The Way the Page Turns

by Liann Cooper,
Some of you may have noticed that the manga column has undergone a bit of a facelift and is now sporting the new name "Right Turn Only." In addition to the new name, you have probably noticed another new name - mine. I am excited to have been given the opportunity to inform you all about upcoming and recent manga releases, but please bear with me while I get into the swing of things. In honor of the "revival" of the column, we're kickin' "Right Turn Only" off with the first volumes of eight new series. With only one title falling under the "Recycle It" category, I'd say we're off to a good start.

Buy It Now!

Tokyo Babylon Volume 1
Released by Tokyopop
Story & Art by CLAMP

$9.99 US

Before Subaru was helping to decide the fate of the world in X, he was just a normal teenage boy who exorcised restless spirits. Tokyo Babylon, one of the earlier works of the female writing team CLAMP, focuses on the spirit extracting escapades of Subaru Sumeragi. Joined by his then colleague, Seishirou Sakurazuka and sister, Hokuto, Subaru must exorcise the spirits of a distraught ex-girlfriend, a possessed Chanel suit, and a melancholy actress in this first volume. Tokyopop treats us with a sharp presentation that includes fold-out color pages, sound effects guide, and intact Japanese name order. For fans of CLAMP or Subaru, Tokyo Babylon is a must have manga.

xxxHOLiC Volume 1
Released by Del Rey
Story & Art by CLAMP

$10.95 US

With the first four of their titles premiering in the top 12 of the Neilson Bookscan Graphic Novel List, you'd never suspect that Del Rey was a newcomer to the world of manga. Securing the #6 spot on the list was xxxHOLiC; a supernatural, crossover title from the ladies of CLAMP. Watanuki Kimihiro has unfortunately inherited the ability to see spirits. Even more unfortunate is that in trying to escape one of these spirit visions, Watuanuki's legs have led him to the dwelling of a mysterious woman by the name of Yuko. Having the power to grant any wish possible, Yuko makes an offer to Watanuki that he just can't refuse – to fulfill his wish and rid him of his spirit vision curse forever. However, Yuko will only grant his wish after he's literally worked off his fee for her insightful services. After being tricked into becoming an employee of Yuko's shop, Watanuki is about to see human morality as he's never seen it before. Containing some beautiful color pages, detailed translator notes and explanations, as well as previews of the first few Japanese pages of volume two, Del Rey shows why their novels are worth the slightly more expensive price. Filled with cameos of various CLAMP items and characters, zany humor, and engaging storyline, xxxHOLiC proves why it snagged a top spot in the rankings.

Negima! Magister Negi Magi Volume 1
Released by Del Rey
Story & Art by Ken Akamatsu


Akamatsu fans rejoice for Ken Akamatsu has returned with yet another “boy-ends-up-with-many-girls” series. Negi Springfield is a 10-year old wizard prodigy who, upon receiving his mystic diploma, has just been assigned to teach English at an all-girls junior high school. Differing from normal love-comedy male leads, Negi is actually a smart, talented guy that the ladies absolutely fawn over. Eventually, Negi's sorcerer secret is discovered by Asuna Kagurazaka; a student of Negi's who also happens to immensely dislike him. Of course, in typical Akamatsu flare, Negi is put into predictable situations which result in many an awkward moment. More times than not, those situations involve himself and Asuna. Containing humorous but risqué situations - mostly panty shots and perverse innuendos – Negima ended up obtaining a “For Mature Audiences” sticker from Del Rey. Reminiscent of Harry Potter, only with a twist, Negima is an entertaining read for Akamatsu and general manga fans alike.

Borrow It

The Prince of Tennis Volume 1
Released by Viz
Story & Art by Takeshi Konomi

$7.95 US

Ryoma Echizen's father was on his way to becoming a tennis legend until an injury prevented him from continuing in the sport. Possessing the same prodigious talent and spirit as his father, Ryoma is determined to prove that he more than deserves the title of “The Prince.” This first volume of The Prince of Tennis series mainly showcases 12-year old Ryoma's genius tennis skills against the upperclassmen of the Seishun Gakuen Junior High School tennis team. By using his nefarious “twist serve” and his “secret weapon” – his left hand, Ryoma quickly catches up in rankings to the upperclassmen. Introductions to the “starter” members of the tennis team and a possible future love-interest for Ryoma, named Sakuno, are also woven into this episodic storyline. The Prince of Tennis is a lengthy series that's still going strong at over 22 volumes. Thankfully, Viz makes financial dedication to the series a bit easier with the $7.95 price tag.

