in her family. To be honest she downright stinks at martial arts, she can barely stand let alone fight in hand to hand (or weapon) combat. And to add to the mix Kagetora has some serious feelings for Yuki and if you didn't know better, you'd say she had feelings for him as well. Add in some wacky classmates, an obsessed mother who kills roaches with giant weapons (yeah you read that right), a series of suitors after Yuki and Kagetora, and brothers and others from Kagetora's village and you've got one funny manga. I'm not that into romance but this definitely put me onto the forbidden romance side. Since Kagetora is on duty he is not allowed to love Yuki-hime, but he finds this to be very difficult. Yuki is very sweet, if not a bit flirty, and the more Kagetora learns about her the more he falls for her. And he has to be constantly reminded by his faithful monkey that this is unacceptable. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] Its full of great laughs and even has a tear jerker or two thrown in. It's an all around good read, makes you wish for an anime soon. Give Kagetora a try! Angel Sanctuary Sat, 31 Mar 2007 16:54:53 +0000 <a href=""><img title="angel-sanc01.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="angel-sanc01.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Darkened_Star<br /><br />Description: [B]WARNING[/B] - may have some spoilers. [B]Plot[/B] Ruri, a friend of Sara Mudo, gets a computer disk from a strange person. Setsuna, Sara's brother, takes her away from the person and complains about talking to strangers. Neither of them knew that there had been strange deaths occurring in connection with the CD-ROM &quot;Digital Angels.&quot; Ruri keeps the disk, which is &quot;Digital Angels&quot;. When she goes home and plays it, strange things happen to her. Mean while, Evils and Angels watch Setsuna Mudo, a troubled teenage boy, who fights all the time with everyone. Now when I say troubled, I mean troubled. Setsuna has strong feeling for one girl and one girl only, his sister Sara. Not only that but Setsuna is the reincarnation of Angel Alexiel, who lead a rebellion against god. [B]My Thoughts[/B] It's been a little while since I've read this manga, and I no longer have it in my possession. The story was rather confusing, and I had to re-read most of it several times before I could understand it. It's different from other manga I have read. It contains several things that are just plan crazy, and out there. The illustrations were okay, but some of the characters looked similar to others, and it confused me more so. During some action scenes I became confused as to what was happening. The storyline itself was okay, but again it was confusing. [B]Overall[/B] I enjoyed Angel Sanctuary overall, but it was extremely confusing at first. The illustrations were definitely not the best I've seen, but the plot kept me interested. I would recommend that one reads it to find out whether you would like it or not. Star Trek: Death in Winter Sat, 31 Mar 2007 16:35:32 +0000 <a href=""><img title="TNG_Death_in_Winter_cover.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="TNG_Death_in_Winter_cover.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: aceman67<br /><br />Description: [b]Plot[/b] [i]taken from the book jacket[/i] Long before Captain Jean-Luc Picard took command of the legendary Starship Enterprise, he fell deeply and hopelessly in love with Doctor Beverly Crusher. Though, for one reason or another, Picard never acted on his feelings, he found a measure of contentment as Beverly's close friend, colleague, and daily breakfast partner. But when Doctor Crusher leaves her position on the Enterprise to become the chief medical officer of Starfleet, the brightest light in Picard's life is taken from him. And he has hardly resigned himself to his loss when he learns that Beverly has been declared missing in action on a distant planet - and presumed dead. Kevratas is a bleak, frozen world on the far side of the Romulan Neutral Zone where the Federation has become the plague-ravaged natives' only real hope of survival and freedom. Starfleet has no recourse but to send in another team to try to save the Kevrata - and Picard is the natural choice. [b]An Excellent Novel[/b] This is just another excellent novel from one of the gods of the Trek novels, Michael Jan Friedman. While he's not really my favorite Trek author (my favorite is held by Peter David, author of [i]Imzadi, Triangle: Imzadi II, Imzadi Forever, The New Frontier series, numerous DC comic titles[/i]), he has a talent to bring about the best in his characters, with a deep and detailed storyline. This novel final puts to rest the questions about Picard and Crusher's relationship, and Friedman answered these very well, while at the same time adding to the already detailed back story of Dr. Crusher (her first kiss, the reason she became a doctor, her wedding ect). [b]Storyline[/b] While some of the plot can be a bit far fetched, the book is actually a decent read (I finished it in about 2 days, but when I read, I read for hours at a time). For example: In the book, Crusher and Picard go on an undercover operation, this is a bit far fetched because both are pretty old (Crusher is in her mid fifties, and Picard in his mid seventies), but this is explained away by the rejuvenating effects they received while on the Baku planet (Star Trek Insurrection). Another example is taking a mentally unstable convicted attempted murderer on an undercover op. