RIGHT TURN ONLY!!
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by Liann Cooper, Sep 30th 2004

Buy It Now!


Chrono Crusade Volume 2
Story & Art by Daisuke Moriyama
Released by ADV Manga
October 2004

$9.99 US

A unique story about a nun named Rosette and her "pet" demon, Chrono. She loves to play with guns and he gets his power from her via a pocket watch that hangs around her neck. They're on the hunt for her brother who was abducted by an evil demon. Had someone described the bare bones of Chrono Crusade's plot to me, I probably would've given them a funny look and never looked back... and would've missed out on something really great. Usually series heavily based on religious or mythological aspects make me slightly wary, mainly because I worry that I won't have enough knowledge on the subject to enjoy the story. Rather than bombard you with facts or lose you with a confusing story, Chrono Crusade manages to divulge a manageable balance of story and information. It's only volume two and the series has wasted no time in getting right to the crux of its story. After a nice little filler chapter about Rosette's “floating spirit”, we learn about AiON and the tragedy of the Seventh Bell Orphanage – where Rosette and Joshua grew up. Also revealed are the details of Chrono and the siblings' friendship as well as how he and Rosette's contract came about. The background paints a pretty grim picture and you'll really begin to sympathize with the characters. A cute nun for the guys and a hot demon for the ladies – being part of the clergy was never cooler. Make sure this one doesn't elude your shelves.


The Demon Ororon Volume 4
Story & Art by Hakase Mizuki
Released by Tokyopop
October 2004

$9.99 US

Well, if you've made it to volume four of this series, I know you must love it as much as I do. For those who were initially turned off by the artwork and its androgynous characters with their exaggerated limbs and disproportionate bodies, I heartily encourage you to embrace the art because the illustrations only serve to emphasize the purgatorial situation. No one is particularly beautiful and no one is incredibly ugly; all contain a mysterious, almost alien-like quality. Let's do a run-down, shall we? Ororon is mortally wounded (even though he can't be killed), Oscar is on a power-hungry rampage for the throne of Hell, Chiaki desperately loves her dying Ororon, and who knows what is up with Othello. The situation has total and complete tragedy written all over it – and in the end, that's what we're left with. Even though we're not given a fairy tale happy ending, we are given a satisfyingly resolute conclusion. All loose ends are tied up and every character gets their little moment in the spotlight. A story that even Shakespeare would be proud of, for $40 to get the entire series... this one's well worth the investment.


IWGP: Ikebukuro West Gate Park Volume 1
Story by Ira Ishida & Art by Sena Aritou
Released by Digital Manga Publishing
August 2004

$12.95 US

After reading things like Real Bout High School and Battle Vixens, my tolerance for “fighting” manga was pretty much shot. Along comes IWGP and, *poof!*, renewed faith in the genre. Looking at the cover and seeing some random kogal staring back at me, I was hesitant to read the book. But, like the saying goes, never judge a book by its kogal... erm, cover. Ikebukuro West Gate Park is the place you go to when you want to run into some of the toughest and most infamous local gangs. It's also the choice hangout spot for cool dude Makoto and his friends. Makoto has hot chicks who love him, guys who respect him, and is on friendly terms with the GK, leader of the strongest gang in town, the G Boys. Things are peachy until Makoto's girlfriend becomes the victim of a rapist and strangler. Enlisting the help of his street gang friends, Makoto is determined to hunt down the killer and dish out his own form of justice. Interested yet? Throw in some sex, humor, great characters, and gritty street violence (ew... eyelid slashing!) and you have the makings of a darn good book. No angst, no fluff, no nonsense. A surprise in disguise, don't let this one get away without a fight!


Immortal Rain Volume 2
Story & Art by Kaori Ozaki
Released by Tokyopop
August 2004

$9.99 US

While I wasn't impressed with the first volume of Immortal Rain, I'm now hooked after reading volume two. Machika and Rain exist in a time and place where a 15-year-old girl can fall in love with a 624-year old immortal sporting a mullet of unimaginable length. Things only get crazier from there. After an army of crazy siblings attack the pair's train, Machika and Rain find refuge on a prison ship. Turns out the wacko kids were drafted by a woman named Sharem who works for a secret organization experimenting to create the ultimate bio-weapon. It seems that one of those experiments may have escaped and Rain is at the top of their “Most Wanted” list. On one hand Immortal Rain is a love story and on the other hand it's some weird, X-files chronicle. Kaori Ozaki has successfully melded these two elements together to give you a romantic series spiced with just enough freaky sci-fi to keep you from drowning in “I love you... but, am torn between my heart and my miiiiiind” mumbo-jumbo. Artistically the series is pretty sparse which make it heavily reliant on story and characters. Thankfully the characters' personalities are so endearing that you don't even notice their lack of detail. I have a feeling this one may be an up/down read for me, but as of now (especially since this volume ended with a cliffhanger) I'm definitely going to be rushing out to the store to buy the third!


