Tag Archives: viz

Rasetsu and Tail of the Moon Prequel

These two volumes are continuations of other series that I’ve enjoyed in the past, Yurara and Tail of the Moon. I was curious to see if these spin-off series were as enjoyable as the manga that inspired them.

Rasetsu Volume 1 by Chika Shiomi

For some reason it took me a long time to read this book. I kept picking it up, reading a few pages, and putting it down. While the story seemed to fit well as a continuation of Yurara, there was a certain amount of dramatic tension missing that I think I subconsiously expected from the previous series. Rasetsu is a woman who has a very familiar look to her – she resembles Yurara’s guardian spirit. Yako, the ghost hunter from the previous series is all grown up and when he goes to visit Rasetsu’s agency he is struck with her resemblance to the spirit he loved and lost.

He tags along on Rasetsu’s missions and is able to help out with his water-based powers that contain spirits. Rasetsu has a habit of powering up before exorcisms by eating an insane amount of sweets. She’s also possessed by an evil spirit who threatens to consume her forever if she doesn’t find her true love. There’s a certain amount of attraction between the outspoken and spunky Rasetsu and the stoic and somewhat antisocial Yako. He gets in trouble with the unfortunate suggestion that Rasetsu consume straight sugar instead of spending a fortune every week visiting cake shops. I’m probably going to buy the second volume of this series due to my residual fondness for Yako as a character, but I’m not finding Rasetsu nearly as entertaining as Yurara yet. I hope the second volume is better.

Tail of the Moon Prequel: The Other Hanzo(u) by Rinko Ueda

The Hattori clan seems to have an odd habit of naming all their ninjas Hanzo. So while Hanzo Hattori and Usagi’s romance was detailed in Tail of the Moon, the other Hanzo(u) was the blond and womanizing Hanzou who was steadfastly in love with the ninja princess Sara despite his roving eyes. Tail of the Moon Prequel: The Other Hanzo(u) gives readers a glimpse into the origin of the romance between Hanzou and Sara.

A girl named Kaguya has a case of horrible amnesia and a crescent shaped scar on her back. She was taken in by a brothel and works by cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children there. One day the infamous Hanzou visits the brothel. When he catches a glimpse of Kaguya he is curious about her and offers to pay for the time just to talk to her. He brings her a hair ornament and they begin to spend more time together. They fall in love. But their love is a forbidden one, because Kaguya is actually the ninja Sara from a rival ninja clan! She was sent to kill Hanzou’s master and nearly succeeded, except Hanzou wounded her in battle thus causing her amnesia. When Hanzou tells her the truth, she runs out into the woods, stunned that she’s actually his enemy.

Sara’s companion ninja Rikimaru locates her and with her lost memory activated she gets to work to fulfill the terms of her botched mission despite her desire not to cause harm to Hanzou. There’s never any doubt that these lovers will prevail somehow. A second story in the volume features Sara’s undercover mission where she almost marries Usagi’s Hanzo in order to retrieve a valuable recipe for gunpowder. I enjoyed reading about these secondary characters from Tail of the Moon. Ueda’s art features clear, crisp layouts that highlight both smooching and ninja action. This was a satisfying single volume, and while it doesn’t have the comedic antics of Tail of the Moon I think it would serve as a good introduction to Ueda’s work for people who might hesitate to pick up a multi-volume series.

Honey Hunt #2

Honey Hunt, Volume 2 by Miki Aihara

Honey Hunt continues to be the best kind of guilty pleasure. As Yura’s journey in show business begins, there are cringeworthy moments and plenty of emotional upheaval. Her first photo shoot starts out with the unthinkable – costume sabotage! Fortunately Yura is able to improvise an alternate outfit and the show goes on. Her co-star Haruka is distracted by the way she shifts from her normal unassuming personality into the character she’s portraying during the shoot. He is disturbed by her lack of talent and her budding relationship with his older brother Q-ta. Haruka informs Yura that she’s a boring schoolgirl and tells her to do her best to stay Q-ta’s favorite. She concludes that she doesn’t like him and he walks away mystified about why he cares about anything she does with Q-ta.