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] Even if you don't like Friedman's books, I'd still recommend this book if only for the fact that it takes care of the questions about Picard and Crusher's relationship. An easy 8 out of 10. Intensity Thu, 29 Mar 2007 12:49:49 +0000 <a href=""><img title="DKoontz_Intensity.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="DKoontz_Intensity.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: FLawEdmiNd<br /><br />Description: [B]Plot[/B] The plot is very fast and edgy. After you first read the story, youíll wonder where the plot was. But then it will shine through. Chyna Shepherd remains untouched and alive. Itís a prayer and a report, something to remember. It guided her through a childhood she never had. All her life, Chyna was alone and unloved. Until she met Laura. Laura Templeton, selfless and caring, her only and best friend. But there isnít goodness without bad. Laura and her family are murdered while Chyna quivers under a bed, reliving her past yet again. Somehow she manages to follow the killer to a gas station, in his own motor home to boot. Hears him kill, them stumbles upon a picture of Ariel. After that moment, Chyna found herself recklessly and hopelessly caring for this girl, this girl who is lost like she was. Chyna is a singularity, she somehow finds herself able to save the day, but to nab her happy ending too. [B]Presentation / Atmosphere[/B] All through the book you have so much thrown at you, so much information and action that it somehow manages to feel slow. Like a gunshot fired and slowed some way by a magical force, this book is intense. Itís very well presented, touching all the bases as it goes. Never leaving too much open or closed, giving the reader a sense finality as all action ebbs or peaks. It has this odd sort of calmness about it - not the booming shouts youíd expect, which only makes it better at the end. The atmosphere is just amazing, you can feel Chynaís hope. I almost wanted to yell at the book with the hope my words reach her ears. Koontz draws out the scenery very well, and the characters feel real. An awesome job, he kept the atmosphere running at a break neck speed but lulled the presentation of it down to granny speed, itís just crazy. [B]Overall[/B] Intensity is just that, intense. Itíll get you all pumped and ready for something; itíll make you twitch with excited fear. This is a crazy good read, if you can catch the moral, although itís still very good if you can't. The story is great, the atmosphere is awesome, and the characters are memorable. The book just screams greatness. This is a book I might consider re-reading, and thatís something I do very rarely. Official website for Dean Koontz at Tomorrow When the War Began Mon, 19 Mar 2007 21:40:04 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Tommorow-when-war-began.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Tommorow-when-war-began.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: _gwenibe_<br /><br />Description: [b]Plot[/b] Join Ellie as she tells the story of how her and her friends go on a camping trip during the holidays and on their return home, to find the place taken over by an unknown enemy, Furthermore, all their friends and family have been taken away. Australia has been taken over and now it's up to Ellie and her friends to decide if they want to fight. [b]Story[/b] Book 1 of the 7 book series is the perfect adventure story. Marsden knows exactly how to captivate and keep you on the edge of your seat all the way. From how teenagers survive on their own, take to different situations, and how they go for so long without detection from an unknown enemy and help the war efforts. A very exciting and tense storyline. These teenagers have a lot happening around them, and the fact that they are still only young, Marsden doesn't forget this, and works it in well throughout the book. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] This book is a must read for teenagers or anyone who just loves action and adventure stories. It's hard to put down in a few words how good this novel really is. I originally read it as compulsory reading at High School, and I believe it should be in all schools. Even those who had never picked up a novel will find this interesting. Almost everyone will find a character that they can relate to in some small way. Official website at [i](Here you can read an extract of the book - highly suggested)[/i] Velocity Sat, 17 Mar 2007 23:42:03 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Dean_Koontz_Velocity.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Dean_Koontz_Velocity.