Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No Posting on New Year's Day

Behold, another holiday on a post day. Miranda and I will be recovering from... something (haven't worked out the fine details yet) so there will be no posting.

Have a good holiday!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

St. Dragon Girl, vol. 1

Story and Art by Natsumi Matsumoto
Released in the US by Viz

Slugline: Every good town has to have a teenage demon removal service...

Momoka is a hard charging kenpo student, daughter of the master of a martial arts school, whose childhood friend Ryuga Kou is a Chinese sorcerer who often deals with the demons that plague their town. Momoka is secretly in love with Ryuga, well, not so secretly. Apparently everyone in town, including Ryuga, is fully aware of it but she refuses to acknowledge it. Even when Ryuga gets in over his head with a demon and is forced to summon a dragon to possess him, Momoka insists that rushing in to take the blast of magical energies herself is just a show of friendship. Still, that means that she is possessed by the dragon and when the dragon is not bound, she can be very powerful. That can attract all sorts of attention from demons that Ryuga has to help her with, and with her dragon derived powers she can help him with his own duties chasing down demons.

Reasonably okay story, but there is no romantic tension at all here. She knows she loves him, he knows she loves him, the neighbors down the street know that she loves him, and while he hasn't said anything (typical boy) it is pretty clear he is at least fond of her and there are no obstacles in their way. That is all that is needed for true love nowadays in most manga, so what is the point of dragging it out any further? True, he binds her dragon powers for no readily apparent reason so that he controls whether or not she is powerful, but when is that ever a problem in manga? Sure, most real people would have problems being forcibly constrained in such a way, but as manga misogyny goes, that is relatively mild. But those two in combination, and the lack of anything really interesting going in the plots, drags this title down to two stars.

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


Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Break

Miranda and I will be traveling for Christmas, reassuring our respective families that anime and manga have not completely taken over our lives, so posting would bust our cover stories. Regular reviews and posting will resume on Dec. 30th!

Have a great Christmas!

-Ferdinand and Miranda

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pokémon: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea

Story and Art by Makoto Mizobuchi
Released in the US by VizKids

Slugline: Exactly like a TV episode, and that is not a compliment.

This volume is a Pokémon single episode dragged out to fill a single manga volume. Ash gets to save the day, Brock gets to moon over a pretty girl, a new Pokémon is introduced but does not become a repeating member of the cast and there is a fantastic setting (in this cast the Temple of the Sea) that we will never see again. Of course, the cast will make some new friends and old enemies reappear. Change out the name of the Pokémon that is the focus of the volume and it's specific native environment, and I swear it is over a half dozen of Pokémon episodes that I have accidentally watched over the years. No new revelations or interesting story bits are readily apparent from my reading, though I suppose that if you are a Pokémon aficionado there may be some hidden importance over the appearance of the Pokémon Ranger or something along those lines. I was just bored for most of it, with the only reason it didn't get a lower rating is because the story didn't screw up what little it was trying to accomplish. That was because it was trying to accomplish so very, very little. This is for very young Pokémon fans who somehow haven't already watched every episode ever made.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

J-Pop Idol, vol. 1

Story by Millenni+M with Art by Toko Yashiro
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Do Idol producers pay manga publishers to keep on churning out idol manga, I wonder?

The three person band No Escape wins a singing contest but only Mika is offered a music contract. Naomi is understanding about the snub but the third member of the band Kay is furious. Mika is torn over whether to accept the offer but one of her idols from her youth (all of two years ago) Ken agrees to be her manager and gives the requisite pep talk to become a star. Ken prepares Mika for her debut over a year's time, with Mika and Ken drawing closing together over that time. But Ken keeps everyone at a distance because he is sick but unwilling to take his medication because it's side effects include hearing loss and thus possibly robbing him of his music. By at the end of volume Kay is thinking of ways to complicate Mika's life.

Idol manga are a dime a dozen, well not literally (not even on EBay) but it certainly feels like it sometimes. The idea of skipping over the year or so preparation of Mika's debut is actually a useful conceit. It allows for Mika's love for Ken to grow offstage in a believable manner. Usually it happens on panel and I always snort in disbelief when it is shown that treating a woman rudely and in a high-handed manner will get them to fall in love with you. By pushing it off-panel and giving it a year, it can just be taken as given rather than dissecting the emotion growth at it's most vulnerable stage. Despite the early tension between Mika and Kay, it is overlooked for most of the volume, with Naomi drifting into the background. So despite the occasional interesting touch, there is little here beyond the standard idol manga.

J-Pop Idol, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kyo Kara MAOH!, vol. 1

Temari Matsumoto with Original Story by Tomo Takabayashi
Published in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Smart kid. The first thing out of his mouth after traveling between worlds was were was the princess he needed to rescue.

The toilet must represent some deep repressed fear, for once again a hapless guy is transported to another world through one. YuriShibuya meets up with angry human villagers but it is rescued from representatives from his kingdom. Yes, his kingdom, for rather than being brought to this new world to confront an ancient evil or rescue a princess, he has been brought there to be a king. Which doesn't sound so bad until he is told that it is a kingdom of demons (who look just like humans) that has been waiting for their reincarnated king (that's him) to lead them against the humans and wipe them out. Thatis not the worse of it, since Yuri manages to trample all over local traditions and gets engaged and agrees to a duel to the same person with five minutes of each other.

First of all, the yaoi subplot that is mentioned in all of the descriptions of the title is something very minor in the first volume. You may breathe a sign of relief or disappointment as necessary. This is a fairly standard 'welcome to a strange new world' story with a couple of minor twists to keep it out of the ruts that trap many other stories of a similar type. Though I wonder if the baseball references in the original version were for Japanese rather than American teams. I wish the difference between humans and demons was clearer, so that the conflict between them would be more understandable. Hopefully that will be something that changes in the later volumes but a solid foundation has already been build with some small interesting feature, it just needs something more to be truly exciting.