Kare First Love Volume 1
Story & Art by Kaho Miyasaka
Released by Viz
August 2004

$9.95 US

Those of you waiting for the typical “girl” manga to rear its fluffy head in this column... wait no longer, for it is here. Kare First Love is girly enough to satisfy even the most ravenous of angsty hearts. Karin Karino is a geeky, brainy girl who hides behind her glasses. By some weird twist of fate, Karin catches the eye of a hunky guy named Kiriya who looks past her four-eyed face to see a beautiful, desirable girl—friend. But, being a teenager means that there is sure to be vicious drama afoot and that vicious drama comes in the form of Karin's “best” friend, Yuka. Does Kiriya really like Karin? Will Yuka steal Kiriya? Is it all just an elaborate set up!? OMG, THE DRAMA! There will forever be various incarnations of the “Ugly Duckling,” but the key is telling it right. Kare First Love does it right. With a line like, “I threw up and he saw me in my underwear;” you just can't ask for anything more shoujo than that.


Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Volume 1
Story & Art by Sakura Kinoshita
Released by ADV Manga
October 2004

$9.99 US

Sakura, Usagi, the Mew Mews – we're all familiar with the magical girl. Prepare to be introduced to the magical boy... complete with crescent-shaped staff. His name is Loki, Norse God of Trickery and he's the father of a dog, a serpent, and the Mistress of the Underworld. Oh yeah, he also roams the Earth solving mysteries in the form of a child. Sadly ADV has only licensed the second part of the Loki series (the first just lacking “Ragnarok” from its title), so in this first volume the reader finds themselves juggling a hodgepodge of characters who are already familiar with each other. By the end of the second chapter you're already given eight characters to keep straight and come the end of the volume, several more characters, major and minor, have either been referred to or introduced. Knowledge of basic Norse mythology would probably be advised as many of the character relationships would be better understood. With the lack of the first series to refer back to, I only hope that forthcoming volumes explain some of the references that are mentioned in this first one. Otherwise I may be forced to peruse the dreaded vortex of... MaLoki fansites. There's not much of a story going on as of yet, but the characters are fun, the artwork is nice, and there's enough hinting going on that I'm intrigued.


Only the Ring Finger Knows
Story by Satoru Kannagi & Art by Hotaru Odagiri
Released by Digital Manga Publishing
August 2004

$12.95

Hurray for dust jackets! DMP has done an excellent job by releasing their line of manga in the larger manga format complete with glossy, color dust jacket. And what better way to wrap up a beautiful story than with a beautiful cover. Yaoi is a broad term encompassing everything from sweet “boy's love” to explicit boy's sexual situations. Only the Ring Finger Knows falls into the category of tender boy love. Wataru Fuji attends a high school where the latest craze is wearing matching rings. Sort of like the friendship necklaces of the early 90s, matching rings on certain fingers signify whether or not a person's single, just friends, or totally claimed. Wataru falls into none of these categories because he just wears his ring for show. But, everything changes after he leaves his ring by the water fountain and the popular stud Kazuki picks it up. Paula Abdul speaks the truth because opposites DO attract. This type of story always seems to pair up guys with opposite personalities and Ring Finger is no different. Wataru is decidedly straight, quiet, and insecure while Kazuki is homosexual, popular, and very passionate. Put them together and you get a really enjoyable, touching story that will make you go, “Awww,” at the end. I only hope the rest of DMP's yaoi line is this good.


Peacemaker Kurogane Volume 1
Story & Art by Nanae Chrono
Released by ADV Manga
October 2004

$9.99 US

Even though this is the second part of the series (Peace Maker being the first and not yet available in North America), Peacemaker Kurogane retains a high level of enjoyment. After reading the inside cover of Kurogane, I think I've caught myself up and surmise that two brothers, Tetsu and Tatsu, are intent on seeking revenge for the death of their father and have thus joined forces with the Shinsengumi. Tetsu is currently a page for the vice-commander while Tatsu takes the position of an accountant. Like Loki Ragnarok, readers are introduced to a substantial amount of characters. However, Kurogane is slightly easier to follow mainly because none of the characters seem to know each other. Brooding samurai, bishie swordsmen, and a cat-lovin' man make first volume appearances. Even Hajime Saitou shows up - not only a master swordsman, but also as a psychic. That's right, a psychic. I look forward to seeing how the plot develops. Definitely appealing to fans of Rurouni Kenshin, but also entertaining for a random reader, Peacemaker Kurogane is sure to be a welcome addition to anyone's collection.