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: FLawEdmiNd<br /><br />Description: Velocity is a book written by Dean Koontz. The hardcover was released in June 2005; the mass market edition (domestic) was released in March 2006. [b]Plot Summary [i](written by Koontz)[/i][/b] If you don't take this note to the policeÖ I will kill a lovely blonde school teacher.... I will kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have six hours to decide. The choice is yours. This typewritten note under his windshield seems like just a sick joke. But in less than 24 hours, Billy Wiles, an ordinary, hardworking guy, is about to see his life take on the speed of a nightmare. Because a young blonde school teacher is murdered - and now Billy has another note. And another deadline. This time he knows it's no joke. He's racing a killer faster than evil itself. And Billy must accept his terrifying challenge: The choice is yours. [b]Storyline[/b] The initial storyline the reader perceives is not the true line the book follows. Rather, it is what keeps the reader reading until the end where the true plot shows itself. Until the end though, the book follows a semi-fast paced road wrought with drama bumps and other obstacles. Keeping to his fashion, Koontz draws out his characters masterfully, making them all endearing. A crazy killer is sending these sometimes cryptic notes to Billy which forces upon him a choice. It's very unique, the notes change, the pivots in the storyline happen with each note. Billy's life is already in shambles, his fiancťe is in a coma, and he is finding that he can turn to nobody for help, he walled himself in. In less than one week, six lives are taken, four on the shoulders of Billy, and two caused by Billy. A psychopathic murderer takes for his amusement, Billy's life and changes it to his will. Until the end, when Billy finds out it was all just a test. And he indeed, is worthy. [b]Presentation / Atmosphere[/b] The book seems to be giving you all the answers, but when you look again, you find the answers to be wrong. The atmosphere of the story is very tense, but very lighthearted. Slow moving but fast. An oxymoron upon itself. With all the characters being so vague, there are many questions raised as to the identity of the killer. Just by how they were written, you suspect everyone, except who the killer truly is. Melancholy seems to abound in this book, melancholy and hope. Hope is another compound in the glue that holds this book together. Expertly fused, the two emotions make the presentation seem boring and riveting at the same time. [b]Overall[/b] Velocity is a book that will entertain most readers, but still leave some Koontz fans wondering. While the story a nice, it isnít quite as good as other books by Koontz. Stunning characters etch this book as a gem, the sheer realness of the entire book make it appealing. I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing. Life Thu, 15 Mar 2007 17:46:32 +0000 <a href=""><img title="life.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="life.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Darkened_Star<br /><br />Description: [b] Plot [/b] The main character in Life is Ayumu Shiiba, a high-school student who struggles with school. With a heap of study and the help of her friend Shii-chan, they both try to get accepted into Nishidate High School. However, when test day finally arrives, Ayumu excels and gets a higher score than Shii-chan and gets to go to Nishidate whilst Shii-chan misses out. An angry Shii-chan then tells Ayumu she doesn't want to see her ever again. To cope with the loss of her friend, Ayumu begins cutting and inflicting bodily harm upon herself. Ayumu goes off to her new high school and continues to cut. Here she makes a new friend named Manami Anzai who has a boyfriend named Katsumi Sako. Something happens between Katsumi and Manami, and Manami then becomes suicidal. [b]My Thoughts[/b] Life manga was interesting. When I first picked it up I didn't expect to like it at all. After reading through it three times, I really wanted to read more. It was a book I could relate to in someways, something which I enjoy in my manga. The pictures in Life were great with clear illustrations. The storyline though did bore me at times. Life manga does contain many images on cutting, which at times may not have been a good thing because I am / was a cutter. Though the reason Ayumi cuts may differ from other &quot;cutters&quot;, it gives some insight into why people cut. [b]Overall[/b] I loved this book and would recommend it if you like stories based on real life happenings. If stories on cutting make you want to cut, please read with care. ^_^ .hack//Legend of the Twilight Thu, 15 Mar 2007 06:51:05 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Legend_of_the_Twilight-manga.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Legend_of_the_Twilight-manga.