Q-ta’s away in London working, but he sends Yura a box of his CDs. Although Yura knows that part of the reason Q-ta is being so nice to her is due to his man-crush on her absent composer father, she’s still touched by his kindness. Yura’s lack of self-confidence is so crippling that even when Q-ta gave her his contact info, she hesitates to get in touch with him. Yura’s work on her TV show is derailed by a press conference where she’s asked about her famous parents. She thought she’d be able to make it on her own, but her manager Keiichi tipped off a reporter about her true identity. This prompts yet another episode of self-loathing for Yura, who assumes that she only got her job due to her connections in show business. Yura had thought that Keiichi believed in her talent and she runs away, not wanting to deal with her new notoriety.

I can see how Yura’s timidity and indecision might be a little annoying to some readers. But I think some of her annoying traits are true to character as a young woman from an incredibly sheltered background who is trying make it on her own. Plus, Aihara’s art is so good at detailing Yura’s emotions as she experiences the betrayal and backstabbing of show business, it is hard not to be sympathetic towards her. I was wondering when we’d see Yura’s father show up to make her life even more complicated. Her mother was such a bitch on wheels in the first volume, I do really hope that Yura manages to succeed on her own.

The three men in Yura’s life are still interesting. Q-ta treats her with kindness and compassion, but the casual way he decides to invade his brother’s apartment and rifle through his closet might point to a streak of selfishness in his personality. Yura nicknames Haruka “Mizutani the Younger” in her mind. Haruka doesn’t seem to have much of a filter on his mouth when he’s with Yura, and he’s always blurting out comments that hurt her feelings, and then feeling bad about himself afterwards. It could be that his feelings for her are deeper than Q-ta’s. Then there’s the manager Keiichi. Yura trusts him absolutely, but he’s vowed to sell her name whenever he can to maximize the amount of publicity she’ll get. He goes after Yura when she runs away, something that he’d never do for another client. I’m looking forward to reading volume 3 of this series.

Sigikki launched and Viz anime on Hulu

I don’t usually run PR notices on this site, but VIz has been doing some very interesting things recently.

They’ve officially launched Sigikki, an online site devoted to seinen manga (manga generally targeted at older men). I haven’t been reading Children of the Sea online, because I had already pre-ordered my copy of the manga before the site launched, but I’m excited about reading manga online that is targeted towards a more mature audience. Here are the series summaries for the manga that will be published on the web site:


CHILDREN OF THE SEA By Daisuke Igarashi

(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)
The sea has a story to tell, one you’ve never heard before…

When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does. Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the oceans’ fish. Volume 1 now also available in print!

Bokurano: OURS By Mohiro Kitoh

(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

Saving the world is hard. Saving yourself is even harder.

One summer, fifteen kids innocently wander into a nearby seaside cave. There they meet a strange man who invites them to play an exciting new video game. This game, he explains, pits one lone giant robot against a horde of alien invaders. To play the game, all they have to do is sign a simple contract. The game stops being fun when the kids find out the true purpose of their pact.

Dorohedoro By Q Hayashida

(Rated ‘M’ mature)

A blood-spattered battle between diabolical sorcerers and the monsters they created.

In a city so dismal it’s known only as “the Hole,” a clan of sorcerers have been plucking people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious “experiments” in the black arts. In a dark alley, Nikaido found Caiman, a man with a reptile head and a bad case of amnesia. To undo the spell, they’re hunting and killing the sorcerers of the Hole, hoping that eventually they’ll kill the right one. But when En, the head sorcerer, gets word of a lizard-man slaughtering his people, he sends a crew of “cleaners” into the Hole, igniting a war between two worlds.

Saturn Apartments By Hisae Iwaoka

(Rated ‘T’ for teens)

A touching, character-rich vision of an intriguing new world.

Far in the future, humankind has evacuated the Earth in order to preserve it. Humans now reside in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the Earth, thirty-five kilometers up in the sky. The society of the ring is highly stratified: the higher the floor, the greater the status. Mitsu, the lowly son of a window washer, has just graduated junior high. When his father disappears and is assumed dead, Mitsu must take on his father’s occupation. As he struggles with the transition to working life, Mitsu’s job treats him to an outsider’s view into the various living-room dioramas of the Saturn Apartments.