Tactics Volume 1
Story & Art by Kazuko Higashiyama and Sakura Kinoshita
Released by ADV Manga
October 2004

$9.99 US

I hear the word “goblin” and horrible visions of the movie Troll 2 flash through my mind. Hoardes of midget goblins donned with cheap Halloween masks that can be defeated by the powers of a double-decker bologna sandwich - Tactics is blessedly free of processed meat and blue-light specials. Kantaro is obsessed with goblins, demons, and just about any other powerful, fantastical creature. A self-proclaimed expert on these beings, Kantaro spends his days hunting them, ultimately looking for the all-powerful, legendary demon-eating goblin. Surprisingly, he finds this super goblin by page 28, so you just know that the series has more going on than Kantaro finding this fabled being. Never before has such a handsome, rice bowl-obsessed goblin graced the pages of manga. Haruka, as named by Kantaro, pledges loyalty to the young boy and together they try and maintain order between mortal and monster... as well as protect Haruka's rice bowl. Basically this volume serves as nothing more than eye candy and introductions, but the reader is set up perfectly for an anticipated plot twist that is sure to come. If you didn't get enough of Kinoshita's artwork in Loki Ragnorok, be sure to grab Tactics as well. Besides, who knew goblins could be so cute?


Borrow It


Worst Volume 1
Story & Art by Hiroshi Takahashi
Released by Digital Manga Publishing
August 2004

$12.95 US

Contrary to the title, Worst is not the worst at all. In fact, Worst is really quite good. Its premise is simple: take a bunch of rough-and-tumble guys, make them have a “brotherly love” relationship, and have the clueless country newbie of the group attend the worst school in town. Get it? The school is the “worst” in town and the title of the series is “Worst.” Anyway, Hana is the sweetest character you'll ever meet; he has a heart of gold as well as being exceptionally polite. He lives with his ruffian roommates in a boardinghouse run by a Yazuka landloard and a transvestite housekeeper. Sure Hana's cluelessly sweet on the outside, but inside he's filled with animalistic blood that boils with excitement at the prospect of going to a school filled with notorious fighters. So far none of the characters really stand out enough for me to care if one beats the crap out of the other. Fight, fight, and fight some more, Worst is a touching story about a bald-headed bumpkin and his desire to kick the daylights out of anyone who challenges him. Looking for gritty, pound-you-in-the-ass reading? This one has your name written all over it.


Dark Water Volume 1
Story by Koji Suzuki & Art by Meimu
Released by ADV Manga
October 2004

$9.99 US

Dark Water consists of four short, creepy stories all having to do with water. Dealing with kidnapping, abuse, murder, and just downright desperation, the vignettes aptly create an aura of unsettling thought. It's as though in the back of your mind you're wondering if stuff like this really does happen. After reading the first story, since I felt it was the most disturbing, I was a bit disappointed that the remaining three weren't as good. Still, for ten bucks and with pumpkin day just around the corner, this is a cheap way to prep oneself for the eve of spooks and spirits.


Dragon Voice Volume 1
Story & Art by Yuriko Nishiyama
Released by Tokyopop
October 2004

$9.99 US

Simon Cowell would die if a contestant like this ever showed up on American Idol. Rin Anami can dance like a pro, but his voice has got to go. Resembling that of a frog crossed with a whole lotta awful, the moment Rin opens his mouth, everyone scatters in horror. His voice is that horrendous. But, when a chance meeting with the hottest boy group of the moment, the Beat Men, happens, Rin is given the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only does he get to dance for the harmonious crooners, but he also becomes the newest singing member of the group! The troupe's president feels Rin has the “Dragon Voice” – the voice that has demonic charm and god-like brilliance. Last time I checked raspy frog voices weren't on anyone's list of most desired traits. Surprisingly, this story wasn't nearly as awful or corny as I was expecting it to be. There are no dragons with voice, but there are spots of humor and characters who jive with each other in harmonious fashion. Granted with boy band names like “Beat Men” and rival group “Privee” (no, not a latrine), there is a degree of cheesiness that just cannot be avoided. Alternative topping for crackers? No. Adequate way to pass free time? Yes. If you have the chance, go ahead and check Dragon Voice out.


Gunparade March Volume 1
Story & Art by Hiroyuki Sanadura
Released by ADV Manga
October 2004

$9.99 US

Once again, the fate of the world is precariously perched on the shoulders of teenagers. I tell you what, if I knew that the world was fated to be rescued by teens, I'd jump on the escape boat now. In 1945 the world is invaded by “Phantom Beasts," determined to take over Earth. At the time, the world's forces were strong enough to drive the Phantom Beasts back and save the planet from invasion. However, fifty years later the Phantoms are back and the world has no one to turn to except, you guessed it, the teenage sons and daughters of those who first defeated the beasts. Right off the bat we're introduced to your typical spineless boy pilot and your snotty pig-headed girl pilot. Obviously, they're going to fall in love with one another thus causing serious turmoil and mechanical angst. The kids are part of a small group called The Humanoid Walking Tank Unit 5121 and their job is to fight the Phantom Beasts. Never having any actual field experience, Unit 5121 is suddenly deployed into an all out battle where they're forced to work as a team for leaders who could care less about their outcome. Gunparade March is like any other big fighting robot series. The characters are generic, the mecha designs are boring, and the overall situation of EXTREME PERIL is almost downright lame. I hope this one picks up because the cover made the series look like it was going to be pretty cool... if only the content had matched.

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