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: OdysseanPromise<br /><br />Description: One of the first incarnations of the .hack world to begin, and the last of the first generation of .hack merchandise to end, the .hack//Legend of the Twilight manga just goes to prove that... Okay, I got nothing. [b]Plot[/b] The sugary sweet SD versions of familiar characters is in &quot;The World&quot; - the online video game that has, up until now, been frequented by some of the worst PR that any one company could muster. However, in a contest giving away legendary character avatars, two siblings, separated by divorced parents, can bond, at least a little bit. That is until Rena, sister to Shugo, Blackrose to his Kite, goes into a coma! Wait, no she doesn't, that was the show, (donít worry, it wasn't a spoiler. If you've seen any other .hack, you knew it was coming sooner than later). There is a TV anime version of this show, but they are almost completely divergent. The manga and the first four episodes of the show coincide fairly well, but after that, partly because I suspect that the second and third volumes weren't [i]drawn[/i] yet, the artists behind the serialization decided to take their own liberties with the plot. [b]Overall Thoughts[/b] All in all, I prefer the manga version, as it is a .hack entry that does NOT involve someone falling into a coma. It is a welcome change from a tired plot device. I must say that reading this manga series is a lot like eating a funnel cake: it is delicious and enjoyable, but not very filling. It lacks substance, character, and quite a bit of plot for what amounts to a love story aspiring to be of Chobit proportions. This manga, while certainly not without virtue, still seems so out of place that it almost reads like a doujinshi, rather than a canon piece for the universe. What is interesting to note, for those of you fans who may be newer to the .hack scene, is that it makes references in some of the authorís notes to Tri-Edge and some other events in G.U. continuity. It may not be worth it enough to pick up the series if you do not already own them, but it might be worth thumbing through your copy again if you have not read them in a while. [b]Layout[/b] Something I will give this manga credit for is its effective use of layout. The art flows well, and never really seems to get bogged down with any difficulty of thought as to where you're supposed to read next. I do not read a lot of manga, so it being easy to read is integral to my enjoyment. [b]Final Verdict: 7/10[/b] Official website at Free Collars Kingdom Tue, 13 Mar 2007 22:22:37 +0000 <a href=""><img title="free-collars-kingdom.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="free-collars-kingdom.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: NevesElocin<br /><br />Description: [b]Plot[/b] The main character is, of course a cat, named Cyan. He has recently been abandoned by the parents of his master. Cyan is thrown into the basement of the apartment where he stays with his master's mother. She tearfully explains her inability to handle taking care of both the cat along with his sick master Kokoro. Cyan decides to stay in the basement and stick it out until his master gets better. However, the cats in the basement have other plans. They declare the basement their territory and try to oust him, only to be beaten by him. The only one of them that is not beaten is the &quot;old badger&quot; who looks on with interest. After looking on for a while the old badger figures out the breed of Cyan and asks him if he thinks that he has what it takes to be a &quot;free collar&quot;. For Cyan to prove his ability, he must show he can remove his collar in three days. After much pondering, and in the midst of battle, Cyan removes his collar letting his wild spirit free - and thus becomes a free collar. But he only accomplishes this with the help of Scottie - the cat who he once lived next door to. [b]Settings and Artwork[/b] This manga has many martial arts type scenes along with plenty of comedy. From its wacked out so-called villains to its even wackier heroes. Being an admirer of cats, this manga has great illustrations of beautiful cat ears. The artwork is very beautiful and impressive. A lot of detail has gone into this and is extremely appealing to the eye. It almost makes you feel as if its moving with you as you read it. [b]Overall[/b] Free Collars Kingdom is more of an older but kid type manga. Not too adult, but not too child like either. With an interesting plot, you will be sure to enjoy it. This manga is kind of like a tribute to cat ears in a manga. A fun read that has many aspects that can attract many different audiences. So give it a try, you'll definitly like it. Buso Renkin Fri, 09 Mar 2007 14:24:59 +0000 <a href=""><img title="buso-renkin.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="buso-renkin.