Friday, September 28, 2007

CBG Review: Samurai Commando: Mission 1549, vol. 1

I have written a review for Samurai Commando: Mission 1549, vol. 1, available on the Comic Buyer's Guide website. Please remember that the CBG website uses a 4 star rating. Check it out!

Samurai Commando: Mission 1549, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Last Uniform, vol. 1

Story and Art by Mera Hakamada
Released in the US by Seven Seas' Strawberry line

Slugline:Is there a single yuri title with high school age characters that is not set in an all-girl private school with dorms?

This is a slice of life manga, which for once does not include a visit to the beach or wearing a yukata to a festival. I had to get that out of my system upfront, that has been turning into one of my bugaboos lately. It is focused on two older roommates Kase and Beniko and younger roommates Sawara, Yamada and Hiwatari at a high school. Beniko is one of those perfect girls that have fans following around her all day, while Kase is more of tomboy and dislikes all the attention that her roommate gets, yet is not immune to her roommates charms herself. Sawara and Yamada have been roommates for a while when Hiwatari is added to their room, upsetting the balance between them but Hiwatari later develops a little bit of a crush on Kase after she beats on a pervert that exposed himself to Hiwatari with a shinai.

Since this is a slice of a life, there is little attempt for there to be an overarching plot, with each episode pretty much standalone though there is some progression as events from previous episodes are incorporated into the status quo of later episodes. The question that is posed on the back of the book, who is going to hook up with who, does not even really get asked in this volume, because no one hooks up anyone, or even announces their feelings. I have failed in the past to notice obvious signs of dating before (long story dating back to college), but this volume merely shows the gradually deepening of the characters feelings for each other, but other than Hiwatari's rather obvious crush, the overt romance has not begun by the end of the volume.

The Last Uniform, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

Nabi, the Prototype

by Yeon-Joo Kim
Published in the U.S. by Tokyopop

Slugline: A collection of stories, mostly about Myo-Un and Ryu-Sang.

At the end, we're informed that these are "side stories" for an upcoming series, also titled Nabi. I must say that I'm looking forward to that series, now.

These stories are non-linear and not all of them involve Myo-Un or Ryu-Sang. But they are all set in the same semi-fantasy, semi-scifi world and share threads of melancholy and unexpected kindness. The art is lovely, the dialog is good ad the world is left to build itself, for the most part -- about the only story element that I could complain about.

The layout of the book could be better, sadly. There is not enough separation between the stories and I tended to run straight from one into the other, then get confused and have to backtrack to find out where one ended and the next began.

But I'm definitely looking forward to Nabi, the series.

Nabi, the Prototype is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Miranda

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rure, vol. 1

By Da-Mi Seomoon
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: At least this time we change worlds before the end of the volume.

Ha-Ru is one of those exceptional students that everyone loves in a high school manga, except for maybe the readers due to repressed traumatic high school memories. But there is a reason for her exceptional nature, in that she is the (implied) mystical heir of an island. The inhabitants of which have built up a mythos around their matrilineal leaders, a leadership role that Ha-Ru is not eager to embrace. Meanwhile, her half-sister Mi-Ru wants to be part of the island's society, but because she is illegitimate she is shunned. The final straw is when Ha-Ru is confirmed as the heir while Mi-Ru is told to leave the island when Mi-Ru's grandmother dies. Ha-Ru still considers Mi-Ru her sister, and when Mi-Ru runs into the raining night Ha-Ru pursues her, and something in that pursuit throws them into another world. They arrive in the middle of the desert since that would make things even more inconvenient. Ku-Ya, a mercenary of this new world, is tricked into accepting both of them as slaves and more importantly taking care of them. The volume ends as they all stumble across a royal caravan whose attempt to drive away the demons of the desert have instead attracted them and has possibly doomed them all.

While I think a lot of the setup of series reminds me too much of many other generic fantasy manga, there were some aspects of the main character that I still liked. She is willing to use her brain, so rather than having a ferocious fight scene, she immediately surrenders so that Mi-Ru can get the medical attention she needs. Despite her state of perfection, she doesn't seem to consider it her birthright, which is refreshing. She know that despite her abilities, there are limits to them and that they may be taken from her by chance. Some of the story choices I don't get, such as introducing and developing the two schoolmates who then disappear from the story, and the flash forward two months, but for the sake of the characters I am willing to wait to see what happens next.

Rure, v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.



by Hakase Mizuki
Published in the U.S. by Tokyopop

Slugline: Two brief story arcs, one about reincarnation, one about a medium.

