Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Princess Ai: The Ultimate Edition

By Misaho Kujiradou, Courtney Love & D.J. Milky
Released by TokyoPop

Slugline: If half the effort that went into design of cosplay friendly costumes went into the story, this would have been truly epic.

All three volumes of the original Princess Ai series are collected into this single volume. The story in volume one is pretty feels pretty different from the others, in which an amnesiac Ai arrives in Tokyo, met her friend Kent and is discovered in a club singing, with Ai's rival of this volume disappearing its end. The second volume is about Ai's preparation for pop stardom culminating with her first live performance on TV while the last volume is the increasing success of Ai and her world tour, culminating in a final stadium show where all of the story threads come together.

I didn't mean to snark so heavily on the costumes in the slugline, but each of Princess Ai's outfits are shown clearly, almost always full page. And they are pretty interesting so that you can understand why in the back of the volume there are photos from the Princess Ai cosplay contest that TokyoPop had. But the costume visuals, they are confined to the main character Ai with none of the other characters having such distinctive looks, and the art, while nice, failed to excite me. The story, with its subtext about the other world, the slavery, the torture and so on, well it remains in the other world of the main action of the story we see, so we never see the real stakes or truly feels why Princess Ai is chased and considered dangerous, so it becomes abstract and a distant threat. Even the scenes in the other world are shadowy and dark, so all you see is the characters in the other world, not their environment. We really needed to see more, to understand the stakes that are driving the characters. The main opponent of the first two volumes converts to being an ally rather quickly, even for manga. And the threat from this world that Ai faces, she is never even really made aware of it so she can't really struggle against it. There are some good scenes, such as the killing of supporting character who stays dead, but they are countered with the utter predictability of another character's survival, Ai's leaving at the end of the story and the true nature of Ai.

Princess Ai: The Ultimate Edition is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dorothy of Oz, vol. 1

Son Hee-Joon
Released in the US by Udon

Slugline: After watching or reading thirty billion adaptations of Oz, I could believe that this yellow brick road was really made of gold.

A woman and her three strange companions enter a town along an endless road. The town is under attack from monsters and their military garrison has done little to stop it. It turns out that the military garrison are the monsters and that they are also experimenting on the townsfolk. But it also turns out the four are wanted criminals with the codenames Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and Cowardly Lion in the Kingdom of Oz. The secret agent Shine seems to have his own agenda for them, but we then flashback to how a Korean girl named Mara ended up in another world called Oz, but not on how she ended up on the run or gained her companions.

I was afraid this version of Oz was going to turn into a cultural Mary Sue (Click here for definition of a Mary Sue) after reading the first couple of a pages. But if it a Mary Sue, it is a well written one, which forgives many literary crimes. It transposes many of the aspects of the Oz stories onto one that is more familiar to manga/manwha readers. Now that I am thinking about it, the Wizard the Oz be one of the prototypes of otherworldly manga stories, where the character leaves an otherwise boring world, becomes important in another one, but yet still yearns to return to their old life. It is not a perfect translations of course, a cowardly lion is not much use in a title with fights so I am not quite sure how that flaw will be expressed here. But they actually set up the book in an interesting way, in that they showed Mara and her companions already on the road having adventures, and then flashing back. This shows up front how your expectations for the story will be challenged, so when you go through the origin story, you are not too anxious to rush through it because you now know it is not going in the expected directions. The strategy worked, for I have a preview of the 2nd volume here also and I will probably read it tonite.

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


Monday, October 29, 2007

Multiple Warheads, issue 1

By Brandon Graham
Released by Oni Press

Slugline: This is the sort of title where a character's name of Sexica does not raise any eyebrows...

Sexica has just returned from an organ smuggling run with some primo organs, such as the midas tush, which turns you know what into gold. She stops by the place she shares with her boyfriend, Nikoli, who she gave a present of a wolf organ for his birthday and he still he wolf dreams. They both share a waking dream, of leaving the Dead City and going to Impossible (City that is), and this last organ run may be what puts them over the top. But the city does not alway let people leave easily.