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Darkened_Star<br /><br />Description: [b]Plot[/b] The story starts out with Kazuki trying to protect Tokiko from a homunculus (homunculus eat humans). When Kazuki dies, Tokiko places a kakugane medal in his chest that acts as his heart. The next moring Kazuki wakes up and thinks everything was a dream because he is still alive. The kakugane is an alchemical device that when activated can give one the power to fight the homunculus monster. Later Kazuki's sister gets attacked by the same homunculus monster that had attacked Tokiko. Tokiko shows up and explains to him how the homunculus is made by alchemy, and how he can use his kakugane medal to defeat the monster and that it's the only way to defeat a homunculus. In the end, Kazuki uses the kakugane medal and defeats the homunculus and saves his sister. [b]Critique[/b] This seems like another good vs evil manga, and yet another boy finds or recieves special powers and uses them for good. I enjoy most stories with this plot or theme, though they seem to lack some orginality. The first book itself somewhat bored me at first. But as I read more, I became more interested. Then I continued to read it again seriously. I suggest if you read the first manga, that you read it a few times before you decide whether or not you really like it. [b]Overall[/b] I liked it and would recommend it for others to read. Though it is not my favorite, I enjoyed reading it nonetheless, and am sure others will too. ^_^ One Piece Tue, 06 Mar 2007 15:45:24 +0000 <a href=""><img title="one-piece-comic1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="one-piece-comic1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: mangareviews<br /><br />Description: Eiichiro Oda is the creator, writer and artist who sketches One Piece, which began its manga run in 1997. Itís incredible to believe that after 10 years and 44 volumes with 447 chapters, itís going strong. One Piece is one of Japan's most popular Shonen Jump titles, with an anime spinoff, TV show specials, card games and foreign language translations all over the world. [b]Plot[/b] One Piece is the story of Captain Monkey D. Luffy, 17 year old captain extraordinaire of a ragged bunch of pirates. They are out on a quest to get their hands on a great treasure called One Piece, which is the source of all the power in the world to become the Pirate King. Being the Pirate King he will be known as the greatest pirate. One Piece was the treasure left behind by the previous Pirate King, Gold Rogers, after he was executed. Along the way, Captain Monkey has to recruit friends to join his crew and help him obtain the treasure. [b]Artwork and Characters[/b] The reason for the popularity of the series is not hard to find. For his earliest creation, Eiichiro Oda has put in tremendous effort to define and differentiate his sketches with something new and different. There are twists and turns to keep readers interested. For example, Captain Monkey D. Luffy (Ruffy) is endowed with powers to stretch his body, rather than the use of weapons or combat training. That adds to the humor in every fight. Also, the treatment of the material is nearly perfect. Neat and clean lines, and a focus on black and white pages, instead of haphazard colors, add to the attractiveness. And even the color, where used, only puts greater emphasis on the clean cut and well-defined characters and backgrounds with subtle shading. But all of this would keep the series alive for maybe a few volumes. The secret of Eiichiro Odaís success with One Piece is his ability to stay at the top of his game, year after year, volume after volume. Every sketch competes with the previous one for perfection. Oda learns from his experience, and like fine wine, the series kept getting better and better. [b]It Only Gets Better[/b] It would not be too much of a stretch (pun intended) to say that both Eiichiro Oda and Captain Monkey D. Luffy have grown a lot in the 10 years since the first sketch. With no foreseeable end in sight, thereís lots more treasures and rogue pirates and unknown adventures in store for us and Captain Monkey D. Luffy and his band of merry pirates. All courtesy of the artistic genius of one man named Eiichiro Oda. ES: Eternal Sabbath Wed, 14 Feb 2007 19:57:16 +0000 <a href=""><img title="ES-Eternal_Sabbath.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="ES-Eternal_Sabbath.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: mangareviews<br /><br />Description: ES: Eternal Sabbath is a story of science gone bad as this group of scientists go in search of immortality. The scientists were able to cook up a gene which grants a 200 year lifespan to the carrier, thus creating modified human beings immune to all viruses and disease. The main reason for the gene was just to find out if it was even possible to have eternal life. Problems arise when one of the ES carriers escape from the research facility and an unexpected development takes place, however, with Eternal Sabbath carriers gaining mind control and memory altering powers. Ryosuke Akiba, an ES carrying escapee is discovered by Dr. Kujvou, a female neurology professor after he had adapted to human life and was looked upon as a human. The story then takes a turn, pitting Dr. Kujyou and Ryosuke Akib against Isaac, who happens to be Ryosukeís clone, with a twist Ė heís the bad guy. [b]Artwork and Characters[/b] Eternal Sabbath is an unconventional manga series, in that it delves more into the lives and the psychology of the characters, and how they come to terms with their powers, their responsibilities and