I’ll Give it My All…Tomorrow By Shunju Aono

(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

Life begins at forty…even for pathetic losers.

This is the story of a forty-year-old salary man who quits his job to pursue his dream of becoming a manga artist—and the family that has to put up with him. While not terribly unhappy, Shizuo Oguro can’t fight the feeling that something in his life just isn’t right, so he walks away from his stable (yet boring) day job to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately for his family, this journey also involves playing video games all day while his teenage daughter and elderly father support him. Will Shizuo succeed in creating a true manga masterpiece or will he be just another drop-out living a life of slack?

Afterschool Charisma By Kumiko Suekane

(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)
History repeats itself… Or does it?

St. Kleio Academy is a very exclusive school: all of the students are clones of famous historical figures such as Beethoven, Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon, Mozart, and Freud. All of them, that is, except for Shiro Kamiya. As Shiro struggles to adapt to this unusual campus, St. Kleio’s first graduate, a clone of John F. Kennedy, is killed. Are the clones doomed to repeat the fate of their genetic progenitors, or can they create their own destinies? And how does a normal boy like Shiro fit in?

Kingyo Used Books By Seimu Yoshizaki

(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

This manga bookstore has a thousand stories to tell.

A businessman discovers how his childhood memories can brighten his day. An art student finds inspiration. An archer hits a surprising bull’s eye. A housewife rediscovers romance. A teenager discovers his true self in the pages of a manga magazine. Welcome to Kingyo Used Books, a place where people find their dreams in manga…

HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES By Natsume Ono

(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

A many-sided tale of faith and betrayal, drama and intrigue, set in the world of old Edo.

Masterless samurai Akitsu Masanosuke is a skilled and loyal swordsman, but his naïve, diffident nature has time and again caused him to be let go by the lord whom he has worked for. Hungry and desperate, he becomes a bodyguard for Yaichi, the charismatic leader of a gang called “Five Leaves.” Although disturbed by the gang’s sinister activities, Masa begins to suspect that Yaichi’s motivations are not what they seem. And despite his misgivings, the deeper he’s drawn into the world of the Five Leaves, the more he finds himself fascinated by these devious, mysterious outlaws.

Tokyo Flow Chart By Eiji Miruno

(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)
This manga will f(low) with your brain!

Have you ever wished that somebody else would just DO SOMETHING about the chaos in your life? Then this is the perfect manga for a slacker like you! Tokyo Flow Chart is (probably) the world’s first four-frame comic strip in flow chart format. It breaks down the complexities of life and aids in the mastery of brain skills such as flow-chart-manga comprehension or mental bullet-dodging. As Confusious say: “let your brain flow with the chart!”

Viz also announced today that they are making the anime versions of Honey and Clover and Nana available on Hulu. I’m definitely going to be checking these series out when I’m done watching Glass Mask, I’ve been wanting to watch the Nana anime in particular for a long time. It is nice to see that Viz is experimenting with putting more content online, and I hope this strategy works out for them. I’d like to see more manga publishers releasing longer online previews of series. I’m not sure if the fanbase is there to support it, but I would absolutely love to see a josei version of Sigikki.

Boys Over Flowers #36

At 37 volumes, Boys Over Flowers is the longest manga series that I’ve collected. The upcoming 37th volume is side stories, but the main storyline wraps up in volume 36. While some manga series tend to end abruptly or take a sharp detour into WTF-land (I’m looking at you, Kare Kano), Boys Over Flowers 36 gives the reader an emotionally satisfying conclusion as Tsukushi prepares for her senior year while the F4 graduate. All of the main characters get a moment of farewell, and there are brief cameos from some of the supporting cast as well.

Of course, a graduation without drama just wouldn’t fit this series. Tsukasa and Tsukushi are finally alone, but instead of consummating their relationship, Tsukushi falls into a pool and catches a horrible cold. Tsukasa is about to go to New York to work for his family’s company for 4 years. Tsukushi’s family runs into financial problems yet again, which means that she might not be able to afford to to to Eitoku Academy for her senior year. Rui Hanazawa gets his driver’s license and terrifies everyone with his driving abilities.

Tsukushi has a moment of farewell with each member of F4. She talks with Sojiro about how she, Tsukasa, and Rui have all changed since they met each other. They talk about Yuki, Tsukushi’s friend who fell in love with Sojiro and Tsukushi concludes that there are different types of happy endings and “if two people can, for an instant, be precious to each other then that’s one form.” Rui cuts Tsukushi’s hair, and they talk about their shared moments of escape on the school emergency exit. Tsukushi thinks that Rui will always be a part of her. Tsukasa sends Tsukushi a dress for prom, and Tsukushi thinks back to her first year at Eitoku – the weight of her school uniform, the shallowness of her classmates, and how terrified she was when she first saw Tsukasa bullying another student.

As Tsukushi prepares for prom she meets her friends for cake. Tsukushi isn’t sure if she can join Tsukasa in New York. Her family is behind on the rent, and Tsukushi has to spend the day helping them move. Disaster happens, as Tsukushi’s dress is ripped. She ends up dancing at prom with the F4 while wearing her moving clothes. While the image of the boys looking elegant in their tuxedos and Tsukushi in clothes that proclaim her to be the weed she proudly named herself brings back memories of the gulf between them in the earliest volumes of the series, everyone has been changed profoundly by their friendships. Everyone has grown more mature and caring, and Tsukushi and Tsukasa are finally secure in their relationship and feelings for each other.

Most of the time I’m a little hesitant about tackling a series as long as Boys Over Flowers. But there’s a reason why this is one of the top selling shoujo series of all time in Japan. The Tsukushi’s Cinderella story combined with the gradual taming of the initially beastly Tsukasa produced compelling soap opera. Even when some of the story elements got a little ridiculous with the amnesia and the kidnappings, and the continued machinations of Tsukasa’s evil mother, Kamino ends up making the reader root for Tsukushi and Tsukasa. It was worth reading 36 volumes to see their happy ending.

Detroit Metal City review and giveaway

Detroit Metal City by Kiminori Wakasugi

Soichi is a tender-hearted boy who wants to write Swedish pop songs about falling in love and eating dessert. His favorite movie is Amelie, and he always talks to his mother when she calls him to make sure he hasn’t run out of rice. Unfortunately Soichi is Krauser II, the front man for the death metal band Detroit Metal City. Soichi finds his greatest success writing songs about raping women and being the Lord of Hell. Krauser wears heavy makeup, so no one knows that Soichi is secretly a charismatic singer. Soichi is joined in his death metal pursuits by bass player Jagi and Camus, a tubby drummer. DMC’s manager rates their performances based on the condition of her panties and critiques Soichi for not being metal enough when he doesn’t torture a man on stage as enthusiastically as a Lord of Hell should.

Soichi is always tortured by his dual personalities, and unfortunately he runs into trouble when Krauser comes through in his everyday life. He has a chance meeting with a girl named Aikawa that he knew from his past in a record store, but gets distracted when DMC’s new single is playing in the background. He starts dissing DMC when Aikawa asks him if he likes their music and some heavy metal groupies come over to defend their idol. They end up forcing Soichi to perform a DMC air guitar routine and yells at her in full Krauser mode when he is still in the grip of the song, “Let me rape you, you fucking sow!” Aikawa runs away disgusted.

Many metal cliches are invoked in this manga. Krauser eats bats, is rumored to have killed his parents and had sex with the corpses, and meets an American metal god who accessorizes with snakes and owns a guitar drenched in blood. There are some moments that have a tinge of inspired lunacy, like Krauser’s encounter with a heavy metal buffalo. Obviously, if you are the type of person who is offended by profanity, this is not the manga for you. I think that Viz deserves some props for bringing out a manga so ludicrously insane that it showcases a scene where two men battle on stage while saying “Fuck” over and over again until they stop breathing. There’s not a lot of selection out there for fans of quirky humor manga, and Detroit Metal City definitely fits a niche for those who’d like their manga turned up to 11.