Multiple Warheads is in a hard format to love, a 48 page floppy. Not something that you can find in most bookstores and most comic shops would not stock it long term. That being said, I think it is still worth the effort of tracking down. Brandon Graham has a sort of mad genius for inventiveness for the future, twisting stuff so they are just outside of the bounds of credulity, but so close to that line you have to think and ponder it. And in pondering it, appreciate it. Plus there is a couple that have a relatively normal relationship when surrounded by craziness, despite being just as weird as the world that surrounds them. When Sexica is worried about Nikoli, you can feel it. Brandon Graham has also done King City for TokyoPop, (reviewed here) that shares a lot of the same im
pulses, a strange world that you can believe along with characters that are fully share the weirdness but also feel real. There is some sexual nudity here, so it is rated 17+, but despite the difficulty of finding it and the rating, it is worth finding. We would suggest starting with the One Press website. (


Friday, October 26, 2007

CBG Review: The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls: Revenge of the Hori Clan, vol. 1

I have written a review for The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls: Revenge of the Hori Clan, vol. 1 , available on the Comic Buyer's Guide website. Please remember that the CBG website uses a 4 star rating. Check it out!

This title is done by the same team that was responsible for the manga Basilisk. Check out our previous reviews on Basilisk 1, Basilisk 2 & 3 and Basilisk 4 & 5.

The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls: Revenge of the Hori Clan, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Manga Publishers Aiding California Wildfire Victims

The folks that put on Anime Expo, SPJA and many manga publishers are aiding the Red Cross in helping California Wildfire Victims. The full announcement can be found here, but here are some of the important points...

The SPJA and Industry companies urge those who can assist monetarily to do so by calling the Red Cross at 1-800 HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or Donate Online at In-Kind donations are also welcome by calling 1-800-746-5463. More information regarding relief efforts and shelter status/locations can be found online at


New Posting Schedule

Some of you may have noticed, but we have switched some stuff around, and we are now posting one new review every weekday, with the Friday review being on the Comic Buyer's Guide website and being linked to from here. In addition, we are also reposting one review a week on TokyoPop Online, with our reviews here and the brand new articles we have written here.


Me2, v.1

By Sho Murase
Published by Tokyopop

Slugline: (cue Queen music) She’s going slightly mad… she’s going slightly mad… it finally happened, happened…

Nominating this one for “OEL That Looks Most Japanese, 2008”. Even though it reads left-to-right, this volume is full of goth-y sensibilities, ornate details, Japanese names, and mean bullies. Like Boogiepop Phantom or Chevalier d’Eon, there is a channeled protector and/or budding multiple-personality disorder in Aki, school outcast who recently lost her older brother. Thanks to the bullying of the mean girls and semi-clueless parents, Aki is starting to experience “lost time” when her ass-kicking, suave and mysterious defender starts appearing.

The volume looks great, reads well, and had me stopping and asking “Is this a backwards manga? A manhwa? It’s really an OEL?” even though the story and the characters are rather familiar. Some people don’t read OELs because they’re not “authentic” – well, this one sure does feel authentic.

Me2, v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Atelier Marie and Elie: Zarlburg Alchemist, vol. 1

By Yoshihiko Ochi
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: There is no such thing as a slice of life/high fantasy hybrid

Marie is an adventuring alchemist that has decided to return to the city of Zarlburg, where she originally trained at the Royal Magic Academy. Elie is a recent graduate that is determined to get some real world experience before going back for her advanced studies. When they meet the teacher who taught the both of them she puts them together. Elie doesn't mind much being paired with Marie because she discovers that Marie was the alchemist who cured her of a disease when she was young and is the reason Elie chose to become an alchemist in the first place. They set up a shop, acquire some apprentice elves, and help save the city from a jello like thing.

I think the way that the series betrays its origins as a video game franchise is in its apparent uncertainty over what kind of story it wants to tell. At times it reads very much like a slice of life while at other times more like a traditional high fantasy action story. But it is hard to balance to different needs of those genres simultaneously, so you end up with a story that satisfies neither set of genre conventions. It is far too mild to be exciting but it doesn't delve far enough into the day to day events of life to be interesting or illuminating of the characters. It's not bad, and I can see that maybe in the future volumes if the series decides what kind of story it is, it could improve, but I am not holding my breath.