their own actions. The basic premise of the story is exactly that Ė A premise to explore and flesh out each character. The amount of attention that Fuyumi Soryo has put into Ryosuke Akiba is especially worth mentioning. Every time the story focuses on him, there is a sharp spike in the interest generated. The first volume, where he uses his powers without knowing what it is, how he struggles to come to terms with it, his initiation by Dr. Kujyou Ė all build up to an expectation that there's something big about to unfold. Soryo does not neglect the others, either. The romantic interest is maintained by means of resentments between Dr. Kujyou and Kimiko, an old friend. Kujyou's interaction with Ryosuke Akiba is very subtle and Soryo resists the impulse to let the two of them hit the sack. Instead, Kujyou plays the doctor, trying to understand a subject and guiding him gently. All in all, a fine effort to create undercurrents of emotional entanglements without any overt displays of affection. Best part is, the characters are clearly defined, the background information for each of the principals is filled in without devoting entire volumes to it and there's a clear buildup and progress towards a climax. [b]Story Flow[/b] The story flows without any breaks and the illustration and dialogue are very clean. Any more discussion of the story would mean spoiling the joy of going through the volumes yourself, so I'll leave it at that. Shadow Lady Thu, 08 Feb 2007 18:34:09 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Shadow_lady_01.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Shadow_lady_01.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: mangareviews<br /><br />Description: [b]Storyline[/b] Think &quot;The Mask&quot;, starring Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz, and you have the story of &quot;Shadow Lady&quot;, aka. Aimee. Still, I'll go through the basics of the story, before we get down to the art and the pros and cons of this manga series. Aimee, a shy and timid girl, gets her hands on a magic eye-shadow compact from the demon world. Applying the eye-shadow turns Aimee into a powerful, sexy and scantily-clad mischief monger. She creates havoc on the city roads, turns to petty thievery and generally makes life miserable for the Grey city police department, whose chief goes into fits of rage at the very mention of the Shadow Lady. End of the day, both Shadow Lady and Aimee, her alter ego, are competing for the love and affections of Bright, a handsome young cop. Not to mention fighting for their lives with some terrifying demons. [b]Artwork[/b] Shadow Lady, written and sketched by Masakazu Katsura, is remarkable not only for it's well fleshed out characters and superbly drawn backgrounds, but also as the basis for a very interesting and gripping plot. The features of the characters are quite pleasing and Katsura's emphasis on keeping his women nearly naked certainly helps to maintain the level of interest. Also notable is the heavy influence of the Batman comics throughout the series, including in the use of Shadow Ladyís side-kick and the city background, which closely resembles Batmanís Gotham city. [b]Ending[/b] Due to a sudden decision by the publishers to cancel the series, the end turns out to be highly compressed and not quite the way you want it to. Still, when you see two shadows flitting across the moon (another ruse lifted straight out the Batman comics), symbolizing the return of the Shadow Lady after her untimely petrification, it leaves one hoping for more. And more there was, in the form of &quot;Shadow Lady : Another World&quot;. But thatís another story. [b]A Masterpiece[/b] As far as this Shadow Lady is concerned, it has to be said that this is a masterpiece from Katsura. Question is - is it so gripping and interesting because it has only 3 volumes? As opposed to a long-running series with 25 volumes? The best ideas and depictions flowing out of Katsura's caricature of Shadow Lady are packed in close together, giving it a feel and look of being near perfect. Whatever the reason, this manga series is eminently watchable and entertaining, with a coherent storyline, pleasing artwork and liberal doses of humor and near-nudity. Shadow Lady was originally published in 1995 by Shueisha and later translated into English by Dark Horse Comics. Shadow Lady consists of the below 3 volumes: [list=1] [*] Dangerous Love [*] The Awakening [*] Sudden Death [/list] Mars Mon, 05 Feb 2007 22:09:35 +0000 <a href=""><img title="MARS_v01_Cover_TFT_.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="MARS_v01_Cover_TFT_.