Kyo Kara MAOH!, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

500 manga volumes!

With today's review, we at Prospero's Manga have reviewed 500 manga volumes. Now, some reviews have dealt with multiple volumes, so that is why we have yet to hit 500 reviews, but it still a lot of reading and reviews!



Story and Art by Akira Toriyama
Released in the US by Viz

Slugline: A main character that is half vampire/were-koala? What does he eat, the juice of a Eucalyptus tree?

Paifu is a half vampire/were-koala that lives in the isolated village of Batwing Ridge, where humans and monsters live together far from the intolerance of the big cities. But all of the kid monsters are afraid of the human that lives on the outskirts of town, Murayama. It turns out that there is a reason that everyone in town avoids Murayama, he was once a sumo wrestler who accidentally killed a competitor in the ring. So despite being called the Volcano and having been famous for being really strong, Murayama exiled himself to Batwing Ridge and even there had little to do with the rest of the village. But when an epidemic of monster flu starts to spread through the village, Paifu convinces Murayama to go with him to get the cure from the witch. Paifu bends the truth a bit along the way, Murayama learns a bit about himself and others, and all have a grand time rescuing the village.

Akira Toriyama is better know for the Dragon Ball saga (reviews here), but here he turns in a perfectly balanced one volume story. Everything here has some meaning and both Paifu and Murayama change and improve themselves and both are forced to stretch themselves. Even the fights are well choreographed, not at all over the top or confusing as it was sometimes with DragonBall, but is still not too intense for the kids that are presumably the audience for this all ages title. It even has a sense of sly, self-aware humor that is funny without ruining the story's illusions. This shows an Akira Toriyama as a creator to be reckoned with, far better than the one that did the early volumes of the DragonBall saga.

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


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mao-Chan, vol. 1

Story by Ken Akamatsu with Art by Ran
Released in the US by Del Rey

Slugline: Cuteness as a weapon of mass destruction.

Aliens are attacking the Earth and stealing our monuments, but the traditional military are helpless in the face of the alien threat because the creatures they send are so cute. Apparently the public would not stand carpet bomb big eyed critters stealing our stuff, so instead Japan uses excessively cute prepubescent girls to combat the alien menace. The story is both better and worse than that brief description would imply. It is everything you expect, being excessively cute, characters that use 'cute' phrases, weapons that deal with ouchies rather than city leveling devastation and so on. But the actual storytelling itself is rather deft. Things are foreshadowed, clever story structures (considering the genre) are used and all the characters have moments in the sun, even if the characters themselves are just cliches. Oddly enough, this is rated as a 16+ title, but the cuteness factor and the characters' youth make me think it is intended for a younger audience. Maybe it is the bunny outfits or there is some nudity in a later volume. But this first volume is an example of storytelling winning over both the characters and the plot.

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


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, vol. 1

Story and Art by Akira Himekawa
Released in the US by Viz

Slugline: A quest manga that doesn't stop to smell the roses

Link lives in the forest under the protection of the living tree Deku, but when Deku comes under attack, Link saves the forest and learns that he has to go out into the world to fulfill the mission that Deku gives him with his dying breath (or whatever trees do.) Link meets Princess Zelda after leaving the forest and learns that he needs to collect three jewels. After collecting the three jewels, making friends along the way, he returns to see Zelda to become a Hero. When getting the Hero's magic sword, Link is put to sleep for seven years so that he will be old enough to wield it effectively. In the intervening time the evil has spread and now a young man, Link has to now free five temples. In his travels he encounters many of the same character that he did seven years previously, and by the end of the first volume he is already halfway through his search for the temples.

This almost read like a collection of traditional comics, in that each chapter tells a complete part of the overall story. The plot does not linger, with each chapter advancing the story. Normally I would have expected by the end of the first book that Link maybe would have retrieved the second jewel, rather than already be on his second quest. Maybe the quick chapter are part of it's legacy as a computer game or since this rated an all ages book, a deliberate choice in order to appeal to younger readers. Other than this willingness to buck manga convention, the story is a pretty standard “quest for the X number of magic items to save the world!” For adults, it is rather shallow but the title has been optimized for younger readers and will probably enjoy the title more.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No Thursday Review

Have a good Turkey Day instead, and reviews will resume next Tuesday, Dec 2nd.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yōkaiden, vol. 1

By Nina Matsumoto
Published by Del Rey Manga

Slugline: Be careful for what you wish for, because sometimes you will get it. Too bad you don't know any better.

Hamachi is living with his gruff (and not in a kindly way) grandmother after the death of his parents when he comes across a yokai, a Japanese demon/spirit that can have any number of origins or attitudes. The fact that there are so many of them means that there are more for Hamachi to learn about, much to his grandmother's disgust. Her disgust is so great that she lays a trap for one which Hamachi secretly rescues. When Hamachi learns that his grandmother laid the trap, he tries to overlook it, but the yokai that was trapped by it steals her soul while he is away. Upon his return, he decides to go to the yokai homelands through a portal to recover his grandmother's soul, or at least talk to the yokai that took it. Once in the yokai lands, he begins to make friends and enemies, but is still a long way off from confronting the yokai that has his grandmother's soul by the end of the first volume.

The manga at first starts fairly serious and straightforward, but as the volume continues, the story becomes more meta and self-referential. I don't think that is a good way to go, how serious one should take the story needs to be consistent, otherwise readers may feel that they are being manipulated (in a bad way.) To a certain extent, Hamachi is too naive and idealistic. He claims that he has read the books about yokai, so he knows that some are good, and is open to those but he seems to refuse to believe the truthfulness of those same texts in that some yokai are harmful and dangerous. Some amount of caution and learning from the dangers he is exposed to should be expected, but he seems impervious to them. After nearly having his own soul stolen, he just laughs it off. That sort of fits with the more metatextual aware Hamachi from later in the volume, when he seems to be more aware that he is in a story, but not so much in the beginning of the volume. It is this uncertainty over what the nature of the story is that robs it of tension and storytelling power.