Atelier Marie and Elie: Zarlburg Alchemist, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Missile Happy, vol. 1

By Miki Kiritani
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: A boy and girl, who love each, plan to get married and live together right now, only occasionally smooch. I'm sorry, I am willing to suspend my disbelief for a lot, but even I have my limits.

Mikako loves her sister so much and is so sure that the marriage matches that have been set up for her sister are wrong, she tries to get the dirt on the men. In one case, she shows up at the door of one of the matches, and bluffs her way into living with him, Rou. Mikako and Rou fall in love, Rou's brother falls into love Mikako's sister, and a whole bunch of really improbable coincidences and improbably personalities clash to set up a completely unbelievable premise for the series. Unbelievable not as in, 'wow, what a coincidence', but unbelievable in a way that makes me think the creator had an editor demanding that the story cram in every conceivable shoujo cliche. The second half of the book is rather run of the mill with solid writing, but the entire setup is just too, well, not stupid, but still requiring a generous amount of ignorance of how people deal with each other. Maybe if the world was a little abstract, a little more crazed, as in not set in Tokyo but somewhere else so that the story had some tinge of fantasy and unreality already in it, maybe I could I buy the premise. But I can't.

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


Monday, October 22, 2007

Psycho Busters, vol. 1

Manga By Akinari Nao and Story by Yuya Aoki
Released in the US by Del Rey

Slugline: A main character in a manga who has brains and is on occasion is clever? Pardon me as I go check the Book of Revelations for signs of the End Times.

Kakeru is alone in the house, the rest of the family off on a family vacation. Like any teenage boy, he looks at his dad's hidden porn stash and leers at the naked ghost girl that shows up. Well, maybe not every boy has a naked ghost girl show up when they read porn, but he discovers that there are a group of psychic teens on the run and their badly injured leader who for some reason thinks Kakeru, who craves some excitement in his life, is going to save the world. Kakeru does go along with this, if for no other reason to stay close to Ayano, the formerly naked ghost girl who is now solid (which Kakeru likes) and clothed (which he doesn't.) Despite being sure that he doesn't have any psychic powers of his own (an assertion I doubt) he helps the three teens find their missing fourth member, and by using his head contributes to defeating the two psychics that were after the group.

The beginning of the volume, I was prepared to be heartily disappointed by this. There are some cliches and genre conventions that seem to pop up over and over in manga, and the beginning of the volume had them galore. But then the main character,Kakeru, when under pressure started to use his brain. He isn't Light from Death Note (check out our reviews of Deathnote 1-6 and 7-10) who is so preternaturally intelligent that is almost beyond belief. But he does surprise, relying on more than just willingness to absorb ludicrous amounts of punishment, to show that he is worthy of being the main character. It is this willingness to surprise the reader that makes me want to follow the series, because I want to see where the next surprise is going to come from.

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


Thursday, October 18, 2007

CBG Review: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Truth About Stacey

I have written a review for The Baby-Sitters Club: The Truth About Stacey, available on the Comic Buyer's Guide website. Please remember that the CBG website uses a 4 star rating. Check it out!


Sharknife, vol. 1

By Corey Rey
Published by Oni Press

Slugline: No need for sluglines when the actual comic has lines like "Let the Poetic Dance of Battle Ooze from our Fists into our Faces!"

Ceasar Hallelujah is a modest busboy at the Guangdong Factory, a five story temple to the art of Chinese culinary chefs, which has creature catastrophically lurking in its walls, occasionally disgorging monsters intent on masticating on customers who are enjoying a power-up at the restaurant! But I insist you leave fear in the anteroom, for Ceasar upon sneaking a fortune cookie is totally upgraded to the lava hot ninja 'bot of bodacious beatdowns, SHARKNIFE! Thrill to massive combo attacks that can only be managed by wielding six controllers at once, a feat of ease due to Sharknife's own Six-Gills Style of Kata knockdown! But perhaps the nattily attired gregarious gangster Ombra has plans to silence Sharknife's sayings from the seers that condense their brainsweat into each and every fortune cookie that is his startup screen!