The art in DMC tends to be a little static, with the characters posed stiffly. Fortunately this fits in well with the costumes of the band, as they wear huge boots and so much body armor it is hard to see how they’d be able to walk. The facial expressions of the characters are often over the top caricatures, which does serve to adequately portray Soichi’s wistful expressions as he composes Swedish pop songs with lyrics like “You are a strawberry shake. I want to drink you up” and bellows as Krauser “I shall punish all your sins. I am an angel of hell! Time for your spanking!”

I thought DMC was funny, but after reading it once I wasn’t sure if I’d be rereading it all that much. Since my bookcases are overflowing with manga, I thought I’d give my copy of DMC away. Just leave a comment here with what your DMC name would be (Mistress of Satan? Death Metal Monkey? Lucifer IVIXX?) and I’ll pick someone randomly to send Detroit Metal City volume 1 to at the end of the month.

Beauty is the Beast

Beauty is the Beast Volumes 1-5 by Tomo Matsumoto

This series was one of the earlier titles released under the Shojo Beat imprint and judging by amazon availability some volumes are getting hard to find, which is a shame because this slice-of-life manga features an unconventional heroine, hero, and a romance which refreshingly different from what one usually finds in the shoujo genre. Eimi Yamashita moves into a dorm at her school when her parents relocate due to work. The girls’ dorm at her school is a run-down wooden structure, while the boys’ dorm is filled with modern conveniences. Eimi’s dormmates have plenty of personality, spending a good deal of time playing cards and mah jong, as well as running out in the middle of the night for snacks . Eimi’s new roommate Misao has plastered the room with posters of female dancers because looking at female bodies relaxes her. Eimi is asked to sneak into the boys’ dorm and steal a room number as part of an initiation test.

While planning her approach at school, Eimi runs into a strange tall boy hiding his face in his sweatshirt hood. Wanibuchi is viewed as a hoodlum by his fellow students because of his height, laconic personality, and the fact that he lived overseas for many years before returning to Japan. Eimi’s dormmates expect her to fail in her task, and are amazed when she casually hops a high fence and heads into enemy territory. Eimi ducks into Wanibuchi’s room to hide and meets him and his roommate Inui. A shirtless Wanibuchi ends up hiding Eimi by dangling her out the window, and then he tells her how to escape the boys’ dorm. Eimi decides to give both Wanibuchi and Inui pet names, and everyone else is stunned that she can be so casual with them.

Eimi keeps running into Wanibuchi, and they develop an odd friendship. She finds out that he has a part-time job in a bar, and is amazed at how mature he looks when he takes care of customers. Eimi is bluntly naive, and somewhat animalistic in the way she takes care of her own needs. When Eimi’s stuck over break in the girls dorm without access to a shower, she invites herself over to use Wanibuchi’s. Dorm life continues, and the romantic foibles of Eimi’s friends keep the book from being overly focused on the main characters. Eimi and Wanibuchi’s friendship develops gradually and naturally. Even though many of the common shoujo high school plot devices are used (school festival, a rival for Eimi’s affection, homesickness) the pace of the book is slow and realistic, giving the reader a feeling for what school life is like complete with issues like broken tvs and bug extermination.

While the other students act intimidated by Wanibuchi’s tough guy exterior, he actually has a lot of hidden depth and insight into human nature. He’s been drilled in correct manners by his grandfather, and even though his personality is self-contained, he knows how to lead his fellow students even if he uses their dislike of him in order to bring them together as a group. While a more typical shoujo series would have either Eimi or Wanibuchi pushing their relationship to the next level, they seem content to sit back and observe each other for a long time.

The art gives most of the characters a slightly androgynous look. The dorm setting offers plenty of opportunities to explore the foibles of the supporting cast, so the Eimi-Wanibuchi relationship doesn’t suffer from overexposure. While Beauty is the Beast doesn’t have the extreme emotional ups and downs found in dramatic shoujo series, the focus of the daily life of the dorm residents combined with character-based humor makes for a series that is a rewarding, if a bit low-key. This is well worth checking out if you can track down the volumes, I ended up checking the series out of my local library a few weeks ago.