Hakase-san's art is light and lanky -- long legs, high foreheads, feline eyes -- and her characters prowl through these stories without even mussing their hair. Despite the stylized presentation of two stylized stories, the art beguiles and the devotion these characters show to each other charms and this volume ends up with a pretty good rating.

Often, devotion has a psychotic edge in manga, but here it's allowed to be simple and realistic. Hakase-san's art style is noticeably different from manga-standard, and really makes an impression. This glosses over a few weak spots in the plotting, though, as does the genuinely warm affection and concern that the characters show for each other (Nana, with the first aid ointment, particularly got me).

Baku is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Miranda

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

CBG Review: Tetragrammaton Labyrinth, vol 1.

I have done a review of Tetragrammaton Labyrinth, available over the Comic Buyer's Guide website. Please remember that the CBG website uses a 4 star rating.

Miranda has already done a review of it here on Prospero's Manga, and it can be found here.

Tetragrammaton Labyrinth, v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Aoi House in Love, Vol.1

Story by Adam Arnold with Art by Shiei
Released by Seven Seas

Slugline: The showdown between yaoi and yuri should be more exciting than this.

Aoi House in Love continues the story of Aoi House, and should be considered as part of that larger story than a new series. Basically the folks from Aoi House go to a con, has a friendly competition of Uri House (a house of yuri fans, rather than fans of Uri Geller) and goes into a cosplay challenge with some The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya fans. I really wanted to give this volume a gentleman's 3 stars, but after going back and forth on it, I just couldn't. A harder decision than you think because I know that people from Seven Seas read this blog, but too many things come up and drop out of the story with minimal explanations, the weird relationship between Alex, Elle and Morgan just doesn't feel real, and the reality TV angle that keeps on being tossed into the mix relies on the boy's cluelessness rather than the reader's cleverness to remain hidden. It also suffers in comparison to Dramacon, another manga set at a convention, whose less complicated and even sparse style makes Aoi House in Love seem messy and uncontrolled, an unfair but inevitable comparision. Many of the same concerns I had with Aoi House vol. 2 still hold true here also so that this is now more a title for people who just love harem comedies or need to see what happens . I believe the next volume is the final one, so here's hoping that they can wrap it up as well as they began it.

Oh, just to make a me a total meanie, the color 4-panel comics in the back just didn't seem that funny.

Aoi House in Love, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Cherry Juice, vol. 1

Story and Art by Haruka Fukushima
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Can step-siblings be in love? If you even have to ask that question, you haven't read much manga.

Minami and Otome are step-siblings that after five years have finally managed to negotiate a truce between themselves, acting most of time like a real brother and sister. But there is still a weird undercurrent in the relationship between them that even their school friends pick up on. But despite that, Otome is sure that she has a desperate crush on her fellow kendo student Hasaki, who is also Minami's friend. Minami, on the other had, is the bishi de' resistance to all the girls in school because of his looks and his membership in the cooking club. Minami is protective, perhaps even in love with Otome, so when Hasaki and Otome kiss, Minami logically of course sneaks a kiss from Hasaki also. And so it begins, a dance between the characters that continues to leave the exact depth of feeling between Otome and Minami deliberately ambiguous.

This is the sort of manga that usually drive me nuts, where everything seems to be built around the premise that nothing gets solved and nothing is revealed. Add in a sometimes confusing panel flow and character uncertainty (as in you are not sure which character is talking) one would be surprised that I didn't give it a worse rating, but there is some solid storytelling here and occasional flashes of insight that makes it tolerable. This has many of the same problems I had with another one of Haruka Fikushima's works, Kedamono Damono, without the strangeness of randomly transforming boys/girls to make it slightly more interesting.

Cherry Juice, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Aqua, vol. 1

By Kozue Amano
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: A story the flows as gently and as calming as the waters it takes place on.

Aqua is the new name for Mars, for after 150 years of terraforming the entire planet is 90% covered with water (I can't imagine just how many comets they needed to slam into the planet to pull that off...) with a city based on Venice called Neo-Venezia that includes gondoliers. AkariMizunashi has travelled from Man-Home (presumably Earth) to become an Undine, the elite of the gondoliers who give tours of the city. Aqua is about her training and getting used to the planet and people.

Okay, I mean this in a good way, but if you ever need to lower your blood pressure, read Aqua. It is a nice gentle slice of life story. While Akari wants to become an Undine, she doesn't want to become the best... Undine... EVER...! She is talented, but still has to work and practice to become better (she is very good going backwards, but that's not how they do it on Aqua. So in a pinch, she can be very good by reversing direction, but most of the time she is struggling.) The art is very evocative. I think the best story is Kingdom of Cats, in which we see the still waters of old Mars and experience touch of mystery of the martian cats. Just a little bit of strangeness rather than something sinister. It telegraphs itself a little, I could tell the end of the last story as it was coming, but that is okay. I may not want to read too many volumes in a single sitting, but if you are looking for slice of life, this is one of the better ones I have read.