Lament of the Lamb Volume 1
Released by Tokyopop
Story & Art by Kei Toume

$9.99 US

A dark and haunting series, Lament of the Lamb tells the story of Kazuna Takashiro and his battle with the past. Plagued by nightmares and unexplainable visions, Kazuna learns that he, and his long-lost sister Chizuna, carry the blood of vampires. With an escalating craving for blood and no cure for their “disease,” Kazuna and Chizuna must find a way of living out their cursed destiny the best way they can. A somewhat bland storyline combined with sketchy, unaesthetic artwork lands Lament of the Lamb smack dab in the gray area of “untapped potential.” Hopefully volume two will provide a twist in the storyline as well as opportunity for character growth of Kazuna and Chizuna.

Gundam Seed Astray Volume 1
Released by Tokyopop
Story by Tomohiro Chiba & Art by Kouichi Tokita

$9.99 US

The Gundam world is so incredibly immense that casual readers may be somewhat lost if they decide to pick up Gundam Seed Astray. Thankfully, Tokyopop includes small editor's notes underneath certain frames of the manga to aid readers with Gundam specifics. A spin-off series to Gundam Seed, Gundam Seed Astray records the adventures of a Junk Force that is lead by spunky Junk Tech, Lowe Gear. While looking for salvage amongst a recently decimated Heliopolis, Lowe stumbles upon two intact Gundams – Red Frame and Blue Frame. Excitement over the find is short lived, however, as Lowe is almost immediately challenged for possession of the Gundams. As the volume progresses, it becomes evident that different factions are interested in acquiring both Gundams and will do anything in order to get their hands on them. A good action series with nice artwork, Gundam Seed Astray isn't for everyone but is definitely worth reading if you have the time.

Doll Volume 1 (Hardcover Edition)
Released by Tokyopop
Story by Mitsukazu Mihara

$19.99 US

Tokyopop has once again graced the bookshelves with a limited edition, hardcover manga. This time the special treatment is given to Mitsukazu Mihara's Doll – a collection of short stories that examines humanity through its interaction with dolls. From the doll thought of as a “son” to the doll bought for a son - each story touches on a facet of human morality. Doll's artwork isn't eye-catching and the stories aren't very entertaining, but the presentation of the book itself is very nice. At $19.99, the hardback edition of Doll is probably something only avid collectors will want to get. No worries though, for those readers with a slightly lighter wallet, a softback edition is slated to be released August 10th.

Recycle It

Arm of Kannon Volume 1
Released by Tokyopop
Story & Art by Masakazu Yamaguchi

$9.99 US

Every once in a while a series appears with such a ridiculous premise that you have to read it because it's just so bad; Arm of Kannon is such a series. Flaunting artwork that screams “1996” (though it was published in 2002) and a plot that yells out “non-existent,” Arm of Kannon is a mishmash of confused thoughts and bad ideas. Mao and Maya Mikami's father has just returned from a three-year archaeology expedition to reveal a horrifying fact; he holds the secret to the mysterious Arm of Kannon. As it turns out, the secret of the Arm of Kannon appears to be a very desirable one - and a particular organization wants nothing more than to obtain it. With only a mysterious swordsman to protect them, Mao and Maya are thrust into a whirl of deceit, myth, and “super-soldiers.” Somewhere between the genetically engineered lizard-men and the hand jobs given to an unconscious Mao, we're given hints that impending mass destruction is going to befall mankind because of this creepy arm. We're never told how or why this catastrophe will happen and instead must assumingly wait for the release of volume two. Tokyopop definitely shows us the variety of genres they have with the release of Arm of Kannon; such a deviation from their traditional titles that they decided to shrink-wrap it. Unfortunately, this is one Tokyopop title that falls way short of spectacular and instead ends up being a spectacular disaster.

Thanks for reading the first edition of Right Turn Only! I hope you enjoyed it!

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