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


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vagabond, VIZ BIG vol. 1

By Takehiko Inoue, based on the novel Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
Released in the US by Viz

Slugline: More masterless samurai and random violence than you can shake a wooden bokken at.

The beginning of the Edo period was a time of transition from the chaos of the Warring States period to one of relative peace. One of the results of that was a lot of out of work soldiers and samurai were left wondering what to do to fill their time. In Vagabond the answer seems to be that a lot of them are destined to be shish kebabed by Miyamoto Musashi, the new name that the character Takezo is given during the volume. Takezo begins the volume, with his friend Matahachi, as a survivor of the Battle of Sekigahara, the battle that ended the Warring States period. To say that Takezo has rage control issues is to put it mildly, and it takes the middle third of the volume and a visit to his hometown for Takezo to gain some control and lose the name Takezo and to gain the one Miyamoto Musashi. The final third of the volume is Miyamoto's confrontation with a school of swordsmen ito show his strength.

Vagabond has brutal honesty to it, reflecting the time period, with fighting and violence not especially pretty or filled with people shouting out their moves at each other. The fighting here is done by people who have lived it and are usually broken in some way because of it, though they are broken in different ways. Takezo begins the volume as death dealing beast and though he improves as the volume continues, killing people in order to get the title of strongest isn't something that normal people do. Takezo's big character change is merely giving a focus to his destructive tendencies. Other characters show their injuries in different ways, such as one of his opponents hedonism in the face of the destruction of his sword school. While this is a fighting/combat manga, it is one that understands that what it depicts is not and never will be pretty or polite.

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


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom, vol. 1

Story and Art by Kazunari Kakei
Released in the US by Viz Shonen Jump Advanced

Slugline: Death Note lite

Nora is a demon of an underworld army that is dedicated in maintaining control over demons and making sure that they do not bother the world of mortals. Unfortunately he has an attitude problem and so the demon general Dark Liege sends Nora to be bound to a human to teach him humility. Bad for Nora, good for Kazuma Nagari, a bored student president who is also a genius that has been given the mystical 'leash' for Nora and decides that he is going to teach his demon some manners. That is going to be an interesting challenge because Nora's natural form when he is not sealed into a human one is Cerberus, the giant hound better known as the guardian of the very gates of hell. But Nora is not very bright or very respectful of humans, leaving Kazumi to show Nora how smart but weak humans can defeat rogue demons and the demon Resistance.

This series is not anywhere as harsh as Death Note was, but Kazuma shows some of Light's casual cruelty and being too smart and controlled for his own good. Still it is nice to see any character in a manga reacting intellectually rather than emotionally. While to a certain extent these sort of plots rely on not having anything random happening to prevent the intellectual character's plan from going off without a hitch, the way Kazumi handles himself helps keep the story on this side of believable rather than moving into ludicrous territory. There is also the genre aspect of waiting until the last moment to unveil the character's power (in this case Nora) and trashing the opponent. Having Kazumi holding onto the keys of Nora's power and having his own agenda beyond just defeating the bad guys gives a rationale for that genre staple and makes it more interesting. It gives a solid reason for Nora to become more reliant on Kazumi and more sympathetic to humanity in general, even as it begins to cost Kazumi to do so. This all gives the manga an interesting and different spin from others than follow the same basic formula.

For those that are curious, here are our reviews for Death Note 1-6 and 7-10.

Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gankutsuou, The Count of Monte Cristo, vol. 1

Manga by Mahiro Maeda, Scenario by Yura Ariwara and Planning by Mahiro Maeda and GONZO
Released in the US by Del Rey

Slugline: Good even for those allergic to reminders of high school English classes

Though I managed to miss reading The Count of Monte Cristo in my journey through high school I remember enough that it is story of revenge. This is a leisurely adaptation as the Count only begins moving his pieces into play in this volume against the three that conspired against him by gaining the friendship of their children, who of course are innocent of their parent's crimes. This is a science fiction adaptation, with spaceships and the like, but it is not too terribly updated, with the sense of old Europe, of nobility and tradition overwhelming any other aspect of the story. This manga is connected to the anime of the same title that was released a few years ago, and shares the same design sensibility, though the full effect is lost in the translation from a full color anime to a black and white manga. Not quite sure who is the protagonist here, the Count is a bit alienated from it seems humanity itself while the children of the villains are a little clueless, naive or distracted to really do that work. So there is no real single character to follow through here, but that just may be just the fault of the original material. I did like the character work, the understated bits and expressions, that work is what makes this interesting, not any newness of the story or the actual characters.

Gankutsuou, The Count of Monte Cristo, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yumekui Kenbun Nightmare Inspector, vol. 1

Story and Art by Shin Mashiba
Released in the US by Viz

Slugline: More horror with a twist in the EC Comics tradition

In the Taisho era of Japan (think late Victorian England) there is a baku who eats dreams, and he makes his living by offering to eat the dreams of people having nightmares, solving their problematic nightmares and gaining sustenance at the same time. This is an episodic series, with no continuing storylines, except for the last chapter of the volume which ends on question mark, which is a good way to encourage people to check out the next volume. The stories are all horror edged, with a strong bit of the old EC Comics tradition of having a twist or reveal at the end of the story that is ironic or over the top. The stories are all well constructed and the art clear, so will it does not thrill or scare me to no end, by the same token it does not disappoint. It is just okay. Not sure if that is damning by faint praise or not.

Yumekui Kenbun Nightmare Inspector, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


Thursday, November 06, 2008


By Matsuri Hino
Published in the US by Viz Shojo Beat

Slugline: Sure, it's pirates, but no ninja or samurai pirates? Not even a single zombie pirate?

