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Short and Bittersweet

by Liann Cooper,

Buy It Now!

GetBackers Volume 4
Story by Yuya Aoki & Art by Rando Ayamine
Released by Tokyopop

$9.99 US

Let's hear it for the boys! ... the orange-faced boys... Well, Ginji and Ban may not look that good, but the series certainly does. Picking up the pieces from volume three, GetBackers is sounding better than ever, thanks to a Tokyopop translator change. The Jackal has regained M.D. status and goes by his original name, Dr. Jackal, while Kazuki has gotten that much needed sex change and has reverted back to being a man. But, let's not nit-pick things to death. Volume four is completely devoted to wrapping up the Stradivarius Arc and the retrieval duo completes their mission with flair. With the help of Ginji's longtime friends (or enemies?), Kazuki and Shido, the GetBackers kick some old guy butt. My opinion of a title is strongly based on its ability to connect with a broad audience. GetBackers reminds me a lot of Rurouni Kenshin or a CLAMP title, in that it appeals to so many “groups” of people. It's consistently entertaining, full of gritty, action-packed artwork and contains interesting characters. Whether you're male or female, you're bound to find some aspect of GetBackers appealing.

The Legend of Chun Hyang
Story & Art by CLAMP
Released by Tokyopop

$9.99 US

Like fine wine, CLAMP seems to get better with age. One of the group's older works (and one of their prettier ones, too), Legend of Chun Hyang is based on the Korean folktale about Chun Hyang – a beautiful maiden who was loyal to her betrothed, rose up against the ruling family, and was immortalized for her devotion. However, being the CLAMP version of the tale, this Legend of Chun Hyang veers a bit from the original. Chun Hyang is portrayed as a spunky, loud-mouth maiden who is quick with her tongue and quicker with her sword. Her companion is a frustratingly handsome bishounen by the name of Mong Ryong. Accompanied by typical CLAMP humor and artwork, Chun Hyang and Mong Ryong's journeys are pure enjoyment. Tokyopop seems to be releasing quite a few of CLAMP's older works and I for one am not complaining. An oldie, but a goodie - for a quick fix of the talented female four, scrounge up $9.99 and quell that craving.

Borrow It

Apocalypse Meow
Story & Art by Motofumi Kobayashi
Released by ADV Manga

$9.99 US

Guerilla bunnies... I officially love guerilla bunnies. Much like the Holocaust graphic novel Maus, Apocalypse Meow uses anthropomorphism to create an effective recount of the Vietnam War. Don't be dissuaded from picking this up if you're not a war expert/fanatic. Casual readers will enjoy this too. At first it's hard to remove yourself from the fact that there are cute bunnies and kitties hurling grenades at each other, but after a while you'll forget about the animals and just focus on the story. Told through the eyes of three rabbits – Perky, Rats, and Bota – we're taken through the ups and downs of their missions. There's a lot of *BAHOOM* and *BAHKOOM* going on, but not a lot of actual plot. Nonetheless, the trio's circumstances are still somewhat engrossing. The artwork is detailed and appealing, history is thoroughly and accurately researched, and the resulting product is an engaging read that will fill your mind with more than the usual manga fluff.

Samurai Executioner Volume 1
Story by Kazuo Koike & Art by Goseki Kojima
Released by Dark Horse Manga

$9.99 US

For those of us who have read any amount of Lone Wolf and Cub, we all knew what we were getting into when we picked up its “sister series” Samurai Executioner. For those who aren't familiar with Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima's style, this manga is long, very graphic, and maintains a storytelling intensity that is, to a point, mentally draining. Kubikiri “The Decapitator” Asa, carries the title of o-tameshiyaku, meaning he is responsible for testing the shogun's swords. With so much gory violence and graphic situations flashing across the pages, you'd automatically assume that there'd be little room for character development. However, this is a story about Kubikiri Asa and his maturation is more than prevalent throughout the novel. So prevalent, in fact, that I found myself getting rather distracted by the gross amount of character development. Samurai Executioner isn't for everyone, which is why I advise flipping through it to see if the artwork and pace are for you.

Remote Volume 2
Story by Seimaru Amagi & Art by Tetsuya Koshiba
Released by Tokyopop

$9.99 US

“Unsolvable” cases, a workaholic shut-in and his airhead partner are only part of this series' appeal. I love Remote purely for its “cheese factor.” Cheesy like... despite artwork not being a strong point for the series, our less-than-attractive heroine, Ayuki, is still the subject of tons of fanservice. Seeing all the shots of Ayuki trying on new equipment in her underwear, shower scenes, and brilliantly-placed panty/chest shots – one can't help but chuckle at the attempts to sexify the young detective. So, with artwork at the bottom of the totem pole, you'd hope that storyline or character development would be near the top... at least one is. There isn't much “story” to Remote; each case is almost standalone. There is however a lot of decent character development, connecting each case with some degree of fluidity. Ayuki may be a ditz, but she's actually matured a bit over the course of the story. Even Himuro, whose shrouded past still lurks in the background, shows a bit more personality every volume. The chemistry between the two is becoming more natural and they're solving cases with such detective know-how that even Jessica Fletcher would be proud. Sure the flakiness of the series is deftly hidden behind silly cases and lame attempts at romantic tension, but Remote's such a fun, effortless read that you'll enjoy it despite its faults.

DNAngel Volume 3
Story & Art by Yukiru Sugisaki
Released by Tokyopop

$9.99 US

Daisuke's love turmoil is at a peak as he prepares for St. White's Day. Too add to his emotional confusion, Dark and Daisuke are not getting along. To resolve Dark and Daisuke's inability to cooperate with one another, Daisuke's father takes things to extreme measures - he places a ring on Daisuke's finger that can only be removed after the two can learn to co-exist. The catch? They only have 24 hours to resolve their issues otherwise serious harm will befall them. An adorably light series, D.N.Angel resorts to cute and lovable characters (my personal favorite being the rarely seen bunny creature, Wiz) to make up for the less-than-existent plot. Volume three was a bit of a let-down for me since I enjoyed the first two volumes so much. There were some nice exchanges between the main characters – Daisuke, Dark, Risa, Riku, and Satoshi – however this volume is mainly series filler. I look forward to learning about the real secrets behind Dark, Daisuke, and Wiz! Until then, flip through this one to kill some time, but not your wallet.

Rave Master Volume 10
Story & Art by Hiro Mashima
Released by Tokyopop

$9.99 US

What started off as a vibrant, energetic adventure of a boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders has diluted into a lengthy and overloaded series. In any series, you know that by the time volume 10 rolls around you know that it has to A) either be a damn good series or B) running a little low on steam. The latter applies to Rave Master. Haru and Co. have just decided on a new destination to acquire the third Rave. With the exception of some informative history on how Rave came into existence, volume 10 is overloaded with WE'RE EXCITED TO BE LOOKING FOR RAVE combined with the hint that something intense may be brewing just underneath the surface. It's just too much to take in at once. I do get quite a kick out of some of the names Hiro Mashima comes up with for his characters – who wouldn't love a group of idiot villains named “The Jiggle Butt Gang?” Sporadic humor, overloaded story, and an overzealous group of friends – it's a decent read, but for as gung-ho the gang is to be journeying, Rave Master's plot is running low on excitement.

All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku
Story & Art by Yuzo Takada
Released by ADV Manga

$14.99 US

GIRL x CAT x ANDROID! A robotic cat-girl! What sounds like heaven to some may be just the opposite to others. So, an inventor takes the brain of a dying cat and puts it into the body of a super-powered android... and names it Nuku Nuku. Oh come on! You can do better than that! I can't tell if the story is trying to be funny, cute, poignant, or all of the above. I think Nuku Nuku is trying to find her place in the world since she's neither cat nor human. Nuku Nuku does have some *cute* moments when she's trying to “make Papa happy,” such as leaving a dead mouse at his feat and scratching the heck out of a door frame. But, for the most part, I just found the story rather empty and annoying. By the time the cat aliens land on earth, my brain pretty much decided it couldn't take any more. Cat Girl Nuku Nuku is worth getting if you have a fondness for catgirls (minus the ears or tail) or if you're a Nuku Nuku die-hard. For those with more discriminating tastes, borrow it from your Nuku Nuku-fanatic friend.

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