Forgive me, but I love writing like that. May have exaggerated things a little bit.

But not by much.

This title blends its manga and video game influences seamlessly, along with a healthy does of ironic self-awareness. Sometimes the action is so massive that other than seeing some of tail that is being kicked it is hard to determine what is going on beyond it. But if one wants to see action on a scale only imagined by people who defeated Halo 3 on the "your frickin' crazy" within a single sweep of the timepiece, this is your title.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hardy Boys, vol. 1: The Ocean of Osyria

By Scott Lobdell and Lea Hernandez
Published by Papercutz

Slugline: I remember the Hardy Boys from when I was growing up. And they haven't changed at all, unfortunately.

Frank and Joe Hardy, the original teen detectives, have been waiting for a chance to show their father that they can handle cases on their own. They are suddenly given that chance when their friend Chet is arrested under suspicion of using his EBay-like account to fence a stolen treasure. Determined to prove Chet innocent and that someone else had hacked the account to hold the illegal auction the Hardy Boys go to Osyria, a Middle Eastern country and then Paris, France to recover the necklace, the Ocean of Osyria, a national treasure of Osyria.

Look, I understand that there is difficulty making an interesting mystery that appeals to both tweens and older readers. And the original Hardy Boys were not great literature by any stretch of the imagination. But I at least ask that characters have consistent motivations. Characters turn from threats to allies without much explanation and the Hardy Boys, despite saying that they want to clear their friend of a crime, several times they pass up the opportunity clear him into to keep the story going. As is inevitable in these sort of stories, they get captured, learn a clue, escape and go to the next setpiece where they are captured again to learn another piece of the puzzle. It would also help that there were genuine differences in their abilities, instead of Joe saying that Frank is better with computers, then turning around and immediately punking some hackers with his own skills. Considering the pedigree of the writer involved, I don't know, I just expected something more. The art is pretty good though, very much in Lea Hernandez's distinctive style.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Missing, v.1

a.k.a. Kamikakushi no Monogatari
by Gakuto Coda, art by Rei Mutsuki
Published in the U.S. by Tokyopop

Slugline: Kyoichi, anti-emo gothboy extraordinaire, pulls his friends into his obsessions. Next stop... the Twilight Zone.

I go into these manga just about blind -- I don't even read the blurb on the back cover, most of the time -- so the fairly shojo-flavored cover and the moderate oddities in the first part of the book left me completely unprepared for the sudden turn into CREEPYLAND. Kyo's friends stumble, with convincing innocence, straight into his secret obsession with the paranormal, and then start looking for answers and deciding to help him, whether he wants it or not.

The quite effective creepy scene is followed by a fair block of exposition, which while necessary is also not nearly as much fun. As the beginning of a story, it lays out the plot objective and some of the problems and characters in a neat package, but what will happen next is not exactly clear. This "literature club" does not seem to have the resources to track a vanished friend through a shadowy, paranormal reality.

Mutsuki-san's artwork is breezy -- there's an intermittent, invisible breeze mussing everyone's hair just so -- and nicely composed. And according to the back of the book, yes we'll all have the chance to read the story again as a light novel, if you're into that sort of thing.

Tokyopop labeled this series "Mystery" but we don't have a tag for that. Hopefully this mention will snag any searches for mysteries.

Missing: Kamikakushi No Monogatari, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Miranda

Delayed posting

I did have a review from CMX Manga, Teru Teru X Shonen all set to go last night. But then I found out that the books wasn't going to be released until March. I think they sent me a preview copy way too early in this case. I am going to see what I can do about catching up later today.


Friday, October 12, 2007

CBG Review: Presents, vol. 1

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

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


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sale on Del Rey Books and Manga at

Just letting people know that, one of our sales affiliates, is running a sale until 11:59 pm of Oct 21st on all Del Rey manga and books. The sale is 33% off just by entering the coupon code "treat". For a list of Del Rey titles we have reviewed, go here. In particular, we really enjoyed the titles Mushishi and Eternal Sabbath or you can check out our review for Manga: The Complete Guide that we did earlier this week, that I still argue every serious manga fan should have.

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. So everyone wins!


Swing Out Sisters

Swing Out Sisters and all other explicit titles have been moved to Prospero’s Manga – Mature, a review blog for explicit manga titles. Please check there for reviews of such titles.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trinity Blood: Return on the Mars, vol. 1 The Star of Sorrow

Written by Sunao Yoshida
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Example #217 of the Kenshin rule: The more silly and apparently bumbling the character, the higher likelihood he has a) powers that laugh at the mere idea of the 3 Laws of Thermodynamics* and b) a past so tragic that even Shakespeare would weep.

I know, I know, I'm reviewing another light novel, but I have very little control what ends up in my review box. As my review of Full Metal Panic! last week, the light novels of Trinity Blood are the source material that all other material such as the manga and the anime was derived from. To find my review of the first volume of the manga on CBG Online, click here.

A new priest, Abel Nightroad, has been sent to Istavan, the free city between the Vatican Territory and the New Human Empire. This is hundreds of years after the Apocalypse which left the remaining human survivors arrayed against vampires.. The New Human Empire is ruled by vampires, while the Vatican is a religious monarchy that helped humanity resist the vampires. The vampire ruler of Istavan, Gyula, has promised revenge on the Vatican and the Church for the death of his wife, a human. Abel, despite his bumbling nature, helps Esther, a novice nun who is the leader of the partisans of Istavan. He is eventually forced to reveal that he is a clandestine agent of the Vatican and a Crusnik, a vampire who feeds on other vampires. He defeats Gyula, arranges to have the Star of Sorrow, the MacGuffin (if you don't know what a MacGuffin is, click here) of the story, to self-destruct, and leaves to return to the Vatican with Esther.

The story here can also be found in the first volume of the Trinity Blood manga and in the third and fourth episodes of the anime. The basic story remains the same, but we do get to see a little bit more of what is going on in Esther's head in this, though I think in return we get less insight into Dietrich. Of course, we don't enter the head of the Abel in the volume at all, since that would ruin the suspense of who and what he really is. I understand that the larger story in all three medium, the anime, manga and the light novels are different, but I am relying on wikipedia for this, which has been known to be wrong. Some things that were a little confusing in the other versions is laid it out much more clearly here, but looking at the map at the end, I am pretty sure the editors got some cities wrong. The story itself is solidly written, with no major "what the heck??!?" moments and this does offer some more insight into the world and especially the character of Esther. I would say it is complementary rather than redundant to the other versions of the stories, but you can get by perfectly well without having to read this, as there does not appear to be any earth-shaking alternative POVs.

*Officially the laws that govern heat and thus energy in physics. Click here for the wikipedia entry, but I warn you, they have made it all scary with Greek letters and math. The short version is 1) You can't win, 2) You can't break even and 3) You can't even quit the game.

There is a lot of Trinity Blood merchandise, and below you can see a selection of it.

Or you can just find the light novel we are reviewing.

Trinity Blood: Return on the Mars, vol. 1 The Star of Sorrow is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pick of the Litter, vol. 1

By Yuriko Suda
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: If 2 rabbits and a cat showed up and claimed to my brothers, I would at least ask for a birth certificate.

Riku was found when he was 10 years old, without any memory or the ability to speak Japanese. Five years later, he is one of the most helpful people in his school dorms when he is reunited with his brothers, who just happen to run a store in another dimension. Riku decides to work there on the weekends while remaining in school in Japan, and gets caught up in a couple of different adventures, including several that involve a greeting cat statue that has a spirit bound into it. While the story is fairly episodic, there are some elements that carry over, especially the before mentioned cat statue

While most of the story takes place in the other world, I actually find the parts of the story that are in both world's the most interesting. Maybe because in most of these types of stories, when the character leaves his world he does not get to return until the very end of the story. The act of juggling the two worlds is much more interesting to me, otherwise the other world is just a dream that can be ignored at the end with the character now able to go off and become what he always wanted, a boring normal person.

