Moon & Blood 2

November 16, 2014

Nao Yazawa – DMP – 2011 – 4+ volumes

I like that DMP keeps trying out these small Nao Yazawa projects, though it does make me wonder how popular they are.  I always kind of like her stories, but I’ve never really heard anyone else talk about them.

“Volumes” of this series are about 70-odd page chapters, which is a cute format (I’m impressed that 4 volumes came out, as this is more suited to digital – she has several other digital-only series at eManga right now).  I’m sad this sort of small paperback format is going by the wayside now, though.

The book itself is still cute.  Big, tough vampire guy is falling for his sweet roommate.  They go to school together, and in this book, she convinces him to enter a crossdressing “queen” competition at the school festival.  I think I mentioned this in the review for volume one, but this series is very 90s, and it warms my old lady heart.

Meanwhile, his companion, sometimes cute girl, sometimes cute cat, is still sort-of preying on the family he lives with, though that angle isn’t really pursued in this volume.  This is mostly just romantic moments between Kai and Sakaya.  The volume ends with the promise of another story topic, vampire hunters, next time.

It’s cute!  But admittedly, fairly vanilla.  I’m probably not going to beat a path through to pick up the next two volumes, but I will get them eventually.

Yoshiyuki Sadamoto – Viz – 2013 – 14 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 4-6

So I just finished this book, and… I was not expecting that to happen to Eva 03 right away.  I probably should have, the way they built everything up around the pilot, but still.  That was some disturbing stuff.  Why you gotta be so sad, Evangelion?

Otherwise, this is probably The Volume of Asuka.  Again, I’m not terribly familiar with the plot or characters from the anime, so this story is all new to me.  As such, I was shocked with how irritating Asuka was.  On one hand, she’s great, because the other Eva pilots are really depressing.  On the other hand, she’s constantly dumping on Shinji, and he just doesn’t need that.  I can’t figure out why she would be tormenting him from the start, other than the fact she smelled weakness.  The collaboration with Shinji is painful, because she insists it’s all Shinji’s fault that he can’t match up with her, and when Rei proves otherwise, she gets angry and leaves.

She also, apparently, graduated from a German university (?), but still goes to Japanese high school?

I mean, I get it.  She’s not depressing, and she’s just “flawed” in a different way than Shinji.  She just rubs me the wrong way, and I hate seeing her pick on him.  I don’t even really like Shinji that much, but I suddenly find myself taking his side against her.

Also also, the part with her and Kaji towards the end was hard to read.  Perhaps mostly because I wasn’t reading her “crush” as sincere.  Apparently it was.  I was glad Kaji dealt with it in a classy way.

Otherwise… some more of getting into Shinji’s head.  Apparently his mother’s death is different than what he remembers.  His dad is even more distant than we thought.  Shinji likes the way it feels to have friends.  Et cetera.

There’s also some more history and info about Nerv.  I don’t like how this is a huge enigmatic puzzle, and I tend to shut such things out when I run across them (why should I care about Nerv when you offer me so little to care about?).  But I have to admit, this is a well-crafted story.

I love this manga adaptation.  Again, I’m not sure how close it comes to the anime, but I’m pretty into the story at this point.  I had my fingers crossed that I could get the last pair of volumes in this series (I needed 10-12, and 13-14), but alas, 14 single doesn’t come out until spring next year, and I suspect the omnibus will follow some months after that.  In the meantime, I’ll probably read 7-9, then buy 10-12 and hang onto it until it finishes.

Castle Mango 2

November 16, 2014

Narise Konohara / Muku Ogura – DMP/June – 2014 – 2 volumes

How about that, another 2014 volume!  I’m slowly trying to whittle down my TBR pile, and this was on top.  Even though the Cold Trilogy still creeps me out, years after having read it, I still like Narise Konohara enough to pick up her newest books.  Especially since BL tends to disappear and get hard to obtain after a few months, sometimes.

I remember really, really liking the first volume of this, but the second left me rather cold.  I don’t recall there being an age gap relationship, which I have been trying to avoid lately.  Reading through my review, I apparently liked the slow development of the relationship in volume one, and the way the two main characters got to know one another.  Well… there’s none of that here.  Togame gives Yorozu the cold shoulder right away, and the rest of the volume is spent with Yorozu trying to figure out why Togame won’t answer his calls.

Also, his mom has heart problems, one of the rooms at his hotel burns up, he has to take care of his little brother, and get a part time job and wrestle with matters of the heart and… it was all a little too depressing and sad for me, and not very romantic.  Bummer.

I did like that Togame told Yorozu to wait at the end of the book, though.  I hate age gap relationships, but it tickled me that Togame didn’t want anything to do with him in part because of that.  Hooray.

Hm.  It’s been too long since I read the first volume.  But odds are, you’ll probably want to stop there.  This one’s okay, but… kinda eh.

Inu-Yasha 10 (VizBig ed.)

November 9, 2014

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2012 – 56 volumes
(this is an omnibus containing vols. 28-30)

Again, I haven’t been reading much manga lately.  But I’ve still seen some of the hype about the new Ranma 1/2 omnibuses, and as a result, my roommate and I have been watching the anime.  Still good!  I would re-read the Ranma 1/2 manga, but it’s stored in another state right now.  What I do have handy is the second half of Inu-Yasha.  It’s not Ranma, but it’s still Rumiko Takahashi goodness.

It’s hard to be disappointed when I pick this one up.  I know exactly what I’m going to get.  In this 3-for-1 volume, Inu-Yasha fights an undead bandit leader while Sango and Miroku break a shield around a mountain that Naraku was resurrecting himself behind.  They find a room of creepy dead babies, Naraku beats them up, and then he leaves when Sesshomaru shows up, for some reason.  Volume 2 is mostly the characters trying to figure out what Naraku is doing, and some more Kikyo drama.  Volume 3 is a return to the old-style stories where the gang is tracking down demon stories and helping villagers.  They are also currently looking for the “last” Shikon jewel shard.  As there are another 26 volumes, I don’t really believe them, but whatever.

There’s some fun new stuff, too.  An alternate, split form for Naraku that’s sort of cheerfully menacing.  A huge demon fire-horse.  Lots of character development for Kagome, Inu-Yasha, Miroku, and Sango, which you don’t normally see.

There’s also human Inu-Yasha, who’s my favorite.  And, with the return of the regular-type demons at the end of the collection, we also get a refreshing return/reminder that Inu-Yasha is actually very powerful, something that power escalation in these types of series often overlook.  Demons he struggled with at the beginning are now going down with a swipe of his claws.

Still enjoyable stuff!  I don’t know if I’m going for the next anthology next or something else, but finishing up with Inu-Yasha is definitely in my future.

Nagaru Tanigawa – Yen Press – 2013 – 10+ volumes
this is about the novel series

As everyone who is at all interested in these knows by now, the 10th and 11th Haruhi Suzumiya novels (Surprise 1 and 2) were combined into one volume that was released around Christmas.  So we have the as-now complete run of Haruhi Suzumiya novels in English!  Hooray!  There haven’t been any more since 2011, and while the last one leaves off in a good place, it doesn’t feel finished, so here’s hoping we see more some day.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of this last story arc, though.  I love that it’s three novels long – I’ve mostly enjoyed the longer stories more than I have the short ones.  But in this case, it makes things really, really complicated.  That’s good and bad, because the longer format gives the story more space to play in, but Tanigawa is sometimes overly fond of very technical details, which is threatening here.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because I read volume 10 when I couldn’t help myself.  This volume’s pretty awesome.  It starts with Kyon meeting an old classmate named Sasaki, a girl he was close to in junior high.  Judging by Kyon’s narration, it doesn’t seem like he was romantically interested in her, though it seems like she was in him, and she seems slightly jealous of Haruhi, and vice versa when the two accidentally meet.  Kyon is upset that the two had to run into each other, but then… weirdness happens.  Sasaki has a group of friends at the customary SOS meeting place that appear to be… well, an alien, a time traveler, and an esper.

There are alpha and beta sides to the chapters, and each day of Kyon’s life.  In one, Kyon decides to drop all contact with Sasaki.  Haruhi starts the preliminaries for recruiting new members to the SOS Brigade (the new school year has started, and everyone has advanced a year), and the various trials and tribulations surrounding that are central to the plot.

In the other, Sasaki calls Kyon and he agrees to meet and hear her out.  It turns out that the members of her group all represent opposite organizations to the members of the SOS Brigade, and these organizations believe that Sasaki is the all-powerful being, not Haruhi.  But there’s no Kyon!  Much like Haruhi has a kind-of crush on Kyon, so does Sasaki, and he needs to be part of their group in order for… things to happen, I guess.  This group is slightly sinister and wrong, though, and Kyon meets with them regularly in this book only to find out what they’re about.  The only true thing they have going for them is that Sasaki really is more peaceful than Haruhi, so with her in charge of the universe, there would be no danger of everything ceasing to exist and starting over.

This plot carries over into the next one (originally two, so the next one is huge) novel.  There’s two versions of every day, one where Kyon meets with the new group and studies for his exams with Haruhi, and the other where the SOS Brigade has their tryouts.  It’s not clear what this indicates yet, but it will be soon.

Mostly, I enjoyed this novel because it introduced the idea that, for some reason, Kyon is necessary for things.  Which makes it seem like Kyon gives the power to the girl he likes, which is a hilarious idea.

Aside from being super-interesting and fairly exciting, I loved the alternate stories simultaneously format.  It can get a bit confusing, but here it’s still pretty fresh.  Other than that, I’ll talk more about this story in the next review, when it ends.  But really, these novels are awesome, and I’m happy they all got released here.

Excel Saga 3

November 9, 2014

Rikdo Koshi – Viz – 2003 – 27 volumes

What possesses us to do the things we do?  Why, when I have a room full of unread volumes of manga, would I go for the next volume of what is essentially a gag series?  Well… it’s still a guilty pleasure, even on my recent manga-lite diet.

It’s hard to explain, because… well, it’s still a little confusing and slapstick-y.  But the slapstick works, which I enjoy.  Usually gag manga fall flat for me, or I have to slog through them.  Admittedly, I think I read this in two or three sittings, because it’s hard to plow through all the stories at once.  But I still enjoyed it immensely.

And there’s somewhat of a forward momentum, plot-wise.  It’s clear that Il Palazzo and the Department of City Environmental Security are on some… different stuff, even if Il Palazzo still seems rather crazy.

But these chapters are still mostly joke one-shots.  Excel is a mailman.  The girls deal in cellphones.  They work in a hospital (which, admittedly, is really funny because Hayatt is technically dead, and also the crazy doctor).  Later in the volume, the members of the City Environmental Security… kind of breach ACROSS headquarters?  But nobody seems to really know what’s going on except Il Palazzo?  And actually, that’s funny as well.

I’m told the story begins developing more starting in volume 4, which I happen to have handy.  So yes, the guilty pleasure will continue.  For the time being, the humor is enough, but a story would be nice, or I don’t know that I’m going to pick up more.

Attack on Titan 1

November 9, 2014

Hajime Isayama – Kodansha USA – 2012 – 12+ volumes

So I took a little break from reading manga.  I was burned out.  To try and get myself back into it, I picked up Attack on Titan.  “This is so popular, it must be awesome!  It has such a good premise, surely this will draw me back in!”


It does have an awesome premise.  A town is built out of three concentric circles, meant to keep behemoths called Titans out.  Giant and humanoid, nobody knows where they came from, just that they’ll show up, wreck the village, and eat humans if they aren’t kept out.  Scout parties are constantly sent out to research them and to attempt to find weaknesses, but none ever return.

At the beginning of the volume, we meet young Eren and Mikasa.  The two live together, and Eren insists that there must be a reason behind the Titans, there must be a way to stop them.  Predictably, a mysterious huge Titan that’s larger than the wall shows up, kicks in the outer wall of the fortress city, and lets the smaller Titans in to eat all the humans.  Eren and Mikasa’s family is lost in the attack.  Jump ahead, Eren and Mikasa ace their cadet training, and are allowed to chose whatever stations they like.  The first choice is always palace guard, as that’s the safest position.  But Eren so believes that the Titans can be figured out that he joins the scout party, and Mikasa and most of the toughs from their class join them.  Then, the giant Titan attacks and Eren begins to have his revenge.

Aside from the plot and characters being pretty vanilla in the first volume (only the mysterious circumstances surrounding Mikasa have me interested), the Titans are fought with a complicated anti-gravity system that is explained in detail and… I just had no interest in whatsoever.  The science behind flying through the air to stab huge monsters just wasn’t all that cool, and a lot of time was spent explaining it.

Also, the art isn’t very good for a series this mainstream.  I like the Titan designs a lot, but they’re plain, as is everything else… and sometimes the proportions aren’t very good.  Somewhere in between we see design choices like the gigantic mouth on the huge Titan that’s full of tiny human-proportion teeth.

The premise is awesome, though.  That alone will have me coming back, I just hope that things get more interesting from here on in.


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