Armeria is a young singer associated with a traveling troupe that is performing at an aristocrat's dwelling, but the only aristocrat that she likes there is Luce. Of course, that means he is kidnapped to be a hostage by a pirate band, named after their leader Skull. She spends the next six years chasing after them until she manages to become a cabin boy on the pirate Skull's ship, and even though she is quickly revealed to be a girl in pursuit of the 'dead' Luce, the pirate leader Skull treats her relatively gently. It is quickly revealed that the pirate leader is actually the older Luce, who had long gotten tired of his aristocratic relatives' cruelty and now acted as a maritime Robin Hood. Armeria tries to rekindle the feelings she and Luce shared with the much changed Skull, while trying to help him in his piracy/acts of kindness. There is also a one chapter backup story of love in Meiji-era Japan.

This is a fairly traditional light shojo, with the only reason I think this being rated 16+ is the one-panel of Armeria's rather modest busom when she is revealed to be a girl. Matsuri Hino is far better known for her work on Vampire Knight, so this may of interest to her completists. Oddly enough, though this is an earlier work, I think that Armeria is a stronger female lead than Yuki of Vampire Knight, but then it may be because she doesn't have to do as much in the story. But it feels very much like a plug and play shojo, well-executed, but lacking in real dramatic tension or any surprises. Pirates are popular at the moment, but this is a straightforward story that doesn't use the pirate elements or mix it up much.

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


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mixed Vegetables, Vol. 1

Story and Art by Ayumi Komura
Released in the US by Viz Shojo Beat

Slugline: More revealing about the state of marriage and relationships than of cooking.

Hanayu is the daughter of pastry chef that has his own shop with an expectation that she will take over the shop. Because if she wanted to accept that there would be no conflict, Hanayu instead has the desire to be a sushi chef, and has decided to get married into a sushi family so that she can legitimately follow her desire without disappointing her parents. Fortunately in her cooking high school there is a son of a sushi chef family named Hayato whom she decides to pursue. She is rather successful in that pursuit, so successful that she debates with herself whether pursuing a boy for his family connections is right, and trying to understand how her own parent's arranged marriage can serve as a model for her.

Ignore the cooking aspect, and here is a very interesting story about marriage as a transaction. Marriage for love is a western tradition, but it is still a relatively recent one, otherwise it would not be held in such high regard in romantic fiction or in manga. Most of the time in manga we see the rejection of the arranged marriage in order to pursue the marriage for love, but here we see someone trying to arrange her own marriage, not out of the search of good provider or compatible families and social rank, but to pursue her own dreams. An interesting subversion of the arranged marriage story, as she tries to fall in love after selecting her husband to justify her choice after the fact. Now, the back cover text talks about how Hayato really just wants to be a pastry chef, but that complication has yet to arise in the actual text, which could turn this story into a farce (in the comedic sense) rather than a subversion of the arranged marriage. Hayato so far has been rather unassertive, which may turn this story around once he starts pursuing his own dreams and desires, but the first volume is amusingly subversive.

Mixed Vegetables, Vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Shinobi Life, vol. 1

By Shoko Conami
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Not just another time-travelling ninja love story. Really, I am not being sarcastic!

Beni wants to die especially if it can be her dad's fault. Her father feels no guilt over Beni's mother death/suicide and only haphazardly remembers to hire bodyguards to protect Beni from kidnapping attempts. But the latest one is foiled when a ninja literally falls out of the sky to rescue her. Kagetora has been swept through time away from Beni Hime-sama to his princess’s near identical descendant Beni. Uncertain about the strange world he finds himself in, Kagetora knows his duty is to protect Beni. Beni is confronted with two problems as a result, one is how to keep up the illusion she is Beni Hime-sama with the modern world is just some of grand deception and also how to resolve the growing feelings between Beni and Kagetora, especially considering his awareness of their ‘social rank’ differences.

For once, the central conceit of the story is tackled straight on and now allowed to linger. Often, series seem to hang on hilarious character misunderstandings long past their expiration date, being dragged out for so long that it ends up making the characters look clueless or deliberately stupid. Beni's attempt to keep Kagetora in the dark about his time travel and refusing to acknowledge their attraction could get old fast, and had already started to. It would have been better off if the situation had been resolved because of Beni's deliberate decision, though once they were on the path of that part of the story being resolved, the characters did not shy away. It's not like that all of the barriers to their relationship are now gone, or that Beni does not still need protection, though the remaining visible complications to their relationship come from Beni's life, which remains anything but simple.

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


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Suihelibe!, vol.1

By Naomi Azuma
Released in the US by CMX Manga

gline: Alien gamekeeper after school club

Tetsu is looking to join a school club and decides to join the biology club. As soon as he checks it out, he has to defend the club's existence to the school council, along with helping Lan, an schoolgirl alien, recover some alien animals around the school. Tetsu manages to convince Lan to join the biology club so that it will continue, and over the course of the volume gathers another three members to reach the minimum size of the club of five members so that it can continue to exist in spite of the school council’s opposition. Of course, along the way Tetsu and the new members of the biology club help Lan recover some of the alien animals that she has been sent to Earth to recover.

This is definitely a kid’s title, since it is so very, very mild. The art style is very open and rounded so all the characters look and feel very young and wide-eyed. The challenges that the character face are not that, well challenging or dangerous, which fits the intended audience. The characters are only lightly sketched out, with Tetsu being the most with Lan the alien all, well, surface. The other three members of the club are pretty much stereotypes. Just because this is a kid's title doesn't mean it shouldn't have any depth, but despite that lack it is solid and not bad. Just the story has all the dramatic tension of overcooked pasta and thus not very enticing.

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


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gun Blaze West, vol. 1

Story and Art by Nobuhiro Watsuki
Released in the US by Viz Shonen Jump

Slugline: More character background than actual story.

Viu is nine years old but can't wait to head out into the Old West. But he lacks a goal until the failed gunslinger Marcus comes into town and tell Viu of Gun Blaze West. This is a place where the strongest test each other every ten years with the winner get the finest gun made. This sets up a fairly standard shonen desire to be the very best style story, but as Marcus and Viu train, outlaws move into the area and after several skirmishes their bioss is defeated by Viu but at the cost of Marcus's life. This drives Viu to train hard for the next five years until he reaches the goals that Marcus laid down before dying. With his goals met, Viu starts his journey west to find the Gun Blaze West, and almost immediately finds someone else who is looking for the same place, much like many other shonen where the hero starts acquiring allies on his travels.

What is odd is that the whole section with Marcus, which is really a background character piece, which is normally handled in flashback, took about 3/4 of the volume. So at the end of it we truly feel Viu's connection with Marcus and his desire to search for the Gun Blaze West, but we have already spent the majority of the first volume and we have yet to begin the main story. I don't want to say that this wasted time, because good character work is never really wasted, but the timing of it, frontloading it all, makes it almost like it should be a prequel book on it's own or something, rather than going into the main story of the search for Gun Blaze West in the middle of the book. The book ends at a good point, but still the Marcus/Viu subplot probably could have accomplished what it needed in half of the space it eventually took up, without upsetting the flow of the story as much.

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


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blank Slate, vol. 1

Story and Art by Aya Kanno
Released in the US by Viz Shojo Beat

Slugline: This is supposed to be a shojo title?

Zen is a serial criminal, committing wanton murder and mayhem just because there is nothing else better for him to do. He wanders through people's lives, upsetting the rich and powerful to the point that even though he is in an occupied country, he is considered more of an threat than the native rebellion. He is destructive for reasons that he himself cannot fathom, for being without memory he acts without repercussions. The first companion he acquires is a bounty hunter intent on understanding Zen but dies in the process. The foreign doctors lasts longer, still with him at the end of the volume, probably because he may solve the mystery of Zen's own existence and abilities.

This is not an approachable title by any means, not because of gore or violence but by the meaningless of Zen's actions. After reading it I still have no idea why this is considered a shojo title, except perhaps that is by Aya Kanno who is better known for titles that fall more squarely in the shojo genre. That or it will be revealed that several of the characters are really girls (don't even chuckle, far stranger things have happened.) For a main character, Zen has no real character to hang the story on, which leaves most of the work of the story having to be done by the supporting cast. Considering the chaos that Zen causes and attracts, you can understand that there is a bit of a turnover in those characters. While there is an attempt to hand a mystery in the character in the last chapter of the volume, it is easy to believe that this was originally intended as a one-off that was later extended into a series, so it took a while for the creator to figure out what to do with the character over the long term. I suspect the 2nd volume will tell us more about where the series is going then the first volume did.

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

- Ferdinand

Friday, October 17, 2008

Slam Dunk, vol. 1

Story and Art by Takehiko Inoue
Released in the US by Viz Shonen Jump

Slugline: There has to be easier ways of impressing girls.

This is a motivation I can understand, getting involved in a sport because the girl you like likes it in turn. Hanamichi is desperate enough to do or try anything to attract the attention of a desirable girl. Trust me, he didn't have to suffer through 50 rejections first in order to be in the proper frame of mind to try anything to keep a girl's attention. Fortunately, his attitude toward basketball doesn't change overnight, and Hanamichi focus is more on his two main rivals within the team for Haruko's attention, her brother Takenori that Hanamichi battles for respect and acceptance, and Kaede who is a more traditional romantic rival. Though Kaede at the moment does not seem to be doing much other than being a far-off target for Haruko's sighs. Hanamichi manages to get on the team after demonstrating a slam dunk in a competition with Takenori, but then is forced to do fundamental drills. Of course, Hanamichi wants to impress Haruko, which involves actually being in the game and that causes the conflict that the volume ends on. Never mind that it would be normal for drills to be switched up to help keep the the attention on the drill rather than letting the mind wander after prolonged periods.

Why bother reviewing a 100 million manga selling title? It's not like this review is going to cause people to discover an otherwise overlooked gem or that people will learn that Slam Dunk is the basketball manga that they were looking for. But I think I can share with readers a reason why I think it was successful as compared to other sports/fighting shonen manga, which I think comes from Hanamichi himself, especially his motivations. Normally in these manga the main character's has already begun his quest to be the best, to excel. Here, Hanamichi has the potential to be great but at the same time he does not see basketball as an end in itself or a way to express himself, but a way to achieve a selfish goal, to get the girl. Undoubtedly, that will change over the series, but that makes it an interesting progression to watch out for. Sure there is the unavoidable silliness that seems to be part and parcel of all shonen manga, but I find that redeemed by the interesting characters work with Hanamichi.

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

- Ferdinand

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney

Released in the US by Del Rey Manga

Slugline: I hope the game is much, much better than the manga.

Game based manga have a tough time of it, and sometimes I snark on them on them a little freely. This time, I can not snark on this mess enough. It bills itself as a prequel to the game, but the volume was such a confused mess that I had to research in order to figure out what was going on with the volume. There are 20 shorts in the volume but they are widely varying in tone and in art style. There are some fairly serious stories, silly ones and ones that barely qualify as a story, breaking the fourth wall freely. None of the characters are introduced, with the apparent assumption that the reader is already familiar with them. What I discovered is that this actually a collection of dojin, so the stories in this volume were not necessarily intended to be presented together. Which explains why there are two separate 'lost kitten' stories in the volume. At the end of the volume I have virtually no idea who the characters were and this was despite the volume being thicker than the standard. This is for game completists, and even then save yourself the headache and just shelve it with the rest of your collection without punishing yourself by reading it.

Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Papillon, vol. 1

Created by Miwa Ueda
Published in the US by Del Rey

Slugline: A shojo that only has one bit of wackiness? How novel!

On the face of it the brief description makes Papillon sound like an rather unremarkable shoujo, but underneath it all there are some interesting subtext running through it. The story itself is rather off the shelf, two identical sisters raised separately so that one is shy and the other outgoing compete over the same guy, that being the one bit of wackiness of the title. But there are some interesting bits...