Aqua is a prequel to Aria (available from Amazon), yet another manga that I haven't read. Considering the stacks of manga that surround me, stuff we have yet to review and titles that we have, I am always a little surprised when yet there is another one I have no idea of the storyline. That is why I love Jason Thompson Manga: The Complete Guide (available from Amazon and Gratuitous plugging is over.

Aqua, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Sale at

Just letting people know that, one of our sales affiliates is running a sale till the 23rd, 20% off everything that isn't already discounted just by entering the coupon code "fastforward". Prospero's Manga does take time for us to run, and sales through this link kicks us a percentage, which helps pay for the site. Everyone wins!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Truly Kindly

by Fumi Yoshinaga
Published in the U.S. by Blu

Slugline: What I said before about short yaoi stories feeling rushed or contrived? Here's and exception that proves the rule.

Can't brain much today, I have the dumb. Luckily, this author puts out consistently decent stuff, so I can easily recommend it even though one of the short stories also appears in Lovers in the Night.

Truly Kindly is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Miranda

Monday, September 17, 2007

CBG Review: Gon, vol. 1

I have also done a review of Gon, available over the Comic Buyer's Guide website. Please remember that the CBG website uses a 4 star rating.


Gon, v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, vol. 1

By Ellen Schreiber and Art by REM
Released by TokyoPop and HarperTeen

Slugline: I never trust stories in which the girl gets what she wants for her boyfriend.

In another manga extension of a published line of teen books, Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives continues the story of Raven and her vampire boyfriend Alexander. It is always awkward your S.O.'s cousin is around, you have to spend time with them, keep them amused yet still manage to sneak in the smoochies with your S.O. without getting busted. While Raven and Alexander may not have to worry about his parents, his cousin is a killer. Well, a killer wannabe at least, in that he is not a vampire like Alexander and desperately wants to be one. The only way to became one is for Claude to find vials of ancient vampire blood hidden on his and Alexander's grandmother's estate where Alexander currently lives, and so he decides to hold blackmail Raven by threatening her friend Becky to betray Alexander and learn the location of the vials.

I am not sure why but the pacing feels off. Maybe it is just my expectation that the author is not quite used to the comic/manga format or maybe it is because these books are just 128 pages (and this including lots of bonus material and a chapter from an upcoming prose novel so there is that much fewer story pages) so that it just feels short. It feels too much like just one chapter, not even a complete story segment that the TokyoPop original manga tend to provide. Raven fits the stereotype of a goth girl who has gotten what she has always wanted to a T, so I am not sure where the character tension is. Sure, there is the external tension from Claude, but is there any tension in her relationship with Alexander? He is almost an Mary Sue, a blank slate of perfection for Raven to project her desire and wants onto. But I do not have a large enough chunk of story, or a familiarity with the series overall to say whether that is the fault of this book or the series as a whole. What I see in front of me is competently done, and Raven projection of perfection onto Alexander does to a certain extent remind me of teenage romances in the giddy first rush stage when everything is perfect before the break-up and everything goes tragically wrong stage. This book ekes out a 2.5 rating from me, but I can easily see it going down if the following volumes do not deliver more than what I saw here.

Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Boogiepop Dual, Loser's Circus v.1

Art by Masayuki Takano
Published in the U.S. by Seven Seas

Slugline: Boogiepop rides again, this time in a boy, Akizuki, with the help of an ex-Boogie host.

Boogiepop has its own formula -- girls menaced by dark spirits who use schoolmates as puppets -- which works well, and will until they exhaust all of the permutations. This volume includes a handy franchise time line to gauge their progress.

In Loser's Circus, Boogiepop is channeled by a boy for the first time. The evil spirit in question is attacking girls in Akizuki's school and he, with the help of a teacher, is trying to track the enemy down. Since he's a boy and the targets are girls, it's a fine line between "tracking" and "stalking." The teacher herself is a former Boogiepop carrier, and it's interesting to see that there's life after Boogiepop -- and high school.

It's another good story in a franchise that doesn't seem to have any real losers (that I've seen, though the nonlinear ones require some patience). This is part one of two parts.

Boogiepop Dual, Loser's Circus v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Miranda

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

June Pride, Takumi-kun Series v.1

Story by Shinobu Gotoh, art by Kazumi Ohya
Published in the U.S. by Blu

Slugline: A complete yaoi romance in one volume, not too long, not too short. It's just right...

...because short stories end up feeling either contrived or rushed, and the usual multi-volume manga romance drags on and on. This is a fairly gentle pursuit romance where the pursue-ee is hiding a past trauma -- but since this is a complete story, the trauma is actually admitted to, accepted and the victim begins the healing process. It's nice to see that done in a way that doesn't generate further trauma for purposes of extending the series.

If this format continues in later volumes, it could make for a solid series in the boy-romance world. The sex is softcore and there are some mild twists but no large deviations from the genre template. Anyone wanting to corrupt a friend into the yaoi world could certainly use this as a good example -- if they don't like this, they won't like any of it.

June Pride, Takumi-kun Series, v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Miranda

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Demon Flowers, vol. 1

By Mizuki Hakase
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: I don't think I have ever been so impressed by a manga's art before!

The Japanese gods, before they were consumed by demons, sired human offspring so the demons are hunting the human children of the gods, because only by consuming them can the demons gain immortality. Ushitora is one of the hunters, but after a lifetime of killing he finds that he cannot kill one more small boy named Masato and runs from his fellow demons and hides the boy. We flash forward a dozen years when Masato is now a teenager and they have added an orphan girl named Nao to their family. Masato has realized that he is different from other people, and has spent most of his life on the run, knowing no other family than Ushitora. But by the end of the book at least some demons have caught up with them while Ushitora is away and Masato faces them alone, having hidden Nao away.

I feel that while the story seems rather pedestrian the art, for once, has impressed me. There are several different easily recognizable schools of manga art, and finding an artist with their own unique art style or who even use art styles outside of their normal genres is very refreshing. The characters here are very elongated and willowy, more so than one would find in a shoujo manga. When demons appear, their squat bodies and strange faces jar the reader far more than one would expect, because of the style of the art so far. Even though the story is anything but original, when it is coupled with an unique art style is suddenly feels fresh and something to follow up on to see how they further integrate the story into the art.

Demon Flowers, v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Who Fighter with Heart of Darkness

I have just posted a review for Who Fighter with Heart of Darkness on the CBGxtra site.

Who Fighter with Heart of Darkness is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Gon, v.1

by Masashi Tanaka
Published in the U.S. by CMX

Slugline:A chibi dinosaur smashes his way through the modern forest.

This may be my most unpopular review ever -- if you love Gon from the mid-90s release by DC Comics, don't bother reading any further.

Chibi characters used to be novel, if not always cute, but that novelty has long since worn off. Still, I went into this expecting to like it, expecting something cute and clever.

It's not. Gon uses his head, mostly, to smash animals into submission or to take down trees right and left. I don't find either of those things cute or clever. Gon arbitrarily singles out animals to punish for simply doing what comes naturally, and I don't find that cute or clever either. Maybe some people think the predator/prey relationship is inherently unfair, but I don't. There's no particular reason for Gon to be stronger than everyone else, he simply is. So I end up sympathizing with the animals who suffer just for being in his way.

So I was sorely disappointed and even angry after I read this, and I'm sorry to be giving it such a low rating. I had wanted to talk about storytelling without words and have a chance to plug Triplets of Belleville (where no major character says a real word) and the wonderful Owly series by Andy Runton (aimed at young kids but enjoyable by everyone). But now all I can do is tack that on at the end.

Gon, v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Miranda

He Is My Master, v. 1

Story by Mattsu with Art by Asu Tsubaki
Released in the U.S. by Seven Seas

Slugline: If you were so incredibly rich you could hire anyone you wanted to be your maids and wear fetish gear, why would you hire ones with overprotective pet alligators?

Yoshitaka's parents have died and he is left alone with his mansion, his gobs of money and no one to supervise him, not even a estate executor. So after a few moments of private grief, he decides he needs some staff to help run the mansion, and when two early teens near his own age wander by in need of a job, he hires them on the spot. Of course, one has the penchant for creating ludicrous challenges to solve any disagreement, often enforcing her will and making a central point of said challenges her pet alligator.

It is filled with maid fan service, so if that is your thing, go ahead. But the situation here is only barely sketched out and it's only there to get the characters together and apart in the most frustrating and teasing of ways. I guess it would be possible to take this concept seriously and still have a fair amount of humor, but no, just assume that whenever possible they will go for the easiest and cheapest laugh and panty shot, no matter what it takes plot- or character-wise in order to get there, and you pretty much have the whole book. I have to admit I just started skimming this title after a bit, because all of the gags were obvious and were exactly what you would expect. If possible, this was a lower brow comedic version of a harem comedy. With an alligator.

He is My Master, v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand