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Assorted Candies

by Liann Cooper,

Buy It Now!

Hot Gimmick Volume 4
Released by Viz
Story & Art by Miki Aihara

$9.99 US

Break out those geometry skills because there's a mad love triangle going on in this latest installment of Hot Gimmick. When Mrs. Tachibana gets word of a rumor that Hatsumi and Azusa were having an illicit rendezvous in front of the complex, she instigates a social freeze-out for the Narita family. Believing the cause of the freeze-out was because she turned down Ryoki, Hatsumi finds Ryoki and begs him to make her his slave again. As it turns out, Ryoki doesn't want Hatsumi for his slave - he wants her to be his girlfriend! In a strange twist of events, Ryoki makes Hatsumi's brother, Shinogu, his personal math tutor. This immediately puts the Narita family back in Mrs. Tachibana's good graces, but causes extreme amounts of angst for Hatsumi and Shinogu. After seemingly running into a dead end after its “revenge story,” Hot Gimmick felt destined to float in a stagnant, angsty cloud. However, with Shinogu being thrown into the Hatsumi/Ryoki mix, Hot Gimmick appears to have found a refreshing new angle to its story.

Alice 19th: Unrequited Love Volume 4
Released by Viz
Story & Art by Yu Watase

$9.99 US

As the title states, this volume deals with unrequited love - more specifically, the unrequited love between Mayura, Kyo, and Alice. Even though Kyo has professed his love for Alice, he has been branded with Mayura's evil seal which forbids Alice to tell Kyo that she loves him. If she does, Kyo will be engulfed by the darkness in his heart and will never be able to feel love. Having been given the cold shoulder by Kyo, Mayura's heart has become completely consumed by jealousy over Kyo and Alice's blossoming relationship. In order to save Mayura, Alice and Kyo have accepted the titles and responsibilities of Neo Lotus Masters. Joined by fellow Lotus Masters Frey and Chris, Kyo and Alice must use the Mirrors of Lota to enter Mayura's inner heart and prevent her from being taken over by the dark mistress, Darva. With a Tamahome look-a-like and a ticked-off Aya wannabe, Alice 19th is like a menagerie of Watase characters. Lucky for us, Watase draws pretty characters and even with its cliché plot and repetitive character designs, Alice 19th will completely suck you into its moral-driven storyline. Besides, how can you go wrong with a story that has a magical bunny in it?

Kare Kano Volume 9
Released by Tokyopop
Story & Art by Masami Tsuda

$9.99 US

The culture festival has started and with the beginning of the festival comes the unveiling of Aya's anticipated play, “Steel Snow.” Telling the story of a scientist and his two androids, Steel Snow strikes a nerve with Soichiro who sees disconcerting parallels between the play and his own life. With Yukino on cloud nine after a stellar performance, Soichiru's encroaching dark personality may go unnoticed this time around. Since the manga has now outpaced the anime, it's almost a given that you'll want to own the later volumes to find out how the relationships play out. With its slice-of-life plot, Kare Kano is one of those series where you don't justify buying it by what happens in each volume - you just buy it because it's such a good series.

Galaxy Angel Volume 2
Released by Broccoli Books
Story & Art by Kanan

$9.99 US

Broccoli Books is an expert in producing pretty books; Juvenile Orion, Digi Charat, and Galaxy Angel have all received beautiful treatment. With high-quality paper, a sharp-looking cover, color intro pages, and detailed extras, presentation-wise, Galaxy Angel has very little to find fault with. The only problem you may find is that the binding is too tight; you'll practically have to pry it open the first time you read it. The Angel Troupe, under the command of Takuto Meyers, is still continuing to carry out their mission of delivering Prince Shiva to safety. Following a small run-in with a refugee spaceship, the gang has decided make a short stop at Planet Oasia's famous hot springs. For slap-happy fanboys, insert elated squeal of glee [here] – for everyone else, insert tiresome groan [here]. Yes, it's the infamous hot springs scenario. A chance for the buxom Angel Troupe and their Commander to get into predictable, awkward situations that cause extreme embarrassment for both parties. It seems that even in space, there's always time to visit a hot spring. After the short, but bittersweet visit to the "Secret Hot Springs," Takuto and the Angel Troupe fall prey to a trap set by one of Eonia's subordiantes, Lulu. It's up to the Commander Takuto and the Angels to think their way out of this one. Even though Galaxy Angel exudes a squeezeably cute demeanor, its plot is as light and fluffy as cotton. Nevertheless, what it lacks in plot it makes up for in looks - thank goodness there's plenty to please the eye.

Borrow It

Please Save My Earth Volume 4
Released by Viz
Story & Art by Saki Hiwatari

$9.99 US

Confused and scared, Alice is still having difficulty coming to terms that she is Mokuren. However, her acceptance of the fact may be sped up considerably with the sudden discovery of someone who could be Shion. But, little does the moon group know that Haruhiko is being manipulated into pretending to be Shion by the real Shion - eight-year-old Rin. Please Save My Earth is old (first published in 1986), so the artwork is a bit of an acquired taste. It also takes a while to get into the swing of things, so it's strongly suggested that you begin with volume one. If you try and start the series in the middle, you'll find yourself extremely lost. With the premise of Moon colonists being reborn in Earth teens, Please Save My Earth is rather like Sailor Moon. Well, minus the sailor costumes, talking cats, and pink, swirling hearts.

Desert Coral Volume 1
Released by ADV Manga
Story & Art by Wataru Murayama

$9.99 US

Naoto Saki's most notable trait is his ability to sleep... a lot. While he sleeps, Naoto dreams of a place called Orgos – a barren land populated by desert people. For the longest time, Naoto was a mere observer to the commonplace battles between the Elphis and the Sand Dusts. That is, until he is “summoned” by a Sand Dust named Lusia, which lands him smack dab in the middle of an Elphis-Sand Dust battle. Now that he exists in this daydream realm, Naoto is about to discover a world of sorcery, turmoil, and very little sleep. With an interesting and humorous foundation in place, Desert Coral has the potential to be really good. Readers should definitely keep their eye on this fantasy series.

Eerie Queerie! Volume 2
Released by Tokyopop
Story & Art by Shuri Shiozu

$9.99 US

If the two pretty boys on the cover didn't get your attention, the color, foldout picture of Mitsuo and Hasunuma on the inside sure will. Just from the title, the reader might suspect that Eerie Queerie! is a shounen-ai title; and their suspicions would be correct. But, don't worry; Eerie Queerie! is harmless and really quite ridiculous. While volume one provided some entertaining spirit encounters, volume two is just 170 pages of fanservice for the ladies. There is no plot advancement - not that there was much to build on in the first place - and very little character development, unless you'd like to call two kisses and numerous instances of playful cuddling character development. After a four-day field trip and an incident where Hasunuma risks his life to save him, Mitsuo remains naively unaware that Hasunuma may desire more than just friendship. Hasunuma is increasingly overprotective of Mitsuo, especially since newcomer Mikuni seems to be spending lots of time with him. Eerie Queerie! is a fun series filled with bishounen galore and entertaining situations but, alas, a series cannot survive on fanservice alone. Hopefully volume three will put the fangirl delights in the background and bring the plot more to the forefront.

Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Volume 1 (Rerelease)
Released by CPM Manga
Story by Ryo Mizuno & Art by Yoshihiko Ochi

$9.99 US

Three columns in and we're already going against the title. Reading left-to-right, Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch is a rerelease by CPM Manga, presented in the smaller, standard-sized format. With the evil powers of the Grey Witch becoming more and more evident, Lodoss Island is on an imminent path to war. The fate of the island lies in the hands of an eclectic group of heros: a soldier named Parn, a forest elf Deedlit, the dwarf Ghim, newly appointed priest Etoh, and the sorcerer Slayn. Together they journey to Valis with the hope that Valis' army will join them in the fight against the Grey Witch's encroaching forces. Though it possesses a fairly solid story with relatable characters, Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch's dated art may cause it to only be picked up by a Lodoss War fanatic or an extreme manga enthusiast.