The guidance counselor , the voice of authority of the book, rather than enforcing wa, the tenets of social harmony that the school system reinforces in Japan, is instead encouraging competition for the sake for oneself.

The prettier twin sister had a reason to be pretty and loved, to be the center of attention, rather than receiving it as her natural due.

The plain sister's 'friend,' stabs her in the back, showing that just because people find themselves in similar circumstances do not naturally get along, and that the friendship was based on convenience/proximity rather than anything else.

The failures of the shy sister is not due to wacky circumstances or deliberate sabotage, but the type of self-sabotage that the shy and uncertain all partake in.

Now, neither does this manga cover new ground, not really, but the characters and how they interact is interesting and not just according to the standard fill in the dots plot. I feel the characters' pain, their discomfort but I am not moved by them, not yet. This is one of those series that I almost wish I had the next volume already in my hands, because how that is executed could radically improve this series rating up to a four, easily.

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

- Ferdinand

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dororo, vol. 1

By Osamu Tezuka
Published by Vertical Publishing

Slugline: The demon version of the game Operation.

It is hard to honestly review Tezuka's titles. His presence looms so large over the history of manga it's hard to separate the work from the creator, something that can be hard to accomplish even on less notable creators. Dororo is from Tezuka's later period, when he was transitioning to more mature works and exists at the juncture of horror and action. The main character, Hyakkimaru , is trying to recover the 48 body parts that his father gave away before his son's birth for power. Born alive, the remnants of the child kept mystically alive without the missing body parts grew up, using prosthetics and other artificial devices to appear human. But the various forms of death stalks him, and the only way he can become whole and get death off his trail is to hunt down the 48 demons, each time killing one having one of his body parts regenerating. The title of the series Dororo comes from the child thief that is following him, determine to steal Hyakkimaru's valuables (but the most valuable bits of him, his very body, has already been stolen) even though it seems to be more of an excuse for Dororo to follow Hyakkimaru's quest.

The other hard part of reviewing Tezuka is the fact that while he uses many genre conventions, that is because he is often creating those conventions. His art has not aged well, being very cartoony by modern standards. But while some of the characters seem thinly sketched, what is going on conveys a world that is terrible and cruel with people with even the best intentions inevitably being get punished. Even the main characters, Hyakkimaru and Dororo cannot afford to trust each other despite their 'friendship', because that is how this world works. I assume that this period is intended to evoke one of the civil war periods in feudal Japan, and at this time the only thing that makes sense is Hyakkimaru's search to reclaim itself. Each piece he reclaims is a gift he appreciates, which in turn reflects on the world around him. So despite the cartoony and simplistic veneer on top of the story, something deeper is going on, about how seeking oneself is more than just a selfish quest.

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

- Ferdinand

Thursday, October 02, 2008

REAL, vol. 1

By Takehiko Inoue
Published in the US by Viz

Slugline: Definitely not a continuation of Slam Dunk!

Nomiya has a bit of a guilt problem, since a girl he picked up and took riding on a bike, there was an accident and she is now in a wheelchair. He was well on his way of flunking out of school before this, but this only confirmed his status as a dropout and as he tries to assuage his guilt by helping the girl. However, the only thing that seems to attract the girl's attention is another wheelchair bound basketball player named Togawa. Thus starts an odd little friendship between Nomiya and Togawa, that is cemented by both of their intense love of basketball, letting them challenge Nomiya's former schoolmates for use of their gym to practice basketball. Later, they use their skills to hustle rich kids, until they meet a challenger that they cannot defeat, forcin Nomiya to directly face his fear of driving while Togawa goes back to his basketball team to increase his skills. Meanwhile, the head of the school's basketball team that Nomiya and Togawa humiliated, Takahashi, is showing off for his girlfriend and gets into an accident, so that he no longer has any feeling below his waist.

Inoue is far better known for his more famous work, Slam Dunk, a basketball sports manga. But while basketball is nominally the topic of REAL, the true topic is about what people will throw themselves into in order to avoid dealing with their real problems. Basketball is both their escape from reality and their salvation that leads back to it for these characters. Nomiya is isolated and alone, driven by passion for basketball but it is that same passion that drives him back towards interacting with others again, while Togawa being beaten at a one on one game is the catalyst for him to embrace his old team. Takahashi on the other hand has a long way to fall yet before he can start to climb again. While this is not the most subtle of works, by the same token some of the directions are interesting and each of the characters are unique and for the most part have enough rough edges that they don't feel like cookie cutter creations.

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

- Ferdinand

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Astral Project, vol. 1

by marginal and Syuji Takeya
Released in the US by CMX Manga

Slugline: Jazz that literally produces an out of the body experience.

Masahiko is living in Tokyo doing odd jobs, escorting former idols to prostitution meetings when he learns that his sister has died. Dodging his parents, he returns to his childhood home to get a momento of his sister, and choses to take the unmarked music CD in her player, the last thing she listened to. Once he has returned to Tokyo, listening to the jazz music on the disk, he has an out of the body experience, as his astral form wanders over the city. The rest of the first volume is taken up by Masahiko trying to understand just how his sister died, who else is wandering the astral space over Tokyo and trying to origin of the jazz music on the disk that his sister left behind.

This is a mature title, not for any reason that I can tell in the first volume. Probably the naughty stuff starts kicking in the later volumes, but here we have profoundly isolated character, Masahiko, who can literally float above it all. But as the volume progresses, the mysteries that his sister have left him drive him to interact with others, both in the real world and the astral world. The Japanese fascination with jazz music and musicians also rears it's head, but it is tied into the mystery in a natural way, and provides an additional point of confusion/contention for the characters. The characters' are being pulled out of their normal patterns, and the storyline timebomb dropped at the end of the volume was a good change of direction.

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

- Ferdinand

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fate stay/night, vol. 1

Manga by Dat Nishiwaki with original story by TYPE-MOON
Published in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Cross platform marketing doesn't have to suck

This is another entry in the Fate stay/night marketing colossus, which spawned out from visual novel, including an anime and now a manga. It seems that the manga is based mostly on the anime, which selectively chose specific storyline elements of the visual novel to bring to screen. In this incarnation Fate is mostly a fighting manga, as 7 magi and their servants battle over the grail. In comparison to other fighting manga, the storyline is not too far out of the way of standard fight manga, with the characters so far falling into many of the standard archetypes. That said, it is being well done with not too many gratuitous power-ups, everyone is acting reasonably intelligently (though I understand that will change in later volumes) and considering the heavy presence of Fate stay/night in anime/manga fandom already, most readers will already have a good idea if they will like the basic story and characters. What I can say is that as a manga, this version of Fate stay/night is reasonably well done and executed version of the anime.

Fate stay/night, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

Ghostbusters: Ghost Busted

Written by Yamashita and Johnson with Art by Delk, Lorenzo, Shelfer, Watson and Steinbach
Published by TokyoPop

Slugline: Just which version of the Ghostbusters are we dealing with here?

With a new Ghostbusters video game there has been efforts to revitalize the brand. There are six stories in this anthology, with the inner four chapters having linked subplots culminating in the fifth volume with unrelated stories first and sixth. It is a strange arrangement, with 2/3 of the book culminating in a final scene, then throwing something else there at the end. The art is not cohesive at all, and there are only a couple of stories where the art matches the story being told. The sad thing is the best story of the bunch in chapter 4 is completely undercut in subsequent chapters. Plus, it feels weird in that the creators are drawing inspiration from the various different incarnations of the Ghostbusters, from the two movies, the long running cartoon series and finally the ground breaking role playing game that was made based on the movies, that was infamous for it's bad puns. And for all I know, they may also have drawn upon the depictions in the recent video game. If they had drawn equally from all the sources, it wouldn't be so bad, but the different chapters seemed to draw on different aspects, so that the tone of the characters and story changed chapter to chapter. There are some nice moments, Winston gets a chance to shine in a way he so rarely got to, but the diverging creators of the volume seem to be unable to create a single version of the Ghostbusters that you can enjoy throughout the volume.

Ghostbusters: Ghost Busted is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, vol. 1

Story and Art by Yoshio Sawai
Published in the US by Viz

Dishonorable mention
Slugline: There is no story here just a really long line of sight gags.

Okay, I admit failure here. I only managed to read about half of this, because there is no sense of logic, storytelling or even what the hell is going on other than an endless line of sight gags. It could be a parody of fight manga. Look, one of the biases we admitted, in the side column in fact, is that we are older readers. I do not require a story, I understand that there are valid experimental manga that are more abstract, but this is just a long line of bad and stupid jokes that would only appeal to a 10 year old. Think of the worse stupid/raunchy movie you've ever seen, and then using that same attitude to make a manga. If you like that, all the more power to you.

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Black Lagoon 001

Story and Art by Rei Hiroe
Released in the US by Viz

Slugline: Nice explosions, bad panel to panel storytelling

Rokuro is having a bad day. Asked by his company to take a disk to Southeast Asia by a transport ship (what, suddenly there were no flights between Japan and Thailand? I thought there were Japanese businessman specials to there?) he ends up kidnapped mostly by accident when mercenary pirates in an World War 2 era PT Boat take his disk. Revy, a short tempered woman with a fondness for handguns and explosives decides to take him along, but it turns out that the information on the disk is more important to the company than Rokuro's survival, leaving him to join the mercenaries on the PT Boat including the crazy one Revy, and he now calls himself Rock. But you can take the salaryman out of the corporation, but you can't take the suit and tie away from the salaryman as Rock tries to find his place in the criminal and mercenary infested world of Southeast Asia.

First off, the manga is in a slightly larger format which is nice to show off the art. And the art is nice, but there are more than a few places where it is impossible to follow the action because the panel to panel transitions are just a mess and so are hard to follow. If I hadn't seen the anime episode based on a manga chapter, where Revy goes jumping amongst the pursuing boats, I would have had very little idea what was actually happening. The series is like an early 90s style action/shoot-em up, with Russian mafia and a love of random excessive and inappropriately used firepower (torpedoes that take out a helicopter!) that make my heart glad merely reading it. If only the mechanics of the storytelling were done better! Hopefully that will continue to improve, because I want to see if they can use a depth charge to take out a jet fighter in the next volume....

Black Lagoon 001 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sugar Princess: Skating to Win, vol. 1

Story and Art by Hisaya Nakajo
Released in the US by Viz Shojo Beat

Slugline: How to make what is basically a sports manga a shoujo, make it about skating!

Maya is at the local skating rink with her younger brother after winning a free trip there when in a fit of energy she launches herself into a spinning jump, which she doesn't land but still manages to do well enough to attract the attention of a professional coach. He's hoping to train her and pair her with his star, Shun. Maya appreciates Shun's form and grace, but Shun has very little desire to do pairs skating anymore, after the loss of his last partner. Maya takes to training, under Shun's reluctant guidance and works hard to be his equal in grace and style, but the potential closing of the skating rink that they practice at throw a wrench into her plans.

This is like a lot of other sport stories, they tend to be either underdogs who manage to win, or newbies whom everyone underestimates and manage to succeed. Notice there is a very fine line between the two, but right now the story is about a newbie, though it looks like that it is all going to be about the underdog. But it is still very much a shoujo, with the blending of the sport/shoujo aspects working better than I thought. Shonen sports is sort of the default, but the inherent grace of ice skating and the shoujo pretty boy aspects work together. It still has all the shoujo genre trappings, but adding the sport elements makes it somewhat more interesting.

Sugar Princess: Skating to Win, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Time Stranger Kyoko, vol. 1

Story and Art by Arina Tanemura
Released in the US by Viz Shoujo Beat

Slugline: Have a sister who is annoying? Just timestop them for a decade or two.

We have previously reviewed another Arina Tanemura title, The Gentleman's Alliance Cross, vol. 1.

Have a twin sister that has been trapped in time since your birth that you desperately want to know, and whose father is the king of planet Earth? Well, you may as well wait to do anything until you have a desperate need for a stand-in so you can continue to go to high school without any realizing who you are. But wait, the moment you accept the mission to find the twelve mystical doohickies to release your sister (how did she get into the time trap in the first place? And if she is timestopped, why does she look the same age as her non-timestopped sister?) you still end up leaving the school? Never mind the two hunky guys who protect you are from a mysterious dragon clan, the best fighters evah, who were wiped out years ago but for some reason no one has ever bothered finding out who or why?

Your dad really needs to start paying attention to his kingdom, the whole planet Earth, a little bit more. Or at least let the bureaucracy do, umm, something useful. Like help you or something.

This story is a mess. You can tell that this is early Arina Tanemura, because while her magical girl stories have been a little bit flaky in my opinion, they have never been this flaky. The story is just all over the place, with rationalizations and takebacks all over the place. The only thing that is good about this is that Tanemura had already matured as an artist when she had done this, so the nice art is the only thing that is saving this from a lower ranking. But unless you are a die-hard Arina Tanemura fan, I find it hard to find any reason to give this title any attention.

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

- Ferdinand

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Bratz: Super Bratz

Written by Christine Peymani and Art By Anthony Tan
Published by TokyoPop

Slugline: Why do I find their lack of noses the most disturbing thing about the Bratz?

The All-Ages rating for this title is a little misleading. The rating really should say "Aimed at Pre-Tween Girls, All Others May Suffer Saccharine Poisoning." Not because the title is particularly bad, but because the pre-tween target demographic is the only one that the book really cares about. If other types of readers happened to pick up the book, that is fine, but having something that could appeal outside of that narrow demographic seem unimportant. Which is a shame, for I can easily see that this title could have been a successful really All-Ages title, but because it is linked to the Bratz property, it is limited to a certain approach and attitude to fits within that.

The girls of Bratz learn that their special skills that have made each of them stand out before were only the beginning manifestations of their superpowers. The cheerleader that could do high leaps now flies, the athletic type is a speedster, the social butterfly is a mind reader, etc. The Bratz discover that there is local school that teaches people how to use their superpowers, which apparently means road trip! The Bratz decide to go to school there, but discover that other students have their own selfish plans. Which the Bratz, after one failed attempt, discover the ways to use their new abilities to uncover what the not-so-nice students are planning and present proof to the teachers, who take care of the problem.

So yeah, this is X-Men lite with a side of the Bratz brand. I assume what minor character touches there are is from whatever character bible the Bratz brand managers gives out. I also assume that is why there are so few character flourishes for each Bratz, so that the property can be extended into as many different venues and forms as possible, without having to worry about keeping track of multiple character facets that may not work in any particular media. The response to that challenge is to minimize the individual characters.

What was nice is all I know about the Bratz is what I learned from the trailer of their rather horrible movie I was unfortunate enough to see twice. I didn't even need to know that much to pick up the book and go right into it, because you could learn most of that in the first chapter, along with the fact that they enjoy all the normal tween activity even though one of them was old enough to drive a car. It took me a little longer to keep all the characters straight, and the fact that the characters didn't have noses threw me far more than I thought it would. The character's characteristics, such as they are, are hard to tell apart other than by their special ability, but the Bratz are not credulous and are willing to entertain the thought they are not trapped in a simple, straightforward plot (which they are, but at least they consider otherwise).

Ultimately, this is not a book about the characters, it is about making sure that the property of Bratz exists in manga form. Which is a shame, because I think without that intent, and inherent set of boundaries that purpose imposed on the title, the core concept and the creators could have done more with it. But that would require taking risks that one does not allow with a multi-million dollar brand, especially in a particularly low profile manga (in comparison to the rest of the brand). So it is what it aspires to be, competent, rather than anything more.

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

- Ferdinand

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Goth (the Manga)

Story by Otsuichi with Art by Kendi Oiwa
Published in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: More Schizo than Goth

Yoru Morino is the stereotypically tortured high school student who has scars on her wrists showing how dangerously out of control she is, while Boku is that wonderfully nice neighbor boy next door that no one ever realizes ate a half dozen co-eds and did even worse things to their remains. But Boku has yet to descend truly that far into madness, and may never really do so, but he is still macabre to say the least, and fascinted by death and especially the pain of death. He seems to revel in Yoru almost becoming a victim in each chapter, but at the last moment something pulls him back. Maybe it is because he sees a chance for a better, darker experience, much like how some individuals would take torturing a puppy over pulling off a bug's wings. It is a dangerous relationship that Yoru and Boku both seem to actually need.

This is a dark series of stories, that isn't quite sure what kind of horror it truly is. Perhaps that is actually that is more of a strength than a weakness of the series, because some of the book feels like it is psychological horror, descent into one's own madness while other bits feels more supernatural. Still, Yoru's sense of victimhood is perhaps the most interesting part of the book, with the death of her sister giving her the chance to change roles, but still wanting to create sequences where she is the victim and the target. In that way, her wrist scarring was probably not an actual attempt to kill herself, but instead a way to mark herself further as a victim, so that others will see it and seek her out. Heck, it worked for the other character of the manga, Boku, his vulture like relationship with her beginning once he sees the scars and realizes how that would interact with his own interests and the hand taker's own ones. In a way, Yoru the victim is the true focus of the story, as what she does that attracts the attention of killers is the active role, while Boku merely circles, waiting for the right moment to absorb what he needs from the situation.

This story almost, almost manages to get four stars, but story construction messiness in a couple of the chapters was the only thing that holds it back, and even then it was a close call. Catch me on another day I may have easily given it four stars and debated going higher.

Goth (the Manga) is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand