By Nomad “I can’t belive I’m writing this with a headache when I’ve got three problem sets and a research presentation due next week” Otto
Alright, folks, I promised another chapter of the endless manga review cycle that is my life, well, not counting the research, the teaching, the ass-kicking, and the being a murdering kill-bot. Not many volumes of stuff this time, and the only reason why I’m writing now, as opposed to, say, later, is because I just got a whole huge stack of new crap, mostly Black Lagoon and Cloth Road, which will suck up my time and are not really that interesting to review. In the event that fat stacks of cash drop on my lap, and if I suddenly have a bunch more time, I’ll read and/or write more about series I haven’t previously covered. Anyway, on with the show:
Title: Kaibutsu Oujyo (I’d translate it as Monster Princess) or Princess Resurrection
Author: Yasunori Mitsunaga
Runs in: Shounen Sirius ( I have never heard of this magazine before. Not that it really matters, but still.)
Rating: 10 (+ 1/2 for Robots, -1 for main character who is a waste of space +1/2 for HP Lovecraft Reference, I mean, it’s got the Great Race of Yith in it!)
How much I’ve read: 2/5 volumes (unfinished)
Story: Once upon a time, there were a pair of orphans. One of them, a girl, got a job as a live-in maid, so her brother decided to move in with her. On his way there, a truck bounces off a huge rickshaw and strikes him. He dies, but, because he is a manga character, the passenger on the rickshaw is a monster princess, who gives him a small portion of her blood, and he comes back to live as a “blood warrior.” It turns out that the princess is fighting with her siblings, who have a huge horde of various horror-movie monsters. From there, it’s monster of the week action, featuring the monster princess, her mostly-mute robot maid (who says “fuga,” and only that), the half-werewolf Liza Wildman, the vampire schoolgirl Reiri, and the extremely useless hero, Hiro, who exists to get his ass kicked (Unlike a certain Hiro from a series that will remain nameless for the time being.). The monster of the week action is excellent, but that’s all there is to it. If you like old horror movie monsters, you’re in great standing. If you don’t, you’re screwed.
Art: I like the art a lot. The world is one of whites and blacks, without a whole lot of grays, odd for a horror-esque manga, but not so odd for a manga about b-movie horror movie monsters. The manga thrives on action sequences, or, rather, I’m gonna kick your ass sequences, in which the princess poses with some weapon (generally not a classic manga weapon like a sword, but, instead, wacky crap, like broken pool cues, chainsaws, and gas tanks), and says something fairly bad-ass, or nothing at all. Backgrounds are sparce, and faces don’t have a whole lot of detail. Not great for art-people, but fine for me.
Ease of Reading: Fairly Easy, it’s got Furigana, but there’s some odd compounds that only would be learned by people who read crap like this. Also, the princess talks like an old man/an old story, so it’s a little odd.
Other comments: I don’t know why I like this manga as much as I do. Probably has something to do with the crazy weapons and b-horror movie villains. If you are a mini-me, I’d reccomend this manga much higher, on the order of a 13ish but I can’t explain why. Oh, people are crazy, including me.
Title: Mirai Nikki (Lit: Future Diary)
Author: Sakea Esuno
Runs in: Shounen Ace
Rating: 12 (+1/2 for Yandere, -1/2 for mostly useless main character +1/2 for kickin’ God)
How much I’ve read: 3/4 volumes (unfinished)
Story: There’s this kid named Yukiteru. He’s a huge head-case, because all he likes to do is record things in his cell-phone diary and talk to God, who is a stone cold awesome dude. Anyway, God gets bored and decided to hold a contest to determine who will be the new God. Basically, he gives twelve people (who are generally referred to by their numbers, for example, Yuki is 1st, Yuno is 2nd, etc.) super abilities generally related to precognition, in the forms of diaries. For example, our hero, who loves to record what’s going on around him, gets the bystander’s diary, which records what’s going to happen around him on his cellphone, while the 6th, the preistess of a cult, gets a diary that details what her worshippers are going to see in the next couple of seconds. The point of the game is to kill off all the other diary holders and, so become God. Oh yeah, I forgot, your diary is an extension of you, so if it gets destroyed, you get broken too. Nifty, eh?
So it kinda feels like a Death Note rip off, but it’s not really. If Yuki were .0005 as pimp as Light, the whole damn thing would be over, but instead we’re stuck with a dart-throwing emo kid. On a better note, there’s much less in the way of “but if he does this, I’ll do that” shinanagans that made Death Note feel like I was reading someone’s commentary on a crappy game of chess in which the rules were being explained as needed. Instead, I get less commentary on a game of Risk that has the rules always changing. Also, the story is much more open-ended than Death Note’s cat and mouse game, since there’s a whole bunch of people in a race for the prize. The manga also has the benefit of being an interesting commentary on relationships, because very quickly, Yuki depends on his crazy stalker, Yuuno, who is willing to kill people, and generally take things seriously. On the other hand, she’s nucking futs, and acts to pull Yuki out of the sane world of people and into a crazy Bonnie and Cylde type existence as nothing more than monsters. Anyway, it’s a fun ride, and promises more of the same in the future
Art: I like the art, except for the character designs of the other players. I mean, one of them was so god-awful that it was changed in the middle of volume 2 to something less hideous than “shark-toothed girl with a terrible haircut and a dress that a 8-year-old wanna-be-princess would love.” Expressions are done very well, especially the Yuki’s “holy crap, she didn’t do what I think she just did, did she?” face. Panel layout is strong, with scenes like Yuki and Yunno making out with a burning human hand in the foreground. Basically, character design would be like 50 times better if everyone didn’t look like a freak, but then, where’s the fun in that?
Ease of Reading: Fairly Easy, it’s got Furigana, but not for the diary entries, which means that you have a chance of not understanding why Yuki is leaping out a window based on what he saw on his cellphone. Other than that, getting used to the fact that a variety of phrases always have quotes around them, like “diary” and “survival game,” which gets annoying from time to time.
Other comments: I hate the little dancing sumomo-looking assistant to God with the flame of a thousand suns. Oh, the extra segments, which are in a seperate comic called Mirai Nikki Mosaic and cover the motivations of various characters, are fantastic.
Runs in: Young Gangan (A seinen mag, according to wikipedia. Not that I’d know)
Rating: 11 (not including -2 for a 4-koma that runs like 3 books longer than it needs to, -1 for characters whose entire personality can be described by a series of gimmicks)
How much I’ve read: 2/4 volumes (unfinished)
Story: This is a story about a group of worthless fools who work in a family resteraunt. Word to the wise, not much about working is covered here, instead, it’s all about a group of crazy misfits who have funny adventures that can be summarized in a series of 4 panel encounters. There’s the main character, who likes small, cute things, the main female character, who is small and cute, the girl who is afraid of men, the girl who carries around a katana and has the hots for the manager, who is a dissaffected 28 year old. That’s all there is to it. They have wacky hijinks, new characters are introduced, but the story goes nowhere. It’s like a newspaper strip. Watch as I lose interest.
Art: 4-koma art strives to be minimal, and Working is about there. This is a manga you read for the yucks, not for the art. Unfortunately, either I don’t like the sense of humor in this manga, it loses something in translation, or it’s just not funny, because it’s not funny.
Ease of Reading: Not Super Hard. There’s no furigana, but the language is normal conversational crap, with some extra working-related vocab thrown in, but since that’s something that was covered in my japanese classes, I’m set.
Other comments: This is a BigN series, if anything. Maybe he’ll like it better than I did, but I can’t stand it, and, so, I have a couple of volumes I need to get rid of. Where’s a Kinokuniya when you need one?
Title: Kuroshitsuji (Lit: Black Butler, but that sounds stupid)
Author: Yana Toboso
Runs in: Gangan Fantasy (Oh the shaz you can learn from wikipedia searches)
Rating: 12 (+1/2 for Victoriana, -1/2 for a lack of plot)
Story: So there’s this spoiled rich kid during the victorian period in England. He is basically a worthless little sack of crap (with an eyepatch, arrrrr……) but he has the world’s most kickin’ butler until Hayate comes along in the 2000′s. Anyway, the manga is about how he’s awesome, and does all kinds of awesome crap, including Bright-slapping the kid when he’s being a punk. Also, there are other servants in the mansion, all of whom are in endless awe of the awesomeness of the head butler dude. That’s about it.
Art: It feels like it’s drawn by a women, because the manga is filled with pretty men. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s very dark and elegant, which is nice, but there’s a small problem in the fact that Victorians weren’t elegant at all. In fact, if there’s something that upper-class Victorian homes were noted for, it’s the fact that they all feel like huge tacky museums of worthless crap, mostly because it’s freakin’ cold in old houses without central heating, and so there were carpets and shaz everywhere. Also, it was before mass production had flooded people’s taste for the generic, and, so, having lots of trinkets was a sign of wealth and respectability. Anyway, it’s still a nice vibe, but it’s not totally historically accurate. Character designs are good, and lines are thin and clearly defined. My biggest problem is the tendency to do a cop-out screen-tone background whenever anything dramatic happens, or, horror of horrors, have nothing at all in the background.
