RIGHT TURN ONLY!! Is That A Kiba In Your Pocket...
by Liann Cooper,
Hey all! Please try and bear with me as I play the fun game known as "Catch Up." Because of this, you will undoubtedly see some releases from as far back as August in addition to the more recent and upcoming stuff. As always, thanks for your support and thanks for reading!
Buy It Now!
xxxHOLiC Volume 3
Story & Art by CLAMP
Released by Del Rey
Once you flip to page 30 and see poor Watanuki decked out in a pair of persocom ears, you'll be provided with more than enough amusement to justify having spent $10.95 on a comic book. Bolstering your purchase even further will be the fact that xxxHOLiC shows that even after three volumes its story and artwork are some of the most captivating and solid stuff out there. Volume three provides a bit of a breather as far as story progression goes, using the time to emphasize individual character development of Watanuki and Domeki as well as flesh out the two's relationship. Whether they're arguing while cleansing a school of rampant evil spirits or having a row over lunch contents, it's evident that the two have almost a symbiotic relationship to one another. Hopefully Yuko's... more sinister reasons for putting the two together will come to light in forthcoming volumes. Never to be forgotten that this is a crossover title, the world of Tsubasa, as well as other smatterings of CLAMP characters, have their fair share of cameos. Toss in xxxHOLiC's stark black & white artwork with art deco flair and you have what I feel is one of CLAMP's most unique and successful series yet. If you haven't begun the series yet, you better jump on board before you're completely left in the dust!
Kamunagara: Rebirth of the Demonslayer Volume 1
Story & Art by Hajime Yamamura
Released by Media Blasters
If I recall correctly, a couple of readers were dying to get their hands on all the “weird” manga they could. Well, here's another title to add to your lists – Kamunagara. It's a strangely intriguing story of a normal teenager named Kugaya who one day discovers that he has inherited supernatural powers. Not just plain ol' “supernatural powers,” but powerful ones that cause his hand to sprout a gigantic sword and then drive him to hack up possessed animals. Does it get better? You bet it does! Not only does Kugaya gain ultra-wicked powers, he also snags the affections of the most popular girl in school. Turns out Takemi was Kugaya's lover in a past life and has been waiting for him to return to her. Word to the wise: When your boyfriend from long ago is already overwhelmed by the acquisition of occult superpowers... don't drop the “I love you” bomb on him. Eventually we find out that Kugaya's reason for sprouting large weaponry and having fits of bloody violence is attributed to the fact that an ancient seal between the human world and the demonic world – the Underbelly- has been broken. Now it's up to the “Guardians of the Seal” (which consists of Kugaya and Takemi so far) to patch the rift.
Being only the second series I've read from Media Blasters, I'm already feeling confident in their ability to release solidly produced series. Presented with sharp, crisp print quality, the detailed grotesqueness of the monstrosities that Kugaya and Takemi must fight – take one look at the scene with the mutated dog and you'll know what I'm talking about – are only emphasized. Kamunagara starts off on one heck of a right foot with its creepy story and horrific illustrations. I, for one, can't wait to see what creations volume two brings.
Full Moon wo Sagashite = Girl with throat cancer.
Until the Full Moon = Vampire boys in love.
See the difference? ....... Good!
I admit that I was sad when FAKE finished up because I had become pretty attached to Ryo and Dee. Needless to say, when Broccoli announced that it had licensed Until the Full Moon, I was pretty excited because it was also done by Sanami Matoh. And upon reading it, I can say I'm not disappointed. Homophobic readers, avert your eyes because this is shounen-ai.
Georgio and Mira Vincent are in the midst of a crisis... a crisis so urgent that they've called in the famous Dr. Arnet Vincent. Oh yeah, Georgio and Arnet are vampires and Mira happens to be a werewolf. So, if you're the son of a vampire and a werewolf... what does that make you? This is the crisis that Marlo Vincent is dealing with. He's supposed to be a vampire, but his fangs haven't formed yet. And beneath the light of a full moon, Marlo becomes a woman... not a werewolf. To make things more complicated, Dr. Arnet's son, David (also a vampire), has loved Marlo since childhood. To David, the fact that Marlo turns into a woman is just an added bonus. Your typical tug-of-war, “I can't fall in love with another guy” scenarios ensue, which make for some hilarious situations and turn Until the Full Moon into a fun-filled romp for readers. While the storyline is entertaining, I found the real joy of Until the Full Moon to be the zany collection and chemistry of characters. Obviously the main characters of the story – Marlo and David – are the ones to watch, but minor characters such as a jealous werewolf and a love-seeking witch make for a lush cast. One minor quirk (also prevalent in FAKE) is that no matter how detailed the girls are they still look like guys. Manly girls, girly men...yeah, we definitely can't have manly men and girly girls. That would completely take away the charm.
Legal Drug Volume 1
Story & Art by CLAMP
Released by Tokyopop
Two CLAMP titles in the Buy It section?! Why, I believe this is a first. In complete contrast to the bold look of xxxHOLiC, Legal Drug contains the light stylings of Mick Nekoi complete with an airy, ethereal storyline. Kudo and Rikuo are roommates who work for a seemingly normal drug store called the Green Drug Pharmacy. To earn some extra money on the side, store owner Kakei assigns the pair odd jobs; usually a job requiring them to retrieve a specific item. The pair's supernatural abilities – Kudo can “see” things by touching objects while Rikuo can destroy things using telekenisis - come in useful during Kakei's odd jobs. They don't know why they're given these tasks, nor do they know why Kakei is so bent on them going together. All Kudo and Rikuo know is that the Green Drug Pharmacy is not what it seems and that they really get on each other's nerves. Happily I noticed that the green vellum pages with negative images of the boys, included in the Japanese version, were also kept in the American version. Kudos to Tokyopop for making the added effort to include them because they really add to the aesthetic appeal of the book. Story-wise, Legal Drug makes for quite a head trip, but if you can get past the flying fish, whacked out movies, and ingested fireflies you'll see that the character dynamic more than compensates. Kudo and Rikuo's friction is balanced out by the playful banter between Kakei and “friend,” Saiga. And though strange, Kudo and Rikuo's odd jobs will keep your interest. For those looking for a quick head trip, Legal Drug is a great choice. Pay no attention to the fact that the cover sports a cannabis leaf; it's the story that will heighten your awareness... man... .
Fruits Basket Volume 5
Story & Art by Natsuki Takaya
Released by Tokyopop
A new volume... a new member of the Zodiac revealed. This time Tohru is introduced to Kisa who houses the spirit of the tiger. Seeking refuge from excessive teasing and alienation from her classmates, twelve-year-old Kisa has run away from home. Later found by Haru, Kisa grows incredibly fond of Tohru and follows her around like a lost little puppy. It's just another day in the life of the Sohma household... if only it were that simple. Kisa actually serves as a poignant symbol of the pain that every Sohma family member goes through. Adjusting to normal society is tough; especially when you have to constantly worry about turning into an animal or getting teased because of your weird hair or eye color. Up to now, we've only been introduced to Sohmas who have accepted their fate and almost laugh their curse off; Ayane, Shigure, Kagura have all learned to “deal” with the consequences. However, Kisa is different in that she doesn't know how to cope with the curse that she's inherited. Of course, Fruits Basket can't be all sadness and gloom and the reader is given a sweet story of Tohru and the boys taking a trip to the lake (which provides some insight into Hatori's past) before diving into the bittersweet story of Kisa. Rounding out the novel are a couple of amusing filler chapters, one of which has Tohru falling ill and sharing some nice moments with Kyo. Perhaps Fruits Basket strikes a familiar chord with our own insecurities in life and because of that has connected with a wide audience of readers. Fruits Basket has become one of my favorite manga and is most definitely a series that should be owned by everyone.
Hikaru no Go Volume 2
Story by Yumi Hotta & Art by Takeshi Obata
Released by Viz
Who would've thought that plunking glass pebbles on a wooden table would be so entertaining? Not me, for one. But, even with this being only the second volume, Hikaru no Go has captured my attention and I find myself enjoying the characters immensely. Following the Go-playing ventures of Hikaru Shindo and his Go expert, spirit-friend Sai (who is a GUY), Hikaru no Go revitalizes the enjoyment value of playing board games. The book does get a bit technical since Go is a fairly complicated strategy game. Much of the game's specifics aren't necessary to enjoying the series, but the tips and hints at the beginning of each chapter are a nice addition. Hikaru's willingness to learn Go combined with Sai's, fervent love of the game make for some really funny conversations and help break up the repetitive string of Go games. Unfortunately, repetitiveness may be the series' ultimate downfall, even with its lovable characters. This is still a great series, no doubt about it, but I think even the most game-crazy fans will tire of seeing black and white dots after a while.
Diabolo Volume 1
Story & Art by Kei Kusunoki and Kaoru Ohashi
Released by Tokyopop
Ren and Rai are good-looking guys who are perfectly normal aside from the fact that, in exchange for supernatural powers, they sold their souls to the demon Diabolo. In obtaining the powers, the two hoped that they would be able to find Ren's cousin, Mio. But ten years later, the boys are now 17 and running out of time. They haven't found Mio, and once they turn 18 they will change into such vile creatures that not even nightmares can predict. You know how a book can have a really great premise but poor execution? I fear this is what happened to Diabolo. It starts off pretty damn exciting with a schoolgirl who freaks out after she sees her beheaded neighbor, gets attacked by a crazy dog, and finds out that she's pregnant with... herself. That's right, HERSELF. She gets rescued by Ren and Rai who in turn tell her that she can't succumb to the evil or she'll turn into a headless demon... or something. Then it gets all cryptic with the pair reiterating a promise to kill each other once they become inhuman and then going around killing those who have become consumed by Diabolo. I've always cringed when a book becomes so episodic that you start seeing it in pieces, rather than a complete storyline. Sadly, Diabolo started to disintegrate into such episodic chapters that I couldn't figure out if each incident was a standalone or not. Due to having such strong potential, I'm not shrugging this one off yet. I just hope things start to gel a little more in the next couple of volumes or I'm going to be sorely disappointed.
Wolf's Rain Volume 1
Story by BONES, Keiko Nobumoto & Art by Toshitsugu Iida
Released by Viz
After watching Wolf's Rain, it was rather difficult to decide where the manga should be placed. I tried to separate manga from anime; tried to think if I would've enjoyed the manga had I not already seen the show. Unfortunately, I felt the book suffered from a bad case of the "hasties." By cramming about 12 episodes of information into one volume, you end up feeling rushed and you're unable to sympathize with any of the characters. Kiba, Hige, Tsume, and Toboe form their “pack” by mid-volume and all encounter the flower maiden, Cheza, by the end of the first. Paradise isn't ever explained, nor are the reasons for the four wolves joining forces in their quest for the fabled Utopia. Supporting characters – Darcia, Cher, Hubb, and Quent – feel tossed-in simply for the sake of being “included,” rather than out of necessity. Despite the downside of a speedy plotline, Wolf's Rain has a tremendous upside - beautiful artwork. Included in the back of the book are numerous drawings of each character showing how Toshitsugu Iida created each of their final designs, which I think are better looking than their anime counterparts. Believe it or not, Toboe turns out looking even more feminine than he does in the anime! Wolf's Rain would've benefited greatly from additional volumes and it's a shame that such a great show was condensed into a mere two volumes of manga.