Otomen Volume 2

Otomen Volume 2 by Aya Kanno

I continue to enjoy this series about a boy with feminine hobbies who is forced to act super-masculine, showing his true identity only to a couple of close friends. In the first story Asuka is stalked by a feminine looking boy named Yamato who has decided that Asuka is his ideal of masculinity. What will happen when Yamato finds out that Asuka loves to spend his time making adorable bento lunches? It turns out that Yamato wants to become more masculine in order to impress a girl, and he has a vision of himself as a stoic, narrow-eyed shoujo hero that effectively lampoons shoujo stereotypes.

In the next story Asuka stresses over how to spend the perfect Christmas with his not-girlfried Ryo. He knits her a scarf, and plans a feast in their group’s new hangout place – an abandoned school building that might just be haunted. Juta, the high school boy with a secret career drawing shoujo manga, lurks outside the window in order to spy on the couple in order to gather source material.

The final half of the book becomes even more absurd. Asuka’s mother comes back from overseas and we see why he’s so afraid of his secret feminine side being discovered. His mother constantly references his father’s decision to become a woman, and threatens to die from stress if Asuka acts womanly. She announces Asuka’s engagement to the daughter of some business associates of hers. He goes to their house and discovers that looks like a European castle on acid. Iruka decides that Asuka is going to be her prince, if he likes it or not!

While I enjoy Otomen as a light disposable series I’m sometimes left with the sense that Kanno isn’t taking full advantage of the story that she’s set up. It seems to me that there’s room for even more satire on gender roles and shoujo conventions than I’m seeing. Ryo continues to act mostly as a focus of Asuka’s attentions, and I wish a little more of her personality was shown. Kanno’s art does a good job shifting into parody. Yamato’s obsession with angular masculinity produces a sharp-edged version of himself that is so extreme it looks ridiculous. Iruka’s room looks like a Walt Disney movie come to life, complete with wide-eyed deer, smiling flowers, and hearts scattered everywhere. My problem might be that I’m unconsciously expecting Otomen to be an Ai Morinaga series when it clearly isn’t. Otomen is still fun to read, and I’ll be looking forward to volume 3.

Ikki Magazine from Viz

Well, this is interesting. Viz has created an online magazine to promote their signature line called Ikki. With Shojo Beat folding and online serialization of Rin-Ne and Children of the Sea I’m wondering if we’ll eventually see some shojo or josei content available for free online? That would be nifty.

Honey Hunt

I previously reviewed the first chapter when it ran in Shojo Beat. Now I’ve read the first volume, and I am loving this manga in all its trashy glory. Here are some reasons why Honey Hunt is terrifically entertaining:

  • I find Yura’s character very appealing. Although the downtrodden ordinary girl is a shojo staple, there’s extra tension added to her relationship with her family since her parents are so well known. She gradually comes into her own after her parents’ divorce is announced, and she isn’t afraid to show what she’s feeling, even if it results in a tearful outburst to a horde of paparazzi. Knowing that she’s essentially been abandoned, Yura seizes that chance to enter show business herself.
  • Yura’s actress mother is the essence of evil. Sleeping with your daughter’s tutor knowing that she has a crush on him? Making catty comments about your daughter’s lack of ability when she decides to become an actress? I really want Yura to prove her mother wrong by becoming a great actress on her own.
  • Since Yura’s father is overseas, he sends his manager Keiichi to look after her. Keiichi promptly decides to scout Yura, and places himself in charge of her acting career. What are his true motivations though? He remains intriguing and mysterious. Also, he wears glasses, and Aihara’s men with glasses always look hot.
  • The rival musical idol twins! Yura “meets cute” Q-ta in an elevator when she’s fleeing from her bodyguards. He’s a huge fan of her father’s music and immediately proposes marriage to her when he finds out who she is. Yura points out that Q-ta doesn’t even know what her name is. She keeps running into him as she embarks on a failed run of auditions, and he ends up encouraging her. Q-ta’s twin brother and fellow singer Haruka initially dismisses Yura as nothing special, but he is incredibly sympathetic when he sees the way Yura’s mother treats her.