Ease of Reading: Fairly easy, if you are okay with Keigo (polite language). There’s furigana, so that’s always nice, but the fact that I’m used to rough, friendly japanese makes it annoying at times.
Other comments: Before you think I’m some kind of Goth from all the horror crap that I like, I’d have you know, and BigN can testify, that I am a Jolly person. Jolly Jolly Jolly. I just happen to like a certain feeling of darkness in what I read for fun (I like happy crap too, but I don’t tend to write about it, because the happy crap I read is usually even more worthless than the stuff I write about). If I ever where white cake makeup, dye my hair black, or begin listening to the cure, the BigN and a mutual friend of ours who has a very low tolerance for goth (or, for that matter, pretty much anything, as evidenced by one of his favorite pieces of advice, “go die”) have the right to drag me around until I become cheerful.
Title:Dogs Bullets and Carnage
Author: Shirou Miwa (dude romanizes it as Shirow Miwa, but that’s a crappy romanization)
Runs in: Ultra Jump
Rating: 12.5 (not including a-3 that I can’t logically explain. Seriously, I should eat this crap up, but it’s just…. blah…)
How much I’ve read: 1/2 volumes (unfinished)
Story: There’s a group of assassins in a dystopian future in which all sorts of genetic no-goods are runnings around (by this, I mean that people tinker with the human genome for no other purpose than to give us super-powered heroes and animal/human sex slaves). It focuses on a trio of bad-asses, the main character, who heals from most wounds almost instantly, his buddy, a photographer/ assassin, and a random girl who wields a sword and has a mysterious past. Wheee. It’s not any worse than the plots of some of the other crap that I liked, but, for some reason, I just couldn’t get into the world of the characters, and I found the whole setup fairly dull. I can’t explain why, other than it’s probably a combination of the art, the fact that the characters are always trying to maximize how bad-ass they are (if you can take bullets without flinching, don’t show it off, just kill crap) and the ease (or, rather, lack thereof) of reading.
Art: Alright, the character designs are great. Everyone looks like a huge bad-ass without looking like an imbacile. Action and expressions are done very well, but the artist freakin’ hates to do background, so the vast majority of panels are against a white background, which is annoying. It really hurts immersion to have the characters always acting against a white background. I didn’t notice it when I was first reading it, but, once you notice it, it’s annoying.
Ease of Reading: A pain. There’s no furigana, and, either I’m getting rusty at kanji or there’s a lot of stuff that wasn’t covered in class. Oh well, whichever it is, it’s not something that I read in between problem sets to relax. Thus, it’s probably not going to get read (more) anytime soon.
Other comments: As I noted above, I didn’t like the series for some reason. I don’t know why, I just don’t. Consider it the opposite of the Monster Princess effect.
Alright, now for the Genshiken bit. Genshiken 2 has been a sort of roller-coaster ride for me, alternating between annoyance at obvious attempts to cut corners on animation, with weird, off-model, moe-fied keyframes, and Kujian product placement vs. intense enthusiasm when the show covers topics that weren’t discussed in the manga that needed to be covered. The best examples of this so far can be found in episodes 4 and 5, where 4 devotes a lot of time to two characters who don’t get much time devoted to them, Tanaka and Ohno, and how they came to be a couple, while 5 goes through Ogiue’s Fujioshi fantasy in hilarious detail.
Why 4′s exploration is fantastic is that in the manga, Ohno and Tanaka are portrayed as suddenly together, with no explanation, which makes sense if we consider that the story is told from Sasahara’s point of view most of the time, but is annoying to people who like to consider Genshiken an ensemble show (people named Nomad, for example). Ep 5 was hilarious (see the muscular Kugayama, and the Kuchiki x Madarame scene for examples), if a little questionable from a broadcast perspective (The shadows of Madarame and Sasahara banging is not necessarily worse than other stuff that’s getting shown on broadcast TV, but, since it’s implied gay quasi-rape, it might be a touch more questionable). Anyway, there’s no excuse not to watch the new series of Genshiken. That’s all there is to it.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I might write something about Utena if I’m so moved in the near future, provided that I don’t get caught up with Black Lagoon, Cloth Road, Tactical-type Games, or real research/TAing (you know, the stuff I’m supposed to be doing with my life.) Oh, and BigN, sorry for stealing your front page spot, but I have an intense desire to avoid doing god-awful math now, as well as to avoid thinking about research. Anyway, that’s it; there’s no more; go do something else with your lives.