Wow, I think that particular bit of annoyance had been lurking in me for a bit. This is a solid story, but it would appeal mostly to people who enjoy high school/fantasy comedies, for it's writings does not transcend its genres. And the art could use a little tidying up.

Pick of the Litter, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Manga: The Complete Guide

By Jason Thompson
Released by Del Rey

Slugline: Words fail me. Just buy it.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Thompson about Manga: The Complete Guide for Publisher's Weekly Comic Week. Click here for the interview.

I have been reading manga for quite a while, dating back to the mid 80s, and short of some scholarly works that are now out of print and were written so densely to be virtually impenetrable, this is the single best resource I have ever had the pleasure to read. And those academic references were only more complete in the details of how the manga market was born and evolved in Japan, and the early first steps over to the US, but lacked the breadth of understand of the current US market. Not only does this cover all the translated manga in the US, it describes all the genres, especially many of whom have been overlooked in the current manga boom (military, science fiction and mecha, I'm looking at you) but once were the staple of the few imported titles. I came across old friends such as Area 88 and Pineapple Army, along with the dozens of high school dramedies that are the modern output of manga. It also talks and reviews the yaoi and the adult manga titles. In the 90s, adult manga once seemed to be the only manga that would sell back in comic shops.

The genre descriptions also have reading lists, so to give suggestions and the appendixes talk about the Japanese language and the challenges of translating it, along with an artist guide.

You need this. Every person who reads manga more than casually should have this, or wants to know more about manga than what is on the printed page. Even though it will be a dated, as the release schedules of the publishers continue to roll along, and as even more publishers arrive, the usefulness of this as historical introduction and an overview of the dozens of genres of manga will not be affected by the passage of time.

PS. Every library that stocks manga should also get this. No excuses.

Manga: The Complete Guide is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Friday, October 05, 2007

CBG Review: Orfina, vol. 1

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

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


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sale on ADV Films/Manga on

Just letting people know that, one of our sales affiliates, is running a sale until 11:59 pm of Oct 7th on all ADV Films merchandise. The sale is 40% off DVDs and 33% of most other items just by entering the coupon code "primetime". For a list of ADV Manga titles we have reviewed, go here. In particular, we really enjoyed the titles Line and Anne Freaks or you can check out our review for the manga version of the light novel Full Metal Panic! that we just reviewed. We have enjoyed and rated favorably almost all of ADV Manga's titles we've reviewed.

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. So everyone wins!


Full Metal Panic!, vol. 1: Fighting Boy Meets Girl

Written by Shouji Gatou with Art by Shikidouji
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: The original comedy-drama-high school-military-mecha and the kitchen sink story!

We have already reviewed Full Metal Panic!, the manga, vol.2, which also tells part of the story of this novel.

I am always surprised by just how much of Japanese manga comes from their light novels, something that is only now becoming obvious with the translations of them. The story of this book has been seen before in the manga and anime. Kaname is annoyed that a recently transferred student Sousuke is a gun nut who seems to be following her around. That doesn't seem to bother her too much, at least until she catches him on her balcony with her panties. She then proceeds to ignore him to the best of her ability, but when their plane is hijacked on a school trip to Okinawa Sousuke turns out to be really a military specialist, capable of killing with everything from knives to giant mecha. Which is useful, since Kaname is one of the Whispered, who all have technical secrets locked into their subconscious. The book is split between high school wackiness as Sousuke is not mentally equipped to handle it to high stakes military action, with the majority of this story leaning towards the military action end of things.

Perhaps I am jaded by the fact that I have already seen the anime episodes that make up this story, along with reading the manga volumes, but despite the additional perspective that a novel can give, allowing you to get inside the characters' heads in ways that neither anime or manga can manage, this volume did not give me any additional insight into the characters or their motivations. Some of the wordplay and the verbal humor comes through better here, but it is not a major improvement over the other venues that this material has already been presented in. That all being said, if this is the first time you have encountered the material (which is possible) it is a solid story though you may have to withstand whiplash as the story shifts gears, but if you have already read or seen Full Metal Panic!, this does not add anything new to your understanding.

As one can imagine, there is a lot of Full Metal Panic material. Here is some of it.