More Starlight to Your Heart Volume 1
Story & Art by Hiro Matsuba
Released by ADV Manga
Everyone has a bit of a sweet tooth, and mine happens to enjoy fluffy, saccharine-injected manga. More Starlight to Your Heart is a diabetic's worst nightmare. With its sweet story about a klutzy girl in love with a cutie-pie guy, this one's sure to melt you into a quivering puddle of syrup. Lady Akane is head-over-heels for Aogi, one of the palace guards and Aogi is completely smitten with Lady Akane. What's the hitch, you ask? Lady Akane's father. He has forbidden Aogi to set foot within the inner palace halls in order to keep Aogi and Akane separated. But, Akane is sneaky and has worked out a secret agreement with her mother to become a servant of the court. This way she'll be able to see Aogi without her father finding out. It's never made clear how Akane's father doesn't find out that Akane is working as a servant or how nobody realizes that Lady Akane is the servant named... AKANE! We just know that Akane's mother, brother, and Akane's maid are in on the secret - and Aogi, of course. With a mind-numbingly ridiculous plot and wispy-haired, pretty boys and girls running rampant across the pages, this is just about as shoujo as you can get. But, what makes this book work is that More Starlight to Your Heart doesn't try to be some deep, “What is your purpose in life?” introspection. It's simply a nice-looking series with adorable characters that are there to make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.
Imperfect Hero Volume 1
Story & Art by Gureko Nankin
Released by ComicsOne
Take the first season of Power Rangers (when they were cool), make Rita a hot babe, replace the battle scenes with goofy hijinks involving playgrounds and chocolate, and you have yourself volume one of Imperfect Hero. I believe Imperfect Hero was supposed to set off the "this series is supposed to be knee-slapping funny" bells that similar works- like Excel Saga and Abenobashi: Magical Shopping Arcade - were to have set off. The thing is...with me, the bells remained silent.
Focusing on a group of five high schoolers who transform into the top secret battalion called Gakusei 5 (also known as G5) and fight against their archnemisis, the totally sexy Mayura. However, due to a battle "injury," Mayura has recently become disoriented and makes her way down to earth to find a boyfriend. How the series jumped from saving the world from a busty villain to having the boobified vixen find a boyfriend, I have no idea. Of course, Mayura ends up in the company of the wimpiest member of the G5, G-Green, also known as Yuji. Will Yuji be able to push aside the hotness that is Mayura and destroy Earth's most nefarious enemy? Will the G5 members realize he's housing her and rip him to shreds? Most importantly - Will you care enough to continue reading? Most likely answer: Maybe; if you like "OMG! MY HAIR LOOKS TOTALLY CUTE WITH THIS BOW!! SHOOT A LASER BEAM AT THE ROCKETSHIP SLIDE!" type scenarios. For those of us who actually are sane, I direct your attention to any of the aforementioned series. Puppies with bows that frolic in a playground are cute. De-horned, crazy alien chicks with bows are just annoying.
Tengai Retrogical Volume 1
Story & Art by Rin Asano
Released by ADV Manga
Meet Ryohei, victim of a terrible haircut, newly appointed guardian of one chibified girl, and son of a father who made a promise to a dead guy. Ryohei's problems began when his father, in a rather inebriated state, agreed to become manager of a housing complex called Tengai-ya. After Ryohei befriends the rather odd tenants of Tengai-ya, he stumbles upon a glowing rock which "hatches" a hyperactive, dumpling-faced girl named Anju. With his father oblivious to the strange goings on, Ryohei becomes hopelessly entangled in situations that involve talking buttons and walking pocket watches which in turn eventually cause him to pass out and get tossed into the local hotsprings. While the actual idea of a haunted village is interesting, Tengai Retrogical is not. Maybe it's the generic characters or the bland environments in which they live...or maybe it's the silly gumball of a girl who runs around collecting memories of inanimate objects. Uh huh...Anju collects memories of...things...for midget Santa Claus-like beings in order to SAVE EARTH! YAY! Tengai Retrogical needs to decide if it's going to be super cute or super spooky because at the moment it's not accomplishing either. The book is incredibly bad, but rather Tengai Retrogical is so unimpressive that just ends up being incredibly boring.
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