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: aceman67<br /><br />Description: Mars is a manga written by Fuyumi Soryo. The series has also been adapted into a Taiwanese drama under the name of Mars. [b]Story[/b] The manga stars Kira Aso, a timid artist who lives with her mom, and Rei Kashino, a flirt and playboy with a penchant for racing motorcycles (professionally). These two unlikely teenagers fall in and out of love (and in again by the end) throughout the course of the 15 book series. The two meet when Rei asks Kira for directions to a local hospital one day in the park, but instead of telling him the directions she draws him a map and hands it to him without saying a word. On the back of the map is a picture Kira drew of a mother and child. On the first day at school they are both surprised to find each other in the same class. Later, Rei walks in on their teacher sexually harassing Kira. Rei promises to protect Kira in exchange for a painted version of the sketch that was on the back of the map. He also offers to &quot;lend Kira his body&quot; and she asks him to model for her. All this interaction leads to a very interesting relationship between the two. (MARS [url=]Wikipedia[/url]) [b]Artwork[/b] The artwork in this manga is amazing, and nicely complements the very powerful and tragic story line. [b]Issues in Society[/b] Whilst being primarily a love story, the manga deals with issues such as mental illness, suicide, sexual harassment, rape, bullying, and murder. [b]Overall[/b] This is one of my favorite manga, and Tokyopop did an excellent job on this title (Something they do very rarely). I can't really say any more without spoiling the story, seeing how I've already given too much away, other then Go and Read It! Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO) Mon, 05 Feb 2007 15:42:53 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Great-Teacher-Onizuka.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Great-Teacher-Onizuka.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: mangareviews<br /><br />Description: [b]Overview[/b] GTO is a manga series, originally published weekly in Shounen magazine, which revolves Eikichi Onizuka's quest to become the greatest teacher in the whole of Japan. Onizuka, now 22 years old, has dropped out of high school, but still manages to graduate from Eurasia College. Initially, he's portrayed as a biker-punk, a wastrel hanging out with friends, looking up girls' skirts and a street bum. The story takes a delightful turn when he tries to bed a girl, but the girl's teacher intervenes, and Onizuka realizes the power and potential of being a teacher. This new realization has him striving to be a great teacher with his own unique style. The rest of the story, in true manga style, is dedicated to his escapades and entirely accidental triumphs as a teacher. Great Teacher Onizuka has been collected into 25 volumes by Shounen, and the English translation is available via publishers Tokyopop. [b]Art and Story[/b] The entire premise underpinning each volume is that Onizuka is a person beyond redemption. Tohru Fujisawa does not try to make his central character out into some sort of hidden gold, misjudged by society, whoís going to be lauded as a great person in the next volume. Every sub-plot, time and again, features Eikichi as a brash and crude impersonator, who's trying to fib his way into being something which he's not, and all of it just so he can get laid. The art supports this premise, with the lewd backgrounds in Onizuka's home and throughout the series. What Fujisawa does, is take Onizuka's character and run the story with the qualities he's already got, rather than trying to turn over a new leaf. So Onizuka is still remains a wastrel, but he's trying to be a great teacher, instead of a biker-punk. One would expect that in trying to be a teacher, Onizuka would collect some redeeming features, but that does not happen. Thus, the entire story is a much closer to reality than a fairy tale story. You are what you are. Itís just luck, hard work and circumstances that change your goals, ambitions and achievements. Of course, there are a few touches where Fujisawa flirts with Onizukaís conscience, but these attempts are short-lived. For example, when he starts life as a teacher, Onizuka realizes he should not be flirting with young girls anymore. Instead, he turns his lecherous eye towards their mothers. Itís fine touches like these, along with the the fleshing out of the supporting cast, especially his depictions of the sorry bunch of students, that raise GTO to a classic. Cashing in on the popularity of the manga volumes, a TV anime series with 43 episodes follows. Ranma Ĺ Sun, 17 Dec 2006 02:36:33 +0000 <a href=""><img title="ranma_manga.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="ranma_manga.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: mangareviews<br /><br />Description: If youíre looking for a wickedly funny and totally hilarious Japanese manga or anime, then Ranma Ĺ is perfect for you. It is the creation of Rumiko Takahashi, appearing in Japanís Shonen Sunday from 1987 to 1996. Its 38 original volumes of black and white pages, interspersed with the occasional color, have been repeatedly published, albeit in different formats. Indisputably, Ranma Ĺ has created its own following, especially considering how long it has been featured in Japan. Eventually, the manga got picked up for distribution in the United States by Viz Media, releasing its first volume in 1993. Incorporating some minor changes in the grouping of the volumes, Viz Media cut down the number of