Full Metal Panic, vol. 1: Fighting Boy Meets Girl is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


SERIES UPDATE: Crossroad, v. 4 - 7

To check out our earlier reviews of Crossroad, you can click
here for the review of vol. 1, and here for the reviews of volume 2 and 3.

Volume 7 finishes the series. If nothing else, it maintains its sense of humor. However, some of the characters "resolve" their situations and then start contradicting themselves. (If you're deciding on one guy, you shouldn't let the other keep kissing and groping you.)

It's hard, in this day and age, to see a relationship between teacher and student portrayed this way without assuming he's a predator. I don't consider teenagers children, just inexperienced adults, but a lot of what goes on would legally be abuse and/or statutory rape in the U.S. I think Kajitsu and Akai have an honest relationship, despite their situation and age difference, but this element of the story could cause trouble, in certain situations.

Crossroad vol. 4, vol. 5, vol. 6 and vol. 7 are all available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Palette of 12 Secret Colors, vol. 1

By Nari Kusakawa
Released in the US by CMX Manga

Slugline: Explain to me again the logic of manga about colors being printed in black and white?

On Opal, an island nation, merchants come far and wide to get the cloth that is made by the magicians there, who are called Palettes, because of their ability to control color. Pallettes are paired with colorful tropical birds and use the colors of the birds to color fabrics and stones, with Cello being in training to become one. Unfortunately, she is not very good at it, capable of drawing out color from her bird from a distance but unable to control the addition of color, resulting in her repeated visits to the doctor-magician Guell to get the excess colors removed from her skin. In her training she gets involved in foiling several attempts to birdnap the colorful birds that they need to work with, along with helping Guell deal with issues from his past.

This is a solid story, with a little touch of creepiness because of some romantic, well not entanglements but at least fondness due to the age differences between Guell and Cello, but their exact ages are ambiguous enough with 'Doctor' Cello is merely a magician as compared to a real doctor who by necessity would be much older. But there is just one huge looming problem, is that this is a book fundamentally about color, and as a manga it is in black and white. It didn't help either than I am writing this review based on a preview copy, but still. The mere topic of the manga is enough to hold it back from really engaging you, simply because it lacks the ability to really draw you into the character's world.

But, on the bright side, this is All Ages title, so if you want to corrupt, I mean introduce younger friends and relatives to the joys of manga, but don't want to run into interference by older folks determined to save them from following your own dark path into fandom, this title is a useful tool.

The Palette of 12 Secret Colors, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Venus in Love, vol. 1

By Yuki Nakaji
Released in the US by CMX Manga

Slugline: People go to college after high school? Really?

Sorry about the slugline, but as one can imagine, we read a lot of manga here, and there are so many high school dramas and so few college ones that it is still a surprise to find one. Stuff I barely tolerate in high school dramas make senses here, such as the lack of parents (hey, you're off to college, time to cut the string!).

Suzuna has moved away to college, and is determined to get herself a boyfriend, and immediately falls for Fukami, the best friend of her next door neighbor Eichi. But she discovers that Eichi has a unspoken crush on his best friend, and that if she in competition with anyone, it is with her neighbor. What is interesting is that Eichi doesn't claim to be gay, but still is in love with Fukami. Issues much? But Suzuna isn't put off by it, or planning to blab Eichi's secret to Fukami in order to take out her competition. She is just determined that she will be the one that will win Fukami's affectations. Maybe that is a little unrealistic, but the characters all feel unforced and real, if a bit idealized. And while there is the mandatory handsome teacher who doesn't realize that he is handsome, the character who moons over him isn't too head over heels with him.

Plus it is set in college!

You can tell I am really, really, really tired of high school dramas....?

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


Monday, October 01, 2007

CBG Review: Star Trek: the Manga, vol. 2 Kakan ni Shinkou

I have written a review for Star Trek: the Manga vol.2 Kakan ni Shinkou, available on the Comic Buyer's Guide website. Please remember that the CBG website uses a 4 star rating. Check it out!

Star Trek: the Manga, vol. 2 Kakan ni Shinkou is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.