Blue Inferior Volume 1
Released by ADV Manga
Story & Art by Kyoko Shitou

$9.99 US

Why, oh why did ADV begin releasing manga with these disgusting-feeling matte covers? Once you pick the darn thing up, you just want to set it back down. The last thing you want to do is hold it in your hands for an hour or so while you read the book's contents. Thankfully, Blue Inferior's story is good enough that you'll brave holding the nasty cover to read it. Liber is one of the last remaining oases of lush, vibrant life in a world virtually destroyed by environmental pollution. Liberians live an isolated life, having virtually no knowledge of the contaminated world that surrounds their own. So far this ignorance has proven advantageous to their survival. Sub-humans, a race with blood poisoned by polluted groundwater and toxic agents, are fatal to those who come into contact with them, so understandable chaos arises after a young girl named Marine washes up on Liber's shores. Suspected of being a sub-human, Marine is soon imprisoned by the Liber officials until a decision can be made to determine her fate. Having no recollection of her past, Marine is befriended by the inquisitive Kazuya who promises to help her regain her memory. He later helps her escape and together they prepare to embark on a journey to the outside world. Filled with “preserve and protect the environment” messages, Blue Inferior is a story that any nature fanatic would enjoy reading. For those not so environmentally inclined, Blue Inferior is a mediocre read that's worth flipping through, but only if you have nothing better to do.

Kagerou-Nostalgia: The Resurrection Volume 1
Released by ADV Manga
Story & Art by Satomi Kubo

$9.99 US

Again, ADV felt the need to present another of their releases in same gross-feeling material that covered Blue Inferior. However, even with the displeasing texture, you'll still find yourself drawn to Kagerou-Nostalgia because of its black color and the stern-faced swordsman on the front. This proves you can't judge a book by its cover since the novel's facade of coolness is shattered by its wayward plot. Set in medieval Japan, Kagerou-Nostalgia is the confusing story of two warring clans, a demonically possessed man, some guy who is a "shadow" and six youths with incredible power. Kazuma, Fuwa, Mizuki, Shiranui, Akira, and Goki all possess reincarnated souls of past warriors and must eventually band together to fight against a 500-year-old evil. Jumping between past, present and future events, Kagerou-Nostalgia veers off an already ambiguous plotline and leads the reader down an incredibly disjointed path. As you read Kagerou-Nostalgia, the question, “What the heck is going on?” will repeat through your head. With every page turn, you'll retain the hopeful thought that the plot will soon reveal itself. Sadly, it never does and the question, “What the bloody heck is going on?” will continue to reside in your mind. Teetering on the edge of the “Borrow It” category, Kagerou-Nostalgia is only saved from being “recycled” because of its attempt at a creative storyline and fairly appealing art.

Recycle It

Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac Volume 3
Released by Viz
Story & Art by Masami Kurumada

$7.95 US

We must be getting punished for past wrongdoings, otherwise such a terrible title surely wouldn't exist. Knights of the Zodiac is, by far, one of the lamest series to ever grace bookstore shelves. Its premise: boys in shiny, mythologically-inspired armor fight evil boys in shiny, mythologically-inspired armor. Volume three takes this premise one step further; it reveals that prissy evil Phoenix Knight Ikki is—gasp—the older brother of prissy Andromeda Knight Shun. But, pitting brother against brother isn't the only plot twist in this "delightfully entertaining" volume. During the "brother vs. brother" skirmish, the Gold Cloth - which isn't even a cloth; it's actually pieces of armor - gets stolen. To recover the Cloth, each of the Bronze Knights must face off against their counter part Black Knight. These matchups will inevitably furnish the plot for subsequent volumes. So, what happens if you take ugly 80s artwork, combine it with some weird take on Greek mythology, and then mix it all together with bad plot? You get Knights of the Zodiac. The only good thing about Knights of the Zodiac is its $7.95 price tag and even then, there are much better ways of blowing eight bucks. Even if you were partially brain-dead, blind, and it was the only manga on the shelf, it would still be advised to steer clear of Knights of the Zodiac.

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