volumes by 2, therefore the United States version of the original manga had 36 volumes. Still impressive by any standard, Ranma Ĺ became the longest running manga for Viz Media as it held steadfast to its publicist for 13 years. Eventually, Ranma Ĺ the Manga, became adapted as a TV series and even found its way into movies. Fans of Japanese anime maybe find it endearing to know that Ranma's creator immortalizes her hometown in this series. [b]Plot[/b] A very original story, Ranma Ĺ is about an ordinary boy who falls into a cursed spring that changes him into a girl when doused with cold water. He reverts to his original form, that of a boy, when the process is reversed, when he is splashed with hot water. The concept itself already presents some mind-bogging ideas and the situations in which Ranma finds himself only adds to the chaos in the story. To make it even more interesting, upon returning from his trip to the cursed springs, he finds himself engaged to a tomboyish-girl, Akane Tendo, whom he has never met in his entire life. Their marriage has been arranged by the heads of their families with the primary purpose of prolonging the Tendo line. Because Ranma also delves in the Martial Arts, and is surrounded by a zoo of characters, some of whom were also cursed and have changed into animals, you can just imagine the countless hilarious scenarios that ensue. Through it all, youíll find that the love/hate relationship that Ranma and Akane had in the beginning is slowly evolving into a deeper and more serious love &quot;affair&quot; though they both will not admit it. [b]Popularity[/b] This series is very popular with young boys because of the martial arts element, the number of girls being linked to Ranma, the number of boys being linked to Ranma (?!) and all the nuances of his relationship with Akane. As such, you may be exposed to some nudity and relatively violent scenes from the martial arts episodes, although these are mostly second place to the hilarity and absurdity that come out of the series. [b]Overall[/b] All in all it's a fun piece of entertainment whether you chose to read the manga or watch the series. Death Note Wed, 13 Dec 2006 11:25:31 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Death-note.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Death-note.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: mangareviews<br /><br />Description: Death Note is a manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata of the Hikaru no Go fame. Tsugumi Ohba is a pseudonym; his true identity is unknown. It was published in Weekly Shounen Jump from 2003 to 2006. It has 180 chapters spread out over 12 volumes. [b]Plot Overview[/b] The premise is interesting, a notebook that can kill in the hands of a well meaning 17 year prodigy with megalomaniac tendencies. Light Yagami is a tensai or genius, and like the typical anime tensai, he is bored and detached from his daily high school routine. Destiny answers his craving for excitement by handing him the &quot;death note&quot;. The death note comes with a set of instructions and on a whim, Light decides to test the authenticity of the notebook's claim by writing the name of 2 known criminals. To his surprise, the notebook made good of its claim and the criminals die within 40 seconds. Light pursues a double life, tensai by day and vigilante by night. This is one of the obvious yet effective ironies of the series; the boy's name is &quot;Light&quot; yet he brings death; and yet again, by bringing death to criminals he acts as the light or savior of society. The mysterious deaths of the criminals did not go unnoticed. L, a brilliant yet quirky detective embarks on a crusade to unravel the serial killer behind the deaths and a game of cat and mouse between the two tensais ensues. The original owner of the notebook is Ryuk, a shinigami or death god who amuses himself by observing how Light uses his notebook. [b]Presentation[/b] The manga is a visual treat. Under the masterful strokes Takeshi Obata, the youthful pretty boys of the manga will delight any fangirl while the character designs are edgy enough for the male readers to appreciate. [b]Mood[/b] The overall mood of the series is very dark, very goth Ė Japanese style of course. The biggest appeal of the series is its light take on morality, pun intended. Society assumes that greater responsibilities rest on the shoulders of tensais like Light because he is smarter than the average bear. He lives up to this assumption by playing judge, jury and god. So what does society do? It hunts him down. Light, superior IQ and all, is just as vulnerable to boredom, vanity, and pride as Homer Simpson Ė maybe even more so. Interestingly enough, the 3 significant characters Light, L and Ryuk all started the ball rolling because they were bored; suggesting that the original sin may be Ė just maybe Ė boredom and not pride as Sunday schools have led us to believe. [b]Overall[/b] Death Note is an edgy, entertaining read. It makes use of the traditional manga / anime character stereotypes and elements but still manages to surprise and thrill its readers.